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Danny Ainge on Kevin Garnett: ‘Don’t really have any conclusions’ 06.29.12 at 7:06 am ET
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Kevin Garnett

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that, with free agency set to commence on Sunday, the Celtics remain uncertain about the future of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics have an exclusive negotiating window with Garnett through the end of June; free agents can start negotiating with other teams on July 1, with a moratorium on signings from July 1-10.

“I’ve been talking with Kevin and his people and don’t really have any conclusions yet,” Ainge said after Thursday night’s NBA draft. “That’s our No. 1 option. One reason is because he’s such a valuable player, and one reason is because he’s the only guy we can talk to.”

The 36-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 60 games during the 2011-12 season.

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Five worst Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era 06.27.12 at 7:20 pm ET
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Danny Ainge has made a number of head-scratching draft day moves during his time as team president of the Celtics. (AP)

When Danny Ainge was hired as Celtics president of operations in 2003, he inherited a team on the upswing that had just come off of a pair of playoff exits following six straight seasons missing the playoffs.

Nine years later, Ainge has become known across the league for his bold decision-making, something that has helped the Celtics rise back to the elite of the NBA over the last five seasons. But despite the success, it hasn’t gone without some controversy and questionable moves.

As Ainge enters his 10th NBA draft in the Celtics front office, here’s a look at the top five worst draft day moves Ainge has made and how they’ve panned out.

5. J.R. Giddens, 30th pick, 2008 – Heralded as one of the best scorers in the 2008 draft class, Giddens simply just never panned out in the NBA. Considered to be a potential replacement for Tony Allen, who eventually left the Celtics in free agency, Giddens couldn’t live up to the defensive standards that Doc Rivers stresses and never received much playing time.

It didn’t begin well for Giddens, who declined to participate in minicamp after being drafted because he hadn’t agreed to a contract. After finally signing, the 6-foot-5 guard was put on assignment with the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League before getting called up to the Celtics in February 2009. He saw very limited action and saw eight minutes during the season.

In 2009-10, Giddens saw an increased role but still didn’t see much playing time. He played 4.7 minutes per game in 21 appearances, which even included a start on Jan. 2, 2010. He scored a career-high 10 points and posted nine rebounds against the 76ers on March 19, 2010, as a member of the Knicks after being traded by the Celtics. For his career, Giddens averaged 1.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 6.5 minutes per game.

Where is he now?: On Feb. 18, 2010, Giddens was traded by the Celtics as part of a deal that sent him, Bill Walker and Eddie House to the Knicks in exchange for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry. He saw an increased role with the Knicks but chose to leave the NBA after the season to pursue a career overseas. He spent 2010-11 in Poland before signing with PAOK Thessaloniki,  in Greece, where he currently plays.

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Five best Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era at 7:05 pm ET
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Through his bold draft day decision-making, Danny Ainge has been largely responsible for making the Celtics a championship contender over the last five seasons. (AP)

When he was hired as Celtics president of basketball operations in 2003, Danny Ainge was asked to bring the team back to its glory days from when he was a player on the team in the 1980s.

It may have taken a few years to fit the right pieces together, but it’s hard to argue Ainge’s success in his nine-year tenure as president. He’s made some questionable decisions, but he’s also responsible for bringing the Celtics their first championship in over two decades. With the NBA draft taking place Thursday night, here’s a look at five of Ainge’s best draft day moves.

5. Kendrick Perkins, 27th pick, 2003 – In the same deal that brought Boston one of its most disappointing acquisitions of the Ainge era in Marcus Banks, the Celtics also acquired Perkins, who proved to be one of the Celtics’ most valuable additions of the Ainge era. After barely getting playing time during his rookie season, he slowly moved into the rotation and developed into a dominant defensive center who repeatedly shut down the league’s best big men.

After Mark Blount was traded in 2006, Perkins became the regular starting center for the Celtics. He went on to start 78 games in 2007-08 and was a big contributor to the championship team that season. He was such a key contributor that in 2010, when the Celtics reached the NBA finals again, his inactivity in Game 7 after tearing his MCL and PCL in Game 6 has been argued to be the reason why the Celtics didn’t win their second championship in three seasons.

Where is he now?: Perkins was traded to the Thunder in 2011 in what is considered to be a questionable move by Ainge. Perkins signed a multi-year extension with Oklahoma City and this month made an NBA finals appearance against the Heat.

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Poll: Should Danny Ainge have broken up the Big Three? 04.18.12 at 10:10 am ET
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Memphis guard O.J. Mayo was almost a Celtic at the trade deadline. (AP)

At the trade deadline, the Celtics were 23-19 and just beginning to show signs of a second-half surge. Heading into Wednesday’s game with the Magic, they are 36-26, on course to win the Atlantic Division and possibly play more than just a spoiler’s role in the postseason.

Team president Danny Ainge didn’t make any moves at the deadline, but it wasn’t from lack of trying. He said he had a handful of deals in the works that just couldn’t reach completion and now we know what they were, thanks to a report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Per Woj, Ainge had a deal in place to send Ray Allen to Memphis for a package involving O.J. Mayo and a draft pick. Things were so far along that coach Doc Rivers even told Allen that it was done, only to have to pull back at the last minute when it fell apart.

Additionally, a deal that would have sent Paul Pierce to New Jersey for Mehmet Okur‘s expiring contract and their lottery pick also didn’t make it to the finish line. (The Nets made a similar deal involving Portland’s Gerald Wallace, leaving their pick top-3 protected).

If the deals had gone through, Ainge would have had Mayo — a 24-year-old shooting guard who has averaged 15 points in his four seasons — and multiple picks in what many consider to be a loaded draft. He also would have had essentially a blank canvas and more than $40 million in cap space to rebuild around Rajon Rondo with Pierce’s contract off the books.

One side effect of the deals that didn’t happen. Not only have the Celtics played better since the deadline, they have also seen Avery Bradley emerge as a potential cornerstone for the future. With Mayo in place, perhaps Bradley never gets a chance to get significant playing time. Since March 23, Bradley has averaged over 14 points a game and the Celtics are 11-4 with wins over Indiana, Philadelphia, Miami (twice) and Atlanta.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, but Ainge doesn’t necessarily feel that way. He told The Big Show last week that he still would have made the deals knowing what he knows now.

What do you think?

Should Danny Ainge have broken up the Big Three

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Kevin Garnett: ‘I don’t make a lot of friends’ 03.26.12 at 12:40 am ET
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What we knew: Ryan Hollins came highly recommended to Celtics president Danny Ainge from none other than Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce after the three of them played together in the Los Angeles area over the summer.

What we didn’t know: Hollins and Garnett became fast friends.

“I don’t make a lot of friends, but I can say I made one in him,” said KG. “I like the way the kid approaches the game. He wants to be more than good. You see it in his face. You see it in his work ethic. I’m a big fan of his, so I’m glad he’s here. Like any of the other guys, whatever he wants to know, I’m here for him. So, I’m happy he’s a C.”

It might take a while before Hollins becomes “more than good,” considering the 7-footer has totaled three points and one rebound in his two appearances for the Celtics — understandably appearing lost in the team’s sets on both ends of the floor.

One encouraging sign: After running into Keyon Dooling on a botched pick and roll, Hollins approached head coach Doc Rivers, asking what he did wrong on the play.

Hollins plays with an encouraging energy, attempting to mimic Garnett’s approach.

“I told him to be careful about my intensity,” said KG. “It’ll get him kicked out of the league.”

After all, Hollins earned a technical foul 20 seconds into his Celtics debut against the 76ers on Friday night (along with a fine, according to KG) and a personal foul 10 seconds into Sunday night’s 88-76 loss to the Wizards.

“You might want to be careful with that, you know?” added Garnett. “This intensity comes with a sense of meditation and a sense of under control, but I love his intensity. The kid plays really, really hard.”

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Irish Coffee: Bill Walton’s St. Patrick’s Day revisited 03.17.12 at 11:17 am ET
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The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year as a member of the 1985-86 Celtics that finished 67-15 during the regular season — and 41-1 at home in the Boston Garden — on their way to winning 15-of-18 playoff games and the franchise’s 16th NBA title, Bill Walton can wish you a St. Patrick’s Day far better than I can.

So, without further ado, I give you Walton uncensored, about five or six Guinesses deep most likely (from his appearance on the Big Show a year ago):

Bill Walton speaks during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announcement, Monday, April 5, 2010, in Indianapolis. Walton was on hand to present the Bob Cousey Award to Greivis Vasquez.

Bill Walton's thirst for life is no secret. Neither is his thirst for Guiness. (AP)

“Go Green. Go Guinness. I’m popping one right now. Ten million pints poured every day around this great globe of ours — the globe, the most perfect orb, just like the basketball. The basketball by itself does nothing, but when you make it an extension of your mind the way that [Rajon] Rondo does, the way that Danny Ainge did and DJ [Dennis Johnson] and Larry [Bird] and Kevin [McHale] and Chief [Robert Parish] and Jerry [Sichting] and Rick [Carlisle] and Scotty [Wedman] and all the guys did — but when you’re able to make an extension of your mind, of what it is you’re doing in life, whether it’s drinking a Guinness responsibly, whether you’re bouncing that magic basketball for the Celtic Green, you can make a difference, and that’s what we’re calling everybody to do on St. Patrick’s Day, the start of the college tournament, the most perfect harmonic convergence ever. Be bold, stand tall, quit your job and chase your dreams. …

“I only drink Guinness, the holy water falling from the sky, delivering spiritual guidance. We’re blessed. We’re so blessed. We’re on record pace, and we’re having the time of our life. …

“When this morning started, and it started more than 24 hours ago, the call to action was to take the day off. Who wants to lead a watered down life? C’mon. Let’s get up and be bold. Forget just taking the day off, just quit your job. Make your dream your job, and that’s what I was able to do. My parents ask me to this very day, ‘So, Billy, did you ever get a job?’ I’m closer than ever to being able to say yes. It’s so special. The remarkable thing about Guinness in our world is that in the mother country, Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday. In Canada, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday. Somewhere, we got lost along the path, along the golden road to unlimited devotion. …

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Celtics stand pat, but real work already done 03.16.12 at 10:51 am ET
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Danny Ainge has a plan, and it does involve making desperation moves at the trade deadline. (AP)

SACRAMENTO — Someone asked Danny Ainge if the Celtics were sellers or buyers at the deadline, and the answer was basically both, but the question missed the essential element of the position Ainge believes he is in with the franchise.

This has never been about this year. That was evident in December when Ainge loaded up on players with one-year contracts, and it’s been evident for the last several years when he refused to extend commitments beyond the summer of 2012. Ainge wasn’t going to deal his first-round draft picks in an attempt to put a Band-Aid on this year’s squad, and at the same time he was engaged in talks involving some of his core stars, but only if they yielded picks and players. So while he wasn’t looking to buy, he also wasn’t trying to conduct an everything-must-go fire sale.

“I was looking at both opportunities,” Ainge said. “To strengthen our team for the playoff run this year and for building up some chips and grabbing some assets for the future. We actually had a lot of conversations on both sides of that.”

The Celtics did nothing at the deadline, although they were active in talks right up until Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline. They will be active in the search for a big man to replace Chris Wilcox and possibly Jermaine O’Neal, but that will take at least a week. The deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for the postseason is March 23, and Ainge said the team will be patient while that process plays out.

This year’s team stays intact and will be allowed to take one final shot at pulling off some kind of a miracle run. You can call it misplaced optimism if you like, but the players and coaches truly believe they can be dangerous in the playoffs, as long as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and especially Kevin Garnett are healthy in May.

“We have a lot of games and not very many days. So I anticipate us looking really good some nights and looking bad some nights,” Ainge said. “I have a lot of faith in our guys. They know the time and the score and they know when the lights are on. They rise to the occasion at big moments. They have a great deal of pride and experience and know-how. I’m hoping that we can get to the playoffs healthy. And add a little bit of beef between now and the playoffs and we’ll take our chances there.”

This summer Ainge will have cap room and draft picks and a handful of young players along with Pierce and Rondo to work with. No one is ever safe on the Celtics as long as Ainge is in charge, and while that may yield an uncomfortable working environment on occasion, he will never let his team get caught in a mess like the one Orlando is going through with Dwight Howard.

At the same time, he won’t let the Celtics fall down the same path as a team like the Nets, who put all their eggs in Howard’s basket only to see him scuttle their plans by letting emotion get in the way of business.

This is only the first step in Ainge’s rebuilding plan and there are only guesses as to where he goes from here. The real effort begins this summer, but the legwork already has been done.

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