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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
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Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge

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.”

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Danny Ainge defends Jaylen Brown pick, admits ‘it was a tough choice, we grew very fond of Jaylen’ at 8:39 am ET
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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. 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Cal, Danny Ainge
Poll: Did Celtics make right choice by taking Jaylen Brown 3rd in draft? at 12:58 am ET
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The NBA draft is over and Celtics fans seem decidedly mixed on the selection of Cal forward Jaylen Brown. But don’t take our word for it. We want to hear from you. Did Danny Ainge make the right move?

Did the Celtics make the right choice keeping the third pick and selecting Jaylen Brown?

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Jaylen Brown learned first-hand about NBA intensity during recent 1-on-1 game with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler 06.23.16 at 9:48 pm ET
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Jaylen Brown has the athleticism to excel in the NBA. (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown has the athleticism to excel in the NBA. (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown learned about NBA intensity from a name Celtics fans lusted after — Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler.

Because Brown and Butler share a trainer, they worked out together before the draft. A workout turned into a game one of one-on-one. They planned to play three.

“We went tooth and nail at it. … I guess he thought it would be easy, and then somebody won the first game and then he wanted to keep going,” Brown told reporters in New York. “And so we kept going after that, then he won the second, then he won the third, then I won the fourth, and we ended up playing all the way to 21.”

Brown wouldn’t reveal who won, but he’ll have a chance to renew acquaintances with Butler and the rest of the NBA’s most versatile swingmen after being selected third overall by the Celtics in Thursday’s NBA draft.

“Boston is a great city full of culture, full of life, education, things that mean a lot to me,” Brown said. “I’m super excited. I cannot wait to get there and can’t wait to get everything started, can’t wait for the season to start, and I’m happy to be a part of the family.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Celtics, Celtics draft
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck on trade talks: ‘Nothing even came close’ at 8:41 pm ET
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Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, fresh off a surprise booing from Celtics fans disappointed in the selection of Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick, said the C’s never came close to trading the pick for a veteran.

“Adding a veteran was certainly a consideration as we went into this draft day,” Grousbeck said. “Adding a veteran for the third pick was a consideration. We were willing to have those discussions, just nothing even came close. If it had come close and we hadn’t quite gotten there, I’d tell you that. It just wasn’t even close. It’s actually an easy day when nothing’s close. I don’t look for easy days — you try to make the right decisions — but this was an easy day.”

According to reports, the Celtics engaged in trade talks with the Sixers (Nerlens Noel), Bulls (Jimmy Butler), and Bucks (Khris Middleton), but according to Grousbeck, those talks never progressed.

That led to the selection of Brown. Grousbeck joked that as a Stanford grad, he’ll have to accept that Brown played for a year at Cal. He also said he was extremely impressed with Brown’s workout.

“Jaylen, since the day he walked in for his very impressive workout — impressive even to me, as more of a fan — he was very high on the list,” Grousbeck said. “He was going to be a finalist for this draft pick since the day he walked in and worked out.”

That said, fans still reacted with hostility, showering Grousbeck with boos over the selection.

“Fourteen years, that’s probably the worst one I’ve gotten, but I’ll view this as people really care,” Grousbeck said. “I’ll view it as I’ve certainly had some of those reactions when I’ve been at sporting events. You pay your money, you get to come in. Look, we’re a bunch of fans who bought this team. Being a fan means you’re emotional and emotionally invested in the team and no problem. But I actually believe if those fans knew what I knew and were in that room, most of them might have done the same thing. But no problem. Bring it on. They’re Celtics fans, and they’ve earned the right to say whatever they want.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Celtics draft, Celtics rumors, Celtics trade rumors
Celtics use 3rd pick in NBA draft to select Cal forward Jaylen Brown at 7:52 pm ET
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The Celtics selected Cal forward Jaylen Brown with the third pick in the draft. (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics selected Cal forward Jaylen Brown with the third pick in the draft. (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

After months of speculation, the Celtics finally have an answer: Jaylen Brown.

The C’s selected the Cal forward with the third pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night after being unable to move the pick for a satisfactory return of veteran players.

Though the C’s were rumored to be in talks with the Bulls for Jimmy Butler and the Sixers for Nerlens Noel and a package of draft picks, they elected to keep the pick and used it on Brown, one of the best pure athletes in the draft.

Brown is expected to step right in and play NBA defense. His offensive game remains a work in progress, though he’s an excellent finisher at the rim. His jumper needs development, but at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, he has the potential to wreak havoc on the perimeter as a defender.

“I honestly had no idea,” Brown told ESPN after being selected. “I was sweating bullets over there, so nervous. I’m glad I ended up where I am.”

Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds and will represent himself in negotiations, with help from Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, who advised Brown thusly:

“Be a kid, by yourself, never compromise your values,” Brown told ESPN. “Always remember who you are and where you came from.”

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Celtics Choice: C’s reportedly narrow No. 3 pick to Providence point guard Kris Dunn or Cal forward Jaylen Brown at 11:56 am ET
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The Celtics could choose between Jaylen Brown (left) and Kris Dunn at No. 3. (USA Today Sports)

The Celtics could choose between Jaylen Brown (left) and Kris Dunn at No. 3. (USA Today Sports)

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.

The verdict

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.

Previous entries

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

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