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Austin Ainge: Celtics have No. 3 pick down to ‘three or four guys’ 06.18.16 at 2:17 pm ET
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WALTHAM – If the Celtics hold onto their first first-round pick, they have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do. 

Austin Ainge, director of player personnel, acknowledged Saturday during pre-draft workouts that they have a good sense of the players they want to pick. He just wouldn’t identify them. 

The obvious candidates are Buddy Hield, Dragan Bender and Kris Dunn, with maybe a Jamal Murray or Jaylen Brown getting some attention in discussions in the war room. 

“We’ve been narrowing at this point. We have them in groups more than specific (players). Maybe for our first pick we have it narrowed to these three or four guys, the second group a little bigger – eight or 10, because you don’t know whose going to be there. You do your best at guessing and debating the groups,” Ainge said. 

Ainge said Saturday that he hasn’t heard from Dunn’s camp as to when or if the Celtics will get a chance to see the two-time Big East defensive player of the year in person or what may come of Tuesday’s private (closed to media) get-together with Bender. 

Identifying what the Celtics are going to do with their picks at No. 16 and 23 is a lot trickier because, as Ainge pointed out Saturday, not even the Celtics are sure what they’re going to do.

“It’s hard to guess what other teams are going to do, especially after the first couple of picks,” Ainge said. “It gets harder. All the media reports and discussions we’ve had with other teams, we still don’t know how the draft is going to go. Other teams [don’t know]. For instance, we don’t know who we’re going to take at 16, so how can I anticipate what another team is going to do? So these things are hard. So, you’ve just got to take the player you like the most and not outsmart yourself.

“Historically, those assumptions get proven wrong all the time. So, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I think last year was a case of that. There’s always surprises. We’re doing this all the time. How are you feeling? Let’s write it up. Let’s go to 20 names today, or 50 names, or 100 names, 10 names. We do those exercises all the time. It happens a lot.

“There are those types of discussions. Sometimes you do overall, sometimes you do by position. We’ll do guys that have certain skill sets – try to break ties. We were all in the office watching video late last night. Talking about it, trying to figure it out.”

The tie-breaker? Well, naturally it’s Danny Ainge, who has stockpiled three picks in the first round and five more in the second. 

“For every pick range there’s guys we’re fighting between and trying to figure it out. We have a lot of picks,” Austin Ainge said. 

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Austin Ainge recalls Marcus Smart ‘was horrible in his workout’ before callback at 2:08 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

WALTHAM – The Celtics are dotting their ‘I’s’ and crossing their ‘T’s’ this week. 

Some of those last-minute preparations for Thursday’s draft include calling players back for a second look. 

Austin Ainge, director of player personnel, reminded everyone Saturday, during the final media availability of group workouts in Waltham, that there is a certain value to bringing a player back for a second look, also known as a callback. 

Perhaps, the most recent example of this on a significant scale is Marcus Smart, the guard out of Oklahoma State taken sixth overall by the Celtics in the 2014 draft. 

“Marcus it was more like he was the guy we kinda wanted to take. And we all liked him a lot. Then he was horrible in his workout,” Ainge said. “And so when we went back and we watched film, we were like, ‘We do like this guy. Let’s give him another chance.’ So, that was the instance with that. We’ve done callbacks in years past where we didn’t end up taking the guy.

There have been callbacks where the guy was banged up or tired and so we said, ‘Alright, let’s look at you again.’ Or sometimes it’s as much as we found some things out in their background check and we want to talk to them about it. Or our doctor wants to take another look. All of these are reasons to have a guy come back.”

How different did Smart look the second time around?

“Significantly. He made shots. He was the Marcus that — he had more fire, just was the Marcus we had seen all season,” Ainge added. “Both of Marcus’ workouts were competitive workouts.

“It’s just case by case. Some guys are just really scheduled all the way up and some guys have room to come back and it just depends on everybody.”

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Austin Ainge: ‘Still too early’ to say how active trade market will be in draft 06.06.16 at 2:00 pm ET
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Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge speaks Monday to reporters in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge speaks Monday to reporters in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM  –  Austin Ainge is very aware of how much interest there is in what moves the Celtics might be making leading up to the June 23 draft or in the immediate aftermath. 

On Monday, the Celtics brought in 12 more players for pre-draft workouts, six apiece in two sessions. The workouts featured two from Kansas (Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson) and two from Brad Stevens’ old employer – Butler (Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones). 

With just over two weeks left before the draft, where does this leave the Celtics? 

“I don’t know. I think that each one of us would give you a different answer on our staff,” said Ainge, the team’s director of player personnel. “We have so many picks and trade possibilities and all these other things that we’ve all been talking about all summer. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Ainge said he and his dad don’t yet have a good gauge on how active other teams might be in the days leading up to the draft. 

“Not really. Not yet. Still too early. People are still trying to figure out who they like in different pick ranges and how valuable they are and what they might want to trade for,” Ainge said. “If you fall in love with a guy, maybe you should try to move up. We’re all just trying to figure out our own draft boards, still. I think it’s early for trades.” 

The Celtics also worked out two players from France (Isaia Cordinier, Guerschon Yabuele) and one from Spain (Jordan Sakho). 

“We really enjoy it. Get to know their level of English and get them outside of their systems a little bit, compare them against some of the college guys. I think it’s very valuable.” 

What are they looking for from the European kids? 

“Really, the same stuff as the college guys. We look for just how they’ll fit with the Celtics and get to know their personalities a little bit,” Ainge said. “Obviously, most of the things we judge them on we see in the games but this is a just a nice little piece. It is hard for young guys to earn minutes on professional teams sometimes. Sometimes we have a limited number of minutes we’ve seen them. This is always good to have them here.

“It’s case-by-case basis. We sit down with the coaches and discuss what we’d like to see from each guy in the workout. We put them in different situations to try to probe some of those strengths and weaknesses.” 

 

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics, Guerschon Yabusele
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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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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