5.14.2016

Ainge Understands Pierce's Frustration

June 25, 2005
 
WALTHAM Danny Ainge did not reveal any draft secrets, like what kind of player the Celtics might select at Nos. 18, 50, and 53 Tuesday night during the NBA Draft. In a news flash to no one, the Celtics'executive director of basketball operations will select the best player available regardless of position, age, or ability to make an immediate impact, though he acknowledged it's more likely the Celtics will select a player with college experience.


Other not-so-juicy tidbits from a news conference yesterday included Ainge weighing in on:


    The pool of prospects: "The draft is very deep" and "40 to 50 players will be very disappointed."


   Trades: He doesn't want to move up unless he can get into the top four, but he might consider moving down for a future pick.


The rest of the offseason: "We hope to make some changes on our roster this year."


   Although Ainge added he had contacted the teams that hold the top four picks and thought Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams were the best players in the draft, he also noted choosing among the top prospects was not something he had to worry about now.


Before addressing where the Celtics must improve, Ainge cautioned his words were not to be taken as an indictment of any current player.


"Our team basketball IQ needs to improve," said Ainge. "A lot of that is inexperience, but we need to be smarter on the court. We need to shoot the ball better and be better passers, which is a lot of basketball IQ. Smarter and just mentally tougher are the two biggest areas. It's just basketball experience. There's a lot of players that don't have real high IQs that don't get straight A's in college that are brilliant on the basketball court. We need some more players like that vs. just the best jumpers and so forth."


That was an interesting statement from Ainge, who started his tenure in May 2003 vowing to bring athleticism to the Celtics. And while Ainge did not want his remarks to shine an unflattering light on current players, he was inevitably asked about Paul Pierce.


He said he has not spoken to Pierce since the end of the season, though he singled out Pierce and Mark Blount as two veterans dedicated to rigorous offseason conditioning routines. Ainge did share some thoughts privately about the All-Star swingman whose name has been the subject of trade rumors.


"I would just say that there's two things in regard to Paul," said Ainge. "Paul is a very emotional kid who I think is affected by a lot of things. He's under a microscope here in Boston and he probably senses that people don't like him as much as we really do. Paul's a terrific player and he's 27 and he's just reaching his prime. I think his next few years can be the best years of his career. So, if Paul were frustrated right now because we are a younger team, that would certainly be understandable to me."


In the past, Pierce has been concerned that he will spend the prime of his career playing for a team that is more focused on developing young talent.


"I totally understand that concern of Paul's," said Ainge. "What can I do? I understand Paul's perspective, but my job is to do what's best for the Boston Celtics, period, not what's best for Danny Ainge, not what's best for Doc Rivers, not what's best for Paul Pierce."


Ainge seems to be acknowledging how difficult it would be for Boston to get something of equal value for Pierce.


   With regard to Antoine Walker, Ainge said he has been in contact with the power forward's agent, Mark Bartelstein. "We're uncertain as to what we're doing, other than to convene and talk when we're allowed to talk [July 1]."


So, draft night should be just the beginning of a busy summer for the Celtics.

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