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Danny Ainge Backs Off Doc’s Trade Talk

We’ve had 36 hours to cool down since the Celtics latest regression to the mean, after a blowout loss to the Pistons Sunday night. Doc Rivers had a pointed message for his locker room after that debacle: “Get better or we’ll be getting you out of here.” It was probably well warranted, given how much frustration Rivers has had to endure with this relatively healthy veteran squad playing far below their means.

There is another player in this equation however, and that’s President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. In today’s Boston Herald, Steve Bulpett caught up with the C’s top boss, who tried to tone down Doc’s outburst from Sunday night.

“Realistically, I don’t see major changes coming…Of course we’re trying to get better, and any deal that was available that could help us, you obviously do that. But we’re not just trying to make any deal. We’re not selling the team off or anything like that. We’re trying to win with what we have right now. That’s got to be our first objective.”

“It’s a different guy each possession sometimes. As you watch the film of the game, it’s a different guy. It’s not like there’s one guy who’s not playing hard. On all these plays, there will be like one guy who’s just not trusting the assignments or who’s taking a shortcut. That’s just not what it takes to win, and our expectations are higher.

“Sometimes we just don’t play like a team where winning is the most important thing.”

Sadly, those last few sentences describe the heart of the issue right now for this team. Early on this year, it was the bench that was underperforming and the veteran starters like Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo playing well or exceeding expectations. As bench players like Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger have come into their own, Garnett and Pierce have expectedly regressed. On nights that Jeff Green has a standout half on the offensive end, you have Rondo turning the ball over nine times to counteract that. Some veterans have just remained in a slump for a disturbing length of time (Jason Terry, Brandon Bass) with few signs of snapping out of it

There were a few games within the six-game winning streak when it appeared everyone on the roster was firing on all cylinders, or at least pretty close to it, but having that luxury for Doc appears to be more the exception, rather than the rule this season. Anecdotes like this from Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe also don’t help.

The locker room has become a playhouse after games, with players brushing off difficult losses like Boston snowflakes…Rondo is attempting to become a leader, but his teammates have to view him as one. They can’t view him as just a buddy. He has been handled the mantle and he absolutely has to begin holding his teammates more accountable and demand that they take their jobs more seriously. He has rid the locker room of the “I’m not worried, we have another game tomorrow” attitude.

No matter how you dissect the issues here, the fact of the matter remains that making deals is not an ideal situation for this team as currently constructed. If they move players, they’ll be trading low on them and the return probably won’t be as talented as said player(s), since nearly all of the C’s trade chips are locked up on less than favorable (at this point) long-term deals.

Still, it’s been nearly half a season now with no consistent sign of progress. Six-game win streaks mean little when your coach felt like you stunk for half of the games during that streak, and then you follow those games up with another three-game slide. This week’s slate will be telling to see how the team responds to a desperate plea from Doc with a challenging lineup awaiting (New York, Atlanta, Miami) after a trip to Cleveland tonight. Anything less than 2-2 over that stretch and these trade whispers won’t be going away.


  • Dmitry

    I got it! Celtics want to meet Miami in 1st round of playoffs to punish them with a huge upset. Therefore they hang near 8 seed while Miami at 1st. GO Cs! Lets make BIG surprise!

    • Myself

      lol I like your creativity…but that is not the case, good one though



    • dasein

      Lakers have already given up all their 1st round picks for the rest of the current presidency.

  • tbunny

    It could be worse. Look at the Lakers. The Lakers are so screwed up they've got 3-4 top 20 players and they're under .500. They've got a top 3 center, the most valuable commodity in the game, COMING OFF THE BENCH.

    I don't see how the Lakers can pretend much longer to make it work with Pau, Dwight, and D'Antoni. Why in hell would you have Pau coming off the bench for a losing team when you could try to turn him into depth your team desperately needs?

    And Pau sure would look nice in green.

    • janos

      hi bunny

      nba laker is ruin

    • Mark

      Unless the Lakers are gifted another superstar, again, they are headed for NBA purgatory. The new CBA will kill whatever chance the Lakers have of that seamless transition from Kobe. Assuming they aren't gifted a superstar.

  • High Rollers

    I don’t envy Rondo’s present task. The always look ahead attitude only works if everybody’s on the same competitive page where the main objective of the chip isn’t just an abstract idea. They have to feel it. A lax den is not a sign that the group feels it. Rondo read it right, but can he stoke the fire? And why aren’t the Captain and Ticket equally responsible?

  • High Rollers

    Once again Rondo should look to Neo, I mean Avery Bradley. Play the right way, play hard at all times; only then can you honestly call out your guys for not doing their jobs. (This definitely occurred at least once during the Detroit game, with a gnarly AB basically barking where’s the help?!?) Rondo’s on another level but the basics of team sport remain the same.

  • High Rollers

    I think the real challenge for a guy like Rondo is to come back down to earth (first on the court, then back in the den) long enough to make the right connection with a group of guys unexpectedly (for the most part) underachieving. I say he’s on another level because his ability to thrive in chaos is unmatched. But in a sense for the C’s that’s an unaffordable luxury these days, where the one thing they need is consistent ball that’s hard fought but also comprehensible, where plays are simple and crisp, obvious but effective. Makes me even madder at Ray. But since he ain’t walking through that door again in green, time to see the next evolution of Rondo. Let’s see what you’ve learned, Professor.

    • janos

      you know all we are here is rondos rondos rondos last time i am check is other star player this team? am agree you rondos best player us and should be focused point any re-bild on current, beyond

      • High Rollers

        Got that right. Somewhere between our building block and our super star…. our building super….

        Sorry about the confusion on the job. Hope it gets worked out in your favor.

  • IBleedGreen
  • Phil725

    Just so we're clear, Ainge backing off the trade talk isn't supposed to actually mean anything, right? He's saying the diplomatic thing about the team, and doing his best to stay out of boxing himself into a corner where he's dealing from a position of (more) weakness. This team will make moves if they continue to struggle, and I'm fine with Doc pulling out any kind of threat to try and get them to play harder.

    There's nothing more frustrating as a fan than a team content with playing worse than they are, and it needs to change. Otherwise, they'll have no one to blame for the resulting 'blowing it up' besides themselves.

  • janos

    you know i am feel sorry coach becase has same things happen my job; am told about my hours – reduce and then am talk owner and he say is no change other guy is confuse. so my hours are not change or reduce or they are ? is coach authorize make a decide here or no?

  • Josh_5

    If this team wants to half-ass games and effort, I won't watch them. This isn't my legacy, my reputation, or my job on the line. Embarrassing. (Not you KG, Avery and Sully)

  • Mark

    [i][b]He has rid the locker room of the “I’m not worried, we have another game tomorrow” attitude.[/b][/i]

    Call me crazy but I read this to be that Rondo is doing his job as a leader getting guys to understand the importance that is every game and not the ones they pick and choose.

    • Mark

      Oops, meant to bold the quote.

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  • you know i am feel sorry coach becase has same things happen my job; am told about my hours – reduce and then am talk owner and he say is no change other guy is confuse. so my hours are not change or reduce or they are ? is coach authorize make a decide here or no?

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