The last time we heard from Danny Ainge it was during his pre draft media session a few weeks ago. It was pretty much vintage Ainge, where he didn't really say a whole lot. It was the usual "we're always looking to make deals" nonsense. Of course, there were no deals on draft night other than moving a 1st round pick for a couple second round picks, but that wasn't a surprise. He was asked at the time about Kemba's knee, and basically said he didn't know what the deal was
Well, a lot has changed since November 11th. For starters, we hadn't heard from Ainge at all in regards to the whole Gordon Hayward situation. We of course heard things from the Pacers side, it was what you could expect. They were ready, they offered everything under the sun, but it was the big bad Ainge that overplayed his hand, was asking too much and would be left with nothing in return for Hayward. An interesting narrative that couldn't have been put out fast enough. In reality, it's the Pacers who are left with nothing. If they chose to match Hayward's CHA offer, he's probably a Pacer. Then there's today's news about Kemba's stem cell injection in his knee and that whole ordeal. Like I said this morning, not great! So with all that's changed these last few weeks, I was very interested to hear what Ainge had to say while knowing deep down he's not going to tell us the complete, 100% truth.
Let's have a look, shall we?
OK, so we're talking about while the team was in the bubble right? This is total speculation, but I think we know why Hayward came back. He knew he was leaving and he wanted to gut it out and play for his team as one last hurrah. It obviously did not work out as planned, but he deserves all the credit in the world for missing the birth of his kid and playing while hurt. His exit is basically the exact opposite of Kyrie's and I think the perception is different. Kyrie quit on the Celts in that MIL series. Hayward, while he knew he was leaving, did not quit on the team. That's what I take away from Danny's comment here. He knew at some point in the bubble that Hayward was out, which is why he didn't give a shit if he came back too early.
Spot the lie. LeBron, Kawhi, KD, Harden (ish), Giannis, etc, the top of the top are more often than not wings. Two way wings are the most valuable piece to building a championship contending roster. You need them to win. Period. Tell me a recent champion that didn't have an elite wing player? That's why the team is investing in the two Jays. Two young wings who show all the signs of developing into that elite level talent. It also doesn't seem like that will be changing anytime soon, which is why I don't really get the doom and gloom when talking about the ceiling of this roster. Seems like having two of these type of players on your roster has you in a good spot.
Me too Danny, me too.
SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.
This is maybe the biggest thing the Ainge haters do not understand. Gordon Hayward controlled his future, not Ainge. There is all this talk about him being willing to take a discount to go to IND. Well, why didn't he? There was no free agent deadline. He could have turned down the Hornets money if he wanted. But why would he? Once that money came into play, it didn't matter what Ainge did or offered. That's why players opt out. So THEY can choose where they go. His agent obviously knew that CHA could be a possibility, so why would Hayward commit to something else before they knew the Hornets final offer? Then once they got it, nobody wanted to match it so he left for Charlotte. It's that simple.
Oh weird. One side is quick to leak everything in an attempt to make Ainge look bad. It didn't work. He got the TPE and you could argue a better package for Hayward which allows for more roster flexibility. Ainge takes the high road and doesn't comment. I think that tells you everything you need to know.
I found this to be pretty interesting. You could make the case that the roster spots of Semi/Carsen/Javonte Geen could all be upgraded. I wonder how long into the season this will be the case. The second unit still has a lot of questions heading into this season, and unless these guys actually get minutes and an opportunity I'm not sure how the Celts will see what they have. That certainly wasn't the case last season.
If there was any doubt with how Ainge and the franchise feels about Smart, this should answer your question. I'm sure this will anger those who can't stand Smart while it is music to the rest of our ears.
Like I said a few weeks ago, we are very close to having to have a serious discussion about Kemba's future. He has 2 more guaranteed years before his $37M player option. Now before you just dismiss that saying there's no way a guy with an injury history would opt out of a big time yearly salary, may I present to you Gordon Hayward.
So this season, the health of Kemba and how he looks is going to play a huge role in what they end up doing. Do they trade him a year early? Does he show that with proper load management there won't be an issue? It's easily the biggest and most important question of their entire season.
In terms of potentially bringing him back too soon, that's a big concern considering Kemba had a 4 month hiatus. If that was too soon, well then I'll plan on seeing Kemba in March.
All in all, this was about what I expected to hear from Ainge. He wasn't going to bury Hayward for leaving, perception around the league is very very important. I also think if you expected him to spill the exact details of the Pacers talks you haven't paid attention to Ainge at all over his last 17 years. That's a situation where you have to read in between the lines and hear what he's not saying. Don't you think it's a little interesting that we didn't hear anything from the Boston or Charlotte side yet the Pacers couldn't stop leaking things?
Ainge also mentioned that he doesn't anticipate using the TPE during the year which is fine by me. I don't care when he uses it, he just has to use it. If there is an opportunity at the deadline to improve the roster? Cool. If they wait until the offseason where there might be more options? Cool. Just fucking use it.