The tweeted transcription from WEEI's Ben Rohrbach:
Ainge: "We all want to do some things this summer & we have some objectives. We'd like to be a relevant team next year, but can't force it."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Ainge: "We have every intention of having Avery Bradley with us in the future."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Ainge: "I think that we have the ability to attract free agents. I think word has spread around the NBA that Boston is an attractive place."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Ainge on tanking (1/2): "There's not much I can do about that right now. …— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Ainge on tanking (2/2): "We're evaluating our players every day, and that's more important right now than where the Ping Pong balls fall."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Ainge believes ownership, Brad Stevens make Boston a free-agent destination, but admits winning is a bigger lure.— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Sounds like Ainge has every intention of keeping Bradley. Referenced his restricted status. In all likelihood, market sets value, C's match.— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
Also sounds like Ainge is more concerned with determining value of his assets for potential trade than where he'll draft in June.— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) March 20, 2014
You always have to take Danny's comments with a grain of salt, but the GM Truth-o-Meter tells me he was at a 10 this morning. With Avery Bradley sitting out virtually a month and half with his ankle problems, the market may have softened on the restricted free agent. Ainge will certainly extend a qualifying offer and match a reasonable contract, but the idea that AB is in line for a deal over that $7M per range seems unlikely.
We've also seen a shift in the team's rebuilding focus over the last few games. Avery re-joined the starting lineup a game ago in Dallas with Jerryd Bayless, but these final thirteen games is really a barometer of how well he plays with Rajon Rondo and whether or not they can rekindle the magic from two years ago. How did they respond last night? Rondo racked up 15 assists and Bradley canned 6-of-9 from behind the arc and save for a few cheapies around the rim, effectively shut down Dwayne Wade on the perimeter.
We're also seeing developments on the front line. Kris Humphries has played great this month but as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk get a little more comfortable with more playing time after coming back from injuries, Hump's PT has gone down. In last night's win against the Heat, it was the Sulynyk duo closing out the game.
And then there's the talk about Brad Stevens and Boston being an attractive landing spot for free agents. I've talked about this before, but it's worth mentioning again: Ainge hiring a young, smart coach is a better precursor/predictor of what his rebuilding plans are/will be. Some fans want to see Danny pull off another summer of 2007, but I don't see that in the cards. Garnett, Allen, and Pierce were in their 30's when they were put together and Doc was more of a veterans' coach.
Under the new CBA, I think Danny is rebuilding for the long, long term. He wants something that will last and not just crumble after a 3-4 year championship window closes. A trade for Kevin Love could still happen (he's only 25), but any thought of Carmelo Anthony in green is probably out of the question. Stevens is a young coach and Ainge will want to surround him with young players that he can mature with. Brad has proven this season that he can get guys to play hard and play up to their potential. We've seen growing pains from Sullinger and Olynyk, but strides in their growth over the last 70 games. He ripened Jordan Crawford and breathed life back into Courtney Lee until they were both picked off by other teams and has kept vets like Humphries, Brandon Bass, and Gerald Wallace relatively happy despite their sometimes inconsistent minutes and looks.
But Ainge is also unpredictable. Depending on how the ping pong balls drop and playoffs play out, the draft could come around and we could hear new NBA commissioner Adam Silver walk up to the podium during the Celtics pick and say those ground-shifting words, "we have a trade..."