There were many smiles on display when two of the three Celtic draft picks, Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes were introduced to the Boston media on Wednesday. Everyone already knew that Celtics' Executive Director of Basketball Operations was excited with his selections on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday he seemed downright giddy, joking about the hat worn by Mickael Gelabale, one of Seattle's second-rounders.
When Green talked about watching former Celtic greats like Larry Bird and Bill Russell, on ESPN Classic, Doc Rivers quipped, "You should probably say Danny Ainge."
Green, more than willing to get in on the fun, replied to his new coach, "You can't leave me alone." Green then jokingly apologized to Ainge, saying "Don't be mad at me Danny!" We don't think that Green has to worry about insulting his boss too much; trading Young Gerald is probably the furthest thing from Ainge's mind.
After what appears to have been an exceedingly fortunate and successful NBA draft on Tuesday night, all is well for Celtic Nation. The luck of the Irish fell on the 16-time world champs not once, but twice in the course of the three-hour draft, netting them Green, a potential superstar, and Gomes, a local product who could be a role player extraordinaire. That both Green, who was expected to be chosen no later than number 8, and Gomes, a late first-round, early second-round projection were both still available when the Celtics picked at numbers 18 and 50 could be construed as a modern day hoops miracle, on par with Derek Fisher's .4 second shot.
Until Green was bypassed by the Portland Trailblazers at the Number 6 spot, the Boston Brass didn't have any inkling that he would slip right into their waiting hands.
"Honestly I didn't watch a piece of film on Gerald until yesterday afternoon," the coach said. "I hadn't talked to him, I hadn't done any research. (The film on Green) was just sitting there and I said 'oh, let me check this guy out, we won't get him but let me just see."
"And when he started sinking to us we started thinking 'maybe it happens."
While the entire Celtic organization and fans are deservedly ecstatic, it wouldn't be too surprising if both Green and Gomes were a bit peeved. After all, each of them was expected to feel much less tension than they did. Many players, instead of feeling the joy of being drafted, express much more anger that they were slighted. Paul Pierce practiced in the summer before his first season by yelling out the names of the players drafted ahead of him and Steve Francis scowled all the way to the podium and back when the Bulls drafted Elton Brand with the first pick instead of the Franchise.
But that does not seem to be the case with the two Celtics assembled at Healthpoint.
Although Green slipped, he didn't seem particularly disturbed by it. "I'm happy to be here. You know, a lot of people don't even get drafted. I'm happy to be in the first round," Green said, though he acknowledged that sliding so far was a little tough to take. "It was kind of nerve wracking but you've got to turn a negative into a positive. Everything happens for a reason and so I'm glad the Boston Celtics gave me a chance and I'm going to do everything I can to prove they didn't make a bad choice."
Don't think that Green will completely put draft night behind him, though. "I'm going to use it as motivation just so I can be a better player," the 19-year old said.
Although Gomes only got a few hours of sleep last night, he doesn't seem like he'll lose any more by dwelling on the draft, either.
"I'm just glad to be in the top 50. I'll say I'm one of the top 50 that's coming out this year," the forward from Providence said. "It's not where you start, it's where you finish...at the end you might have a better career than most of the guys that got selected before you."
Rivers agreed that it wasn't important where Gomes was drafted. "I think Ryan Gomes should have been a first round pick. I think he was a first round pick, he just didn’t get drafted in the first round."
"If you go in the first round it means you get guaranteed money. It doesn't mean you're going to be a guaranteed player. Your play will determine that. I told him that he shouldn't worry about that. Except he's just not going to make as much money right away."
In six months, we might be talking about Green's inability to get off the bench and contribute to the team. Maybe Gomes will not be the ready-made product that he’s been advertised as being. And it's always possible that Pierce, assuming he's still here in November, will not take so well to suddenly being so far away from the center of attention. Heck, Green even said about the Celtics' captain, "When he ends up retiring, I can take his place." I'm sure Paul will take that in the best way possible.
But in the here and now, everything looks majestic and everyone involved is pretty happy with the way things turned out.
Green summed things up pretty well when he described why Portland General Manager John Nash decided to go with Martell Webster with the sixth pick in the draft instead of him. "I don’t so much think that he didn’t like me. I think that he kind of liked Martell Webster better than (me). I respect him and I think that was a great pick for him. And I'm glad he didn't pick me because, if he did, I wouldn't be in Boston right now."
And things wouldn't be looking nearly as rosy for the future of the Boston Celtics.