Ainge On Toucher & Rich: ‘Haven’t Lost Hope’ For Fireworks This Off-Season
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics hinted that fireworks could be coming this summer.
Those fireworks did not come on draft night, as the Celtics used their two first-round selections to draft guard Marcus Smart and guard/forward James Young.
For those fans angry that Kevin Love, or any veteran for that matter, isn’t wearing green today, the C’s are reminding you that there is still plenty of summer left.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Friday morning, and said the Celtics were not close to a big deal at the draft, but they’re hopeful something could still get done.
“We’ve spent time over the last month trying to make a bigger splash, trying to make our rebuilding process go a little quicker,” Ainge said Friday. “We’ll continue to try to do that this summer, but it was not close last night. We feel like we’ve been in good discussion and haven’t lost hope on that.”
Ainge said the Celtics’ quest to acquire the first overall pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers was “a bit overblown,” and he would not comment on Love. He said he doesn’t know if Minnesota intends to keep their All Star forward this off-season.
But Ainge had plenty to say of his two newest players. In Smart, Ainge sees an all-around player who leaves it all out on the floor.
“What I love most about Marcus is his competitiveness. He’s a fierce competitor,” said Ainge. “He’s an instigator, strong and physical with long arms and strong hands. I think he has a chance to be a really terrific point guard.”
Drafting a point guard opened up plenty of speculation that the Celtics will look to deal Rajon Rondo, who will be a free agent after the season. The Celtics were insistent Thursday night that Smart and Rondo could co-exist on the court together, and Ainge repeated that again on Friday.
“I think Marcus and Rondo easily can be backcourt mates. Marcus is a guy we felt could play with Rondo or Avery (Bradley) and Phil Pressey. I think they could all play on the court at the same time – Marcus is big enough and long enough to guard some small forwards,” he said.
Ainge also said that picking Smart sixth overall will have no bearing on how they handle Bradley’s pending restricted free agency.
“We love Avery every bit as much as we always have,” said Ainge. “You have to have depth and you have to have versatility. Marcus, Avery and Rondo form a great three-man rotation, along with Phil Pressey. We have room for everybody. I don’t think it means anything to (Rondo and Avery).”
With their second first-round pick, the Celtics drafted James Young 17th overall. While Young is a bit of a raw talent, at just 18-years-old the Celtics had him much higher on their draft board.
“We had ranked much higher than where we drafted him at 17, mostly because he’s young, strong and has long arms,” said Ainge. “He’s always been a good shooter; he didn’t shoot the ball great early at Kentucky… but James is one of those guys that looks like a shooter. He doesn’t hesitate and take the ball to the hole strong.
“We think he’s a two-way player and can defend his position,” he said of Young.
“I’m excited about the two guys we got,” he said. “I don’t have expectations that they can turn around the franchise, but they are two guys who can play a major role on a successful team as they develop.”
Ainge and his staff will be back to work Friday morning, with free agency opening up on Monday.
“This is a busy time,” he said, “no time to rest.”
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