|Danny Ainge says he, not Wyc Grousbeck, should’ve taken fall for not pulling off trade||06.25.16 at 9:16 am ET|
WALTHAM – Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck had very different takes on what happened Thursday.
Grousbeck, as the team’s principal owner, addressed the angry and disgruntled fan base after the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown. He then told the fans and the media that the team was never close to pulling off a trade that many had hung their hopes.
The owner then acknowledged that Ainge, the president of basketball operations, would be in a much better position to explain why the team did what it did.
Ainge didn’t come out because he was getting ready for two more first-round picks. He chose Guerschon Yabusele at 16 and Ante Zizic at 23, two players that could wind up overseas next season. But Ainge said after the draft that there were many discussions about trading the third pick, just nothing that the Celtics could accept.
On Friday, Ainge made two things clear: He felt bad for Grousbeck having to take the heat for the lack of trade and don’t take out the frustration on Jaylen Brown.
“The only thing I felt bad about that is that Wyc went out there,” Ainge said. “If I would have known that or if I wasn’t in the middle of something, I should have been the one that went out there and I would have been happy to and I would have enjoyed it. It’s what I love about Boston. When you’re throwing a no-hitter they appreciate it. And when you get rocked in the second inning, they boo you.
“The only thing about that is I love the passion of Boston fans, I love that they feel and they care. I truly believe that. I never take that stuff personal because there’s so many differing views. I think that that’s what makes Boston fun. The only thing that I don’t like about that is that it’s a reflection of Jaylen.
“Instead of a reflection of me — like, ‘We don’t like YOUR choice.’ That’s like OK to boo me. But give him a chance, would be the only thing I would say. Like, let’s see. Let’s wait a year then boo me. Let’s not boo the kid when his name is announced. As far as criticism in my position, I expect it, I’m used to it, and I don’t think you guys can offend me. You can try, but I don’t think it’ll work.
“I think everyone wants a deal. I think everyone expects a deal. We’ve been working really hard on trying to get a deal and do something significant. But we just haven’t been able to do it yet. And it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s not because we’re turning down or we overvalue our players or any of that stuff. It’s because you need a partner. I’ve said this many times before: I tried three years to get KG before we got him. It just takes the right time and the right place and have a partner that wants to do a deal.”
Ainge knows what the expectations are for the Celtics heading into next season. He realizes the fan base has seen a young team with a bright coach go from 25 t0 40 to 48 wins. Now, what’s next?
“Maybe the public expects more — no, I think that’s pretty obvious,” Ainge said. “But not more than what we feel. I want to do a deal. But it’s my job to oversee the Celtics and not do what makes me look really good and do something that’s instant gratification. It’s like we’re trying to build something. It’s a big responsibility and I take it very seriously. We’re going to keep trying to do bigger deals that will people cheer instead of boo.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Celtics may not be frontrunners in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, but they’ll at least get an audience.
According to Yahoo NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and other interested clubs will travel to a central location to meet with Durant and his representatives from Roc Nation Sports starting on July 1.
The other teams that Durant will meet are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and his incumbent Thunder, according to the report.
Oklahoma City remains the favorite to retain Durant, since it can offer him a two-year deal with an opt-out that makes him a free agent again next offseason. The Warriors are also considered strong contenders if he wants to join Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to build the league’s next super team.
But the Celtics at least have a seat at the table, which is more than interested clubs like the Lakers, Nuggets, Knicks, Rockets, and Durant’s hometown Wizards can say. The C’s can sell Durant on their cap space, as well as the presence of coach Brad Stevens on one of the better up-and-coming teams in the relatively weak East, which could provide a clearer path to the Finals than the loaded West, even with the defending champions from Cleveland and LeBron James standing in the way.
Durant, 27, is a seven-time All-Star and former MVP who led the Thunder within a win of their second NBA Finals this season. He averaged just over 28 points a game.
According to the Yahoo report, he’d like to decide on his future by July 9, when he begins a publicity tour in the Far East.
|Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge on OM&F: ‘Boston fans don’t know who Jaylen [Brown] is’||06.24.16 at 1:45 pm ET|
Amidst Celtics’ fans frustration with Boston’s selection of Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick, Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria to defend his pick and discuss the Celtics’ upcoming offseason. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
“Boston fans don’t know who Jaylen is. If you want a really good picture of Jaylen you should call Bill Walton. I think he broadcast 10 or 12 of Jaylen’s games in the Pac-12 last year,” said Ainge. “The first thing is that with Jaylen, I don’t think he is going to reach his potential three, four, five years from now, fully, but the good thing about Jaylen is with his physicality and his body, athleticism, strength and maturity he can play in an NBA game right now. He can contribute now, he won’t reach his full potential to later.
Added Ainge: “I think that you are missing what we have seen him do for the two years prior to this years college season. You guys know this I’m sure, but he was a guy that was projected at no.2 in the draft at this time last year … Usually those are fairly close to accurate. If a guy is not that high he is usually pretty close with a few exceptions. Jaylen was a guy we were watching for a longtime. We have seen him play against good players that are in the NBA right now with great success and be the better player. I have seen him in two draft workouts against really good college players or guys that were drafted yesterday and watch him make shots and I’m not so concerned. I am concerned with those numbers (referring to Brown’s 29 percent field goal rate). I think there are some things that with the way Cal played with two bigs all the time and with a non-shooting point guard. They didn’t have the greatest spacing. I’m not trying to make excuses for him. Jaylen is not a perfect finished product. He has been able to overpower kids throughout his time because of his body and power and explosive athleticism.
“Yeah, he’s got to make some better decisions, but again I focus on what he can do, I look at the things Jaylen Brown can do. With all these kids, we have gone through them with a fine tooth comb. We have looked at everything they have done offensively, defensively with their character, how hard they work. We look at every bit of their background; we talk to a lot of different people in regards to them, so we see the good, the bad, the ugly and the great.”
Ainge also reiterated that the Celtics did try to trade the pick before making the selection.
“Throughout this entire draft we were trying to get players and talk to most every team in the NBA for the different picks. We were still trying to trade, but we weren’t able to for a couple of reasons,” said Ainge. “I think that the difference in the NBA now, then it was even just five years ago, is that there is not very many teams that have full 15-man rosters right now and are looking to dump contracts and dump cap space because everybody has cap space for the next two years. For the next two summers you are going to see that, as the TV money has doubled the salary cap. It is a unique time where we are and those kind of deals are just harder to get. I’m not saying that you expect to get a star at 16 or 23 in the draft, but sometimes you can get an OK player … I think it is dangerous to draft a guy to just be able to have a higher trade value because first of all we don’t know who has higher trade value.”
Ainge believes that Boston is an attractive destination for free agents once the signing period begins on July 1.
“I have to believe this it is my job to sell a product, there are players out there that have shown interest in Boston in the past and we have come very very close and we didn’t lose out because we were Boston or we didn’t lose out because we didn’t have another star guy in those cases it just there is always some reason,” said Ainge. “I am still optimistic that our Boston Celtic organization and the city of Boston and our history can be an attractive place for some, even though it has never happened in the history of the Celtics with the exception of KG, which was, yes, a trade but also he had to agree to sign here on an extension before a trade was made.”
In addition, Ainge addressed how the Celtics would approach free agency.
“It is need based in free agency, but the need of a really good player at any position is a need,” said Ainge. “So it will be need based. But there will be some needs that if we strikeout a list of players that we seek our A list, we go to our B list, our C list , our D list. We will put an immediate call into Evan [Turner] out of respect if nothing else. But we do have interest in Evan, or we may use his cap space to sign a different player. We will be taking trades even before free agency begins, we are back at it today.”
|Danny Ainge defends Jaylen Brown pick, admits ‘it was a tough choice, we grew very fond of Jaylen’||at 8:39 am ET|
The announcement of Jaylen Brown as the Celtics’ first draft selection prompted boos and heckles on the floor of the TD Garden Thursday night.
Owner Wyc Grousbeck even came out to try and explain the pick but was drowned out by the disappointed fans.
Then Danny Ainge, hours after completing the draft with five more selections, came out to explain himself and the organization and what they were thinking.
“So, there was a lot of discussion over the last couple of months with the No. 3 pick. And a lot of study and hard work by my staff. We had some, like I said, a lot of discussion and even trading that pick and trading down in the draft and trading for future picks and so forth. Ultimately, there wasn’t anything to our liking.
“We grew very fond of Jaylen. He’s a great kid; 19 years old who has a man’s body, great athleticism, sort of a vogue new type of player in the NBA, of the versatile player, the versatile wings, can play multiple positions, defensively. And we think he has a lot of upside but we think he’s a 19-year-old kid that can get on the court and play with the big boys right out of the gate.”
To read his WEEI.com draft profile, click here.
Was Brown always the guy at No. 3?
“No, it was a tough choice,” Ainge added. “There was a lot of good players, lot of good players at (No.) 3. So that was never really done completely. There’s a lot of different views, internally, and we went back-and-forth many many times. But everybody unanimously really liked Brown as well, there was other guys as well.”
The biggest concern is Brown’s shooting touch at Cal in his only season there as a 19-year-old. The 6-foot-7 projected wing shot only 29.4 percent from 3-point range.
|Celtics Choice: C’s reportedly narrow No. 3 pick to Providence point guard Kris Dunn or Cal forward Jaylen Brown||06.23.16 at 11:56 am ET|
And down the stretch they come . . .
With the NBA draft set for Thursday night and the Celtics still unable to move the No. 3 pick, focus has narrowed on whom they might select at that spot, with draft insiders focusing on two names — Providence College point guard Kris Dunn and Cal forward Jaylen Brown.
ESPN’s Andy Katz reported on Twitter that the Celtics are leaning towards Dunn, a better, more explosive version of Marcus Smart. Katz’s colleague, Jeff Goodman, said on the network that he hears the Celtics will either take Dunn or Brown, an athletic wing player.
Both Dunn and Brown are considered NBA-caliber athletes, with Brown more advanced defensively and Dunn a more gifted offensive player.
With that in mind, we present our final Celtics Choice: Kris Dunn vs. Jaylen Brown.
The case for Dunn
See if this sounds familiar: the Providence guard is powerfully built and physically gifted for his position, with the ability to defend multiple positions and a toughness NBA GMs like Danny Ainge love. If that sounds like Smart, it’s because Dunn shares many characteristics with the Celtics guard. Where he separates, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is a better ball handler, passer, and scorer than Smart. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn possesses tremendous defensive instincts and court vision. He’s a terror in the open court and can finish at the rim authoritatively with either hand. He’s a true playmaking point guard who can also score (37.2 percent on 3-pointers). Just call him Smart 2.0.
The case against Dunn
In the delicate ecosystem of an NBA locker room, one malcontent can lead to disaster, and it’s fair to question Dunn’s fit when his agents have suggested he won’t play for a team — including the Celtics — with an established point guard. There are also reports that he “desperately” wants to play for the Sixers. He can’t stop anyone from drafting him, but his health could be an issue because Dunn required two shoulder surgeries during his PC career. On the court, there’s also the question of Dunn’s stroke — his inconsistent jumper includes a lot of moving parts — and his occasionally sloppy and reckless ball-handling.
The case for Brown
Brown is all about projection. He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Brad Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s got Draymond Green potential as a versatile athlete wreaking havoc at both ends, especially on defense. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.
The case against Brown
His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers. If his offensive game fails to develop, it will severely limit his upside as an NBA player.
This is a tossup. Dunn is the more polished player, but Brown the better athlete with the higher upside. Dunn is the safer pick, even if he’d require moving some parts off the roster. But Brown should be an impact wing defender, and if his offensive game develops, those players are at a premium. We’ll take Brown.
June 9: Buddy Hield vs. Jamal Murray
June 7: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love
June 2: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan
May 31: Buddy Hield vs. Avery Bradley
May 26: Kevin Love vs. Paul George
May 24: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin
May 23: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
May 20: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
May 19: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender
|ESPN’s Jeff Goodman: Buddy Hield can ‘help [Celtics] the most immediately’||06.20.16 at 12:05 pm ET|
ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman joined Rob Bradford and Mike Giardi Sunday morning to discuss the NBA draft and who he thinks the Celtics will take with the third overall pick in this week’s draft. To hear the full interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.
With the NBA draft only a few days away, there remains some uncertainty with who the Celtics will select with the No.3 pick, assuming LSU forward Ben Simmons and Duke big man Brandon Ingram are the first two players selected.
“I talked to Danny [Ainge] a week or so ago, and it was interesting because he said one of the fun things for him was to sit back and watch all the people on the Celtics organization talk about who they like [with the third pick],” Goodman said. “He just kind of sat back and listened and didn’t weigh in. He probably has by now, when they started some serious conversations about who they wanted, but he would just listen and each guy would kind of go for a different player. There really are five or six guys they’re going to look at.”
When asked who he thought the Celtics would take, Goodman gave the same answer he gave on the show a month ago: 22-year-old Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield. The shooting guard led the nation in scoring last season with 25 points per game and won the Wooden Award after leading the Sooners to an appearance in the Final Four.
“I hope that’s who they take, because I do think he can help them the most and certainly help them the most immediately,” Goodman said. “The one thing that you question with Buddy is he’s older, so some people use that against him. To me, it’s like ‘alright, but he’s proven it.’ He’s gotten better, he’s athletic, he can shoot it, he’s a high character kid. … I would say, gun to my head, I’ll go Buddy, because nobody else has them picking Buddy, and I know Danny well enough to know he spins everybody. So when I see that, I think to myself, alright, I’ll go Buddy or [Providence point guard] Kris Dunn.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Austin Ainge: Celtics have No. 3 pick down to ‘three or four guys’||06.18.16 at 2:17 pm ET|
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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