Danny Ainge couldn’t officially confirm the rumors swirling around the futures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford following the NBA Draft. He couldn’t even talk about trading away his former starting center Aron Baynes with the 24th overall pick to the Phoenix Suns for a future first-round selection. Yet, on a night where he was forced to dodge questions about free agent outcomes and possibilities, the moves of the evening weren’t subject to interpretation.
“I shouldn’t really comment on anything until things are done. I really can’t comment on all the things that are said to have happened yet, unfortunately,” Ainge said. “Need to wait. I wish I could. I wish I didn’t have to have my counsel here to protect me from getting fined. I wish I could tell you everything I know, but I can’t.”
We will get the full story once free agency begins and decisions become official, but Ainge and Stevens remained surprisingly positive about what looks to be a long road back towards contending following the expected departures of Irving and Horford.
“This is fun,” Ainge said of the task before him. “I'm surrounded by a great staff, a coaching staff and a scouting staff. We're prepared for this. We know what is before us coming into July was very possible and we're prepared. Very confident.”
Some maneuvering around cap space was certainly part of the plan during draft night as the Celtics dumped Baynes and his $5.4 million into cap room as part of a swap of first round picks with the Suns. That move and trading back with Philadelphia at No. 20 created the ability to open up $25 million in cap room immediately for the Celtics in free agency even while keeping the cap hold of restricted free agent Terry Rozier on the books. Without him, that number could jump to $34 million, enough to let the Celtics get into the bidding on some less experienced free agents.
The problem for the Celtics is whether they will actually be competitive