If you think this is tanking, you're not paying attention

This morning, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge called into the Touch & Rich Show. As I have done many times, I listened to what Ainge had to say then listened to it again trying to better understand what Ainge wasn’t saying. Listening between the lines if you will.

While Danny knew exactly what to say about all topics touched upon, there was one response that really stood apart from the rest of the interview. When pressed on the subject tanking, Ainge responded in a way that I certainly did not see coming.

They’re [fans] not paying attention. They’re not watching all the games. They’re not watching all the exhibition games and they’re not at practice. That certainly is not the case. Anybody that’s informed that sees what goes on day-to-day would not make those conclusions.
At every single turn since Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett were shipped to Brooklyn last summer, Ainge has approached the tanking discussion with a stern “we’re not tanking.” Every GM in the NBA who has been accused of tanking responds this way because, c’mon – who would admit to purposefully not doing your job? Despite being the most Danny Ainge answer he could possibly give, the "you're not paying attention" response should have Celtics fans reeling.

Not out of anger for challenging his fan base. Not out of frustration because the Celtics have lost 4 out of 5 winnable games. Celtics fans should be reeling because maybe he’s right. Maybe they’re not playing to lose basketball games– maybe they’re just playing basketball.

When the Celtics traded Pierce, Garnett, and Terry they traded away the majority of the championship pedigree, most of the experience, and 100% of the fan support that thought the Celtics had one more run in them. Maybe we all bought into the “this is going to suck” and “we are going to be terrible” so completely, that anything that doesn’t immediately bring us vindication is going to be met with abject fan hate.

This Celtics team isn’t going to win a seven game series in the post season, but they aren’t celebrating losses in the #RigginForWiggins contest either. 1-4 is not a great start, but with 77 more games to go, it is far from over.

Then of course there is the chance that his interview got inside my head and I have second guessed myself completely which is what spin master Danny Ainge had planned all along.

Interview Highlights

On Kris Humphries lack of activity this far:

You’d have to talk to Brad about that. Brad’s the one that chooses the playing time for the players,” said Ainge. “We have five quality bigs, so I think it’s a tough call. He’s got five guys he can go to and there’s not enough time for five guys every game.

What has it been like to watch Stevens develop:

Brad is a really smart guy. He’s one of the people in our business that really is who he appears to be. He is learning the game on the fly. He’s just a guy that works harder than any coach I’ve seen and I think he’s going to be a great success.

On Gerald Wallace’s role on this team:

When you’re trying to find your identity as a team, everyone is going to have some confusion. We have a lot of guys who want to play more, but we have a group of players who are very equal. Not everyone is going to know exactly what their role is… their role could change from game to game.

One of the keys to the game last night was Gerald’s play off the bench. Gerald was the key [in playing with the rookies] to turning the tide from a 13 point deficeit to a 16 point advantage. That was his role for last night and that will probably be his role for the next little while until something changes.

On players being unhappy with their roles:

We are loaded at the 2-guard position and at the big position and there will be guys unhappy with their role, and I’m not so worried about that.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor

Source: CBS Boston