WALTHAM -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers held a pre-draft media session Wednesday afternoon at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint. While tempering expectations, the pair did express optimism in finding players that can help the Celtics next season and beyond, but admitted it's a challenge drafting where they are (picks No. 25 and 55) in what's been universally declared a "weak" draft.
"When you’re drafting where we’re drafting, I’m not trying to put a negative spin on this, I’m trying to be realistic, the 25th pick in the draft is probably not going to help us immediately," said Ainge. "But there are some players that we think can fit our roster, fit into the personality of our team and have a work ethic that can make our team better in practice and add depth to our roster."
Ainge did make one thing clear: The Celtics are not entertaining the idea of trading one of next year's first-round picks, particularly the protected pick obtained from the Oklahoma City Thunder (via the Los Angeles Clippers) in the Kendrick Perkins trade, in order to move up in this year's draft.
"We don’t want to move next year’s pick to get into this year’s draft," said Ainge. "Because the picks we have aren’t good enough to get to the very very top of the draft and we think next year’s draft will be better."
Ainge waited a beat before quipping, "Austin Rivers is in next year’s draft," with the Duke-bound high school phenom's father standing next to him. Ainge, who once got fined by the NBA for sitting next to Kevin Durant's mother at a University of Texas game, emphasized that he was joking. "Wait a minute, I can’t say that."
Read on for other highlights, much of it non-draft related, from a 20-minute Q&A session, or hop HERE to view the news story.
* Ainge on addressing size in the draft: "We have to address size in the offseason, for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the draft."
* Rivers on size in the draft: "I agree with that... If size is available at the 25th pick, I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. But sometimes you can get lucky. Danny, I’ve said it for years, if there’s a guy there at that spot that can play, he’ll find him."
* Rivers on offering Ainge input on the draft pick: "He knows what I want, the type of player, and we do talk. But, listen, Danny watches these guys all year. He goes to practices, he watches them on film. I’ve always said: As a coach, you don’t want to come in and mess it up. Because you’ve seen a guy 3-on-3 one time and you fall in love with him. I give my opinions, but I trust his guidance."
* Ainge on the status of the C's heading into the draft: "We have a good team, like Doc says we have a good core group of guys. We have a busy offseason this year with a lot of free agents, a lot of roster spots to fill, and as soon as the draft is over, we’ll be focusing on that. Though we’ve been focused on free agency and preparing for that, we’ve been talking to teams about trade possibilities, and other deals that come in the offseason."
* Ainge on Rajon Rondo's injured elbow: "You can ask him," Ainge said looking up at Rondo running on a treadmill next to strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo. "No, he’s not 100 percent yet. He's probably about four weeks away from playing basketball at full speed, but he can do some training and conditioning right now."
* Rivers on Celtics players that have been into the practice facility since season's end: "No one is scrimmaging yet, but a lot of the guys are working out. Ray [Allen has] been in here, Paul [Pierce has] been in here a lot actually already, Rondo’s been in here, [and] Jermaine O’Neal’s been in here. So, it’s nice to see. Those guys know how to pace themselves and what they need to work on. It’s not like a generation of [Ainge and him], where you got out of shape [during the summer] and used camp to get back into shape." To which Ainge quipped, "Speak for yourself, I never did that. I do that now.”
* Ainge on interest in retaining top assistant Lawrence Frank: "Yes, Lawrence has interest in coming back. Lawrence will have an opportunity to coach, as you know, he’s been a top candidate with a lot of teams this year... for sure runner-up in a couple of places. We want Lawrence back. Lawrence will have options with other teams, too, he’s not under contract, so he has an option to explore all those options."
* Ainge on Glen Davis' desire to return: "I don’t know. Baby is a free agent, we can’t talk to him about a contract or anything like that. We’ll find out come July."
* Ainge on Jermaine O'Neal returning for the 2011-12 season: "He has every intention of coming back. I wouldn’t say -- something could happen that he won’t come back -- but I think... he has every desire to come back and play, and didn’t like the way it finished this year. He doesn’t want to end his career on that kind of note, he wants to be a much bigger contributor next year." Ainge also confirmed that O'Neal decided against offseason surgery on his injured wrist.
* Ainge on if anyone is untradeable: "We love our core group. I would just say this: I never tell players that I would never do anything like that. We have to keep our options open and explore. That’s my job. Our intention is to bring our core group back."