Boston Celtics‘ general manager Danny Ainge addressed the media Wednesday afternoon for the first time since his April heart attack. He held a press conference to discuss the immediate future of the franchise.
Ainge did not announce any earth-shattering news on Kyrie Irving or Anthony Davis (though he did speak on Iriving in general) but instead chose to weigh in on pieces that are almost sure to be in Boston next season.
The Future of the Boston Celtics Addressed by Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge on his Health
Ainge touched briefly on his health after suffering a mild heart attack in April. He even threw in some humor on the issue, noting he’s been eating more plants since the heart attack, but not the kind Bill Walton is growing in his garden.
Ainge did not touch on Irving’s future very much, for obvious reasons. He did give the point guard praise and doubled-down on his decision to trade for Irving in the first place.
“There’s always a risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risks. We made a risk trading for Kyrie, and no matter what happens, I’ll never regret that,” Ainge said. “There’s not much I can say about (Irving’s free agency), but there are ongoing conversations.”
Danny Ainge said Kyrie Irving or his camp have not told the #Celtics that he doesn't want to come back next year.
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) June 5, 2019
Ainge went on to say all players deserve blame for how the season went, not just Irving. He also called it “unfortunate” that one player gets all the credit or blame for results of a team sport, adding that the “failures” of the 2019 season is, in part, everyone’s fault within the organization.
Coming off of a horrendous leg injury in the first few minutes of the 2017-18 season, Gordon Hayward struggled to find himself throughout 2018-19.
Ainge raved about Hayward and the bright future he expects from the former All-Star. He noted that Hayward’s work ethic is very strong, as you can find him in the gym every day with a handful of coaches working on his craft.
“I’m very excited and optimistic about his future, I’m anticipating great things from Gordon,” Ainge said. “I’m not worried about him. He’s doing everything he can. If he doesn’t become the player he wants to be, it won’t be from a lack of trying.”
Ainge added that some of Hayward’s low points of the season came because “there’s only one ball.” Such is the issue with having such depth and talent at the wing position paired with a star point guard and All-Star center.
Throughout the season, some questioned head coach Brad Stevens and his ability to coach a team loaded with talent. After receiving tremendous praise during the 2018 postseason for taking such a young, inexperienced, and injury-ridden team all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he followed up with a sub-par season that failed to meet expectations.
Ainge is still all-in on Stevens, though.
Danny Ainge: “There’s no other coach I would rather have than Brad Stevens.”
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) June 5, 2019
There was never any reason to suspect Stevens would find himself on the hot seat, but confirmation is welcomed when rumors spread.
Al Horford has been arguably the most vital part of the Boston Celtics over the past two seasons. His veteran leadership lifted the Celtics in the 2018 playoffs and provided a level of consistency throughout 2019.
Ainge said restructuring Horford’s contract is one of the biggest goals of the off-season. Horford has a player option to return next season, worth over $30 million. Restructuring his contract into a long-term deal would be huge for Boston.
Danny Ainge says that discussions with Al Horford on restructuring his deal is one of the team’s top priorities this offseason.
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) June 5, 2019
Danny Ainge on the 2019 NBA Draft
When asked about the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft, Ainge did not give any specific details but did give some insight into the mindset of the organization.
“Today, we’re preparing for the draft. We’re preparing to make picks. At the same time, we’ll be looking at possible trades for those picks,” Ainge said. “There’s a lot of discussion going on. We have a variety of ways to make our team different and hopefully better.”
Ainge has not ruled out trading draft picks for other assets when the time comes. At times, he has been hesitant to make moves, though he has also grabbed all the headlines with his blockbuster trades. It’s hard to predict what Ainge and the Celtics will do on draft night.
The Celtics have four picks in the upcoming draft, including three in the first round. The picks, along with whatever Ainge has up his sleeve, will surely set the franchise in a new direction.
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