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Danny Ainge speaks on trade deadline, Evan Fornier, and new opportunities

The Celtics President of Basketball Operations met with the media after a productive trade deadline.

2019 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Training Camp - Los Angeles Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

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.

“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.

“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.

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.”

Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet were also acquired by the Boston Celtics at the deadline, and Ainge also provided updates as to their availability.

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.

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.

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.

Oh, and finally, Ainge also gave the Marcus Smart trade rumors an emphatic slap down. “That’s all made up stuff.”

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