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Austin Ainge to lottery-bound players: ‘We’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range’ 05.19.16 at 11:27 am ET
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WALTHAM – One takeaway from the news that Kris Dunn reportedly doesn’t want to be chosen by the Celtics with the third pick is that he and his handlers are fairly confident that he’ll be the first guard taken.

This nugget is of keen interest to the Celtics, and in particular director of player personnel Austin Ainge.

“Over the next little while we’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range and who wants to come in and who doesn’t,” Ainge said Wednesday after the Celtics held pre-draft workouts for several prospects. “The picks between 3 and 16, there’ll probably be a couple of guys who’ll say, ‘We’re not going 3, we’re not going 16, so we’re not going to come in.’ So, there’ll probably be a couple.”

Now Ainge and the Celtics can narrow down the pre-draft field to those players they are targeting.

“We’ll start that coming up here,” Ainge said. “Probably a little of both but we’ll have to see.”

In addition to owning the third overall pick, the Celtics have the 16th and 23rd picks in the first round and five picks in the second round.

“The higher the draft pick, you have a better chance,” Ainge said. “There’s going to be really good players available at 16, there’s going to be really good players available at 23. It’s just harder to identify in that range. It’s a little harder. We’re going to work really hard to do the best we can.”

Ainge’s comments Wednesday were interesting because they came before the news of Dunn’s wish not be drafted by the Celtics came out.

With the Celtics in the market for a wing shooter and rim protector, a guard wouldn’t seem to be at the top of their list. But Danny Ainge said Tuesday after the lottery that his objective would be to take the best player available with the third overall pick. If the Celtics are looking at guards, especially later in the draft, the ideal situation would be to get a lot of them on the court at the same time to compete against one another.

To do that, the Celtics must first contact those players who have already hired agents and get in touch with others who have not.

“Everything has been on hold for a lot of the guys that feel they’re in the range for No. 3 until the lottery and so, we’ll start those negotiations with the agents coming up here,” Austin Ainge said. “So, I don’t know yet, to be honest.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge
Austin Ainge walks fine line in pre-draft workouts 06.02.15 at 6:03 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Austin Ainge is walking a tightrope at this time of year.

It’s the time of year when the Celtics‘ director of player personnel has to watch what he says about every prospective draft pick that comes through the door of the team’s practice facility for pre-draft workouts.

On Tuesday, another four, all point guard prospects worked out for Brad Stevens, Ainge and his father Danny, showing off their skills. One of them, Olivier Hanlan, is very familiar to Boston and New England fans, as he played three seasons at Boston College. Another, Andrew Harrison has declared for the draft after two stellar seasons at Kentucky, including a national title game appearance in 2014 and run at immortality this spring before UK lost to Wisconsin in the national semis.

Also on hand was Louisville guard Terry Frazier and Tennessee’s Josh Richardson. Another, Corey Walden out of Eastern Kentucky suffered a minor hamstring injury early on and had to sit out most of it and another missed his flight because of weather issues.

But when asked his impressions, Ainge was coy because he has to be.

“When you guys ask me questions about the guys, I say like one positive sentence about everybody,” Ainge said. “Really, what else can I do? If I say anything negative, their agents will be mad at me. If I get too glowing, you guys [will write about it].”

Where does Ainge get his background info?

“We ask the players. Obviously, the [other NBA] teams won’t tell us. So we ask, ‘Hey, where did you work out last? Who was there? How’d they look?’ So we ask them. They’re allowed to tell the truth.

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Austin Ainge is sold on Shabazz Napier as an NBA point guard: ‘He’s going to make it’ 06.17.14 at 1:05 am ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics may or may not get a chance to take Shabazz Napier in the June 26 NBA draft. But team personnel executive Austin Ainge made one thing clear his opinion Monday after Napier’s workout for the team: Napier will be playing somewhere in the NBA eventually.

“Shabazz is so clever and shifty,” Ainge said. “He is very hard to stay in front of because he really changes directions very well. He’s quick but he is even shiftier than he is quick. He’s very clever and he can make shots.

“Shabazz is not physically overwhelming, but he has toughness, intelligence and skill and that extra savvy, so he more than makes up for it. He’s going to make it is my guess. He’s a good player.”

Napier stands just 5-feet-11 and weighs 180 pounds, with a wingspan just over 6-feet-3 and a reach of 7-feet-9. But to Ainge and the Celtics, his ability to lead a winning program on the court has its own rewards in the eyes of basketball evaluators.

“It’s big. It’s big,” Ainge said. “We all can look at physical tools. But the league is full of guys that don’t fit most athletic, physical but still are successful. Shabazz certainly checks the box as to how well physically he can play.”

But those numbers certainly don’t count for everything, like winning two national championships at one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country — UConn — and staying at school and playing all four years.

“You can certainly see it,” Ainge said of Napier’s pure skill. “It’s obvious watching Shabazz. Then I think it’s measured in all the other stats. He gets assists, points in the paint and his teams win. All those things can be measured.

“In a college game you learn a lot. But in this, you learn different things. We’re putting him against NBA athletes in NBA positions. That’s probably the biggest advantage for us.”

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Read More: Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics, NBA, Shabazz Napier
Austin Ainge named Red Claws head coach 07.21.09 at 4:26 pm ET
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Austin Ainge, son of Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge, has been named head coach of the Portland Red Claws. He is the first head coach in the history of this NBA Development League team.

‘€œI have always been intrigued by new ideas and innovation,’€ Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings said in a team statement. ‘€œAustin Ainge brings that to our team. He blew me away with his ability to analyze players and game strategy. When I was a young coach with the Celtics, video was the new revolution. Today, it’€™s statistical analysis. Austin brings that to a whole new level. Combine that with his ability to develop players and his background, and he is going to be a fantastic head coach.’€

Ainge, 27, most recently  served as a scout for the Celtics. His responsibilities included working with J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker while they were assigned to the D-League’s Utah Flash. Ainge served as an assistant coach at Southern Utah University after finishing his basketball career at Brigham Young University.

‘€œI have had the unique opportunity to be on many sides of this business,’€ Ainge said in the statement.  ‘€œA main focus for me, as I have drawn from each situation, is talent evaluation.  That includes both as the team is being assembled and during the season. As a coach, you must focus on which plays to call and what defensive adjustments to make, but even more important is which players are your best players and which lineups are playing the best together.  Evaluating your own players and lineups is paramount, and using statistical analysis is a big help in making more accurate evaluations.’€

The Red Claws are the NBDL affiliate for the Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.

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