Danny Ainge on Celtics defeat, Gordon Hayward’s future, ‘strange’ offseason

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Following the Celtics’ loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, basketball operations president Danny Ainge jumped on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Touch & Rich” for his latest weekly interview with The Sports Hub. season.Ainge was equally optimistic about the future as he was disappointed with the loss to Miami in six games.

“We’re in a pretty good position,” Ainge said Thursday of the team’s position going forward. “But yeah, it was a tough loss, without a doubt. It was not good, not good to play in this series because it was so promising in these first two series. We could have played better in this last series.

“I think we thought it was a series we should win,” Ainge added. “I think in hindsight we still see this as a series that we should have won and could have won, without disrespecting Miami because they were playing so well, and they were all healthy and fresh. There are a lot of reasons you can go back and try to figure it out, but I think we didn’t play well in the games, and it was something that we had been doing all year and during the games. playoffs. . ”

Ainge, who also held a season-end press conference shortly after his radio interview, cited the team’s injuries as part of the issue.

“At the end of the day, I’m not going to be too stressed out about this,” Ainge explained. “We were certainly not 100%. We have guys who got bumped.

At his press conference, Ainge said guard Kemba Walker was “certainly not himself, ”And had played injured.

During the radio interview, Ainge praised Gordon Hayward for his persistence despite his own injury.

“He really wanted to help our team, but you could tell he wasn’t the player he had played most of the year,” Ainge said of Hayward. “He’s had a great season.”

Hayward, 30, has a player option on his contract that he can choose to exercise (and stay with Boston) or retire, in which case he would become a free agent.

Asked when the team might get a feel for when Hayward decides on the option, Ainge said the unprecedented timing of the offseason – due to COVID-19 – means Boston is unsure .

“That’s a good question, I don’t know the answer to that,” Ainge admitted. “The league is trying to find out when free agency starts, we don’t know for sure. We think we have a pretty good idea of ​​when the draft will take place, but it’s not set in stone either.

“It’s weird, no question,” Ainge said of the offseason.

One criticism of Boston in the playoffs was a lack of depth. Globe de Boston The Celtics beat writer Gary Washburn criticized Ainge for not adding to the team bench during the season.

When asked about the lack of a mid-season addition, Ainge noted that injuries hurt the depth of the team.

“First and foremost is health,” Ainge said, although he agreed with Washburn’s point of view. “I think that’s a fair assessment. I think part of the reason we didn’t have different players on the bench was, first of all, we worked very diligently to improve our bench ahead of the playoffs, but the price was too high or these were stupid acquisitions where we weren’t. t even sure they were much better.

“We began to [Romeo Langford] back healthy, ”Ainge said of the team’s first choice in the 2019 NHL Draft.“ And we really love him. He’s a good player and I know nobody in Boston knows that yet. They haven’t seen him. The two games we played against Miami that we won, we scored 56 points in the paint in the last three quarters and we scored 60 points in the paint in another. It is [Romeo’s] strength, marking in the paint. He hasn’t even had the chance to show much of that this year.

“At the start of the season we liked our bench,” continued Ainge. “We were always going to have three of the top five players on the pitch at all times. We were going to play center by committee, so we liked our main players in front of them. But because we had injuries with Kemba and Gordon, and [Romeo], it hurts us. And that kinda exposed our bench at that point.

With the Celtics’ 2019-20 season officially over, Ainge believes the league deserves to be commended for putting together a bubble system that has held together.

“I think the league has done an incredible job. I think the product has been excellent, ”he summarized. Still, he wasn’t a fan of Game One of the NBA Finals.

“I didn’t think last night’s game was great,” Ainge added of Wednesday’s clash between the Lakers and Heat. “I don’t know what was the worst between last night’s game and the presidential debate the day before.”

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