BOSTON (CBS) — No, the Celtics did not land a top three pick in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery. Instead they were awarded the sixth overall pick for their 57-loss season, dashing any hopes of seeing the likes of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins in a Celtics uniform.
But that doesn’t mean the end of days are coming for Boston’s basketball team. President Danny Ainge and his staff were prepared to receive pick No. 6 in next month’s draft (it was the most likely outcome for Boston), and Ainge says the future is still bright for the Celtics.
“It’s a new day and there’s a lot to be excited about. I’m anxious to get to work,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Wednesday. “We didn’t get exactly what we wanted or hoped for, but our future is still bright. We have a lot of work to do this summer.”
Over the next few weeks, Ainge will be working the phones to determine the value of the pick and whether or not it best serves the Celtics to draft a player or package it in a deal for a veteran star to put next to point guard Rajon Rondo.
“We haven’t really found out from other teams how much they want the pick, but I think it’s valuable. It’s valuable for us to use the pick, but it’s important for us to see what other teams value it as,” explained Ainge. “I think there are players that can help us and play a good roll on a winning team, and that’s very positive.
“There’s been a little groundwork before the lottery on some things, but not really. The work will start now,” he said. “I feel like there are some opportunities for us to change the look of our team, but it’s not going to be easy. Everybody is vying for the great players in the league and there are a lot of teams that have good flexibility like we do.”
The last time the Celtics were in the lottery, Ainge turned the fifth overall pick and all his other assets into Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. One year later the Celtics were back on top of the NBA world with their 17th title in franchise history.
But things don’t always work out so easily, and Ainge is prepared for a busy summer.
“When we were able to make the KG trade it wasn’t because Kevin McHale and I were friends, it was because they coveted Al Jeffereon – that was the only reason we were able to get KG. We have some good young talent, but so do other teams. There will be a lot of phone calls made on the behalf of players who are available. We’ll be making those calls and see what we can do,” he said.
Ainge said he thinks the Celtics are in better shape to pull off a summer blockbuster this year than they were back in 2007.
“Just because draft picks are valuable and we have a lot of them over the next handful of years, and we have some good players,” he said. “I’m very optimistic and hopeful this summer that we can get some things done.”
Kevin Love will reportedly opt out of his contract following next season, making it likely the Timberwolves will look to deal their All-Star power forward. Ainge has the ammo to put together a very enticing package for Minnesota, with their plethora of draft picks over the next five years and young talent like Jared Sullinger, but there’s some concern that Love won’t sign a long-term deal with the Celtics.
Ainge explained that Love, like Rondo, will be better off testing the free agent waters in 2015 rather than re-signing this summer, as they can get more years and more money. However, Ainge wouldn’t be afraid of trading for a player with just one year left on their contract.
“I would contemplate that, yes,” said Ainge. “It would depend on the player and the risk, but sometimes you need to take some risks.”
Ainge also said there have been no new talks with Rajon Rondo about a contract extension.
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