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Saturday, June 21, 2014
Notebook: Draft prep enters final stretch

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics wrapped up group workouts on Saturday and have now auditioned at least 60 players since the start of the month in preparation for next week's draft.

The Celtics will attempt to bring back a handful of players this week in hopes that one last glance cane help finalize their draft board. Who will those players be? "I can’t share those guys with you," said team director of player personnel Austin Ainge with a smile.

A team can bring a player in for private workouts a maximum of two times before the draft. Why bring a player back again?

"Sometimes it’s bringing in a head-to-head matchup and see who wins," said Ainge, who last week relayed how Rajon Rondo separated himself in that situation. "Sometimes it’s just the guy that we had in, we really liked and he played horrible in our workout. We want to just give him another chance because everyone has bad days and we want to feel a little more comfortable about it. There’s all sorts of scenarios for bringing a guy back."

Ainge did offer some insight about how the next six days will play out leading up to Thursday's draft.

"We’ll have a lot of meetings," said Ainge. "We’ll try to go through every trade, draft, and free-agency scenario, because free agency happens very quickly after the draft. So we’ll try to be prepared with all of our rankings and kinda ‘What if?’ scenarios."

Ainge was asked if the Celtics were able to bring through everyone they would have wanted to get a look at before the draft.

"We’d love to see everybody, but yeah, there’s a few guys that either felt they were going before our picks, or in between our two picks, that we weren’t able to get in. But we’ve seen everyone [during college or overseas game action]. Workouts aren’t everything. But it is always best to have them in."

The Celtics own picks Nos. 6 and 17 in this year's draft. The team did not expect to get a look at any of the draft's four top names, including Joel Embiid (whose recent foot surgery adds a layer of intrigue to this year's drat), Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Dante Exum. Some foreign players expected to go in the lottery -- like Croatia's Dario Saric -- were unlikely to visit as well.

Asked if the team would consider purchasing a second-round pick after auditioning many prospects pegged to go in the second round or undrafted, Ainge said the team will explore all options.

"We’ll be active," said Ainge. "It’ll just depend on a million different scenarios -- if there’s a guy left that we still very much like, what positions we draft with the first couple picks, and whatever other trades throw monkey wrenches."

He added: "We have a lot of guys that we like. And we’ll only get to draft one, two, three -- depending on how it ends up. [The scouting process] is valuable information, even if they don’t end up on our roster at the very beginning. A lot of times you have to make decisions on trading for young players that haven’t had a chance to play at all on their teams and you rely heavily on your draft evaluation. Say a first-year player didn’t get a chance to play on a good team, you can still kinda rely back on that information you gathered at this point."

THREE'S NOT A CROWD: The Celtics were thin on numbers Saturday morning while auditioning bodies, including Michigan's Glenn Robinson III. "Guys came in and played hard. We had one guy kinda tweaked his hamstring, so it got down to only three guys and I think they wore them out pretty good," said Ainge. "It’s never ideal to have three guys."

SMILING SAMPSON: For a guy that's been criss-crossing the country as part of 11 team workouts, St. John's JaKarr Sampson maintained his trademark smile and has embraced the pre-draft process. He's got two more workouts before he finds out if his name will be called on draft night.

ROAMING ROBINSON: Robinson III believed that Boston was workout No. 15 or 16 as he attempts to re-establish himself as a late first-round pick. "I’m getting towards the finish line," he said. "I think only one or two more to go. But I’ve had fun and just wanted to go out and compete and show all my skills." A workout veteran, he did dub Boston one of the toughest to endure, pointing as many have to the team's grueling three-minute sprint drill to cap the workout.