Let me just preface this by stating that I’m a tax accountant/grad student, I am not a reporter by trade. I was given the opportunity to attend Danny Ainge’s pre-draft press conference at Healthpoint in Waltham this morning as a representative of Celticsblog. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.
I arrived at Healthpoint about 25 minutes before the press conference just to get acclimated to my surroundings and check out the facility. Beautiful place. I was in a room called the Hall of Fame room and it had the press table and Celtics background against one wall with the microphone on the table. When I arrived, there were already at least a half dozen TV. cameras set up and a bunch of cameramen and media guys just hanging out. I ended up grabbing a seat and pulled out my notebook and camera. The room was also decked out in plenty of Celtics memorabilia behind glass cases. After a bit, I went and introduced myself to Jeff Twiss from the Celtics and mentioned that I was from Celticsblog and he said he was happy to have us there which felt good. It’s a pretty surreal feeling to physically be in a place that you’ve seen so many times on television. As we got closer to "game time", recognizable faces starting arriving like Gary Tanguay and Marc Spears. Steve Bulpett also arrived but after the press conference started. You see these guys on television all the time and now they’re standing 5 feet away from you. Pretty cool.
When Danny arrived, everyone stopped what they were doing and stood up and tried to grab a spot near the podium. Danny is a lot taller in person than I pictured him but he came in very relaxed and seemed like a genuinely good guy.
It was a bit intimidating watching all the media guys asking questions. I had a few ideas for questions but those were touched on early one. Tanguay stole the one that I was considering asking. As soon as Danny finishes one question, another media guy shouts out a question and so on. You definitely have to be aggressive and I was a bit passive considering I was a "fan" there surrounded by "real" media types. I didn’t end up asking a question but I thought a lot of interesting questions were raised.
After the press conference, I just lingered around the media room a bit to soak it up one last time. As I was leaving, I walked up to Marc Spears and introduced myself. I told him that I was a big fan of his work and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Overall, this was a great experience and I’m glad that Jeff gave me the opportunity to attend on behalf of Celticsblog.
(More notes and comments after the jump)
· Danny said that the Celtics were "exploring options" but it seemed "unlikely" that they would move up due to the asking price.
· He feels that this year’s draft is "one of the worse drafts" he’s seen. It’s not very deep and he’s not "too anxious to move up"
· The Celtics have made "no attempts" to grab a top picks
· The teams at the top of the draft are willing to deal but for "top price"
· Danny addressed the perception that there are a decent amount of teams looking to sell picks. He didn’t necessarily feel this was due to the current economic environment but more about teams wanting to manage their rosters.
· Danny "wishes" the Celtics had a first round pick
· Ainge mentioned that the organization "really likes J.R., Billy, and Gabe" and the team would be better served by adding a veteran.
· Ainge would not trade J.R. Giddens or Bill Walker for a 2nd half 1st rounder
· There is some "intriguing talent" in the draft
· Wishes the One Year College Rule was 2 or 3 years and mentioned that the world is full of "unfulfilled potential"
· When asked if there was a chance to move out of the draft, altogether, Danny’s response was "Sure"
· The team has looked at "probably 100 players"
· This could be a "pretty boring" draft for Celtics fans
· Mentioned that the Celtics already have a very good team and Danny is happy with the current development of players.
· Danny "loves Rajon" and stated that he has a very bright future.
· Danny won’t comment on specific trade rumors but did mention that no player on the current Celtics roster is "untradeable"
· The speculation on trading Rondo due to contract uncertainty or personality issues is "so false"
· Rajon is "oblivious" to most rumors and just came back from Beijing
· Don’t expect any trades involving "core"
· The Celtics are, currently, a championship contender "for sure". Mentioned that this team won 62 games with "major injuries"
· The "low level executive" rumor has no merit and doesn’t even know what a low level executive would be.
· Regarding the question of "Can you still move a guy and be as good now?" Danny’s response was that "we have a guaranteed opportunity to win now" but would consider a trade if "the team would still have the ability to win now and remain competitive in the future".
· Blake Griffin is "terrific" and stated that the potential of some of the top guys is that they could be stars.
· Danny feels that there is a pretty steep slide after the Top 5 picks in the draft and points to some historical research going back to 1986 that illustrates there is a significant drop-off. He also mentioned that the NBA Draft is much different from the NFL where players from the late 1st rounds and later rounds can become stars just as easily as the early first rounders. He didn’t feel that was the case in the NBA.
· Stated that Manu Ginobili and Ryan Gomes were the exceptions to the norm of guys drafted after the 50th pick who could make an impact.
· On the international market: " The best players have already been picked although a few good guys come up each year"
· Singled out Rubio and stated that "he’s very young" and the rest of the international talent in this year’s draft is just "ordinary"
· Celtics "will be involved" in the free agent market
· There are several players to "make a run at" but wouldn’t get into specifics.
· The Mid-Level talent is deep but "not necessarily for the Celtics needs"
· Direction to be taken is "more likely towards bigger players"
· He feels that Boston is an attractive place to place due to the championship caliber of the team
· The competition for free agents is "tough" due to all 30 teams wanting to get better
· The current CBA does take some guesswork out of free agency since only a "few teams" are under the cap and have space this year.