Will Trader Danny Ainge be more active this season for the Celtics?

Will Trader Danny Ainge be more active this season for the Celtics?

BOSTON -- One of the main reasons Danny Ainge has been reluctant to make any major changes to the Celtics roster the past couple of years, is because the team he assembled when healthy was good enough on paper to compete with the upper echelon in the NBA. 

This season? 

Not so much. 

Compared to the past couple seasons, there’s a heightened level of uncertainty as to what this Celtics team is capable of and because of that, the specter of a potential trade looms a lot larger now. 

Ainge, in a recent conversation at WBUR’s CitySpace, talked about the trade potential for this season. 

“I don’t think our team is like a perfect fit,” Ainge said. “I don’t think Brad [Stevens] knows who his starting lineup is, who his first sub off the bench is, and what each guy is going to bring to the table.”

The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars in Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn) and Al Horford (Philadelphia) to free agency.

Marcus Morris, a key reserve and part-time starter the past couple of seasons, signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the New York Knicks. 

Boston also traded Aron Baynes to Phoenix.

With a clear lack of bigs, Boston signed Enes Kanter, who will likely be the team’s starting center to begin the season. They also re-signed Daniel Theis, along with 7-foot center Vincent Poirier from France, to join a big-man contingent that also includes second-year center Robert Williams.

Boston also selected Tennessee forward Grant Williams in the first round of the draft and signed 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall to an Exhibit 10 contract. 

As far as what the new guys meshing with the returners will bring to the table, that’s going to be a process of sorts for sure this season. 

Still, the X-factor in all this is the Celtics’ depth at the wing position which includes Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Beyond those three, the Celtics also have Semi Ojeleye, who can play both forward positions, 6-6 Romeo Langford, who was the Celtics’ lottery pick from in the draft, in addition to summer league standout Javonte Green, who has a partially guaranteed contract and is in the mix for Boston’s 15th and final roster spot. 

Well aware of the team’s depth at the wing and dearth of proven talent in the frontcourt, Ainge admits that he might have to move one of his wings in order to shore up the team’s frontcourt. 

“So the question is, do you trade for need or do you trade for talent?” Ainge said. “Because I think we have some really talented wings. And we have some uncertainty at the 4 [power forward] and the 5 [center]. So, let’s hope our fours and fives can play as well as we hope they can and we can keep our talented wings because we need a lot of them.” 

Ainge knows trading players is a reality that comes with the job. 

That doesn’t make it any easier, though. 

“I invest a lot emotionally with the kids … trading is hard,” Ainge said. “Trading a player that you drafted, that you develop a relationship with, root for every second, get to know their families, that’s really hard. That’s a really hard process. But that’s just part of the job. It’s a hard job and that’s the hardest part of it, is trading away players. But ultimately we have to do what’s best.”

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With Allison Feaster hiring, Celtics continue to add talent and diversity to coaching staff, front office

With Allison Feaster hiring, Celtics continue to add talent and diversity to coaching staff, front office

BOSTON -- The Celtics franchise from its early days has been one of the more progressive NBA teams when it comes to diversity. 

Chuck Cooper, inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, was the first black player drafted by an NBA team when the Celtics picked him in the 1950 NBA draft. 

The Celtics also delivered the NBA's first all-black starting five in 1964 and first black head coach (Bill Russell) two years later. 

The storied Celtics franchise continues to be a progressive pacesetter these days with the addition of women to their staff and basketball operations. 

Earlier this summer Kara Lawson was named a Celtics assistant coach and on Friday, Danny Ainge announced that Allison Feaster would be joining the Celtics family as well. 

Feaster, a decorated standout basketball player at Harvard and former WNBA player, will be the Celtics director of player development.

Prior to these two hires, the Celtics - like most NBA teams - had no women on the coaching staff or in the team's front office.

But with the increasingly recognized need for diversity, this has led to many employers including the NBA, to look a lot longer and harder at considering women for job vacancies.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made no secret about his desire to see more women in positions on the bench, in the front office and in officiating.

That message has resonated with many teams, the Celtics included.

Indeed, having more diversity in both the coaching ranks and front office is becoming more of a priority for NBA teams. 

“I think that the biggest thing is, I believe men and women are different and bring a different perspective,” Ainge said on Friday at WBUR’s CitySpace.

But within that unique perspective are skills, talents and abilities that greatly benefit organizations, the qualities that both Lawson and Feaster bring to the table.

Last season, the Celtics had a roster full of players that at the end of the day, had their own agendas because of their own unique set of circumstances.

Having spent 13 seasons in the WNBA, Lawson has more professional basketball experience than any of Boston's other assistants which gives her tremendous insight for the job.

“My perspective that I try to bring is, I’ve been there,” Lawson said during an interview in July. “I’ve won a championship. I’ve played almost any role you can possibly play on a team. I’ve been a rookie where I didn’t play a lot. I’ve been a point guard where I started every game and we made it to the conference finals. I’ve been a sixth man more years than I wanted to be. So I can relate to when you get put to that sixth position. And it sucks when you come in every day and the starters are in green and you are in white. It’s the worst, but you have to deal with it and you gotta be a pro. So, most of the things they experienced emotionally, I have experienced too. I can not just understand,  but I can relate to their ups and downs.”

Feaster comes in having spent 10 years (1998-2008) playing in the WNBA, and nearly two decades (1998-2016) playing overseas. She comes to Boston after having served as manager of player personnel and coach relations for the G-League.

“These two women we brought in are very, very well educated, experienced in the world of basketball,” Ainge said. “And I think they are going to bring a great perspective to our coaching staff and to our organization.”

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Ainge's wish for this upcoming season? A happier Brad Stevens

Ainge's wish for this upcoming season? A happier Brad Stevens

BOSTON -- Danny Ainge has a number of things he wants to see from the Celtics after what has been a pretty active offseason following a tumultuous regular season and a poor showing in the playoffs.  

Among them?

A happier head coach. 

Ainge, speaking at WBUR’s CitySpace on Friday night, touched on a number of Celtics topics including the team’s offseason moves and the potential impact they will have. 

“My biggest concern through all of this was, I want my coach to be happy who he’s coaching and that’s the hardest job,” said Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations. “I’ve been at this business a long time. It’s...you gotta have fun. You really have to have joy. That doesn’t mean every minute is going to be happy. Everybody is going to face adversity and challenges and trials through the course of a season. But, it still has to be fun.”

Throughout last season, which ended with the Celtics on the short end of a five-game gentleman's sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, players at various points talked about how there just wasn’t as much fun and joy out there when they were playing.

"Guys are just hanging their heads; it's not fun," said Marcus Morris following a home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last season. "It's not fun. We're not competing at a high level. Even though we're still winning, it's not fun. I don't see the joy in the game."

There was the drama surrounding Kyrie Irving who wanted to come back to Boston "if you guys will have me back" in October, which soon turned into “talk to me July 1” a couple months later before he wound up leaving Boston to play for the Brooklyn Nets.

Boston never settled into a reliable rotation last season because most of the players failed to create enough separation between themselves and others to warrant steady minutes. 

Throw in the fact that so many players had personal agendas that had little to do with actually winning games, and you had the makings of a season that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. 

“It’s good to go through some adversity,” Ainge said. “But last year was a little much.”

With a new season right around the corner, there’s a renewed optimism that extends beyond Brad Stevens’ happiness. 

“And not just Brad, all the coaches,” Ainge said. “I want them to have fun and enjoy the job. The whole organization, our fans, enjoy the product on the court; our owners who invest millions, hundreds of millions of dollars into our team. I want all those people to enjoy what we have going.”

It appears Ainge may be getting his wish with this team based on all that has transpired this summer, highlighted by the addition of three-time All-Star Kemba Walker to the roster, in addition to Enes Kanter, who is one of the league’s better offensive rebounders, which has been a weakness of the Celtics for a number of years. 

And yes, Ainge sees a happier Stevens heading into this season as well. 

“I think that Brad is really excited for the year,” Ainge said. “There’s still some uncertainty what’s gonna happen. We have a new group. He really likes the spirit of the team. He likes how many people have come to offseason workouts, much more than we ever had in my 17 years here in Boston. We have a lot more players in the gym. We’d probably have a lot more if we didn’t have six playing in the World Cup.”

Ainge is referring to Team USA’s quartet of Celtics - Walker; Jayson Tatum; Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart - as well as Daniel Theis playing Germany and Victor Poirier for France.

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