|Danny Ainge ‘would like to see Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic’||01.31.13 at 5:22 pm ET|
As always, in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Big Show, Celtics president Danny Ainge spoke openly about the state of his team. He made two things clear following Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury: 1) “It’s silly” to think they’ll be better without him and 2) Paul Pierce trades haven’t been discussed.
“He single-handedly carried us many nights, and I don’t see how people don’t see that,” said Ainge. “When people say we’re going to be better without Rondo or the team’s going to do better without him, it’s silly. He’s a great, great player, and he’s proven that time and time again. The guy’s been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years — not just individual games here and there or triple-doubles on national TV. He’s been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He’s been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He’s been the best player in three games of an NBA Finals.”
Even before Rondo’s injury, Pierce’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors. His contract, which has just $5 million guaranteed for next season, seemingly makes him an attractive target around the league.
“Nothing has been talked about with Paul,” said Ainge. “Nothing is close to being done. I too would like to see Paul retire as a Celtic. That would be great. We’re all attached to Paul. He’s been great for the city, the franchise, and he’s been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up, I would talk to Paul. My job is to do what’s in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players.”
The Celtics president claimed few teams have come calling for any Celtics outside of Ray Allen the last few years — citing the fact “nothing got close” in the recent Rudy Gay sweepstakes — and explained that none of his players have asked that they be kept in the loop about trades (again, except for Allen last season).
“We are open [to making deals] and listening, but we don’t feel pressure to do anything,” said Ainge. “Whether we win every game or whether we struggle, I think it all depends on what opportunities are presented. We want to make some change to help improve our team.”
Meanwhile, Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger left Wednesday’s win in the first quarter with back spasms. He missed practice Thursday, is undergoing tests and remains day-to-day. The issues are apparently the same ones that led to Sullinger falling to the C’s in the draft. Ainge admitted, “I’m a little surprised that it’s taken this long.”
To listen to the entire interview, visit the Big Show’s audio page.
|Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: Celtics ‘going to look at everything’ regarding trade possibilities||01.28.13 at 12:03 pm ET|
Wojnarowski said the C’s prospects for the postseason haven’t changed that much. “This is still probably a first-round loser in the Eastern Conference playoffs,” he said.
However, the C’s could decide to make some changes to the roster. Rumors around the web have the Celtics interested in Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. Wojnarowski said neither of those players would make much sense for the C’s, because Boston would have to give up too much — likely including first-round draft picks.
“They’re not giving away picks right now — maybe if Rondo was still around, possibly,” Wojnarowski said. “Danny [Ainge] said it to me yesterday, and it’s true: Picks are hard to come by. People don’t want to trade them anymore. ‘¦ I just don’t see Boston giving away picks right now — to do what? Maybe somebody could make them better, but you’re mortgaging your future a little bit if you start giving away picks for a player who might able to help you win a couple of regular-season games and at best maybe a playoff game, if even that. I’d be surprised if Boston started to do that and gave away pieces of their future for a stopgap for the rest of the year.”
“I think it’s possible and I think there is a chance,” Wojnarowski said. “And I talked to Ainge about this yesterday, I talked to Doc [Rivers] about it. It gets back to the fact of, you can’t just do it for the sake of doing it. People say let’s blow it up, get rid of KG, get rid of Pierce and ‘start over.’ But you’ve got to remember that you have owners who still see the place is full every night. And maybe they can get in the playoffs, and the [revenue from] playoff games. Versus dumping these guys for what might be very modest returns.
“It’s one thing when you have a Carmelo Anthony and a Dwight Howard and you do the deals Orlando and Denver did, where you got good young players, you got draft picks. ‘¦ KG and Pierce are aging All-Stars in the mid- to upper 30s. People in this league anymore aren’t giving you young players and picks for those guys. So, like Danny said, tell me what the offer’s going to be. We can’t just say, hey, we’re going to ‘blow this up’ and start over. What will the offer be? Tell me what we’ll have the opportunity to do and then we’ll look at it. But you can’t just go into it and say, ‘Well, this is definitely what we’re going to do,’ because there may not be a deal out there that’s worth doing for those guys.
“But there’s no question they’re going to look at everything; they’ve been looking at everything. Danny’s not afraid to have a discussion about all his players. He’s always done it, to see what they’re value is. But I don’t think there’s any big deal out there where Boston’s going to get a great young player or one or two good first-round picks for either of those guys.”
“I’ve heard about that deal for days, I’ve asked about it, and I haven’t found anybody who’s given yet any credence to it. ‘¦ For the Celtics, giving up Pierce to get Gasol? Obviously they have a problem in the middle, there’s no question he could help them go back to being a grinding low-post team. But it’s a lot of money for Boston to take on going forward by bringing in Gasol — two years, [$]40 million. I guess we’d have to see if ownership would be willing to take on that much money and if they think that would put them over the top. To me, that deal makes them a little different; I don’t know if it makes them significantly better.”
Saunders, a former NBA coach who served as an adviser to the Celtics for part of last season, said Doc Rivers faces a “challenging” situation.
“Doc, he’s an extremely positive individual,” Saunders said. ” I’m sure that there’s disappointment. But he looks at this as an opportunity and a challenge. Him and his staff, of course, they’ll change how they play a little bit, because you can’t play the same when you’re missing a guy like Rondo that generates 40 percent of their offense, basically, from what he does either scoring-wise or setting people up.
“They’ll change a little bit, but Doc’s not going to let this be any excuse either to himself, to his team, the organization or the players that they can’t go out and compete and win.”
Saunders said he expects some basic changes, including Rivers becoming more controlling of the offense and the team’s two veteran stars playing a bigger role.
“They’ll change a little bit,” Saunders said. “They’ll probably become more defensive-oriented, even more so now. I really believe that Doc will probably have to do more play-calling, where when he had Rondo, he was kind of an extension of him on the floor — he let Rondo pretty much run the show, call the plays. I think now he’s probably going to be a little bit more calling plays from the sidelines.
“And I think you’ll see more of the offense facilitated through Paul Pierce. You saw yesterday Paul getting a triple-double. And probably putting the ball into [Kevin Garnett] in the post more and letting people play off of him in the post.”
There has been speculation that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will attempt to make a major trade to start the rebuilding process. Saunders isn’t so sure.
“I don’t think so, no. I think they’re going to hold tight. They’re going to give this one more go of it,” Saunders said. “I think the idea that they feel is that we can see where this takes us, let’s give these guys an opportunity to play together and still know that in the offseason if they had to do something they could probably still do something in the offseason if the season didn’t go as they liked.”
Saunders, who coached Garnett in Minnesota, said he doesn’t think the veteran would accept a trade.
“I really believe right now that he’s very much set. He loves Boston. I don’t think he wants to leave Boston,” Saunders said. “KG is a creature of habit. He doesn’t like change. He always was bothered when players were either traded or released. That’s just kind of his innate nature. I believe that he believes he’s a Boston Celtic. I believe that when they sat down and they talked [about a new contract in the offseason] they talked about him finishing his career in Boston. Otherwise he probably would have just rode into the sunset.”
|Danny Ainge: ‘Radically’ changing Celtics makes no sense||01.16.13 at 9:17 am ET|
While the Celtics have been linked to almost every big name on the market (DeMarcus Cousins, Marcin Gortat, etc.), team president Danny Ainge claims he doesn’t foresee a major trade before the Feb. 21 deadline.
‘That doesn’t make a lot of sense to radically change the team when you’re trying to compete to win it all,’ Ainge told Comcast in a preview of a 20-minute interview that will air prior to Wednesday night’s Celtics game against the Hornets. ‘We have been and will continue to look to upgrade our team, but I think it’s always more unlikely that that happens than likely.’
Based on those comments, Ainge either: a) changed his philosophy in the wake of the Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green swap with the Thunder in 2011; or b) didn’t believe that trade would “radically change the team.” In which case, does he believe a deal involving Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger or anybody not named Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett radically changes these C’s?
Either way, his statements appear to be a vote of confidence in Doc Rivers and this season’s Celtics as the result of their six-game winning streak. But who’s to say he won’t change his mind over the next five weeks?
‘You have to produce,” added Ainge, who has admitted urging Red Auerbach during the 1988-89 NBA season to trade Larry Bird for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich in addition to dealing Kevin McHale to the Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. And those were his friends. “It’s my job to look at the bigger picture. We have to live in the moment and try to win and help our team have success, but at the same time, if it’s not happening on the court, than there has to be changes made, absolutely.’
|Opinion: Danny Ainge correct to sound alarm for Celtics||12.21.12 at 7:21 am ET|
The Celtics no longer are one of the toughest teams to play in the NBA, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge does not appear content with that reality. After watching his team play mediocre defense over a 25-game sampling, Ainge on Thursday criticized the players’ collective play on The Big Show.
“We’ve got to prevent those runs by other teams and those droughts that we have at the offensive end and giving up so many lay-ins on the defensive end,” Ainge said. “There’s just no excuse for the way we’re playing. Yeah, you need to take time to find out who we are, but there’s no excuse for giving up 32 points in the paint in a half against Chicago, and there’s no excuse for giving up a 17-0 run to Cleveland.”
Last year’s Celtics delivered the template for a veteran NBA team looking to flip the proverbial switch in season. A five-game losing streak just before the All-Star break put the team’s record at 15-17. The Celtics went 24-10 after the break and eventually made a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
So why is Ainge sounding the alarm in December? From a distance, the Celtics’ 13-12 start to this season appears to follow the same trend — a veteran team going through the motions some nights, saving its collective legs for the second half and postseason.
A closer look proves that this year’s team is much different than last year’s team, and perhaps not due the same measure of patience from Ainge.
The most glaring difference between this year’s Celtics and last year’s is their inability to play strong team defense. Even when last year’s team slogged through the first half of the season, it ranked as one of the top two teams in the NBA defensively. Before the break, the 2011-12 C’s held opposing teams to 89.4 points per game and a field goal percentage of 41.9. Those numbers increased slightly after the break to 90.1 points per game and a field goal percentage of 42.1. Despite the slight increases, the Celtics still finished the season as the second-ranked team in the NBA in points allowed, behind only the Bulls, and they ranked first in opponents’ field goal percentage.
The Celtics’ most marked improvements last season took place on the offensive end. The C’s scoring average jumped from 89.4 before the break to 94.1 in the 34 games after. Their field goal percentage improved from 45.8 to 46.5.
|Opinion: Is Danny Ainge the problem?||12.07.12 at 8:51 am ET|
Danny Ainge always will be invincible in his executive role for the Celtics, riding on the goodwill that he earned from serving as the architect of the 2007-08 championship team. Ainge is the man who effectively swapped Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and three first-round draft picks for Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and a second-round pick that turned into Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
Ainge earned the NBA’s Executive of the Year award for the 2007-08 season, and looking back, his acquisitions look just as good as they did when he received that distinction more than four years ago.
Ainge hit on just about every transaction that offseason. First, he made the trade for Allen on draft day for Jeff Green, West and Szczerbiak. The throw-in to the trade was Seattle’s second-round pick, Davis, who arguably has had a better career than Green.
Ainge’s entire offseason followed the same trend. He pulled off the Garnett trade on July 31, nearly depleting the C’s roster with the goal of building a team around Garnett, Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Ainge began filling out the roster with complementary pieces such as Eddie House and James Posey that offseason. During the season, he acquired P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell, rounding out a championship roster from top to bottom.
Four-plus years after the Celtics’ championship run, Ainge has failed in repeating that feat with nearly the same exact core. Dissecting the president of basketball operations’ track record over the last four seasons, it is fair to say Ainge has missed more than he’s hit since the Celtics hoisted the championship trophy.
2008-09 season: Ainge kicked off the Celtics’ bid to repeat as champions by drafting J.R. Giddens with the 30th pick of the 2008 draft. Giddens played 38 games in his NBA career, only six for the Celtics. Of course, picking at the bottom of the first round is never an exact science for an NBA general manager. That being said, Giddens was the 30th pick. The 31st pick was Nikola Pekovic, who is averaging 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Timberwolves this season. Picks 34 through 36 included Mario Chalmers by the Heat, DeAndre Jordan by the Clippers, and Omer Asik by the Trail Blazers. Chalmers was the starting point guard for the NBA champion Heat last season. Jordan is averaging 10.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his career. Asik is averaging 10.9 points and 12.1 rebounds this season for the Rockets.
|Al Jefferson on Celtics: ‘If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again’||11.14.12 at 7:27 pm ET|
Talk about full circle.
If you’re a Celtics fan wouldn’t it be something if the Celtics were somehow able to land Al Jefferson in free agency next season? The man most famous for being the biggest chip that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston in the summer of 2007 spoke before taking on his former team Wednesday at the Garden. He forced the first overtime of Utah’s 140-133 triple-overtime win over Toronto Monday night with a rebound and a 3-pointer.
A lot of things would have to fall into place. First, Jefferson would have to turn down what he considers to be a situation in Salt Lake City that he says compares very favorably to Boston.
“We haven’t had any conversations,” Jefferson said before his match up with the Celtics Wednesday night. “This is all about going out and taking care of business. If I go out and take care of my business, everything else will work itself out. I’m not really concerned about it.”
Jefferson is making $15 million in the final year of his deal in Utah.
“I want to be in the NBA,” Jefferson said. “When both teams want me, that’s when I need to start worrying. Right now, I just want to be in the NBA, I want to be with the Utah Jazz to be honest with you. I’d love to stay in Utah. They do things the right way, kind of remind me of Boston, first class. They do everything the right way. They have to do what’s best for their team and I have to do what’s best for my family. Right now, it’s all about winning and getting back to the playoffs.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. You really don’t want to think too far ahead. You have to take care of business day-by-day. If I do my part, everything will work out.”
As for Boston?
“This is my first home,” he said with a big smile. “This will always be my home away from home. Danny Ainge gave me a chance when nobody else did. If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again. But right now, like I said, it’s all about taking care of business and finishing out the season right.”
Last year, Doc Rivers took his former big man to dinner. This year?
“Nah, screw Al,” Rivers laughed. “I don’t have time for him. He’s too good now. I didn’t. It’s just a tough trip.”
Jefferson is averaging 15.8 points and 11 rebounds and has started all eight games for the Jazz this year. So much has changed for Jefferson, who has had his share of terrible injury luck, including blowing out his knee in Minnesota in three non-playoff seasons there before finally getting a taste of the playoffs last season with the Jazz.
“It was always a rebuilding year in Minnesota,” Jefferson said. “It’s just been great to get to the Jazz, where it’s just like Boston – all about winning. They always have winning in mind. Danny’s probably thinking right now of a way to win five years from now. That’s just the way it is [in Boston] and that’s the way it is in Utah.”
“He just keeps getting better and better,” Rivers said. “The thing I thought I’d never say about Al is he’s becoming a better passer, and I’m very happy about that for him. He just keeps working on his game.
“I think he hit that one little stretch, where he lost a lot and you can see he’s fought through that now. I think making that playoff run, he was a big part of it last year, has kind of restoked him, and it’s good. He’s a heck of a guy.”
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