Report: Ainge says he ‘felt like we had a real chance’ at Durant


Report: Ainge says he ‘felt like we had a real chance’ at Durant

Danny Ainge said he “felt like we had a real chance” at landing Kevin Durant after he and the Celtics contingent met with him Saturday, but he told the Boston Herald he wasn’t surprised Durant chose the Golden State Warriors.

“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge told Steve Bulpett of The Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had SOME chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.

“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen."

When asked if there was anything else he thought the Celtics could have done to convince Durant to choose Boston, Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, said, “Under any circumstances, we weren’t going to be able to produce Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.”

Ainge also said he thought Durant knew fellow free agent Al Horford was going to the Celtics before the C’s did. Horford made his decision known Saturday after the Celtics had met with Durant.

“I got the impression that they knew something before we did,” said Ainge of Team Durant. “I know that they had some conversation. They were very familiar with what Horford was choosing between. It seemed to me in the presentation like Al and KD had been discussing their plans together.”

Ainge said “it was fun for all of us” to bring Tom Brady along for the sales pitch.

“We flew in to the Hamptons and we got in early, so we went out to have lunch,” said Ainge. “I think it was fun for all of us to sit there and talk to Tom Brady and ask him questions. You know, here’s a guy that’s going to be 39 next month, and he talked about his health and fitness and nutrition and his dedication to the game. I thought our players were listening intently to him. And he had some fun stories.

“He’s a huge Tom Brady fan,” Ainge said of Durant. He said Brady and Durant had met once before. “They talked for a minute or two and then we sat down as a group.”

Ainge said the Celtics’ contingent, including Brady, met with Durant, then Brady and Celtic players Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk went outside to talk before Brady and the C’s players flew home. 

And of Durant ultimately deciding to leave Oklahoma City and join forces with Golden State, Ainge told the Herald, “You know, I’m not surprised,” said Ainge. “I think everybody in our basketball world knows that Golden State is a very tempting place to play right now. So surprised? No."

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.