BOSTON (CBS) — When Isaiah Thomas was traded last week, and subsequently cut by the L.A. Clippers, some Celtics fans started to dream of an IT reunion in Boston. But Danny Ainge threw a bucket of cold water on those fantasies Thursday morning.
During his weekly chat with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, Ainge said the Celtics will continue to evaluate the buyout market leading up to March 1. But at the moment, there is nothing out there that interests them enough to jettison someone off their roster. That includes Thomas.
Three years ago, the undersized guard was lighting up the scoreboard for Boston. But his “King in the Fourth” days are over, and with a stacked roster that could use some size more than anything, Ainge just doesn’t see a fit for IT at the moment.
“I love Isaiah, I’m just not sure he’s the right fit for us,” said Ainge. “But I’m not sure that he’s not. We’re waiting to see who is available, maybe someone who is more of a need or more of a fit. But who knows, we’ll see.”
Ainge said Thomas would add some shooting off the Boston bench, but the 5-foot-9 guard wouldn’t address their biggest area of need.
“It’s a challenge with Kemba [Walker] and Isaiah, the size at the guard position,” he said. “That makes it tough, so I don’t think that’s a great fit for our team right now. But again, Isaiah has skills, he has talents that we could use — three-point shooting and scoring. But whenever you try to fill a hole, you’re creating another hole most of the time, unless that player is a two-way, big, solid player.
“We could use some of the things he does on a positive side. His size and defense are not ideal for our team because we already have a small guard we have to work around in some matchups,” Ainge added.
Ainge confirmed that the Celtics were in on free agent Marvin Williams, who was teammates with Walker in Charlotte, but the forward chose to sign with the 46-win Milwaukee Bucks. Walker wasn’t very pleased that Williams picked the Bucks, but Ainge said it’s hard to fault him.
“I think it’s a very attractive team, with arguably the best player in the NBA on their roster who happens to play the same position as Marvin. Maybe Marvin didn’t want to guard the Greek Freak, I don’t know,” joked Ainge. “They have the best player in the league who plays the 4 and handles the ball and creates the offense. He’s a terrific teammate and a terrific player. They have the best record in the NBA. I think there are a lot of reasons someone would choose Milwaukee.
“I know that Kemba and Marvin are close friends and they’ve talked a lot. I don’t know the details of those conversations, but I know Kemba wasn’t very happy when he heard he was going to Milwaukee,” added Ainge. “I think Kemba felt there was a good chance of him coming to Boston, and that’s really all I know. Marvin is a good player and a good friend of Kemba, but he chose to go to Milwaukee.”
With a 37-16 record and a 2.5 game lead over the Miami Heat for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics don’t necessarily need to add on the buyout market. While Ainge agrees they could use a little more size, he doesn’t see it as a glaring need.
“Everybody who has watched our team play, I can only think of one game this year where we were dominated by an inside presence. That was [Joel] Embiid, and we’ve done a better job on him since. Team defense is critical,” he said. “Our bigs playing against other bigs have held their own. I’m not worried about that position as much as other people seem to be worried about it.”
Ainge also said the team remains hopeful to get center Robert Williams back around March 1.