A day after Doc's earth scorching comments, Danny Ainge is trying to dial back the message.
"Realistically, I don’t see major changes coming," said Ainge, well aware that market factors and the Rubik’s Cube difficulties of finding a transaction that meets the needs of two teams at the same time conspire against blockbuster trades. "Of course we’re trying to get better, and any deal that was available that could help us, you obviously do that. But we’re not just trying to make any deal. We’re not selling the team off or anything like that. We’re trying to win with what we have right now. That’s got to be our first objective."
On one end of the spectrum, you've got an emotional coach fresh off a very frustrating loss to a bad team (the kind of loss that has been all too familiar this year), trying to light a fire under the backsides of his team.
On the other side, you've got a GM that probably just fielded 20 calls from opposing GMs saying "so, is Rondo available now?" He's now going to be hit up with lowball offers left and right and that has to be frustrating as well.
Perhaps I overstated the lock-step nature of Doc and Danny's relationship. Or perhaps this is one big, calculated attempt to motivate the troops. A sort of good-cop/bad-cop routine. Doc can threaten guys with "do you want to be a Sonic or a Pelican next year? Then shape up!" Then Danny can come along side them and say "He's just frustrated. I'm not trading you for garbage. I'll always listen to offers, but if you play the way you are capable of playing then I've got no motivation to make a move."
Danny goes on to say that it isn't one guy not giving full effort all the time, it is lots of people not always giving full effort every time out. That's a good way to soften the blow and spread the hit across the whole squad. It is also a way to make sure that every player on the team understands that more is expected from them (probably with the exception of Garnett and maybe Pierce as well). If you point the finger at any one guy, it lets the rest of the team off the hook and they don't deserve that right now.
Eric Freeman has an interesting take on the back-and-forth statements.
There are a few possibilities for this inconsistency. One, which we can probably dismiss immediately because it's tabloid-ready and not particularly interesting to think about, is that Ainge and Rivers have serious disagreements about the direction of the franchise. That's unlikely, in part because they spoke at very different moments in the Celtics' season. But that explanation is problematic, as well, because it suggests the franchise is overreacting to short winning and losing streaks. The Celtics aren't a substantially different team than they were last Wednesday; the only difference is they're losing instead of winning. Their problems are the same ones that have been present the whole season — the same things that Rivers mentioned in November.
This is accurate. The Celtics didn't solve their fundamental problems during their 6 game winning streak. In fact, Doc make the point that they didn't even play all that well in a few of those wins. Likewise, the Celtics actually played pretty well in their missed-opportunity overtime loss to the Bulls (though obviously a few extra full effort plays might have turned that L into a W).
Again, on paper this team has always looked good, yet somehow the whole is less than the sum of its parts. I am of the opinion that we do need some change, even if it is a lateral move. I don't want to reboot by trading Pierce or Rondo and I don't want to give up Avery Bradley or Jared Sullinger for anything less than a star player in return.
But if we can find someone to take some of our spare parts (Brandon Bass, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green) in exchange for their spare parts (nobody is going to give us All Stars for that bunch, just bench and role players) then I say roll the dice. Sometimes a change like that is just what everyone needs to reset and get everyone on the same page. And perhaps in the exchange you can pick up some skills that the outgoing guys lack (rebounding, defensive rotations, etc.).
Danny has never ruled out small or medium sized changes. He's just trying to dial back any expectations of "major changes."
Obviously it would be great if this team found "the switch" and figured out to keep it turned on for the rest of the season. I just feel once bitten, twice shy with this group and I feel like some (medium to small sized) change could do them a lot of good.