BOSTON -- Having discussions with other teams is a yearlong process for Danny Ainge, even at this time of year when he knows most teams are reluctant to do anything.
But the way Ainge sees it, he has little choice but to continue to pursue at least one possible trade with the Celtics having 16 players with guaranteed contracts – one above the league maximum.
Teams have until Monday at 5 p.m. EST to trim their rosters to 15 or fewer players with guaranteed contracts.
“We’ve made a lot of phone calls, talking to other teams,” Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com. “We like all 16 guys. It’s gonna be a tough call if we’re not able to do anything.”
Ainge declined to say who the odd-man out would be if the Celtics can’t swing a trade, but multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com that Perry Jones III would be the player Boston would likely waive if they can’t find a trade partner.
Jones was acquired from Oklahoma City in the offseason for a second-round pick.
He has appeared in four preseason games for Boston, playing a total of just 29 minutes, which is less than any player on the roster with a guaranteed contract.
Ainge includes Jones among the players who have had a solid training camp.
“He’s shown a great work ethic, great teammate … a guy that has passion for the game,” Ainge said. “Terrific athleticism and he’s made shots. Perry and all our rookies are making my decision difficult.”
Jones came to Boston after three lackluster seasons with the Thunder, playing primarily behind former league MVP Kevin Durant. The 6-foot-11 forward struggled with playing with the kind of consistency expected of a player with his immense skills.
However, Jones began to show flashes of the promise many had for him when he was among the top players in high school and later at Baylor.
With Durant sidelined at the start of last season, Jones finally got a chance to play meaningful minutes, as a starter.
In Oklahoma City’s second game of the season, he had 32 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. He followed that up with 20 points against Denver and 16 at Brooklyn.
Things soon went south for Jones. who suffered a knee injury against Toronto on Nov. 4, 2014 that sidelined him for 14 of the Thunder’s next 16 games.
He was unable to pick up where he left off upon returning from the injury, but filling in for Durant provided Jones with a much-needed jolt of confidence.
“The fact that I know I can play in this league,” Jones told CSNNE.com prior to the start of training camp. “I just want to bring it here to Boston and do the best I can and get some wins.”
Being in the precarious position of being waived is something Jones III was prepared for from Day One, which put even more pressure on him to produce.
“Even if it wasn’t like that, it would be the same motivation,” Jones said at the time. “Everyone in this gym wearing the green loves this game. They would do whatever it took even if it wasn’t like that. Everybody is going to fight, or they’re not going to be here.”