|Larry Bird: ‘Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing’||07.08.13 at 6:29 pm ET|
One of the greatest Celtics in franchise history believes the team’s intensely loyal fan base should trust in Danny Ainge.
Larry Bird, speaking to reporters Monday at the Orlando summer league games, said he understands why his former teammate and current president of basketball operations of the Celtics traded heart-and-soul pieces Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last week to the Brooklyn Nets.
“Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing,” Bird said. “He won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge. Danny does a good job. You know, you do get older. You can’t beat Father Time, and I’m sure things will work out.”
Pierce will be 36 next season while Garnett will be 37 when he suits up with Brooklyn. Both, Bird said Monday can be productive with the Nets.
“I think they’ve both been pretty healthy throughout their careers,” Bird said Monday. “They haven’t had the major, major injuries that I had. I think they got plenty left. The way they will be coached and the bench that they have. Yeah — they’ll pick their spots, but when the time comes, they’ll be there.”
Bird, who serves as Ainge’s counterpart with the Pacers, acknowledged it’s disappointing to see Pierce, the second-leading scorer in Celtics franchise history, not be able to do what he did and finish his career playing only for the Celtics.
“I would have loved to see it,” Bird said. “I got a lot of respect for Paul and what he has accomplished. But who says he’s not going to play another four years? It’s a tough situation.”
Pierce, who turns 36 Oct. 13, averaged 18.6 points per game this past season and, with 24,021 points, trails only John Havlicek on Boston’s all-time scoring list.
“[Pierce] is one of the better ones to ever come through there, he really is,” Bird insisted.
|Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘Damn lie’ for Danny Ainge to say he’s not tearing down Celtics for rebuild||at 11:53 am ET|
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Celtics’ hiring of Brad Stevens and the team’s rebuilding process.
“I like the hire,” Smith said. “I think he’s a bright, young coach. I think Danny Ainge deserves a lot of credit, did a phenomenal job in plucking him out of the college game. I think when you consider what he brings to the table, not just in terms of his acumen as a coach but his temperament, I think that goes a long way towards helping the Boston Celtics basically resurrect themselves. Because where they are right now, obviously they’re going to be struggling for quite some time. You’ve got to remember, this is a team that’s been plucked. They’re rebuilding now. [Kevin Garnett] is gone, Paul Pierce is gone. You’ve got all of this stuff going on. In my opinion, even though they’re talking about keeping [Rajon] Rondo, I think Rondo should be gone. You’ve just got to start anew.
“In the end, what it comes down to is that this man knows basketball He’s a bright young mind. He’s not the kind of guy like Rick Pitino — as great as Rick Pitino is as a coach, we all know that he’s the kind of individual that really pushes the envelope to some degree and was screaming and pacing around like a bat out of hell. Trying to do it for 82 games, that kind of stuff wears on professional athletes getting paid millions of dollars. The kind of temperament that Brad Stevens brings to the table I think is incredibly beneficial to the Boston Celtics. And I think they deserve a lot of credit for picking him as their guy to succeed Doc Rivers. I think it’s a tremendous hire.”
Ainge has insisted the team is not tanking, but Smith puts little faith in that statement.
“I think that’s kind of a lie, to be quite honest with you,” Smith said. “Listen, I’m not trying to denigrate Danny Ainge in any way. But the fact of the matter is, you lose KG, you lose Paul Pierce, you go in a different direction even though Rondo is here. You’re clearly in rebuilding mode. There’s no way around this.
“And if you didn’t think you were in rebuilding mode, Brad Stevens would not have gotten a six-year deal. This is a guy you plucked out of college, you gave him a six-year deal worth about $22 million. He’s getting pair nearly 4 million a year. There’s plenty of coaches in this league who have coached in this league, who have a modicum of success, that are not getting paid the salary that Brad Stevens is getting paid. You know why you had to pay him those dollars? It wasn’t just to pluck him away from a mid-major like Butler. It was to ask him to stay the course, because you know this is going to be a long way back to prominence. That’s what this is.
“So, Danny Ainge can tell you what he wants to. I respect the man, I respect what he’s accomplished. And I certainly am not trying to denigrate him in any way. But that’s a damn lie, what he just said right there. I’m sorry.”
ESPN/ABC basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Celtics‘ offseason maneuverings.
The C’s pulled off a surprise move last week when they named Butler’s Brad Stevens their new coach.
“I think he’s a great, great basketball coach,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think there will be too big an adjustment — or too big of an adjustment basketball-wise. This guy is really, really smart. I think their players will respect his confidence, his sincerity, his reliability and his trustworthiness. He’s a quality person and coach.
“Now, the difference is, you’re going to lose some, and maybe a lot, depending on the construction of the roster. That, coupled with the length of a season, is always a challenge in the NBA when you go through a rebuilding situation. But I think his demeanor and his poise, along with his contract, will serve him well through the rebuilding situation.”
Added Van Gundy: “I honestly think that this is not a risk. People say it’s a risk. I don’t think it’s a risk for anybody. When Brad Stevens is done with the Celtics in six years, 10 years, 15 years, he can always go back and get a great, great college job. And for the Celtics, it’s not a risk because this guy’s a great person and a great basketball coach. How they do record-wise over his tenure there is going to be not based on his coaching ability. His coaching ability will be fine. It’s going to be their roster. Can they get him a good enough roster to work with and win with? If they do, they’ll win there.”
Asked if he or his brother Stan were contacted about the Celtics’ opening, Van Gundy said: “I have no idea about my brother. I know I wasn’t. Hey, listen, I have such respect for the Celtics that anybody would be interested if the Celtics call. They just have a great, obviously, history, they have great ownership, they have great management. So, anybody would be interested.”
As the Celtics head into a rebuilding period, Van Gundy warned that people need to avoid becoming impatient as the long season wears on.
“There’s very few people — teams, fan bases, organizations, coaches, players — who really have the stomach for a long rebuild,” he said. “It sounds good in theory. But Boston was tiring of rebuilding until Danny Ainge pulled off the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett trades. No one likes losing 18 straight games. This is where I thought Doc Rivers took unnecessary criticism. That he didn’t want to go through a long rebuild? He’d already done that. He’d already gone through that purgatory time in Boston. So, that he wouldn’t want to redo it again in Boston? I completely understand.
“There’s got to be a stomach for this rebuilding. And it really starts with the media, the management, the ownership. Because they’re so used to winning, that this may be a period of mediocrity. It may be that 41-40 record last year, that may be the norm. Or maybe they get a few more wins or maybe they get a few less wins, or maybe a lot less wins. You can’t just believe that in theory. You’ve got to be able to live through the dreary nights that are coming to the Boston Garden. And accept that this is part of the NBA, that you can’t stay great forever.
“I think that’s going to be the toughest adjustment for everybody. They’re coming off such a great period of winning, where they had the ultimate competitors in Garnett and [Paul] Pierce. So, to see them go, to see them go into the Eastern Conference. The whole thing is going to be difficult. And that’s where I think Brad’s demeanor will really help him. He’ll focus on trying to get better every day, incremental improvement. And if he can do that, I think he will have fulfilled his obligation to the Celtics very, very well.”
|Ian Thomsen on D&C: Celtics ‘need to trade’ Rajon Rondo following ‘fascinating’ hiring of Brad Stevens||07.04.13 at 1:09 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen joined the Dennis & Callahan show, with guest hosts Butch Stearns and Adam Pellerin, on Thursday morning to discuss the Celtics‘ hiring of Butler’s Brad Stevens to be their next coach.
Stevens, 36, reportedly was given a six-year, $22 million deal to oversee the rebuilding of the C’s.
“This was a real shocker, but it’s inspired,” Thomsen said. “They have a plan. It’s unlike any other team’s plan. I think they have a chance to make it work, so, good for them.”
Thomsen’s biggest concern is Stevens’ adjustment to an NBA that values its players far more than its coaches.
“I think the risk is you don’t know if he’s going to be any good,” Thomsen said. “It’s just a different world, a totally different world. It used to be that college coaches could make the jump to the NBA, because, as we all know, NBA players weren’t making that much money, they didn’t have that much power. When Red Auerbach was coaching, there was no free agency. He had the final say over contracts. Everything was different.
“Now the players in the NBA have more control than the coaches, except for a few situations. So, for a college coach to come in — look, these college programs are all about the coach. It’s all about the coach. And the coach every day goes out there and makes sure everybody on the team knows that it’s all about him. It’s all about Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski], it’s all about the other coaches, it was all about Jim Calhoun at UConn.
“They come to the NBA and all of a sudden they don’t have that power over the players. The players have the power over them. It’s an entirely different situation. That’s why these college coaches that in the past have been hired to coach bad teams, they’ve been fired after a couple of years, it’s been disastrous and they’ve given the whole thing a bad name.
“Why I think this can be different is because they are giving him six years. Danny [Ainge] has replaced who is arguably the best coach that isn’t about to retire in the NBA, Doc Rivers, he’s chosen to replace Doc with this guy, who has no track record. So, they’re trying to build on what Doc developed by rekindling the whole Celtics tradition, and trying to build on that by hiring this guy.
“In most circumstances you would say it’s a big mistake. I would. I’ve been saying all along that it’s impossible for a college coach to make the jump and win in the NBA. But this is a different circumstance than all the others. They’re giving him a six-year commitment, so they’re saying, ‘We’re not going to be judging you after two years, and we’re going to be rebuilding the team anyway, but we’re going to be standing by you.’ None of that has happened for any of the college coaches coming in. So, this is different. He’s trying to build a program. he’s trying to develop the old traditions and keep them relevant in this modern age. I think it’s fascinating and it’s inspiring.”
Added Thomsen: “They’re trying to indoctrinate this guy in the Celtic way. To me, the Celtic way means something. It’s an ideal. It’s hard to believe that it can work in this day and age, but they’re trying to make it work, and good for them.”
Thomsen is convinced that the Stevens hiring spells the end of Rajon Rondo’s tenure in Boston.
“It just makes sense all the way around,” Thomsen said. “If they keep Rondo, then they will not bottom out, for starters. If you want to look at it cynically, they won’t lose enough games. They’ll win just enough games to not be terrible, but they’ll never have a chance to be good. They won’t have the means to go out and get the great players that you need in the NBA.
“But then the other part of it is, I just don’t see how he can be coached by a guy that’s never been in the NBA. Doc Rivers is known in the NBA for being the coach that can confront players, can work with them, can laugh with them, can yell at them, can do all these different things. It took everything Doc had to make it work with Rondo It took all of his experience, all of his wisdom, just to keep Rondo as a constructive member of the team. And Danny and Wyc [Grousbeck], they know that. They know that. So, I just don’t see how they would make this big investment with a young coach who’s never been to an NBA practice, and then put him with one of the smartest players in the league, a great player — Rondo has a lot going for him, but Rondo’s not going to put up with somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
|Celtics announce Butler’s Brad Stevens to become new coach, replacing Doc Rivers||07.03.13 at 5:57 pm ET|
Stevens will be introduced at a press conference Friday at 11 a.m.
The following is the press release sent out by the team:
The Boston Celtics announced today that they have come to an agreement with Brad Stevens to be the 17th head coach of the team. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not announced.
Stevens, age 36, has served for the past six years as the head coach of Butler University men’s basketball team, never winning fewer than 22 games and leading the Bulldogs to two national championship games against Duke and Connecticut. His career win percentage is .772, including a 33-5 season in 2009-10. He was also the youngest coach to reach the Final Four since Bob Knight in 1973.
A native of Zionsville, Ind., Stevens was a three-time academic All-America nominee while earning four varsity letters at DePauw University, before graduating with a degree in economics. He later joined the Butler University program as the coordinator of basketball operations under then-coach Thad Matta, before being named head coach in 2007.
“Brad and I share a lot of the same values,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18.”
|Irish Coffee: What next for Danny Ainge’s Celtics?||07.02.13 at 8:05 am ET|
Strap in, because this may take a while. The previous rebuilding phase lasted 22 years, and Kris Humphries is involved this time around. A locker room shared by the former Mr. Kardashian and Rajon Rondo might just ignite enough toxicity to blow these Celtics up from the inside out. That’s one option, I guess.
At least C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acquired a handful of building blocks, adding an additional first-round draft pick in four of the next five seasons and clearing cap space in 2014. Whatever else he accomplishes over the next couple months, it will all be done with an eye toward next summer.
As a result, don’t expect a Josh Smith to join the Celtics during the NBA’s free-agency period that began on Monday. Ainge admitted as much when introducing “not star” rookie 7-footers Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson.
Sure, the Celtics could chase a sign-and-trade deal for Smith, ink Rondo’s high school roommate to double-digit millions and let a handful of wildly entertaining sixth-seeded seasons commence, but that wouldn’t get them much closer to the only thing that matters around here: An 18th banner. As Ainge said, “This is the Boston Celtics.”
Of course, Ainge also said, “We are not tanking. That’s ridiculous.” So, what exactly is he doing?
|Danny Ainge talks Dwight Howard, NBA free agency||07.01.13 at 9:56 pm ET|
While Danny Ainge told reporters in Mattapan that “free agency right now is not a priority for us,” the Celtics president of basketball operations inquired about free agent Lakers center Dwight Howard.
Ainge reportedly put a call in to gauge Howard’s interest in a sign-and-trade involving the C’s bitter rivals, but Howard’s representatives said, “No,” according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
During a press conference introducing 7-foot rookies Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson, Ainge announced he is more interested in “cleaning up” the roster than lobbying a list of free agents that includes Howard, Josh Smith, Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis.
Still, Ainge reiterated his stance on Rajon Rondo: The three-time All-Star point guard is a centerpiece worth building around, and the Celtics aren’t actively seeking a trade for him. That’s not to say they won’t pick up the phone when other teams inquire about Rondo, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and everybody else, including Olynyk — just as Howard’s agents answered Ainge’s call.
“Maybe the assumption is that we’ll give away any of our players,” Ainge told reporters from the Boston Center for Youth & Families Mildred Avenue Community Center. “There has been calls for all those guys, and maybe the assumption is we’re just changing everybody, but we’re not. We’re starting to get younger.”
Considering the departure of coach Doc Rivers and the pending trade of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets on July 12, the Celtics appear to be sinking deeper and deeper toward the 2014 NBA draft lottery, but Ainge assured Washburn, “We are not tanking. That’s ridiculous. This is the Boston Celtics.”
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