|Ainge on The Big Show: ‘We Value Rondo More Than Anybody Else in the League’||06.26.09 at 3:32 pm ET|
Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ainge, in an interview on WEEI’s Big Show on Friday afternoon, clarified some of his recent comments about point guard Rajon Rondo earlier in the week. While Ainge has been portrayed as having been critical of Rondo during an interview on the Dennis & Callahan Show — in which the G.M. acknowledged that Rondo had been fined for the “unacceptable” act of having been late for practice during the playoff series against the Magic — he insisted that any concerns about the point guard’s behavior were isolated, and that the team has moved on from them.
“I think we value Rondo more than anybody else in the league values him and we know everything about him — all the good and the bad that comes with a 23-year-old kid who’s been put in a pressure kicker,” said Ainge. ” I don’t know if we said he had a bad attitude. I think he needs to mature, like we talked about. But I like Rondo’s attitude. I like Rondo’s competitive spirit. I think the kid, he’s late for a playoff game — we’re not going to condemn him for the rest of his life. We took care of it and it’s over…I’m amazed at how people want to take the little things and blow them out of proportion.”
Ainge also said once again that he does not plan — or want — to trade the 23-year-old.
“We never had any intention of trading Rondo — or Paul Pierce, or Kevin Garnett, or any of our core players, Ray Allen — unless something absolutely blows you away. It is my responsibility to listen and take calls and have discussions to see what those conversations may be,” added Ainge. “He’s going to get better. He’s going to get older, and get more experience. And he’s going to be a terrific point guard for the Celtics in the NBA for a long time.”
Below are some excerpts from the rest of the Ainge interview:
ON TRADE RUMORS
“I think we value Rondo more than anybody else in the league values him and we know everything about him — all the good and the bad that comes with a 23-year-old kid who’s been put in a pressure kicker in Boston. The kid has 40 playoff games under his belt, he’s got four Game 7s under his belt as a 23-year-old point guard. Rondo is not perfect. It seemed like the subject of the day a couple days ago was Rondo ‘ it was not Paul Pierce or Ray Allen or Kendrick Perkins or anyone else ‘ because of all the trade speculation, most of which was bogus.
It’s my job to listen and inquire as you get ready to possibly sign a player to a long-term contract or develop strategies within the organization, to really understand and know what the value is out there for a player’¦
We plan on having this core together, and we plan on adding a couple pieces through free agency, and maybe making smaller deals to make our bench stronger this year. That’s always been our main intention.
ON RONDO’S ATTITUDE
I was asked a question about him being late for a playoff game and I said, yeah, that kind of behavior is unacceptable. That just means you levee the fine and you move on. That has nothing to do with what we think of Rondo as a player.
He’s a very likable guy. He’s liked by his teammates. He gets moody sometimes, but so what?
Can I imagine trying to replace something that’s worked so well? Last year I thought that things were well in spite of some of the injuries we had and we won the championship the year before. Every team that wins and every team that loses, there’s always holes, there’s always things that aren’t perfect, and sometimes we let the Big Three get away with things because they’re such talented players, but they have weaknesses too. It seems like because of the trade rumors and because of the upcoming contract situation possibility, [Rondo] just seems to be the topic, and I should have known that. I don’t really think that I ripped Rondo by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think I should have known that maybe saying anything might have just fueled so much more fire. It seems like the things I said that were good about Rondo, those things just get ignored.
ON WHETHER HE HAS SPOKEN TO RONDO’S AGENT, BILL DUFFY:
Oh, no. I really don’t have any intention to, I’ve never even read the quote. I don’t really care. That’s an agent’s job, is to do everything they can to protect the image and player so I’m not even worried about any of that. That stuff bothers me not at all. Typically what happens is sometimes something is taken out of context and somebody reports looking for a response anyone, so I’m sure the whole story wasn’t, ‘should I rip Bill,’ but anyway, that stuff doesn’t mean anything to me.
ON WHETHER THE SPECULATION WAS DRIVEN BY THE MEDIA RUMOR MILL
I can never say to any player that ‘I will never trade you under any circumstance,’ and that might be a dangerous thing to say because then it’s ‘oh, he left an opening.’ But there’s a big difference, I mean, logically, with the age of our team, with the lack of athleticism you get as guys get older, if there’s one thing we need, it’s a young, vibrant, energetic, rebounding, loose-ball-getting, tempo-changing 23-year-old point guard with experience. So if there’s going to be a trade it better be soemthing unbelievably special and that’s where some of these rumors are silly and ludicrous, and I wish that people would just use their heads, use their mind and give us a little more credit when they consider trade rumors.
ON DEALING WITH PLAYERS WHOSE NAMES ARE IN THE RUMOR MILL
I’m honest with them. I tell them when things are real, I tell them when things are not. I tell them what are plans are and what our intentions and goals are and Itell them just like it is. If I did have intention of trading them, if there was something that were true in a rumor and they asked, I would tell them. I’m as honest with these players as I can [be]. I don’t tell them every single conversation I have because conversation means nothing adnso I’m jsut as honest as I can [be] with these players.
ON THE DRAFT IN GENERAL
First of all, nobody would draft the number five pick and let him stay over in Europe for two more years. I tihnk they would have gone a different direction had they known that.
ON KEVIN GARNETT
Kevin, it was amazing. His entire countenance over the last six weeks of the season, he was just kind of down and grumpy and uncomfortable. I think he felt pressure to try to come back and he had all this pain in his knee.
Right after the surgery ‘ I mean three days after the surgery ‘ a smile on his face, he can bend his knee all the way. He can straighten it out all the way. He just went back to the West Coast the other day. Before he left, I saw him doing full weight workouts. He was doing squats ‘ one-legged squats, two-legged squats ‘ he was doing most of his whole routine again. His spirit is returned: his enthusiasm for the upcoming season, his hope.
All of a sudden, he’s back to being the real Kevin Garnett. His personality has returned. You could just see that once he had that bone spur on the back of his knee, that that was really bothering him.
ON QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER GARNETT COULD HAVE RETURNED DURING THE PLAYOFFS
It’s just all talk. Everybody thinks they know, everybody hasa different view, and then everybody starts speculating on all sorts of conspiracy theories. You should have heard all the media trying to contact me. ‘What was going on?’ and ‘he’s got these secret ACL tears.’ One thing I would always say to the media is ‘think about the situation before you respond. I mean, if he had an ACL tear, why in the world would you ever not give surgery immediately? There’s so many things out there that people don’t think before they report.
He was not going to come back and play, most likely. The pain management– I mean, the fact that he came back and played before and played OK even though he wasn’t the real Kevin Garnett, he played OK. I think as an organization we were holding out hope that that might be the case, the he can give us 15 or 20 minutes, and, you know, maybe a Willis Reed-type surge for a couple of works and really that was just KG and the doctors, if he could do it. We were never putting pressure on him and he never anticipated or expected that to happen, but there was a tiny bit of hope that that might happen. In hindsight maybe we should have relieved Kevin of that pressure, but I do not think he was going to play against Cleveland or in the NBA Finals, not unless he just felt this surege and this adrenneline rush that was going to get him out there, but after the surgery he was so much better. He wasn’t healthy after the surgery, it’s going to take another couple months for him to be healthy enough to play basketball, but we’re very encouraged by the range of motion and strength that’s returned to his knee. On top of that, before the surgery he was really able to get strong– really, really strong– and I think that’s always helpful in your rehab from the surgery.
ON SHAQ TO THE CAVS:
I think that that’s a good pickup for Cleveland, especially since they didn’t really give up anything to get Shaq there, so how it all works will be everybody’s guess, if it’s going to make them that much better, but it doesn’t change our plans. We’ve had some plans on what we intend to do this summer for the last month or two, as we see weaknesses in our team and what we can do to improve from our core and build around them and improve our bench, and our plans have not changed any.
ON VINCE CARTER TO ORLANDO AND THE IMPROVING EAST:
It will be interestng to see, I mean they still don’t have Turkoglu signed, there’s speculation that he may go somewhere, so Vince Carter may have been insurance for Turkoglu. So we’ll see what the final product is. Vince Carter’s a very good player, it’s a good aquisiton. For the price they gave up to get Vince Carter it’s a good risk. Even though Courtney Lee was really becomming a good player, he had a fantastic rookie year, and usually guys come back after a fantastic rookie year with a teriffic second year. So it’s not like theydidn’t give anything up, but Courtney Lee still probably isn’t Vince Carter. Courtney is a much better defender than Vince but Vince is more of a dynamic scorer. So I think it’s a good trade for Orlando.
Washington is the team I think that’s probably improved themselves the most with Mike Miller, Randy Foye, and of course Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood coming back healthy. They’ll be a real force in the East as well.
D.J. Bean contributed to this report.
|A temporary sigh of relief for Ainge||at 2:09 am ET|
If it were up to Danny Ainge, he would have spent the past month quietly preparing for the NBA Draft. Instead, the Celtics GM has been battling questions, trade rumors and speculations.
After midnight on Friday morning, a weary Ainge addressed the media. It was more than just the end of Draft Night. For Ainge, it was a temporary sigh of relief.
‘I think there’s so much competition in the media for any new story and something exciting, and so it does get old from my perspective of having to answer so many [questions],’ he said via teleconference following the draft. ‘We’re just sitting in there doing very boring work, watching videotape all day, and everyone else is out there making up stories and making up rumors. We’re just trying to get ready to draft the 58th pick and get ready for all of the options that may come our way.’
Without a first-round pick in this year’s draft, talks had been centered around the possibility of trading up. Starters Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo had all been mentioned in rumors to snag a lottery pick. Many left Ainge baffled.
‘There was many rumors that had my head scratching a little bit,’ he said. ‘Most of them are either made up or completely distorted or three weeks late.’
As it turns out, the Celtics did not come close to trading up to the first round. While they had conversations about moving up in the second round, Ainge said he is ‘grateful’ Lester Hudson was still available at the 58th spot.
While tired of dispelling rumors, Ainge did address a hot topic of conversation — his recent interview on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show in which he revealed the Celtics had fined Rondo for tardiness and said he did not believe the point guard is a max contract player right now. Those comments sparked further trade speculation.
“We’re not trading Rondo,” Ainge attested. “We love Rondo. We always have. We love him more today than the day we drafted him. He’s not perfect and he’s a young player that needs to get better. And we don’t like it when you’re late.”
Now that the draft is over and lottery pick rumors have been put to rest, Ainge can get back to business. Next up is free agency and building a team for the Orlando Summer League in July.
‘It’s good to be over and now I’m sure we’ll get questions and answers about all of the trades possibilities and free agents and all those kinds of rumors,’ Ainge said. ‘So that’s not a fun part of the job, but it’s part of the job.’
|Danny: We’re not trading Rondo||at 12:43 am ET|
Danny Ainge just spoke to the press on a post-draft conference call and reaffirmed his affection for point guard Rajon Rondo.
“We’re not trading Rondo,” Ainge said. “We love Rondo. We always have. He’s not perfect. He’s a young player that has to get better. We just don’t like it when you’re late.”
|Transcript: Danny Ainge on D&C||06.24.09 at 11:22 am ET|
Celtics G.M. Danny Ainge was interviewed on the Dennis & Callahan Show this morning and offered some detail on the team’s plans for and concerns about Rajon Rondo, Thursday night’s draft, and the possibility of acquiring a superstar such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade following next season. Among the highlights:
–Ainge suggested that Rondo’s shortcomings as a shooter hurt the Celtics in the series against the Magic, and that he is not yet worthy of the max contract that he seeks.
–Rondo was fined for “unacceptable” failures to show up on time.
–The Celtics are not looking to trade Rondo.
–Ainge does not expect the Celtics to make a splash in this year’s draft.
–The Celtics have positioned themselves to be able to make a run at superstars in next year’s free-agent class, though the most likely route for such a move would be through a sign-and-trade.
Here is a transcript of most of the conversation:
Why does Rondo’s name appear in trade rumors every 10 minutes?
The media around the league kind of looks at things that make sense. They try to make up things because they think that Rondo’s contract is coming up, Ray Allen is an expiring contract, so they put things together and try to come up with trade rumors.
Do Rondo and Perkins help you win now, with the Big Three, and down the road?
I think they do. I think that makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of guys look at young players, as the weak link. Kendrick this year was not a weak link. He did a great job against Dwight Howard.
The way that they were defending us, it was hard for the three superstars’¦
Rondo, as we saw in the Orlando series, they left him wide open. His presence hurt us in winning right now. His man left him and doubled Ray or Paul.
It made it difficult for us.
They’re young players. They help us win sometimes and they make it harder for us to win sometimes because of their youth and inexperience. They’re good players. They’re not great players. We’re hoping they develop into great players.
Is Rondo worthy of being a max contract guy?
Not right now, I don’t think that Rondo’s a max contract player. I think it’s a good goal for Rondo to have from a monetary standpoint, to be that kind of player that warrants a max-contract player. I certainly don’t see Rondo as a max contract player today.
What is his contract status?
You know what his situation is. He can be extended after July 31 up until October 31. We have until October 31 to decide whether to extend him. If that doesn’t happen by October 31, then after next season, he would become a restricted free agent where we can match any offer that he gets.
Would this be taking a chance that he could leave in two years and you’d get nothing for him?
It depends. I guess it depends on where we are as a team. We love Rondo. Rondo is a player we want to have on our team and he’s a guy we want to move forward with. We would never want him to just go away (without compensation). Next summer is probably a summer where we’ll have to come to some financial decisions on Rondo, if we don’t come to a conclusion this summer.
Some think you should do anything to put yourself in financial position to bring Dwyane Wade or LeBron James to Boston. Is that on your radar screen?
It’s something we’ve discussed, and it’s something we’ve actually set ourselves up for, to have an opportunity to think along those lines. This year, it’s a tough call because we’re trying to win now. If we try to improve our team this summer, it could prevent us from having an opportunity to be in the stakes for a big superstar in 2010 unless it’s through a sign-and-trade. A sign-and-trade might be a more viable way to get him than through cap space.
You’re at a disadvantage with cap space because you can’t pay them within $30 million of what their team that they’re currently with can pay them, and you can’t pay them the length of the contract for the same amount of years. So it’s better and more likely to get a superstar free agent, in most cases, through sign-and-trades.
That’s probably our best opportunity. You also have to be an attractive team, and a team that has some value. You can’t just have the money. You have to have other players that will allow that player to win. With KG and Paul and the contracts that reamin going forward, that may be the attraction. We may not have enough money, but if you have some assets to trade for that superstar, that may be your best opportunity.
How do you assess the chances of acquiring LeBron or Wade?
There’s no way, other than try to figure out what would be in a player’s mind ‘ a 25-year-old superstar ‘ of what he’s trying to accomplish. I really believe that players do want to win. I believe their contracts will be important, and they will all demand max contracts. That’s a given. But I also think that they want to win. Who they play with, all those are factors.
Can you ever imagine Cleveland doing a sign-and-trade with LeBron?
At some point, you have to make that call ‘ let him go away, or get something in return…I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe you say that in no circumstance will we ever sign-and-trade him just for the fact that we never want to be the ones to traded him. That’s a possibility.
When would guys in that class ‘ LeBron, Wade, Bosh ‘ when would those guys be moved if they make clear they won’t extend with current clubs?
It would be after next year. Those would happen after next year. I’m sure they would explore every opportunity to keep them…A lot of those guys may sign this summer…I still believe the most likely scenario with all these superstars that they stay with their teams.
On the idea that Rondo was sitting in his car and late to practice:
There was just a couple of situations where Rajon was late. I don’t know if he was sitting in his car, but he showed up late and the rest of the team was there, and he was late. There are team rules in place and he said he was in traffic. That was unacceptable.
How does maturity impact whether Rondo is a max contract player?
He’s got to grow up in some cases. I think he is, too. Rondo has started to mature and control his emotions. He’s responding in a more positive way as he gets older in the league. We certainly would not trade him because of those things. We really need him as our point guard to be a leader than someone who thinks more of himself at times.
On whether Doc Rivers is involved in offseason decision-making:
I talk to Doc constantly on these things and if we both agree, it’s a great situation. Doc and I will talk about coaching a lot. I know hoe coaches are and the stress that they go through being in the fire. And it’s my job to let things go and heal up to the point where he and I agree.
Is Rivers frustrated with Rondo?
He has not been, no. He’s gotten frustrated here and there. Doc understands that talent wins. He [Rondo] is a very talented player. But, he’s got some holes in his game that he’s working on. If Doc might be frustrated I’ll throw out these hypothetical trades, like ‘Would you rather have this guy?’ If Doc says, ‘No, no, no,’ then I gauge it by that. Sometimes it’s just frustration, but we won’t trade a player unless he’s really disruptive, and Rondo is not a disruptive force on our team. He’s a dynamic player and we love the kid. We’re not looking to trade Rondo because he was late for a playoff game or because he’s got some growing up to do. Some of our 30-year-old players have growing up to do as well. I think that there’s a lot of speculation that Rondo’s expecting a contract. He was late for playoff games and he didn’t play well in the Orlando series. I think a lot of people are making something out of nothing that’s really there.
Is Rondo one of the top handful of point guards in the game?
I think he’s in the conversation. I’d say he’s in the top ten for sure. We haven’t really sat down and analyzed. There are so many facets to the game. Rondo’s a terrific player but everybody talks about his shooting. I’ve talked about this ever since we got him, what I need from Rondo is to compete play in, play out more often. The shooting is a factor. He will become a much greater player if he can make more shots and become more confident. I need that competitiveness in him. I know he’s a competitor at an unbelievable level at times. He’s in cruise control on too many possessions for my liking. He’s getting better at that and improving all the time.
On draft-night plans for the Celtics:
It looks like it’s going to be a very boring night for us.
Some project as many as eight point guards as lottery picks. Of those, how many will be good NBA point guards?
I think that the kid (Tyreke) Evans from Memphis has a chance to be a special player. I think he can be good next year. I don’t know if he can be good in November, but I think that kid, with opportunity, is going to be good.
I think Stephon Curry is a great shooter. Bobby Knight called it. He can really play. I think he has a chance to step in and be a good player in the NBA next year.
Russell Westbrook had a great rookie year last year. He never really played point guard in college. Curry, Flynn ‘ Johnny Flynn, physically, has the ability to be a great player.
Those are the ones, I think, that have a chance to have a great impact next year.
What about Ricky Rubio?
I don’t see Rubio being that dynamic player now. I think he’s got a lot of potential. He’s a very flashy player. He has a great mind for the game, and he’s a terrific passer. I don’t see him, just physically, and because he doesn’t shoot the ball very well, I don’t see him having an impact as a rookie. I think he’s more of a project ‘ a build-around franchise point guard ‘ so I would put him down there below those other guys.
Is point guard the toughest position in the NBA to learn?
I think it depends on how you’re utilized. It’s nowhere near a quarterback…I don’t think it’s that complicated. It’s basketball.
Point guards are not, in my opinion, I think that’s much, much too talked about. Some guys are natural at it, some guys aren’t.
Can you win without a good point guard?
I know we won two championships without a point guard. I know the Lakers…Derek Fisher‘s no point guard in the traditional sense.
The Bulls when they won their championships didn’t have a point guard. You need good basketball players.
Have you thought about offering Kevin McHale a job?
Kevin and I are very close. We keep in contact all the time. I think Kevin’s probably going to end up on TV. We don’t have jobs to offer him. I like my staff and all that. But for the last 10 or 15 years, Kevin and I have talked about working together at some point. Right now is not the time. But I’m a big fan of Kevin’s as a person. High character guy. I value his basketball insight.
I don’t think Kevin left Minnesota in a bad position at all’¦The bottom line is that the last two years they had Kevin they were in the lottery, and they had a high payroll. So I think they were in a position where they needed to do something. At least they didn’t do a Pau Gasol trade where they got nothing in return. Did you guys see that Richard Jefferson trade yesterday? Holy cow. San Antonio, they send all the bad contracts away and they get an All-Star caliber player. The Lakers are sweating. That’s a great acquisition for San Antonio.
Will draft parties in Boston be incredibly lame?
The draft party is going to be fun if you’re an NBA fan. If you’re a Celtics fan alone, there’s not going to be a lot of excitement.
|Ainge: Celtics fined Rondo||at 9:56 am ET|
The Celtics may ‘love’ Rajon Rondo, but that does not mean he is immune from being held accountable. On Wednesday, Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge revealed on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show Rondo had been fined for being late to games last season. Ainge deemed the tardiness ‘unacceptable.’
Rondo showed up an hour before gametime during the playoffs this season. He explained his late arrival last week on WEEI and chalked it up to a pregame routine.
‘People are going to make assumptions, everyone has opinions. I actually do try to come to games as late as possible because I don’t like to go in the locker room and talk and waste time…Different guys have different opinions on why they like to get to the game so early,’ he said. ‘Some people may look at it as late but I look at it as just coming to play.’
Regardless of his explanation, Ainge insists that team rules are rules.
“There was just a couple of situations where Rajon was late,” Ainge said. “I don’t know if he was sitting in his car, but he showed up late and the rest of the team was there, and he was late. There are team rules in place and he said he was in traffic. That was unacceptable.”
This offseason Rondo has been linked in nearly every Celtics trade rumor. The Celtics have until October to decide whether or not to extend his contract.
|What Ainge Said||06.23.09 at 2:50 pm ET|
WALTHAM – From the future of his starting point guard to the depth of Thursday night’s NBA Draft to his hopes for another title run in 2010, Celtics GM Danny Ainge hit on a number of topics on Tuesday in a pre-draft briefing with reporters at the team’s training facility at the Sports Authority complex in Waltham.
Here are the highlights: (click on the green for the audio)
First on the future of Rajon Rondo: “He showed up late for a playoff game so we’re going to trade him. None of those things is true. We love the kid and we think he’s got a very bright future. I don’t anticipate any trades happening this offseason involving any of our core players.”
“The notion that we might be trading him for some reason other than we think that we could be better or trading any player because of some reason (like) his contract,” Ainge said. “I’ve heard speculation of we’re dissatisfied with him or his attitude. That stuff is so false.”
This is still a championship caliber team: “We’ve won 128 games in the last two years. We won 66 games the year before and the championship and then this year we won 62 and had major injuries. So, I think we’re crazy (n0t to think we can’t win). We’re a championship contender for sure the last two years and we feel like we’ll be better this year. We’ll have a better team on the court.
|Ainge: We’ve had discussions||at 10:20 am ET|
WALTHAM – Danny Ainge has heard all the same rumors that everyone else has about the future of Rajon Rondo.
Only he, as Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics is actually in a position of authority to comment on it and take action.
Ainge will gladly do the first part but as for the second part, don’t expect Rondo to be headed out the door anytime soon.
“The notion that we might be trading him because of some reason other than we think we could be better, or trading any other player of some reason, his contract situation,” Ainge said Tuesday morning at Healthpoint in Waltham. “I’ve heard speculation that we’re dissatisfied with him or his attitude. That stuff is so false.” Read the rest of this entry »
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