Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is tapering his expectations for the June 28 NBA draft, telling Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM) that he is not expecting the Celtics, who currently own the 21st and 22nd overall picks, to come away with any "transcendent" players.
"[The draft is] not that deep, no," Ainge said Wednesday afternoon. "It won't have as many transcendent players as [the 2003] draft had. But I think when people say it's deep, I think that you might get a player that can break into your rotation at 30 or 40 in the draft. That's unusual, but this draft, it might be that you get some good players. I think that we're going to get two good players, but not transcendent players -- players that might be starters someday, players that might come off the bench and contribute, but probably not stars."
While there's been chatter that Ainge would be interested in packaging his picks in order to move higher up in the draft, he said it's unlikely the Celtics' two first-round selections would be enough to vault them into the lottery.
"It's not likely," Ainge said of being able to trade his two picks to garner a spot in the top 10. "That's too high of a move. Typically, maybe in the middle, 16, 17, 15, that's really all you get. ... But that's not even certain. I mean, that usually happens on draft day if there's a team that all of a sudden, they lose out on a player they really liked. So those are the draft day contingencies that you have to be prepared for."
Ainge also discussed the balancing act of weighing the upside and downside of certain players, such as the younger players who might not be ready to contribute right away and the more experienced players who might not develop more in the future.
"You do bet on some of the upside, but there's also downside. You don't just bet on the upside of a player," Ainge said. "So we'll be looking. In this draft, there's a variety of players, there's freshmen that aren't ready to play in the NBA right now and contribute, and then there are seniors who are a little bit more ready, but they've probably hit their ceiling. They probably aren't going to be anything special, but be your seventh man on your team, so you have to weigh the options."
Recent reports have indicated that Boston is interested in Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, despite the fact that he's been medically red flagged by NBA doctors for a back problem. Ainge said he'll be reviewing Sullinger's medical information later this week and offered praise for the power forward's overall game.
"Sullinger's been a terrific player everywhere he's been," Ainge said. "He was a dominant high school player and a dominant player in the Big Ten as a freshman and sophomore. I don't know anything about the medical stuff. I will know that. As a matter of fact, we're meeting this week on all of our doctor's medical reports that they've accumulated. So, I don't know any of that. But, based on, let's just assume that he is healthy and clean, or his issue is a minor issue that can be rectified, I think that he has a terrific future -- very solid big guy that can pass, shoot, think, and rebound."
Ainge also made it seem unlikely that the Celtics would have a shot at drafting Duke guard Austin Rivers -- son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers -- but that an NBA union between father and son in the future isn't out of the question.
"Yes, [Rivers] could play for his old man," Ainge said. "I think that he's going to be a top 10 pick and I think he has a very bright future."