Danny Ainge was Boston sports radio 98.5 the SportsHub before the Shamrock Foundation's sixth annual Teeing up For Kids Golf Tournament this morning. It has been rumored that 98.5 will be the radio home of the Celtics this season and so we can expect them to be a bit more aggressive with their Celtics coverage, starting with this morning's interview with Danny Ainge on the Toucher and Rich show.
In spite of rumors floating around that Danny is trying to trade Rajon Rondo, he stressed once again that he has no plans to trade his mercurial point guard. He reiterated that Rondo is a big part of the Celtics' future and that he had no intention of trading him.
“The guy was a starter on the All Star team last year before he got hurt. That means he’s one of the top 10 players in the NBA. He’s still young and maturing all the time. He would be, by far, the most difficult piece to trade.”
Danny is set on keeping his point guard now, but that wasn't always the case, as he explained in this morning's interview. He had in the past tried to trade Rondo for Chris Paul.
“Over the last few years our biggest weakness was scoring in the last six minutes of games. Even with Ray and Paul and KG we couldn’t get over the hump,” Ainge explained. “I thought Chris Paul could provide a lot of that. We thought his offense at the time was better than Rondo’s. We’re excited to still have Rajon, and sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.”
Danny commented that he would be shocked if Rondo made it back for the start of the season in October and hinted that an early December return is more likely for the Celtics point guard. Danny stressed that they are going to take it week by week with Rondo and added that he is working very hard to get back on the court.
"I don’t think we would ever succumb to the pressure of bringing back a player from an ACL too soon," said Ainge. "We’ve got to do what’s right for him. He’s young -- maybe if he was 37 and it was his last year, but he’s still so young. And he’s our best player. We can’t afford to make any mistakes and judgment on when to bring him back."
Danny also dispelled a rumor that had made the rounds when Ray Allen left for Miami. One of the reasons given for his departure was that he had been told at the 2012 deadline that he had been traded for OJ Mayo, only to have the deal fall through. That never happened according to Danny.
“Ray was told he was being talked about in a trade, he was not told he was being traded,” said Ainge. “I talk to all the guys when rumors come out and they have questions, I tell them straight out. Sometimes that can hurt an organization. In that situation I don’t think it hurt us. We didn’t trade Ray, and then the next summer we offered him a no-trade clause.”
Danny also repeated the team mantra that in spite of starting the teem rebuild by trading the heart and soul of the team to the Nets, the Celtics will not be tanking this season. The Celtics have several picks in next year's draft, which is expected to be a strong one, but according to Danny, the team would rather make the playoffs than tank for a lottery pick.
“Mediocrity is purgatory for an extended period of time. There can be some great benefits to have the goal to make the playoffs,” he said. “Young players develop in winning environments, playing meaningful games. I understand the theory of trying to tank games, but I don’t think our team is in that situation.”
When asked about his choice of the 36 year old Brad Stevens as coach, Danny was confident that Stevens would be able to earn the respect of his players, even though some aren't all that much younger than him.
“When you’re teaching and coaching men, you have to earn your respect every day. We don’t live in an era anymore where if you have the title of coach you’re respected,” said Ainge. “He’ll earn the respect with his work ethic, knowledge and integrity. He’ll easily earn the respect of the players.”
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