Danny Ainge: ‘We’re trying to make deals before the draft’

(Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

The transaction floodgates are ready to open around the NBA ahead of the Nov. 18 NBA Draft now that the CBA has been amended for the 2020-21 season and the Celtics are hoping to be an active participant in a busy week of moves heading into training camp on December 1st.

“We’re ready for it to begin,” Danny Ainge said of the offseason in his first public comments since the end of the season on Wednesday from the Auerbach Center. “We’re ready for the draft. We’re still trying to make some deals before the draft to improve our team. We have our list of players we’ll try to pursue in free agency (but) there’s a lot of unknown factors. Draft day, the 19th and the 20th are gonna be crazy. We’ll be resting up and ready for that battle.”

The NBA is expected to lift a freeze on trades as soon as Monday, allowing teams to maneuver ahead of draft night and free agency with their roster. The Celtics have four draft picks on Wednesday night and already have a host of young players on the roster, making it an unlikely scenario for Boston to use all the picks.

“We talk to every team in the draft and we come up with lots of different ideas of trades that we want to make,” he said. "But you’ve gotta do good deals. I say that all the time. It’s not a matter about just making deals or ‘important’ to make a deal. It’s not ideal if we add four rookies to the team that we currently have.”

While drafting four rookies has always been unlikely, the Celtics could have a host of intriguing options available to them at No. 14 or late in the first round (No. 26 and No. 30) if they struggle to consolidate the picks or move them for future selections. Publicly, the Celtics are putting on a front that they will be ready to take some, likely to signal that they won’t be squeezed by high asking prices from trade partners.

“It’s a fairly deep draft,” Ainge declared. “When we’re looking to trade players, not every rookie’s the same. Not every rookie is a 19-year-old who needs his hand held and needs a year in the G-League. Some rookies are much more mature, ready to step in and play right away at least in a certain role. When you draft a player like Semi Ojeleye or Grant Williams, they’re grown adults. Then there’s other kinds of rookies as we all know, so that matters too. Not all rookies, not all draft picks have to be kids that you have their hands held. There are many rookies that come in and are the hardest working, the most diligent. Those will be factors too if we end up using picks.”

The challenge for the Celtics this year when trying to make deals is well documented here at BSJ with both salary limitations and uncertain futures for player on the roster. Despite rumors to the contrary, Ainge signaled on Wednesday that player options will be due after the NBA Draft, which will make it unlikely Enes Kanter or Gordon Hayward will be moved on draft night unless there’s camps approve of such a deal.

Without those salaries in play, the Celtics will need to get creative to find the right fit given the challenge of salary matching and