June 27, 2007
Danny Ainge doesn't comment on trade rumors. But on some occasions, he does laugh.
The Celtics do have a lot of irons in the fire as the NBA draft approaches, but sources from the team and the league insist that most of what is being reported regarding the club is patently bogus.
To wit: The Celts have nothing working for Shawn Marion, and if Phoenix gets into the top 10 in the draft, it won't be through Boston. And the C's have had no part of any four-team trade discussions.
According to involved sources, the C's were asked about their interest in Jermaine O'Neal, but that conversation ended when the words ``Al'' and ``Jefferson'' were spoken by the Pacers. That means anything heard about Jefferson and the fifth overall pick going out and O'Neal coming back is preposterous.
The Celts would have some interest in O'Neal at a different price, but they are not going to alter their main core significantly to get him.
A source within the league said the Celtics believe they can compete for the division title with what they have now and what they can add to it. He added that they're willing to talk about one of their key players if it's something that could make them contend for the conference - like Jefferson in a Kevin Garnett deal.
``But they're not going to take on a lot of payroll and cripple themselves financially just to get a little better,'' the source said.
Ainge did get another look at potential draftees Jeff Green, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah yesterday in Phoenix and came away impressed. The three, along with Yi Jianlian, are among the most likely picks if the Celts stay at 5. But will they?
``We've had conversations about the pick, and we'll continue to have conversations about the pick,'' Ainge said. ``But right now, we have to plan on using the pick, which has been the most likely scenario from the start.''
Meanwhile, Minnesota seems to be exploring a number of moves for Garnett, with Atlanta the latest team to get involved. But sources say Kevin McHale still wants the Celtics to be involved because of his affection for Jefferson.
Ainge will be back today as the C's work out Nick Young, Quinton Hosley, Joao Gomes and Blake Schlib at their facility.