Danny Ainge insists Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter were Celtics' 'Plan A' in free agency

Danny Ainge insists Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter were Celtics' 'Plan A' in free agency

When the NBA offseason began, few expected the Boston Celtics would be adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter in free agency later in the summer.

... Except Danny Ainge, apparently.

During an introductory press conference Wednesday at the Auerbach Center, Ainge said Walker and Kanter were the Celtics' top priority entering free agency.

"As we started planning for Plan A, our Plan A was Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said.

C's fans may be puzzled by Ainge's comments, considering Boston entered the offseason as a frontrunner to land long-time target Anthony Davis. But when Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on June 15 and the Celtics learned Kyrie Irving would leave Boston days before free agency began on June 30, Ainge and Co. were forced to pivot.

That turned their attention first to Walker, who Ainge said has been on his radar for years.

"I've been watching Kemba also since he was at UConn," Ainge said. "I fell in love with him at the Maui Classic in his junior year where I think the whole world realized how good he was then. But I was sitting there in the front row watching very closely and it was very exciting and just had great respect for him throughout his career."

The C's convinced Walker to leave the Charlotte Hornets by offering him a four-year, $141 million contract in free agency. Adding Kanter was a bit trickier, though, as Ainge insinuated Boston didn't have the cap space to pay Kanter his full value.

"We needed a big guy and Enes was on the board, and we were worried someone was going to pay him a lot more money than we had available," Ainge said. "And he probably could have gotten more money in other places. But we're grateful he chose us."

Kanter indeed picked the C's anyway, inking a reported two-year contract worth $10 million to complete Boston's post-Davis, post-Kyrie "Plan A."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier join Celtics' Marcus Smart at Boston protest

AP Images

Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier join Celtics' Marcus Smart at Boston protest

Marcus Smart made his voice heard Sunday in Boston, joining a peaceful protest through the city's streets following George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer last Monday.

But Smart wasn't alone among his Celtics teammates, as Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier also participated in Sunday's protest.

Wearing his No. 11 Celtics jersey, Kanter made a brief speech to a crowd of protesters to thank them for their support and call for further change.

"First of all, I want to thank you all for what you're doing," Kanter said in the video, via WCVB-TV Boston. "I really, really appreciate it. The second thing I want to say, man; we need change and change cannot wait, you know? 

"I get emotional, but we are on the right side of history, man. You know what? Black lives matter, right? Let's go."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

Kanter also participated in a chant of "I Can't Breathe," words Floyd spoke Monday as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck, ultimately killing him.

Kanter has a history of speaking out against injustices; the Turkish national has been highly critical of Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and had his passport revoked by the country in 2017.

Poirier, a native of France, also posted a pair of videos that appeared to show him walking with protesters.

The Celtics' organization appeared to support Smart, Kanter, Poirier and Jaylen Brown -- who drove to Atlanta on Saturday to participate in a protest in his home state -- via a statement Sunday night emphasizing the need to "lead through our actions."

Click here to listen and subscribe to The Enes Kanter Show Podcast:


Celtics' Marcus Smart participates in peaceful protest in Boston

File photo

Celtics' Marcus Smart participates in peaceful protest in Boston

Just as his Boston Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown did Saturday in Atlanta, Marcus Smart participated in a peaceful protest Sunday in Boston in the wake of George Floyd's death.

The C's guard was joined by teammate Vincent Poirier and countless others to protest the racial injustices that remain prevalent in the United States of America. Smart talked to NBC Sports Boston's Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakely and delivered a message capturing why he and so many others are letting their voices be heard.

"We wanted to come out here and let our voice be heard because we stand for the truth, and we stand for justice," Smart told Blakely. "And we won't stop until we get justice. That's really what this is about.

"I just want to say to everyone who thinks this is something more than it is, it's not. Despite color and gender, the truth is the truth, justice is justice, and justice hasn't been served. And people are pissed off about it, so we're here to keep George Floyd's name alive and keep it going and his legacy. Something has to change, and we're here to try to make a change."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis


Smart also tweeted out the following message on Sunday:

Smart, Brown, Poirier, and the other high-profile individuals using their platform to peacefully send their message deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their leadership. There's no doubt they're making the Celtics, the city of Boston, and the rest of the country proud.