Danny Ainge looking to move additional veterans, believes in "building through the draft"

Danny Ainge is a pretty straightforward guy most of the time. Not that his word should be taken as gospel, but most of the time when he's asked a question he gives you what's on his mind. Unlike some of the other GMs in town (namely Bill Belichick and Ben Cherington), he provides insight into his thought process on moves, and isn't afraid of saying some things that could piss off his fan base.

Example: earlier this season when he said that making the playoffs wasn't a goal. Many GMs think that, but not many would come out and say it. Maybe it's his job security (air tight), or maybe it's just the type of guy he is, but the bottom line is that he does not give canned answers. And I think that's a good thing.

Today Ainge opened up again to the Herald's Steve Bulpett, sharing some of his views on the ongoing rebuild, including what appears to be Bulpett's educated opinion that Ainge isn't done dealing.

He already has made two trades involving rotation players, and there is no move toward the brake pedal with 27 shopping days still left before the NBA trade deadline. Ainge still would like to shake off a veteran contract or two and attain more of the coveted flexibility as he seeks a tighter U-turn back toward serious postseason contention, and yesterday he acknowledged he’s talked with Rajon Rondo about a contract extension.


“I don’t do deals just for the sake of change,” said Ainge. “We change for the purpose of progress.

“In the deal that we did with Jordan (Crawford) and MarShon (Brooks), as an example, we like those guys, but we really want to see Phil (Pressey) play. And it was tough for him to get minutes and opportunities. With Rondo coming back, Phil wasn’t going to (get) a chance to play much.

“On top of getting the assets, we like Joel Anthony’s defense, and we like getting the draft picks and all that. But there are so many more things that go on top of it — getting opportunities for development. When we started the season, we just had logjams everywhere.”

Ever since the mega-deal with the Nets, and continuing through last week's three-way deal with Miami and Golden State, every move Ainge has made has been with 2014-15 and beyond in mind. Starting with the Pierce/KG/Terry deal he has shed $7 million from the the team's 2013-14 books (moving them below the luxury tax), $8.5 million from the 2014-15 books, and picked up four first round picks (with the possibility of a fifth coming from Philly). The cost to make these moves? Older, established players (and a coach) who had very little chance of helping the Celtics make their next legitimate playoff run.

The deals made have also opened up playing time for guys like Pressey, Kelly Olynyk and (earlier this season) Vitor Faverani. So if Ainge can dump a guy like Brandon Bass and the $6.9 million he's owed next season for an expiring contract, expect him to jump all over that. Not that this is some crazy secret that Ainge is spelling out for us, but for it's just further proof that Ainge is all in on building another legitimately good team over trying to make a misguided run at the 8-seed. And that's a very good thing.

Ainge also talked about his views on the draft, and that the current stash of picks the Celtics have can help both on the court, and in trades.

I’ve always believed that you build through the draft,” he said. “And whether those drafted players are Al Jefferson, who you love, and Delonte West, who we developed and loved, and then move them for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — or whether those draft picks turn into Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce and they’re with you forever.

“So the draft is really important, and now we have a lot of assets. Draft picks are always tradable. Sometimes players aren’t always tradable, once they expose themselves on the court. Draft picks almost always are tradable.

So for anyone who thinks the team may have "too many" picks — they don't. The more picks, the more trade ammunition you have if another KG-like star suddenly comes available. Plus, having a bunch of young, cost-controlled talent on your roster is never a bad idea as you begin to rebuild.

As for Ainge's next move, I'd put my money on Bass. He's easier to move financially than Kris Humphries (because of the necessary salary that would need to come back), a solid role guy, and has no real future here.

Besides that, I think he'll be pretty quiet. Trading Rajon Rondo before he re-establishes his full value would be insane, Gerald Wallace is too difficult to move without a good pick attached to him, and just about everyone else on the roster is young and relatively cheap. Jeff Green is the wild card, but unless Detroit bites (possibly in a deal for Greg Monroe) I don't see a ton of suitors for him. While Green is frustrating, I don't think Ainge is looking to give him away for free, as he's still a talented guy who's not owed a ridiculous amount of money (I think it's highly likely Green opts out of his contract after next season, as he'll get a multi-year deal for mid-market money, even if it's not $9 million annually).

But Ainge will be looking around, investigating all of the potential ways to make this team worse this season, and better in the coming years.

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