Celtics

Danny Ainge dishes on Celtics’ draft prep, planning for uncertain offseason and holding out hope for an NBA season

(Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Danny Ainge may be the leader of one of the NBA’s most prestigious franchises but he’s in the same boat as everyone else in the world right now when it comes to identifying when sports can safely resume amid the coronavirus: Holding out hope with no sense of what comes next.

"I think Adam (Silver) has some tough decisions but I trust him and what he’s doing,” Ainge said Wednesday in a conference call. “The Board of Governors, I think they’re going to do what’s best, but I’m holding out hope that we’re still going to play some basketball this year. That’s just me being a fan. I don’t really have any inside information on that.”

In the meantime, Ainge is working diligently with his basketball operations staff remotely as they prepare for the NBA offseason whenever that does officially come. Currently, the NBA Draft is still scheduled for  June 25th but with no hope of the NBA season being finished by then (unless it's outright canceled), the Celtics are doing their best to proceed with their draft prep like its business as usual.

“It’s not difficult, you still have to study and watch players,” Ainge said of the offseason calendar uncertainty. “You still have to do background checks and gather information on players, and you still have to keep working and preparing as if the draft was going to happen on June 25th until we hear otherwise. I don’t think any of us anticipates that will be the case, but it’s possible.”

The Celtics won’t nearly have the same kind of access with draft workouts for prospects and in-person interviews like a usual year but they will be able to make contact with prospects via video conferencing.

“We’ve been allowed to do some calls with some of the seniors, “ Ainge said. “But they haven’t gotten the underclassmen list out yet, we won’t be able to have any communication with them until after that, but yeah, there’s a lot of preparation. The reason I was a few minutes late is because we were just finishing up a conference call with my staff, and we do that 3 or 4 days a week, and we go through entire conferences and talk about all the players in the whole conference, and that’s what we’ve been doing this morning.”

The absence of in-person workouts and interviews will put the C’s brass in a tough spot since that’s an area the team has leaned on heavily in past years to help settle a tie between prospects or push them to make a move for a player via trade.

“I can just give you a few examples, but let’s just take Rajon Rondo as an example,” Ainge explained. “Had I not been able to see him in the draft workout and sat down and talked with him and looked into his eyes, I don’t think I would have drafted him. So I think there is value in that.

“At the same time, we drafted Avery Bradley without any draft workouts. We drafted Steve Nash back in our Phoenix days without a draft workout. So I think you don’t always get guys in for draft workouts but you have to be prepared to take guys. That’s why we’re doing so much homework at this time and taking advantage of getting ahead of the game in case we don’t get draft workouts. But we’ll be prepared.”

While it’s evident there will be a clear lasting impact on league revenue due to the extended shutdown,