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Friday, 06 September 2013 22:00

Danny Ainge Discusses Brooklyn Trade, Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo on B.S. Report

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Bill Simmons welcomed Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on the “B.S. Report” Friday, discussing a range of different subjects including the blockbuster Brooklyn trade, Doc Rivers' departure to the Clippers, and Rajon Rondo's short-term and long-term future in Boston.


Simmons, ever the basketball historian (and Boston superfan), also juxtaposed the interview with a plethora of questions about Ainge's tenure with the 1980s Celtics, but we'll just give you the highlights that pertain to this century.


On the “rebuild”:

“It's a new team, a younger, more athletic team. I don't know what it's going to look like yet. We have some good core pieces that we really like, lots of draft picks over the next few years. We'll see what happens.”


On the Pierce and KG trade:

“It evolved with a conversation about something completely different, into a bigger deal. It's something I really didn't think would happen simply because it takes a special, unique circumstance in order for something like that to go through. [Brooklyn was] a team that was really going for it, [so] we got a better deal than we would have gotten probably two or three years ago. And what I believe is you have to move forward, and if you get value in return, great—if you don't get value in return, then they finish as Celtics.”


On trading Pierce and KG:

“KG had a no-trade clause in his contract, so he would've had to be involved with that and we had to get his approval, and we knew that and [Brooklyn] knew that. And Paul—we wanted to do right by Paul, just because of what he's done for our franchise. And we also have a responsibility of doing what's best for the Celtics fans—the people that follow our team day in and day out. And this was tough enough—getting rid of, what you just classified as two Hall of Fame Celtics, retired jerseys in the rafters and two real big-time players that we're very fortunate to have watched over the last six years, and Paul for 15. They didn't know about it until later. But I also think that Paul has a connection, just having the same agent as Deron Williams and Jason Kidd (Jeff Schwartz). There probably were some discussions going on there—I don't know for sure, but my guess is that they had some conversations about it. I know that Paul was the one who talked KG into wanting to do the deal, or letting go of his no-trade clause to make the deal happen. That took some convincing to do.”


On the former potential of KG rejecting the trade:

“Yeah, I thought that was possible, and I would have been OK with that. He had earned that right. There's nothing wrong with having Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on your team—they're great players and great Celtics and they can be great influences on our young players as they're trying to develop. I think that Kevin also wanted to win, and when it came down to it, I think that Paul going was a huge help and Jason Terry going was a huge help—two guys that KG really respects. And I think Jason Kidd coaching...was probably intriguing to KG.”


On Pierce and KG's current NBA potential:

“It came to the point where those guys as the best two players on a team aren't going to go too far. Those guys as a third and fourth, or fourth and fifth, are pretty dang good, still. And I think [Brooklyn] is going to have a terrific team this year.”


On Doc Rivers:

“Listen, I thought Doc would be our coach for a long time. And when he signed his new contract, we had even talked about him being Jerry Sloan and Gregg Popovich and breaking Red Aurebach's all-time record as a Celtic coach. And we knew that our guys were getting older, but we thought that this time might come. I had anticipated Doc being around for a long time. I never had any idea that he would want out. But I understand it. I understand the Clippers have a lot more to offer right now on the court. I just thought that Doc wanted to continue to participate with me, and Wyc (Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck) and Pags (Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca). At the same time, I understand that that's not fun, and that's not fun on coaches. I'll be the first one giving Doc a standing ovation (when he comes back as the Clippers coach).”


On Brad Stevens:

“Brad is a terrific young, up-and-coming coach. We're very fortunate to have him. He's a guy I've admired from a distance—I've watched his teams play, I've watched him execute, I've watched him compete with far less talent. I've always been impressed with his demeanor, his temperament on the court, how he deals with the players and coaches forward. He's always been a very impressive coach in what he's accomplished. I've talked with him each year, gotten his insight into players he's recruited (and coached), and valued his wisdom.”


On Stevens' six-year contract:

“That was my selling point to Brad—is how much we value him. No other coach has a six-year contract. We never had a negotiation—his wife is his agent—and his wife wanted to understand the language in one paragraph, and that was basically the entire negotiation. This was about the challenge that Brad had to leave and the loyalty he had—he had an athletic director who gave him a shot as a 30-year-old coach of a Division 1 program. And the successes and failures—mostly failures—of college coaches coming into the NBA—we talked about that. And I think Brad's different. And we didn't want him to think he had to turn the world around in one year, and [wanted him to know] that this is a process and that we want to continue Celtic culture, and teach our guys [not only] how to play but how to win. Brad and I are on the same page with that.”


On Celtics ownership:

“You need to be on the same page and have a relationship [with team owners]. Our franchise starts with ownership. They've done a great job. They're good owners, because they're smart and they let us do our jobs and yet their intelligence offers a lot. Their own perspective is very influential to what we do. Wyc and Pags and Irv (Harold Irving Grousbeck) are very instrumental in all the big decisions we make, and have great insight and show great leadership to our franchise. I think that it always starts at the top, at ownership.”


On the toughest thing to look back on during the KG era:

“Losing a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Championship was probably the toughest, because even though we weren't 100 percent—we didn't have Perkins—I thought that that was the best basketball we'd played, actually. Including 2008, I thought the best we'd played during the six-year stretch was the Cleveland series, the Orlando series and the early part of the Lakers series in 2010. And maybe it was because expectations were low—we were 27-27 to finish the regular season. And yet we get to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. And the double-digit lead—late in the third or early in the fourth, I don't remember which it was—that was a tough one. In spite of the adversity we had, losing Perkins, I thought that was a game we should have won and could have won, and we just didn't. Tough loss.”


On Rajon Rondo's return:

“I'm not sure. He was out working with the guys today. He's not at 100 percent yet, so we don't have a date yet. But he's hungry, and anxious, and I like the communication that's going on between him and Brad. I think Rondo is looking forward to this stage of his career—obviously he has to get healthy—but I think he really likes the challenge ahead of him.”


On Rondo's future in Boston:

“He's a special player. There's always a lot of rumors about Rondo. And I told him, we came close to getting Chris Paul for Rondo when Chris went to the Clippers. There was discussion about us getting Chris Paul. But we're not looking to trade Rondo—we think Rondo's a big part of our future.”


To hear the entire interview, check out the B.S. Report on ESPN Radio.