June 29, 2005
The average age on the Boston Celtics roster was 25.33 years old before last night at 9:15 pm. After grabbing 19-year-old high school phenom Gerald Green with the 18th pick in the 2005 draft, the Boys in Green will now feature seven players on their roster who are 23 or younger.
Considering 36-year-old Gary Payton is already out the door and 28-year-old Antoine Walker has one foot out the door, and that Boston would like to show 30-year-old Mark Blount the door, it's pretty stunning just how low that average number could go when Boston's newest teenager walks through that door today.
Green was not supposed to drop this far. Ainge and his draftniks truly believed he would go in the top six, with Portland most likely snagging him at No. 6. When the Trailblazers opted for another high school prospect, shooter Martell Webster, the Celtics started thinking there just might be a chance the kid could slip all the way into their lap.
"We started doing a little research and realized, 'This guy might not have a home,"' said Ainge. "He can shoot, and he can fly. On the downside, he's 19 and he's not ready to win in the NBA yet."
A much less reserved Ainge acknowledged after he left the podium that he was ecstatic with what had transpired. He said his team has some big decisions to make regarding key personnel, but, he figures, now he has more ammunition than ever to address those issues.
"All of a sudden we've got Paul [Pierce] and Al [Jefferson] and Delonte [West] and Gerald Green," Ainge gushed. "These are guys that anyone in the league would kill to have."
Then why did Green fall so far? Was it because he resisted showing up for one-on-one workouts? Should we buy Ainge's explanation that teams picking before the Celtics were addressing needs rather than going for the best available player theory?
"Why did he slide? I could care less," said coach Doc Rivers, who then compared Green with a young Tracy McGrady.
Whoa. Easy, Doc. Green, who originally committed to Oklahoma State, still needs to mature physically and mentally. He is not ready to play at this level - yet.
Even so, you've got to love this pick. Ainge, in essence, took a chance on grabbing a player who could be a bonafide star instead of playing it safe and settling for a seasoned college player (Hakim Warrick?) who wouldn't be able to help Boston next season anyway. Danny may need to extend his five-year plan to seven years now, but the bottom line is he's snagged another player that offers unlimited promise - and entertainment value. Gerald Green loves to run and jump, and that fits snugly with Doc's vision of up-tempo basketball.
And, yet, there are holes to be filled with this suddenly fluid roster. The Celtics must - we repeat must - bring in one, if not two, solid veterans who can show the kiddie corps the way.
"That's huge," Rivers acknowledged last night. "It's vital we bring in the right people."
Green, in a brief interview on ESPN last night, said he would be taking college classes when he comes to Boston, and if he didn't, his mother would "break my head or something."
"I kind of thought I'd get picked earlier, but it's OK," Green said.
You can be sure Al and Delonte and Tony Allen have already picked out an apartment for their new teammate in Waltham, where all the young Celtics fellas hang out. Boston's Brat Pack believe they are the future of this franchise, and they've just added some serious firepower to that theory.