Danny Ainge said the Boston Celtics had lots of discussions about moving up and moving down at the 2020 NBA Draft, but that “we got our guys where we were”. Boston selected Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick and Payton Pritchard with the 26th pick in the first round. The Celtics then traded the 30th pick to the Memphis Grizzlies, reportedly for two future second round picks. That trade is not yet official, so Ainge couldn’t say much about it. Boston rounded out their draft by selecting Yam Madar with the 47th pick in the second pick.
Ainge said that Boston’s goals at the draft were to adding shooting and good players and good people. He reiterated multiple times that the Celtics had no intention of keeping all four picks, as they didn’t want to bring four rookies onto the 2020-21 roster.
On Nesmith, Ainge called him “a mature player with great size.” Ainge later went on to say “(Nesmith) probably shoots it better than most of the guys we have right now”, before laughing that “Jayson Tatum might have something to say about that”.
The drafting of Nesmith tied with the Celtics need to add shooting. Ainge commented that the playoffs showed you need good shooters on the floor. Ainge said “Our guys have developed into good shooters, but you can’t always count on that. So, we’re happy to get two great shooters”.
The second of those “great shooters” is Pritchard, the four-year guard out of Oregon. Ainge confirmed that Boston didn’t meet with or work out Pritchard during the pre-draft process. That didn’t worry Ainge, as he said “I saw him play a lot over the years, going back to when he was a freshman. Maybe it was my Oregon ties! (laughs) I’ve just always been attracted to the way he plays.”
Ainge said he loved Pritchard’s development from his freshman year to his senior year, and the intensity Pritchard brings to the floor. Ainge also commented that he “loves the way (Pritchard) pushes the ball up the court quickly. He’s a great leader with the ball in his hands”.
On the Celtics drafting of Israeli youngster Madar, Ainge didn’t have much to say. He said the Celtics like his intensity and how he’s grown as a young playmaker. Ainge did confirm that Boston will likely keep Madar overseas for “at least one more season”.
The conversation wrapped up with free agency and the inevitable question about Gordon Hayward and his player option. Ainge was elusive, saying “I don’t know. We’ll get started on that tomorrow. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” Clearly, he’s keeping his cards fairly close to his vest on that one.
Hayward’s option decision is due on Thursday at 5:00 PM ET. That is the same deadline to watch for Enes Kanter (player option), Semi Ojeleye (team option) and Brad Wanamaker (qualifying offer).
The free agency negotiating period opens on Friday at 6:00 PM ET. And then the 2020-21 league year, and deals being able to be made final, will open on Sunday at 12:01 PM ET.
Stay locked onto CelticsBlog for all the coverage of how the 2020-21 Boston roster is put together over the coming week!