BOSTON (CBS) — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Toucher & Rich to discuss exactly what went on last week at the trade deadline, why the team decided to stay put, and much more.
Despite widespread rumors, Ainge wasn’t willing to confirm that the team was close to a deal for Philadelphia 76ers star Jahlil Okafor.
“I’m not saying anything,” said Ainge. “I’m done speculating. In reality, we were close to many deals.”
He said that the team held back now with the expectation of a busy offseason.
“I think there’s gonna be a lot of action in the offseason, and we’re hopeful that we can be a part of that,” said Ainge. “We’re trying to make good deals, not just deals. We’re not just trying to give up all of our assets. We’re trying to find the right fit for our team to make our team better for a sustained period.”
Ainge also talked about the long-anticipated departure of David Lee.
“We needed to have him around if we were going to pull off any blockbuster deal at the deadline,” explained Ainge.
The Celtics GM praised Lee as a good teammate who was in need of a new opportunity. As for filling Lee’s empty roster spot, Ainge said that the team will take its time.
“We’re not close,” said Ainge. “We’re waiting to see the other players that are bought out.”
Ainge also commented on the prevalence of flopping in the NBA in light of Marcus Smart’s flop at Minnesota on Monday night. While he doesn’t endorse flopping, Ainge believes that it’s just another part of the game.
“Flopping has been going on forever and I think the best players do the best job of it,” said Ainge. “They draw attention to the contact. It’s not always inventing contact; it’s accentuating it and embellishing the contact to draw the officials’ attention. The bottom line is players are going to flop if they keep getting calls. If they don’t get calls, then they’ll stop flopping. The fact that officials fall for flopping and always do and always have, players are going to continue to try to get those calls.”
He added: “If there is a foul occurred and a player embellishes it, that’s not necessarily a flop. If there’s no contact and a player just makes up and falls down without any contact, then that is considered a flop and players will get punished for that.”
Only when there is no contact should there be a fine, according to Ainge.
Ainge even elaborated upon the team’s recent defensive struggles, noting that a lack of intensity has lead to some off days for the team’s defense.
“I think that our defense has slipped,” said Ainge. “The good and the bad news about our team is I feel like our guys really feel like they’re a good team, and they can beat all of the good teams. … But sometimes I feel like they think they’re better than they are, and they don’t show up to play with the same kind of intensity on the defensive end.”
Finally, he noted that Kelly Olynyk is another two or three weeks away from returning to the court.
Listen to the full interview below: