BOSTON (CBS) — Celtics president Danny Ainge joined Mike Gorman on the CSNNE broadcast of Wednesday night’s Celtics-Hawks game, and didn’t hold back when talking about his team.
Ainge pointed out some terrible defense by the Celtics early in the game, and got on Avery Bradley for having a layup blocked, but told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich that’s just a product of being around the game for so long.
“I don’t think I was critical of the team, maybe a play. I like our team and I like our kids,” he said. “I have a hard time holding back. I felt like I was being positive, because we were down early in the game. I didn’t like our effort in the first quarter and neither did coach Stevens. But that’s just basketball. When I’m critical of a player on a play, that’s just the world I grew up in.”
Ainge has said in the past that Green is not THE guy on the Celtics, and repeated that during Wednesday night’s game. But he says that isn’t criticism towards Green, and more focused on the team around the forward.
“First of all I was putting it in context, I don’t think I was being critical in any way. I was saying how even Paul (Pierce), Ray (Allen) and (Kevin Garnett) needed help,” he said. “They were playing on teams like ours right now before they all came together. So Jeff needs help.
“I Love Jeff. I mentioned there are only three or four non-All Stars to have as many 25-point games,” said Ainge. “I don’t think I was critical at all, I was just putting a perspective with Jeff that fans don’t know. They want him to be a super-star and I think he’s a very good player.”
“He’s had an up and down season, like our team has, but he’s had some beautiful moments,” said Ainge. “He’s not the reason our record is what it is, no more than it was Paul Pierce’s when we won 24 games in 2007.”
Ainge has received a lot of scrutiny for trading Kendrick Perkins for Green at the 2011 trade deadline. Green has had his moments, from his strong postseason against the Knicks last year to his game-winner in Miami this season, but has never really lived up to the hype that came with him from OKC.
But Ainge has seen improvement with Green, who is averaging a career-high 16.6 points per game and has 19 games where he’s scored 20 or more points this season.
“I think Jeff is getting better and getting better all the time. He’s working on some new things this year, and I like what he’s doing,” he added. “I like him taking more three’s. There are some growing pains that go with that, but I like that he’s doing it because when we’re going to be good we’re going to need him to be that three-point shooter.”
Ainge said that one of the Celtics’ biggest needs this offseason is a “closer,” someone to take those big shots when the game is on the line. He’d like to see Green develop into that playing (adding that no one in the upcoming NBA Draft has that quality), but again, he needs more talent around him.
“I think he made more big shots than anyone on our team; game-tying shots, go-ahead shots [last season]. But Jeff didn’t have to create them, he was able to shoot them because they were being created by Rondo or Paul or KG,” he said. “I have all the confidence of Jeff taking any open three or Jeff in transition. Those are two things he’s been consistently great at in his career. Trying to be the guy to create the offense is something a work in progress but something he’s improving on.”
As for the upcoming summer for the rebuilding Celtics, Ainge said Wednesday night he expects there to be some fireworks, but wouldn’t promise anything.
“We have a lot of opportunities. Like I’ve said before I’m going to try to blow off some fireworks but I have to be patient as well. We can’t do deals just to do deals; we have to do the right deals,” said Ainge. “Those are a lot harder than most people think or believe or understand. I’m not making any promises, but we have a busy summer ahead of us. There are a lot of different ways we could go.”