Ainge: Celtics In No Rush To Use Disabled Player Exception

BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics dispatched the lowly Sacramento Kings with ease on Wednesday night en route to their sixth straight win.

They’re on top of the NBA with a 6-2 record (tied with the surprising Orlando Magic) and are one of the best defensive teams. Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday, and is certainly pleased with the team’s play following the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward just five minutes into the season.

But after being called the “King of the NBA” by Rich, Ainge said to pump the brakes a bit.

“Well, it’s awful early for that. ‘King of the NBA’ is in June. We’re just trying to get better every day,” said Ainge.

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics getting better with their league-leading 95.1 defensive rating, but Ainge is always looking for ways to improve his squad. An area he no longer has to worry about is the team’s rebounding, something that has plagued Celtics teams for years. They out-rebounded Sacramento 52-26 on Wednesday night, and are second in the league in rebounding percentage at 53.5 percent.

“Everybody always thinks, and we’ve talked about this last year Fred — Rebounding is not as simple as bringing in a rebounder. It’s a team effort,” said Ainge. “We increased our size all around the team. With the addition of Jaylen [Brown] in the starting lineup and his size and athleticism, and [Jayson] Tatum, [Aron] Baynes, we obviously have more size and length to rebound the ball. It hasn’t been a problem, but a strength.”

The NBA granted the Celtics a disabled player exception shortly after Hayward went down, giving Ainge $8.4 million to add a player to the mix. Ainge said there’s not one type of player they’re looking for, and the team is in no rush to use that exception.

“It’s not that simple; it’s not like wee need a second baseman or defensive back. We need a good player, and obviously we could use more shooting, more size, more rim protection. A lot of times those players don’t exist. They help you in one element or aspect of the game, but not others,” he explained.

The Celtics have until March 12 to use the exception.

“We’re not in a rush and we’ll wait,” Ainge continued. “Right now we’re fairly healthy and Marcus Morris is coming back any day. We don’t have a great need for a player, unless it’s a young player that maybe we can take a look at and develop, or a veteran who can come in and crack our rotation.”

Ainge also discussed Hayward’s road to recovery, Kyrie Irving’s incredible defensive play recently, and who has assumed the leadership role in the Boston locker room following Isaiah Thomas’ departure. Listen to the full podcast above!

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