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Ainge: We like our talent 09.23.10 at 1:14 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

QUINCY — Speaking to reporters before the Celtics annual golf fundraiser to support The Shamrock Foundation, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge noted: “I think this is the most talented team we’ve had in quite a while. Now it’s just a matter of it all coming together.”

Never one to tip his hand, Ainge acknowledged that the team has been bringing in players such as Rashad McCants and Adam Morrison (who just agreed to a training camp deal with the Wizards), but said, “We may be all done, and we may not.”

Where the Celtics are thin is at the backup wing position behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Ainge brought in Delonte West and Von Wafer, and re-signed Marquis Daniels to primarily fill those roles. West and Daniels, in particular, seem to have the inside track.

“Had we not had the [Kendrick Perkins] injury, maybe our focus would have been on backup wings for Paul and Ray,” Ainge said. “It was still a priority. After we got our center positions filled, bringing in Delonte and Nate [Robinson], I think were huge just to take minutes off of [Rajon] Rondo and Paul and Ray. I think we have great depth now in bringing Marquis back.”

On the subject of Daniels, it hardly seemed a given that he would return to Boston after falling out of favor, and the rotation, following a mid-season thumb injury. Ainge, however, sounded an optimistic note about his contributions.

“It didn’t work out for him [last year],” Ainge said. “Tony [Allen] earned the minutes, but coming out of training camp Marquis won those minutes. Marquis outplayed all of our bench players throughout October, November and December until he had the [thumb] injury. We know what Marquis is capable of doing.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Rivers: ‘I was … leaning heavily’ toward leaving 07.28.10 at 10:05 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was “leaning heavily” toward taking a sabbatical after this past season, because he was “spent” after the draining campaign and he wanted to spend more time with his family.

In an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz at a high school tournament in Orlando where his son was playing, Rivers said of the Celtics’ injury plagued, up-and-down 2009-10 season: “It was just a tough year, literally a tough year.”

Despite the Celtics coming within a quarter of winning the NBA title, Rivers said after the season, “I was spent,” adding, “I was most likely leaning heavily the other way — more because of [watching sons Austin and Spencer play].”

Rivers said when the season ended, he was “pretty much done, and Danny [Ainge] knew that.” He said he called coaching legends Pat Riley and Larry Brown for reassurance before committing to returning. “It was very helpful,” he said. “They’ve all been through it.”

Rivers said he consulted with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, then free agents, as well. “I wasn’t coming back unless they were coming back,” Rivers said. “I was first, and I thought that was important for them. We all talked. I can tell you that. I made sure. I knew they had to do their business. And Ray scared me a little bit with the money out there. They had said they were coming back and then you see what everyone was getting.”

Rivers signed for one year and still is considering a sabbatical as an option in the future.

“I’m just doing it year to year,” Rivers said. “Danny was great. [Co-owner] Wyc [Grousbeck] offered a long-term deal, but I didn’t think it was fair to them. I didn’t want to walk out of a contract.”

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Celtics announce Robinson signing 07.19.10 at 1:51 pm ET
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The Celtics announced the signing of Nate Robinson on Monday. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 10.1 points, 2.9 assists and 39 percent shooting from 3-point range last season between the Knicks and Celtics.

“It’s great to have Nate back, and we think that he can contribute more significantly this upcoming season after a full training camp with the team,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. “He helped us win some crucial playoff games this past postseason, and we believe that we will see great things from him this coming season.”

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Ainge on D&C: Perk out until February 07.15.10 at 12:40 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called into the Dennis & Callahan show to discuss the offseason so far for the C’s. On the docket were many hot topics, including the signing of Jermaine O’Neal, pursuing several new players, the return of Doc Rivers and many of last year’s playoff team, and when Kendrick Perkins could be expected to return to the team.

“It’s projected that he’ll be back probably after the All-Star break, could be my guess, sometime in mid- to late February,” Ainge said. “We’ll be very careful with Perk and not be in a rush to get him back, but I guess there’s a chance to get him back probably a little earlier, that’s probably realistic.”

Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the full interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan show audio on demand page.

On the LeBron James sweepstakes and how he handled himself:

[I feel] the same thing everybody else feels. It was over the top, it was too much. I think he should have told the Cavaliers well beforehand what he was doing. I just think there were a lot of things that weren’t handled perfectly. It was not fun to watch and see. I didn’t really enjoy the dance show a day or two after either, celebrating in Miami.

I like the way the Celtics have done it and our players, like Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce], it’s hard to get them to even talk to the media after they sign new contracts.

On Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s subsequent comments:

I think they were inappropriate and I don’t think that’s the right way to handle it either. [They’re] understandable, but not the right way at all.

On the Celtics’ prospects against the new Miami Heat:

No matter where LeBron was going to go he was going to be in the Eastern Conference and [his new team was] going to be really good, whether he was staying in Cleveland or New York, New Jersey. The team was going to be built around him and it’s going to be a great team regardless. Three of the top 10 players in the league, including two of the top three, that’s going to be a tough pill to handle. I think they are going to get a supporting cast that can help them win and I think that team’s the team to beat. Read the rest of this entry »

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C’s make Pierce signing official at 12:29 pm ET
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The Celtics announced Thursday that they re-signed captain Paul Pierce. No details were released, but previous reports have indicated the contract is worth $61 million over four years.

“Paul has been a cornerstone of our franchise for the last decade and we could not be more pleased that he is returning to the team,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement.

Pierce is the third-leading scorer in franchise history with 19,899 points, trailing only Larry Bird and John Havlicek. He averaged 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season and made his eighth All-Star team.

“I am very excited to be back in Boston,” Pierce said in the team’s statement. “I have always said that I would love to retire as a Celtic, and re-signing here will allow me to do that. I would like to thank Danny, Doc [Rivers], the ownership group and the rest of the organization. I’m thrilled that they kept the core intact and look forward to getting back on the parquet with my teammates so we can bring Banner 18 home to Boston.

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Ainge: Tony Allen leaving ‘not a financial decision’ 07.14.10 at 10:10 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had plenty to talk about on Wednesday as he introduced center Jermaine O’Neal to the Boston media, but perhaps the most the most interesting topic touched on was swingman Tony Allen‘s defection to the Memphis Grizzlies for a three-year deal worth a reported $9.7 million.

In discussing the situation with reporters, Ainge indicated that the Celtics had hoped to bring Allen, one of their three 2004 first-round draft choices, back. He said that money was not a driving factor in Allen’s decision to leave.

“Things did work out for Tony, we had a good six years with Tony,” Ainge said when asked what didn’t work out in negotiations. “We wanted Tony back and we tried to get him. It wasn’t a financial decision, there were other decisions, so I think that’s a question you’ll have to ask Tony.”

In his six seasons with the Celtics, Allen averaged 7.2 points, 1.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 18.4 minutes and was a plus defender, often guarding the opposing team’s biggest offensive threat.

Asked to evaluate the offseason, Ainge likened making any comment now to saying how a game went while just at halftime. The C’s are looking to add five more players to give them a 14-man squad, but much of time in the near future will consist of waiting to see which players are still available after the big contracts are done being handed out. He also said he does not expect Rasheed Wallace to change his mind regarding retirement.

Ainge said that the Celtics still have needs at multiple positions, noting they are looking for help at center/power forward, backup point guard, as well as wings. He did say that he likes “unproven rookies” Semih Erden (a Turkish center) and Avery Bradley (the team’s first-round draft choice, a point guard), and that the team is in negotiations with Nate Robinson to hopefully continue to back up Rajon Rondo. Asked about Robinson, Ainge said he is a “guy we’re talking with, along with a slew of other free agents as well.”

Josh Howard was a name brought up in the session and Ainge did not deny the team’s interest, saying he would “rather not get into the people who we are pursuing” and that “there’s a long list of them, but he’s on that list.”

The 29th overall pick by the Mavericks in the 2003 draft, Howard has averaged 16.3 points, 1.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds in seven seasons. The small forward had spent his entire career in Dallas before being traded to the Wizards in February. He played in only four games for Washington before tearing his ACL, an injury he is still recovering from.

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O’Neal says he was part of Heat’s plan at 4:59 pm ET
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WALTHAM — In meeting with the media on Wednesday, new Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal spoke about his former team, the Miami Heat, saying that he was aware that the plan was to reel in star free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh while also retaining Dwyane Wade. The Heat also wanted O’Neal back to team with the trio, but he instead took a two-year deal with the Celtics.

“I knew what the were trying to do, and I could have re-signed back with those guys, but it comes down to fit,” O’Neal said. “It comes down to personalities and style of play, and Boston has all that for me. It was the most important choice that I’ve made in my career.

Jermaine O'Neal could have waited for Bosh and James in Miami but chose the Celtics. (AP)

Jermaine O'Neal could have waited for Chris Bosh and LeBron James in Miami but chose the Celtics. (AP)

“It was the first time I actually had the opportunity to even be a free agent in about 14 years, so it was very difficult, but I just felt like over the next two years I needed to be somewhere where the focus is strictly about winning now, not worrying about chemistry, not worrying about anything, just about coming in and helping the team win and doing my part of being involved in something good.”

As for having to worry about matching up against the Heat, O’Neal doesn’t seem overly concerned regarding who the top team in the Eastern Conference is.

“I don’t really look at it as an individual matchup,” O’Neal said. “Obviously they have a great tandem down there, but I feel like this team has the best team. … I had a great time down in Miami, I had an opportunity to re-sign back with them, but I just thought that this is where I’m meant to be.”

O’Neal said that he liked the Celtics’ powerhouse over the potential one Miami would eventually form based on the way Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo have proven their ability to work together.

“Those guys, they have a ring already, but they want another one,” O’Neal said. “I don’t have a ring and I want one, so I felt like their hunger and their focus is at a different level. There were some other good teams out there that i really looked at that i thought could compete for the championship, but threes guys just came off an NBA finals appearance and obviously they’ve won one, so they know what it takes to get there.”

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge applauded the Heat for the job they’ve done, saying that though they still might make some more moves, the big pieces they’ve put in place already are substantial.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Ainge said. “They’ve put a terrific team together, but it doesn’t even matter what they do. Obviously [additional moves] could make a little bit of a difference, but the three guys that they’ve put together down there with Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, that’s a pretty solid team.”

Asked about the chemistry element that O’Neal previously referred to and how it might apply to the Heat, Ainge said: “Wining does amazing things to team chemistry.”

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