WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he genuinely felt bad when he found out that team co-owner Wyc Grousbeck was showered with boos while addressing fans at the team's draft party on Thursday at TD Garden, following Boston's selection of Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick.
Ainge said if fans want to boo someone, they can boo him.
"I would have enjoyed it. It’s what I love about Boston," Ainge said with a smile after he introduced five of the team's six new faces on Friday at an introductory news conference at the Celtics' training facility. "When you’re throwing a no-hitter, they appreciate it. And when you get rocked in the second inning, they boo you. The only thing about that is I love the passion of Boston fans. I love that they feel and they care. I truly believe that. I never take that stuff personal because there’s so many differing views. I think that that’s what makes Boston fun.
"The only thing that I don’t like about that is that it’s a reflection of Jaylen. Instead of a reflection of me -- like, ‘We don’t like your choice.’ That’s OK to boo me. But 'Give [Brown] a chance' would be the only thing I would say. Like, let’s see. Let’s wait a year, then boo me. Let’s not boo the kid when his name is announced. As far as criticism in my position, I expect it, I’m used to it, and I don’t think [media members] can offend me. You can try, but I don’t think it’ll work."
Ainge noted that fan reaction isn't a strong indicator of a player's future performance. He's quick to point out that, during his days in Phoenix, players such as Steve Nash and Shawn Marion were booed on draft night.
It was also noted to Ainge that some of the boos might have simply been fan frustration after Boston failed to consummate a trade for established talent, despite persistent rumors that the team was engaged in talks with multiple teams, including with the Chicago Bulls about All-Star guard Jimmy Butler.
"I think everyone wants a deal. I think everyone expects a deal. We’ve been working really hard on trying to get a deal and do something significant," Ainge said. "But we just haven’t been able to do it yet. And it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s not because we’re turning down or we overvalue our players or any of that stuff. It’s because you need a partner. I’ve said this many times before: I tried for three years to get [Kevin Garnett] before we got him. It just takes the right time and the right place and have a partner that wants to do a deal."
Ainge was asked if there is increased external pressure to make a deal after a season in which Boston surged to 48 wins and seemed on the cusp of making the difficult leap to true contender status in the Eastern Conference.
"Not more [pressure] than what we feel," he said. "I want to do a deal. But it’s my job to oversee the Celtics and not do what makes me look really good and do something that’s instant gratification. It’s like we’re trying to build something. It’s a big responsibility, and I take it very seriously. We’re going to keep trying to do bigger deals that people will cheer instead of boo.
"I think it’s hard for fans because they don’t see, and they don’t know what is real. There’s so much talk about it on TV shows and radio talk shows and so forth that they don’t see what’s really happening. I’m a firm believer that if all [Celtics reporters] were sitting in my office and listening to our conversations, there might be 5 or 10 percent disagreement if this deal is good or not, but 90 percent, I’m pretty confident, would say, ‘No, you can’t do that.’"
Ainge said the team has turned its attention to free agency but left the door open for more trade talks over the summer, as Boston looks to infuse its intriguing, young roster with established talent.
"We’re not afraid to make deals," Ainge said. "If anybody knows the Celtics right now, they know we’re not afraid to make deals. But we don’t want to make bad deals."