Celtics' president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Mut & Merloni at the team's Shamrock Classic golf tournament on Tuesday to discuss what the upcoming season will hold for a team that came a game away from the NBA Finals.
The C's lost Ray Allen as a free agent to the Heat this summer and added the likes of Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. While the roster has undergone some changes, Ainge noted that one of the bigger differences from seasons past is that Rajon Rondo, entering his seventh season in the league, stands alone as the team's best player.
"What you saw in the playoffs is what we've known for a little while about Rajon, is Rajon -- a lot of people will say Rajon's had success because he's had there superstars and Hall-of-Famers playing with him -- and what we saw in the playoffs is that Rajon's the best player on the team. Even the game that Paul fouls out, Rajon goes and scores nine straight points and was more aggressive where he probably wouldn't have been that aggressive had Paul still been on the court.
"That's going to be sort of the next phase for our team, is when does Rondo take the game over as opposed to waiting for Ray, Paul and KG to take the game over. Rondo's our best player, and I think everybody knows that and he proved that in the playoffs this year."
One addition the C's will be getting is a healthy Jeff Green. The 26-year-old forward missed all of last season after suffering an aortic aneurysm, but is cleared to play.
"Jeff's a terrific player and he's in the prime of his career and he looks really good," said Ainge. "The heart condition, based on what we've seen so far and what our medical staff tells us is it's going to be easier for Jeff to come back from this condition once he gets established on the court and gets his conditioning back, easier than it would be for an ACL tear or an ankle surgery or something like that, because physically his body is fresh and healthy.
"It was just a minor defect in the heart that he had to get fixed, and it's a major surgery and it's a long rehab, but he looks fantastic. We look for Jeff, with his versatility at the 3 and the 4 position, he can spread the post at the 4, he can post up bigger 3s, he can defend the perimeter. He's another guy we can throw at the Carmello [Anthony]s and the LeBron [James]s in our conference. I think that Jeff that Jeff is a terrific player, right in the prime, and he's a great runner [who] I think will complement Avery Bradley, will complement Rondo, and he's in that same age range as Brandon Bass and Rajon Rondo as well."
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