Danny Ainge, Celtics Ready For Busy Month Ahead Of NBA Draft

Danny AingeLike the Jeffersons, the Boston Celtics could be moving up.

Like Billy Joel, they could be moving out.

Like Ke$ha, they could be going down.

Or maybe, like Lisa Loeb, they will stay.

Danny Ainge covered all those possibilities for the Celtics’ two first-round draft picks after Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery made it official that the Celtics will select at Nos. 6 and 17. In a 10-minute conference call, the president of basketball operations held true to character by answering every question with a non-answer.

His most classic response came after he was asked whether the Celtics planned to move up in the June 26 draft.

“That’s a possibility,” Ainge said. “Moving down is also a possibility, and moving out, or using those picks are all options. We’ll explore all those things.”

Unlike Ainge himself, the lottery did bring some clarity. The Celtics, potential draftees and prospective trade partners now know where Boston’s first pick will be. That narrows the field of which players to invite in for workouts somewhat, although the Celtics still have to split their allotted 40 invitations between the two picks. Other teams, whether the Minnesota Timberwolves with Kevin Love or another front office, have a better idea of what trade packages the Celtics can offer.

Whereas activity before draft night is uncommon, it’s not unheard of, making the next month an intriguing time for Ainge.

“I think it is exciting,” Ainge said. “It is fun. This is an exciting time of year, an exciting time for our franchise. We could do anything, from taking the two draft picks and continuing to add to our young talent or we could make some bigger deals that speed up our process, and everywhere in between. I think everything’s possible, and it’s going to be a really interesting next month.”

Since Ainge works for an NBA team, he expressed frustration with the pre-draft workout process as run by the agents, who work for the players. The Celtics interviewed 18 players at the Chicago draft combine, Ainge said, but didn’t get as much exposure as he would have preferred, on or off the court.

A few individual workouts in Waltham, Mass., are scheduled, but they won’t begin until June. Ainge couldn’t say how many players ultimately will accept the Celtics’ invitations.

“That’s not up to me,” Ainge said. “We’d like to get everybody in. That’s up to the agents. They control a lot of the draft workout stuff, but we haven’t addressed the sixth pick in workouts yet. That probably won’t start until later.”

Part of Ainge was being deliberately elusive about the Celtics’ plans, not wanting to give away his hand in any possible negotiations. But part of Ainge’s vagueness is due to the fact that he honestly doesn’t know everything that might happen between now and June 26.

Ainge’s tepid opinion of this draft class is becoming less and less unique, so it would not be shocking to see some movement at the top of the draft. The trade markets for Love and Rajon Rondo are only going to get more intense with both players nearing the ends of their contracts. Meanwhile, some college player could come in and wow the Celtics in a private workout.

Ainge has an idea of the landscape heading into the draft, but like the rest of us, he doesn’t actually know what will happen. So he’s keeping everything on the table, saying as little about it as possible while also saying that everything is possible.

Photo via Twitter/@BaxterHolmes

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