Sitting comfortably in his home, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge took questions from the media about Thursday’s acquisitions and departures after yesterday’s trade deadline.
“I actually got some sleep last night, so I’m feeling great.” Ainge, who has presumably been burning the midnight oil in recent weeks, seemed pleased with the moves the team had made at the deadline.
Inevitably, the addition of Evan Fournier was the primary topic of conversation to start proceedings. Despite Ainge previously stating that a player with an expiring deal wouldn’t be ideal with the TPE, that’s precisely what the team got in trading for the Magic small forward who will enter unrestricted free agency this summer.
Danny Ainge said “opportunity to get a good player” was reason to use TPE on Evan Fournier at deadline. Said could be for “longer than this year, potentially.”— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) March 26, 2021
Ainge: “We feel like he was a good enough player to add."
“With Evan, I felt that this opportunity was unique. To add a player of his caliber... Here’s a 6-7 kid who’s a good shooter, a good playmaker, can handle the ball. Just another creator for us and a very consistent player. We’re excited to add him.” With Ainge describing the deal as “an opportunity to get a good player that we think could be here longer than this year.”
Ainge was unambiguous in his hope of retaining the 6’7’’ wing from Orlando, mentioning that the team hopes to re-sign Fournier at the end of the season.
Danny Ainge: "When we acquire Evan, we don’t acquire him with the idea that he’s going to be with us for just this year. We acquire him with the idea that he potentially could be here for a long time."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 26, 2021
“We talk about shooting with size. He’s 6’7”. He can shoot. He can handle the ball. He can pass,” Ainge said when discussing the skillset that Fournier can bring to the Celtics roster. Interestingly, Ainge also discussed the impact the team’s latest wing could have off the court, too.
Ainge said that he wants the Celtics to "feel hope. I want our coach to feel hope."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 26, 2021
He said one of the reasons for making the Fournier trade was he sensed "discouragement from the team" this season.
When discussing his perceived disenchantment of the playing and coaching staff, Ainge noted the team’s defensive identity of recent seasons and how that identity has been missing for large parts of this season’s performances.
“Our defensive consistency just hasn’t been there. Our defense has been subpar,” Ainge elaborated, noting the team has had stretches where the defense has looked good but ultimately came falling back down to earth. It’s worth noting that Ainge referred to the team’s consistency as a whole but made a point of using the defense as the example.
Ainge did note that big man Robert Williams has been “our best defensive center,” stating that “everyone knows that.”
Ainge on Robert Williams role after Daniel Theis was traded: "He's going to have a bigger role moving forward."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 26, 2021
Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet were also acquired by the Boston Celtics at the deadline, and Ainge also provided updates as to their availability.
Also says that Kornet and Wagner are possible to be with the team tonight in Milwaukee https://t.co/i5fN6WioyB— Adam Taylor (@AdamTaylorNBA) March 26, 2021
While Fournier’s expected to have his physical in Boston later today after flying in from Orlando, Ainge confirmed that Wagner has already taken his physical in Boston and is expected to join the team in Milwaukee later today. Kornet is making the short trip from Chicago to Milwaukee via car.
Ainge also spoke about players who remain on the roster, most notably Tristan Thompson and Romeo Langford, who are currently away from team duties, noting the team expects both to be available from early next week.
Big news: Danny Ainge still calls Romeo “Romey.”— Jay King (@ByJayKing) March 26, 2021
Bigger news: Evan Fournier will not play against the Bucks tonight.
A point of interest was Ainge noting that despite a large number of trade discussions on and leading up to the deadline, very few of those actually centered around using the TPE. “Most of the trade discussions we had, weren’t centered around using the TPE,” Ainge said.
Last one:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 26, 2021
We didn't get a "We were close" from Ainge, but we got a "There was more than one opportunity, but some of them didn't work out."
Ainge also said most trade discussions were not centered around using the TPE. But once the Fournier opportunity was there, they had to.
To recap, the team is happy with Evan Fournier’s addition and thinks his addition provides the team with a unique player they hope can retain longer than this off-season. With Daniel Theis’s departure, Robert Williams is set to see an increase in his minutes and role.
Thompson and Langford are expected back with the team next week. Fournier will undergo a physical today, while Wagner and Kornet could join Milwaukee’s squad for tonight, which, as Keith Smith points out, doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect to see them suited up.
One thing on this: Joining the team doesn't necessarily mean "available to play". In all of these cases, these guys won't even have had as much as a shootaround with the Celtics.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 26, 2021
I'm guessing the first chance at a debut comes on Monday in Boston. https://t.co/fMjdqNVhA5
Oh, and finally, Ainge also gave the Marcus Smart trade rumors an emphatic slap down. “That’s all made up stuff.”