Amidst Celtics’ fans frustration with Boston’s selection of Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick, Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria to defend his pick and discuss the Celtics’ upcoming offseason. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
“Boston fans don’t know who Jaylen is. If you want a really good picture of Jaylen you should call Bill Walton. I think he broadcast 10 or 12 of Jaylen’s games in the Pac-12 last year,” said Ainge. “The first thing is that with Jaylen, I don’t think he is going to reach his potential three, four, five years from now, fully, but the good thing about Jaylen is with his physicality and his body, athleticism, strength and maturity he can play in an NBA game right now. He can contribute now, he won’t reach his full potential to later.
Added Ainge: “I think that you are missing what we have seen him do for the two years prior to this years college season. You guys know this I’m sure, but he was a guy that was projected at no.2 in the draft at this time last year … Usually those are fairly close to accurate. If a guy is not that high he is usually pretty close with a few exceptions. Jaylen was a guy we were watching for a longtime. We have seen him play against good players that are in the NBA right now with great success and be the better player. I have seen him in two draft workouts against really good college players or guys that were drafted yesterday and watch him make shots and I’m not so concerned. I am concerned with those numbers (referring to Brown’s 29 percent field goal rate). I think there are some things that with the way Cal played with two bigs all the time and with a non-shooting point guard. They didn’t have the greatest spacing. I’m not trying to make excuses for him. Jaylen is not a perfect finished product. He has been able to overpower kids throughout his time because of his body and power and explosive athleticism.
“Yeah, he’s got to make some better decisions, but again I focus on what he can do, I look at the things Jaylen Brown can do. With all these kids, we have gone through them with a fine tooth comb. We have looked at everything they have done offensively, defensively with their character, how hard they work. We look at every bit of their background; we talk to a lot of different people in regards to them, so we see the good, the bad, the ugly and the great.”
Ainge also reiterated that the Celtics did try to trade the pick before making the selection.
“Throughout this entire draft we were trying to get players and talk to most every team in the NBA for the different picks. We were still trying to trade, but we weren’t able to for a couple of reasons,” said Ainge. “I think that the difference in the NBA now, then it was even just five years ago, is that there is not very many teams that have full 15-man rosters right now and are looking to dump contracts and dump cap space because everybody has cap space for the next two years. For the next two summers you are going to see that, as the TV money has doubled the salary cap. It is a unique time where we are and those kind of deals are just harder to get. I’m not saying that you expect to get a star at 16 or 23 in the draft, but sometimes you can get an OK player … I think it is dangerous to draft a guy to just be able to have a higher trade value because first of all we don’t know who has higher trade value.”
Ainge believes that Boston is an attractive destination for free agents once the signing period begins on July 1.
“I have to believe this it is my job to sell a product, there are players out there that have shown interest in Boston in the past and we have come very very close and we didn’t lose out because we were Boston or we didn’t lose out because we didn’t have another star guy in those cases it just there is always some reason,” said Ainge. “I am still optimistic that our Boston Celtic organization and the city of Boston and our history can be an attractive place for some, even though it has never happened in the history of the Celtics with the exception of KG, which was, yes, a trade but also he had to agree to sign here on an extension before a trade was made.”
In addition, Ainge addressed how the Celtics would approach free agency.
“It is need based in free agency, but the need of a really good player at any position is a need,” said Ainge. “So it will be need based. But there will be some needs that if we strikeout a list of players that we seek our A list, we go to our B list, our C list , our D list. We will put an immediate call into Evan [Turner] out of respect if nothing else. But we do have interest in Evan, or we may use his cap space to sign a different player. We will be taking trades even before free agency begins, we are back at it today.”