Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Danny Ainge on last season's Celtics: 'We should have cleaned out the roster a little bit'

Danny Ainge is not winning many popularity contests in Boston as of late, especially after admitting he believed Kyrie Irving should have a tribute video this past week. Now you can also add the regret of not making any roster moves during the infamous 2018-19 Celtics season to the list.

Ainge recently spoke to ESPN's Rachel Nichols, which aired on Tuesday and the Celtics president of basketball operations is taken the blame for not pulling the trigger on some potential decisions that could have been made last season.
"I think that in hindsight, we should have cleaned out the roster a little bit to make it easier for [coach] Brad [Stevens], more joy for him to coach,"said Ainge.
The Celtics were expected to be title-contenders following a Game-7 Eastern Conference loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2018 NBA playoffs without stars Irving and Gordon Hayward. Instead when the two returned from injury, they never seemed to be on the same page with the likes of Al Horford, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier, despite being a deep talented roster.
"It just didn't mesh," Ainge said. "You know, it just didn't, and I knew, and we talked about it."
Ainge, who's also known as "Trader Danny" around the league, says no moves were made due to the team going on the best run of the season prior to the All-Star break when the Celtics were 37-21 and ultimately playing their best basketball.
"So that's why I didn't do any deals, but in hindsight, you know, I would," Ainge told Nichols.
The end result was a fourth place finish in the East and a second-round knock-out at the hands of league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.

This season the Celtics are 12-4 after the first 16 games and despite Kemba Walker sitting out of Monday night's win with a neck strain, the team seems to have learned from their 10-10 start a year ago.

While the narrative around Celtics fans is to point out that Irving taking his talents to Brooklyn is the key component into why the team is winning right off the bat, but Ainge maintains his stance on that being an unfair assessment.
"I think it's silly that Kyrie is targeted as the guy just because he's not with us this year," said Ainge, who thinks he was also part of the problem. "I'll blame all the players and I'll blame myself, and we'll go from there."
Ainge also added that in the future he would be "a little bit more careful ... building another team that had such equal depth."
The Celtics will look to remain as one of the few teams in the NBA that's still undefeated at home when they host the Irving-less Nets at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Joel Pavón

Picture used courtesy of CBS Sports

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