Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ainge says Celtics will have a 'busy summer'

WEEI/Mike Petraglia

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations; Danny Ainge, reflected on the 2014-15 season at the team's practice facility in Waltham, MA on Thursday. For 33-minutes he gave his take on the upcoming offseason, free agency and of course the NBA draft. When asked about how big the next few months would be for the C's, this is what Ainge had to say.

"I feel like we need to have a busy summer, and we will have a busy summer," Ainge said. "Hopefully we can get some things accomplished that we need to do. I think we need to upgrade our talent level on our team, and at the same time I'm very excited about a lot of the individuals that we have. Actually, all the individuals, I thought, played the best basketball of their careers in a lot of cases. So I'm excited about the players that we have, and at the same time I feel like we're not at the same level as a team like Cleveland. We found that out." [ESPN Boston]

When speaking on the Celtics four-free agents, most believe that Jae Crowder is at the top of that list as a priority to bring back. Ainge believes making a qualifying offer of $1.2 million before July 1st is an absolute no-brainer in order to have Crowder become a restricted free agent. Boston will be able to match any offer the forward receives in the open market this summer.

"Jae was particularly good in the playoffs, " Ainge said. "He played well. He played with great energy and provided a lot of spark. He was clearly our best defender on LeBron in the series." []

It was not so cut and dry for fellow restricted free agent; Gigi Datome and unrestricted; Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko.

"Rather than going individual by individual, I would just say that we like all of them to some degree," Ainge said. "Some of it's going to be dependent on numbers and roster spots and draft and trades and everything else. So you just can’t emphatically say anything about anybody, other than I can emphatically say that we will definitely qualify Jae Crowder, which I think is pretty obvious. But other than that, the unrestricted free agents, it's uncertain. But we do like each one of them and would welcome any one of them back at the right price and in the right role." [ESPN Boston]

After being swept by Cleveland in the first round, the Celtics president of basketball operations had nothing but positives to take away from a short-lived postseason.

"I think the playoff experience helps us, because Cleveland's a team that we're going to have to deal with for years to come, and I think it gives our guys some confidence," Ainge said. "I think they feel like they're not maybe as far away as the world thinks. I think that they feel more confident today after playing four straight games against them than they might have been before the series. I think that it's also a reality check of how good those guys are for us organizationally. But following a game plan and playing against the best team in the East I think is great experience because the playoffs are a different level of intensity. You know, the first quarters are like fourth quarters of regular-season games, and I think it's important for our guys to see how hard it is to win." [ESPN Boston]

It was announced on Wednesday by the Cavaliers' that Kevin Love would miss the rest of the playoffs (out 4-6 months) due to surgery to repair his left dislocated shoulder. The Cavs forward sustained the injury in Sunday's Game 4 against the Celtics, where Kelly Olynyk pulled Love's left arm out of it's socket while both were fighting for a loose ball. 

Love called the play 'bush-league' and felt it was intentional. The NBA has since announced hat Olynyk will be suspended one-game to be served opening night of the 2015-16 season. Ainge stuck up for his forward despite what the league and Cavaliers think.

"I think that that's a little bit over the top," Ainge said of Love's comments. "It's understandable in the heat of the battle. I feel bad for Kevin Love, because he's waited a long time to get where their team is right now, and now he doesn’t get a chance to play. But I certainly don’t think that Kelly did it on purpose."

"I don’t even think that that play would have been reviewed more than a foul had Kevin not gotten hurt," Ainge said. "But because Kevin did get hurt, the league does evaluate those situations, and I understand a little bit why they did it. There was a lot of pressure on Cleveland. They were losing J.R. Smith in the first couple of games of the next round, and they have Kevin out for the playoffs now. So I'm sure there was a lot of frustration in Cleveland and they wanted some justice and they scrutinized it and felt like Kelly gave a little bit too much at the very end of that arm tangling. When someone gets hurt, you're just under a little bit more scrutiny. But I thought it was just a foul -- two guys going for a loose ball." [ESPN Boston]

No Ainge Q&A would be complete without bringing up the the weight of Celtics third-year forward; Jared Sullinger, who missed 24 games late in the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. After a surprising return and a good showing in the playoffs against the Cavs especially in Game 4 where he finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, Sullinger is looking to come back in the best shape of his life by the start of training camp.

"We’ve talked about this before; I hate harping on it. Jared wants to be in great shape," Ainge said. "Jared puts his work in. I think he’s in the process of trying to change his habits and get in the best shape of his career. I’m hopeful that he’ll see the light. I know that’s what he wants and I know that he does work at it. I’m a big fan of Jared’s and I think he has a very very bright future." [ESPN Boston]

Ainge quickly brought up that the Celtics would compete in the Utah Jazz (July 6-9 with the 76ers, Spurs and Jazz) and Las Vegas (July 13-16) Summer Leagues. Both James Young and Marcus Smart will participate, but not Kelly Olynyk, who has to compete with the Canadian National Team in August. 

It is unknown yet if Phil Pressey will play in this year's summer league because of his non-guaranteed contract, which becomes guaranteed if not released by July 15, when summer league concludes.

Joel Pavón
Follow us on Twitter:@CausewayStreet 

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