Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge downplayed the notion that his team is on the cusp of making a trade, but admitted the front office staff is having discussions with teams about what is available.
Sources told ESPN.com that Houston Rockets officials spent much of Wednesday considering Boston's offer of forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a future first-round draft pick in exchange for big man Omer Asik. The Rockets remain engaged in talks with the Philadelphia 76ers and have left open the possibility that other teams could still join the bidding. The team has a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to trade the 7-footer.
Appearing on Boston sports radio 98.5 the Sports Hub on Thursday morning, Ainge was asked about if any deal was imminent.
"I have no indication of that, other than the rumors,” said Ainge. “I have no indication, in my dealings with and calls with other teams, that we're close to doing a deal.”
Later Ainge added, “We’re just opportunistic. When you read our name out there, sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not. The reports are embellished for sure right now, but we are having discussions and seeing what opportunities there are out there."
Asked in general about the value of a defensive-minded big man, Ainge admitted it’s hard to find quality centers.
“I think it’s valuable,” he said. “I think that everybody is looking for big guys that can defend. You’re also looking for big guys that can score in the post, big guys that can shoot and pass, versatile players. There are no perfect players out there, but there are good pieces on all teams. The NBA is loaded with quality players. Big guys are much harder to find than small guys.”
As for parting with a draft pick, Ainge offered, “They are valuable. They are valuable in trades, as we’ve done before. We’ve thrown draft picks into deals to acquire players, and [we’ve used them] to draft. We just try to value each player and each opportunity and stay opportunistic.”
Ainge was asked at the end of the interview about Rajon Rondo’s progress. After being cleared for full-contact practice last week, Rondo engaged in a pair of weekend practices with the team, but Ainge noted that Boston’s game schedule has limited his chances for live action during those offday workouts. The team is not scheduled to practice on Thursday.
“We’re taking this week-by-week,” said Ainge. “Last week he was cleared to play, and we’ll see how much progress he makes over the next week. But he still needs a little bit of strengthening in his right quad. He’s getting close, I don’t see anything happening this month for sure. And we’ll see how next month goes, week by week.”
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein was used.