Ainge spoke candidly about the team in last night's broadcast with Mike Gorman and backed up his comments this morning. Fans have been on Jeff Green's case since he became the heir apparent to Paul Pierce, but Danny came to his defense again:
"I love Jeff. I mentioned there are only three or four non-All Stars to have as many 25-point games," said Ainge. "I don't think I was critical at all, I was just putting a perspective with Jeff that fans don't know. They want him to be a super-star and I think he's a very good player."
"He's had an up and down season, like our team has, but he's had some beautiful moments," said Ainge. "He's not the reason our record is what it is, no more than it was Paul Pierce's when we won 24 games in 2007."
And in terms of Green's future:
"I think Jeff is getting better and getting better all the time. He's working on some new things this year, and I like what he's doing," he added. "I like him taking more three's. There are some growing pains that go with that, but I like that he's doing it because when we're going to be good we're going to need him to be that three-point shooter."
"I think he made more big shots than anyone on our team; game-tying shots, go-ahead shots [last season]. But Jeff didn't have to create them, he was able to shoot them because they were being created by Rondo or Paul or KG," he said. "I have all the confidence of Jeff taking any open three or Jeff in transition. Those are two things he's been consistently great at in his career. Trying to be the guy to create the offense is something a work in progress but something he's improving on."
Ainge made it clear that the team will be looking for a rim protector and more importantly, a closer. That makes sense. As Ainge noted, Green has always been a better player playing off the ball. The Celtics are no longer grooming him to be a #1 option. It's why he's shot more 3's this season than he's ever shot in his career (over twice as many as last year) and conversely, his shooting percentage has plummeted to just over 40%. We can't think of it as Green failing as the main scoring option for the team, but rather as a learning process for a player that will be part of the supporting cast in the future.