Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Friday he was never close to making any blockbusters before Thursday’s trade deadline, but confirmed there were smaller deals that nearly got done but ultimately fell through.
“We tried to do some things. We had some things we were hoping to accomplish at the trade deadline,” Ainge said Friday in an interview on Boston sports radio station 98.5 the Sports Hub. “It’s like you go shopping and you can’t buy [something because it’s] too expensive, you need to wait and get a better price at another time. That’s sort of how the trade deadline went for us.”
Ainge said the deals that were made Thursday were made mostly related to gaining salary cap room or improving team chemistry.
“There really weren’t any significant trades at all. There just really weren’t any good bargains,” he said. “In order to shed money it costs you assets. To get rid of contracts, you have to give up draft picks because the cap is such a big deal for a lot of teams.”
Asked specifically about whether he was ever close to trading star point guard Rajon Rondo, Ainge repeated that beyond a potential swap involving Chris Paul that fell through a few years ago, he’s never been seriously “tempted” to deal No. 9. At least part of the reason, Ainge said, is because many teams (20 out of 30, by his count) already have “franchise point guards that they really like.”
Ainge was also asked about the upcoming draft, which at one point had been billed as one of the best in years but whose stock has fallen as we’ve gotten deeper into the college basketball season. The Celtics’ boss thinks this draft class has been overrated and that he didn’t see any “transcendent players” coming out this season.
Fans have been conflicted this season about whether to root for this Celtics team in transition to lose in order to get a better pick in the draft or to win as many as they can in order to foster a winning culture. To Ainge, the choice is obvious.
“It’s important for these guys to develop in a culture,” Ainge said. “The culture isn’t just about how many games you win. You have to prepare to win. You have to be in the weight room. You have to understand and learn how to play defense.
“You can’t just turn a fuse off, tell guys not to win, not teach them how to play, then all of a sudden one day, ‘OK, now we’re really going to learn how to play.’”