Danny Ainge held his annual end of the season press conference on Thursday morning and covered all kinds of ground about the Celtics present and future in the 20-plus minute interview. Here’s a breakdown of his more notable responses and what they could mean for the C’s this offseason.
1. Danny Ainge has no regrets about the trade deadline.
Ainge: “I think that we tried. Yeah, we tried to do some things at the trade deadline. We tried very hard. So, I don't think I would do anything different, no. I think it's a fair assessment of our team that we weren't as strong as we needed to be. I think that we had plenty of depth to get through an Eastern Conference Finals, assuming we don't have Gordon and Kemba banged up and Romeo Langford out. So, I don't think we would have done anything different. But I think it's a misconception we didn't make a strong effort to improve our team. And two things, in hindsight, it's a little bit different, too. Had you known you were going to have a training camp in between the trade deadline and before the season, that's probably a better question. If you knew you could bring someone in and have an entire training camp with them before they restarted the playoffs, but I still think the answer would be the same. There's a few guys we were chasing, a few guys we thought we could add to the roster that could really help us, and we weren't able to get those deals done.”
BSJ Analysis: I do think the timing of the deadline was unfortunate for the Celtics, especially with Walker from a health standpoint. He really started to struggle with his knee more regularly throughout February and perhaps adding veteran depth would have been more of a focus if that issue presented itself earlier with such severity.
However, I will say this: Injuries were a common thread for this team all year long throughout the team’s core. Expecting everyone to be healthy in that group in the playoffs given how beat up they all were at various points of the year is fair to second guess. Hayward’s ankle sprain in the playoffs was bad luck but Walker having knee woes was not. The C’s had talent on the bench but it was either too flawed (Enes Kanter) or too inexperienced to be counted on a playoff setting. With the road to the NBA Finals only getting tougher next season, the pressure is on Ainge now to maximize the assets he saved rather than overpaying for a bench addition that could have gotten this team into the NBA Finals.
2. The Celtics will be looking at the draft differently this year given the roster construction and amount of youth already on the roster.
Ainge: “You’ve gotta take all those things into consideration when you’re drafting. Typically you want to draft the best player and not worry about positions, but we’ve all heard the rhetoric before and that’s true. But there are times when you need to draft for specific needs, especially when we’re drafting in the positions that we’re drafting this year and with the draft that we have this year. But yeah, we’ll take into consideration all of the above: all of the players on our roster and what our needs are, who the best players are, and players that can help us more immediately, obviously, we’d take a chance on a player that was a younger player who needed some development in the G League before he was ready to play for us, we have the luxury of doing that as well. So all of those things are considerations.”
BSJ Analysis: This is actually a pretty dramatic admission by Ainge but it’s also just for show I think when it comes to trade talks with other teams. He needs to be able to posture as a team that’s