Quick hits following Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge's weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI.
On the status of Jared Sullinger's back: "Sullinger is just getting tests done. He didn't practice today. He was still sore today and like back spasms, you just never know. They really are day-to-day, and we're hoping that he has a quick recovery and he gets back soon."
On whether Sullinger's current back issues are related to the ones that were red-flagged prior to last June's draft: "Well, yeah. I think that when he was drafted with the medical reports that we had on his back, I think it would be crazy to think that there would not be some days missed... (head trainder) Eddie Lacerte and (team doctor) Dr. McKeon and (strength and conditioning coach) Bryan Doo, they spend a lot of time with Jared each day, stretching and formulating plans to strengthen his core and to strengthen the muscles around his back, because he does have management issues back there. And so I think that this is not a surprise. I guess I would say I'm a little surprised that it's taken this long. He's been with us since July 1 and he's been pain-free and hasn't missed a day of practice until the game last night when it was just sort of a freak thing. He got a rebound and his back spasmed up."
On what his expectations were for Rajon Rondo and the idea that the Celtics might be better without him: "I think Rondo was having a very good basketball year. I think he's maturing on and off the court. I think his role as a leader is improving. I think that he is a fantastic player. He single-handedly carried us many nights and I don't see how people don't see that... And so, when people say we're going to be better without Rondo or the team's going to do better without him, I mean, it's silly. He's a great, great player, and he's proven that time and time again. The guy's been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years, not just individual games here and there, triple-doubles on national TV. He's been the best player in a series against LeBron James; he's been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose; he's been the best player in a series in three games in a Finals series. The guy has done too many good things."
On Rondo being criticized for not playing defense and caring too much about stats: "First of all, I think the whole stat world that we've grown up in and the whole concept of double-doubles and triple-doubles is a bunch of nonsense anyway. There's a lot of guys I've seen had triple-doubles and had bad games. That doesn't mean that you're winning. There's so much more to the game. There's guys that get two rebounds and three assists that have more of an impact on the team winning by playing defense every single possession. So I understand that criticism, or that knock. That's possible.
"Most of the triple-doubles I've seen Rondo have were pretty special performances, individual performances. Not all, but most of them are. I mean, the rebounds that he gets, most guards can't get. The assists that he gets, a lot of people can't get. So, I think that they may take a game or two or three where he might have been hunting. I think that the Detroit game doesn't help. Right? The Detroit game where he stayed in late to get that assist record. I don't think those things are helpful in the long run to make it appear, ever, that those stats are important."
On Rondo sometimes passing up easy shots: "This is what I'll say about Rondo, and that is he wants to win really bad. And he wants to win as bad as anybody. And like Larry (Bird), like we said, Larry wanted to score 60 when Kevin (McHale) scored 56 -- I mean, those are challenges that they have and I think that all the great players, they do try to challenge themselves and I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to get triple-doubles on national TV or get triple-doubles. But if it comes at the expense of winning, then that's another thing. I think that if that happens with Rajon, I think that, first of all, he'll mature out of that. And I think that he'll sort of grow out of that phase. I mean, he still is very young."
On not getting to speak with Ray Allen on Sunday when Miami was in town: "No, I mean, I'm a fan of Ray and I always will be and be grateful for Ray and his wife and all that they did for our franchise. No, it had nothing to do with that. My schedule was busy, running around. He probably didn't want to hear from me or care about any of that. But there'll come a time when Ray and I sit down. We'll play golf together and rehash."