It's been a while since we last heard from Ainge, so with the Draft just a few days away he held another presser today and talked about everything from the draft to the offseason to his team's needs. Naturally what he said is going to have some people riled up, and like always you have to sometimes read in between the lines to figure out what Ainge is really getting at. Let's take it from the top with some things that stood out to me
Uhhhhh excuse me? Listen I get that I'm not a doctor, but I don't know how you could hear that statement and not be pretty concerned. Does Ainge have no idea because he hasn't asked the medical staff or does he have no idea because they have no idea what the hell is going on with Kemba's knee. Either way I don't like it. I can understand being cautious with this subject, but at the same time if Kemba's knee still isn't right after 45 days since their last game (Sept 27th) and isn't going to be 100% in another 20 days, well we have a big time issue on our hands. This is why I keep stressing that guard is much more of a need than a big. They need to make sure they have legit Kemba insurance outside of Smart.
We've been down this road before. Unfortunately, Ainge doesn't really have a ton of leverage here and it feels like he's going to maybe have to overpay in order unload some of these picks. We were in this spot just last draft…..and took 4 guys.
There it is. There's the Danny Ainge I know and love. Nobody loves talking about trying to make deals more than our friend Danny. You won't stop hearing about how they are tied to certain trades, or how they are looking to make a deal to move up, it's the most consistent thing in all of our lives. Sadly, he rarely pulls off these deals. But you better believe he's going to talk to you about how he's trying to make some deals. Love it.
Annnnnnnnnd this is the part that I'm sure is going to annoy certain Celts fans. You scroll Twitter and you'll see people want him to trade Smart, get Gordon out of here, just do SOMETHING to shake up a team that was top 5 in record, offense, defense, and net rating. These people take sports talk radio as gospel and believe there is a huge chemistry issue on this team because Smart got mad about blowing a lead. You hear them recite the sports talk angle of every single team in the East will be getting better and the Celts will be the only ones who will not have internal improvement…..despite half their team and core guys all taking leaps last year and are still young. It makes no sense and is exhausting. The answer to these people is trading a major piece for a fancy name that doesn't make them better, but is a trade.
Me, this is something I partially agree with. The Celts do NOT need to make a major trade just to make one. They need to add around the edges. The one thing I would tweak is that Ainge does not need to decisively win the trade for it to make the team better. Maybe that means throwing in more picks to move up or something, but it shouldn't need to be a heist in order for him to do it.
This annoyed the shit out of me. Would things have been ideal if everyone was healthy? Duh, Danny. But guess what, the team that played in the ECF was good enough to make the Finals as is. They choked. Not because of injuries, but because of careless turnovers from your two best players and poor offensive execution that starts with Brad. That is why they did not make the Finals. The health wasn't an issue when they were building 17 point leads in Games 1 & 2 right? Well then they can't be an issue as to why you fell short. This team has experience playing shorthanded for years now, they know how to win with guys out. Got through the Raptors right? Hated this comment.
I love this comment just because I know how mad it's going to make some fans who are all about RINNNGZZZZZZ and think consistently being in the top 4 in the NBA is #actuallybad. I don't really put any stock into the previous trips to the ECF because the roster was different. This group got there in their FIRST year together and yet people feel it's not good enough. Have some perspective for me one time. Yes, the goal is a banner and not the ECF, but people talk like making deep playoff runs while your best players are in their low 20s is a bad thing. You hear the word "mediocre" be thrown around by people who feel this way. I guess we just have different definitions of mediocre. Three of their four losses in the ECF were by 3 points or less. That feels like a team that is on the verge of breaking through. Look at NBA history and you see that it usually took a group 3-5 years to finally break through unless they are some sort of free agent super team.
Maybe it's because I went basically my entire life without seeing the Celts truly contend and make the ECF, but this always confused me.
This is important if you consider what might be possible in terms of trades before the draft. I wonder if both Enes and Gordon would give Ainge a heads up before then if they did intend to opt out. They don't feel like guys that are looking to stick it to Ainge, but that is a wrinkle that could impact how active and what type of deals Ainge considers before or during the draft.
All in all, I'm definitely more concerned about Kemba's knee than I was yesterday. It feels great to get the same spin regarding deals and the draft we always get, and that injury excuse bullshit can get lost. Basically, Ainge gave us what I expected him to. Now let's see what he can pull off in the next few weeks.