Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, in an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show, suggested that the Celtics remain an attractive destination for marquee players despite the fact that David West chose to sign with the Pacers over the Celtics and Magic star Dwight Howard has suggested that the Celtics are not on his desired list of teams to join.
"We just have to make our club attractive for players to come to. It’s been attractive. We attracted Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. We think we’ll attract players in the future," said Pagliuca. "We still think it’s an attractive place. We have a great coach in Doc Rivers. We have Rajon Rondo, who’s a fantastic point guard who people want to play with. You see the young guys playing really well right now. We have two first-round draft picks in the next draft. It’s going to be an attractive place to play. When players come in and see those banners up there, they see that the Garden is filled every night, from a fan’s standpoint, there’s nothing like this, playing in the Boston Garden. We don’t really find reticence to come here. In fact, they want to come here.
"Doc is a player’s coach. Players love him. We’re lucky to have Doc, the tradition. We’ll compete to get these players," Pagliuca added. "Lists don’t mean very much. At the end of the day, players often go to places that are not on the list. I don’t think we were on [Kevin Garnett’s] list. ... Who knows what those lists mean? I think if you have a good organization, have a great coach and a great tradition, then you can compete."
Pagliuca also talked on several other topics. Among them:
On Paul Pierce, the team's slow start and subsequent turnaround coming out of a lockout-shortened camp: "Across the league it was tough, especially for us because we had seven new players coming in. ... One of the keys for us was Paul [Pierce] was hurt. Now we’re seeing the real Paul Pierce. Superman is back in the building, for sure."
On whether Pierce will be a member of the Celtics for his entire career: "It would be great if that could happen. From day one, we’ve had a fantastic relationship with Paul," said Pagliuca. "In the dark days -- it seems long ago now – in the dark days, Paul carried the team. In the rebuilding, he went along with the rebuilding. We sat down with him many times and said we need you here. We need you committed. Paul trusted us, we trusted him and it brought us a championship.
"He’s back. He was player of the week last week," he said. "He’s back and looking like the old Paul Pierce. It’s a great thing to watch, isn’t it?"
On whether Danny Ainge can blow up the team: "Danny doesn’t use the term ‘blow it up.’ What he is constantly doing is [asking] is there a way to upgrade the team for the long-term and the short-term," said Pagliuca. "When you’re blowing it up, you’re trading a transcendent player. That player can be very good for the next couple of years and you can end up trading him for something that doesn’t work out. So you have to be very thoughtful. You want to get another player who’s younger or can help you in the long-term or draft choices, something that is going to really help the club compete and win a championship again. So, blow it up is a bad word. You’ve got to be strategic and thoughtful."
On whether the owners would tell Ainge not to trade a specific player: "We really listen to Danny. Danny has seen all these players. He watches tape, he watches every player in the league. ... We obviously factor that in, for sure, but Danny is the ultimate decision-maker.He’ll make a recommendation to ownership. Ninety-nine times out of 100, we agree with that recommendation."
On the trade of Kendrick Perkins almost one year later: "As you know, you can do anything with 20/20 hindsight. I’d step back and say the philosophy of the trade was [right]. Danny was trying to get us ready for the stretch run. We were trying to win another championship. The easy way out would have been to do nothing," said Pagliuca. "We needed another scorer. We needed another piece in the puzzle. Shaq was supposed to come back. If all that had come into play, I think we really would have competed.
"I think it was the right thing to do. The greater goal is to win a championship and not just to play it safe. That’s what I like about Danny. ... On paper, looking at it, we would have done it again."
On the Celtics' financial ability to make moves: "We’ve been a tax-paying team for the last five years. We’ve been over the cap. We’ve invested to try to win a championship. The way we look at it is, when we brought Garnett in, we went over the cap, for sure, but you had a chance to win a championship. You can’t go too crazy, but if you really have an inkling that you’re going to win, this is going to be a valuable player, you’ll spend that tax money."
On possible improvements through adding players returning from foreign leagues: "Danny is looking at anything and everything to improve the team. The team has played really well. We’ve won five straight. Garnett had over 20 last [game], he’s looking good. Paul Pierce is looking good. Ray Allen seems ageless. You’ve seen the emergence of Avery Bradley, he’s turned us into the Baltimore Ravens. ... At the end of the game [between the Celtics and Magic], Jameer Nelson was saying to Bradley, ‘C’mon now, you don’t need to keep pressing me.’ He was saying that on the floor. … You’re seeing Avery blossom now. ... The nice thing we have about this roster right now is that nine through 14 it’s one of the best in the league. Our second-team players can beat anyone in the league."
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