Ainge takes long route

June 8, 2007

Corey Brewer and Al Thornton - two of the players the Celtics are considering for the fifth pick in the draft - had a right to be tired after going through their paces for the club yesterday.

But Danny Ainge also was looking a bit fatigued after hopscotching the states to look at potential draftees.

The Celts director of basketball operations left the predraft workouts in Orlando this week and checked out Boston College shot-blocker Sean Williams in Houston. He then asked Doc Rivers to join him on a trip to Los Angeles to see Yi Jianlian on Wednesday. With flight delays mixed in, he arrived back in Boston early yesterday morning.

``There were 35 players in Orlando, and we still had Chris (Wallace), Jon (Niednagel) and Leo (Papile) there, so I felt like I could get away and see these other guys,'' Ainge said.

Williams, who was suspended from BC, ``looked good,'' according to Ainge. ``You know, it's just workout stuff.

``The thing with Yi came about at the last minute. More than anything, I wanted Doc to see Yi. I'm trying to get him to see people just so I can get input from our system, because I don't think this is just a clear-cut draft where one guy is clearly the better player and you take him and fit him in. I really believe with this draft that the six guys we're looking at are all good players that can all help us, but they all provide something different.

``I would never say you draft based on need, but it's a situation where you might draft based on fit.''

Ainge's report on Yi?

``Tall. Athletic,'' he said. ``It's just hard to tell in a workout by yourself.''

That's why it was helpful to the Celts to have Brewer and Thornton working out against each other - an exercise they will repeat today.

``This is better because we're getting them for two days in a row,'' Rivers said. ``I've always liked doing it that way. the first day, they're uptight and nervous. The second day, they come in more comfortable.''

Brewer stood out.

``He has terrific instincts. It's amazing,'' Rivers said. ``You can tell he's been coached (at Florida by Billy Donovan). Defensively, I bet he blocked six, eight, nine shots today, some on his own man, some on the weak side. He made some nice passes. He can do about everything.''

As for plugging Brewer into a defensive role with the Celts, Rivers said, ``You've got to be careful there, too. They're stopping college players, and guys get caught up into that. They've been fooled many times with that.''

Rivers has no specific need in mind for the draft.

``We're looking for help,'' he said. ``We're looking for a good basketball player at any position.

``I've heard that upside for a while now, so I would prefer the guy who can help me now. We would love a guy that can walk on the floor and help us now, but there might be a guy out there that we see and say, `You know what? It's worth waiting.' ''

Waiting game

General manager Wallace still is awaiting word on the director of basketball operations job in Memphis. Outgoing Grizzlies boss Jerry West and owner Michael Heisley have been off golfing in Scotland, and Wallace is scheduled to leave today for a scouting trip in Italy, so no word is expected for a while.

There has been talk that Wallace is the front-runner for the job, but he said, ``All that is premature.''

Papile, the assistant director of basketball operations, tried to douse talk that he might go to Memphis with Wallace if the latter gets the job. Papile said he won't join the Grizzlies unless Phoenix' David Griffin lands West's job.

``Right now, I'm planning to stay here,'' Papile said.

No harm, no foul

Brewer came down on his elbow at one point and had to stop for a while because of numbness. He later said he hit his funny bone and that there is no lingering problem.

``I felt really good about this workout,'' he said. ``It was tough. This was more competitive (than a previous session with Sacramento). We did more 2-on-2 and one-on-one stuff.''

As for what he wants to prove, Brewer said, ``Just that I can score a little bit and that I play hard all the time really.''

Thornton also did well but said, ``I didn't quite shoot the ball as well as I wanted to, but I think overall it went OK.''

Asked his opinion of Brewer, he said, ``He's a great defender - quick, really quick, long. He contests shots very well. He's just a heady defender.''

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