7.30.2008

Chances of Signing Ainge Appear Slim


Although he handicaps his chances of signing Danny Ainge as "slim," Celtic owner Harry Mangurian is more than willing to roll the dice.

"It's a gamble, just like the one Red (Auerbach) took when he used the sixth pick on the first round to draft (Larry) Bird even though Bird was still a junior," said Mangurian. "We don't know quite what it will take to get Danny Ainge, but if it's money, we'll be ready."

Mangurian was pleased with the way the Celtics' draft went. "We got the two players we thought we could get with our first two picks (Charles Bradley and Tracy Jackson) and then we hoped we could get the crack at Ainge. We were worried about it, because plenty of teams were interested in him. The night before the draft, Atlanta called me at 10:30 trying to find out what we were thinking about."

The Celtics will play the Ainge situation the same way they handled Bird. Hands off, until the right time. "I talked with Danny on the phone after we drafted him, and I told him we wouldn't bug him until after the baseball season was over. He's coming here next with the Blue Jays and I'm not going to bother him."

But, when the baseball season is over, Auerbach will sit down with Ainge and talk with him about becoming a Celtic. Two things might work in the Celtics' favor. First, the NBA season is starting a month later next year, pushed back from early October to the beginning of November. Second, the league will go to a 12-man roster, letting each team carry an additional player.

Ainge is still thinking more about baseball as his future, but the Celtics hope to convince him to come to camp, sign and play at least until it is time for him to report to spring training, usually March 1. Naturally, they hope he gets to like playing for them better than he likes playing for Toronto.

There are reports that Ainge has a "buy-out" clause in his baseball contract. The Celtics say they know nothing about such a clause, which would allow Ainge to free himself of the Blue Jays for an alleged $200,000.

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