BOSTON (CBS) – Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge called in to the Toucher and Rich Show Thursday morning to discuss last night’s 97-87 win over the Utah Jazz and what it means for coach Brad Stevens and this young team.
Ainge also addressed the talk surrounding his team tanking for the NBA Lottery, Rajon Rondo’s rehab and the Bill Russell statue.
Rich opened the interview congratulating Danny on their first win of the season, but quickly addressed the apparent demotion of forward Kris Humphries – arguably the team’s best big guy. Rich wondered aloud if this relegation to the bench and limited minutes is some sort of signal that the team is “tanking” for the NBA Lottery next Spring.
“You’d have to talk to Brad about that. Brad’s the one that chooses the playing time for the players,” said Ainge. “We have five quality bigs, so I think it’s a tough call. He’s got five guys he can go to and there’s not enough time for five guys every game.”
When pressed on the subject of tanking further, Ainge interrupted, “They’re [fans] not paying attention. They’re not watching all the games. They’re not watching all the exhibition games and they’re not at practice. That certainly is not the case. Anybody that’s informed that sees what goes on day-to-day would not make those conclusions.”
Ainge then gave his take on how first-year coach Brad Stevens is faring so far, complimenting him on his work ethic and his ability to learn on the fly. Ainge also touched on veteran Gerald Wallace and how he adapted Wednesday night to his role coming off the bench, saying he was “huge for us” and “the key to that group.”
An update on Rajon Rondo’s recovery from knee surgery was talked about as well. The All-Star point guard has been cleared for 1-on-1 contact, but not full court 5-on-5 just yet. Ainge trusts Rondo’s decision-making to not return until he’s absolutely 100% ready to go.
Lastly, the big news surrounding the Celtics last week was the addition of a Bill Russell statue to Boston that will grace City Hall Plaza for generations to come.
Ainge called the statue “long overdue.”
For the full interview, listen below: