Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team will consider any possible trade scenarios to improve this offseason, but also added that any blockbuster-type of trade is “unlikely.”
Speaking Friday at an introductory press conference for first-round pick Robert Williams, Ainge wouldn’t go into significant detail on the team’s plans as free agency nears, but he intends to look at all options.
“If I feel like it’ll help our team — we explore every trade of players of certain magnitude or superstar, first-ballot Hall of Fame-type of players,” Ainge told reporters. “We’re going to take a look and kick the tires and see if there’s something there. But that’s all.
“I think those things are unlikely.”
Ainge also emphasized how much he thinks of the team in its current form — a group that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite the absence of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward — calling it a “title contender.” He acknowledged that having a roster in good enough shape to invite regular trade rumors isn’t a bad problem to be faced with.
“I feel great that we have a lot of players that people like and want,” Ainge said. “That’s a great feeling to have. That’s not always the case, and that’s the reason we like our guys, too, is we have a lot of talent on our team. I’m excited about our team going forward.”
The Celtics have popped up in a variety of trade rumors this offseason, particularly in connection with San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, after the two-time Defensive Player of the Year requested a trade.
ESPN reported Friday the Spurs are actively involved in discussions with the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers about Leonard, but the Celtics appear apprehensive to go all-in on Leonard due to concerns about his health and the possibility that he could leave in free agency next summer.
Ainge said Friday that the majority of reports and rumors about possible trades aren’t wholly accurate, adding that he has had to stay in touch with players (and agents of players) whose names appear in rumors to avoid souring relationships.
“I think that most of that is false,” Ainge said. “Especially the details of it. And what I don’t like about it is, I don’t like how names are just thrown around (in reports). probably don’t care about the names, and that’s your job is to make good stories and have things to talk about on the air. Most of it’s not true, but there’s sometimes bits and pieces of it that are true. So it’s not total lies, but — I can’t call it fake news — but it’s complex.
“These are complex situations, and I think that, just like don’t like answering or having to respond to rumors, even though it does give you good programming, I don’t like it any more, having to deal with the players that are calling me and the agents that are calling me when their name is in a rumor that’s, like, just totally made up.”
With free agency set to open Sunday, the team’s primary goal appears to be to improve the pieces around the team’s stars — Irving, Hayward and Al Horford — while recent draft picks like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum develop.
“It’s easier when you have three guys already that you’ve gotten from the years before, and you got some budding stars in younger players that are progressing,” Ainge said. “So … we don’t really have a need. We have really good players.
“And so we need to surround them with role players with the rest of our roster that have a chance to win.”
—Field Level Media