WALTHAM, Mass. -- Shooting and ball movement aren't the only
things the Boston Celtics must improve. The team's basketball boss
wants them to behave better, too.
Danny Ainge wants them to keep their cool -- whether reacting to
referees' calls or coming back from deficits -- and thinks his
players can do that despite their playoff collapse against the
"There's some code of conduct issues that we're going to
evaluate," he said Thursday. "I don't want to make it sound like
we're running some sort of military camp. There's just certain
things that have to be expected that I think that we let slide."
That goes beyond their two best players losing their tempers
during the playoffs. Antoine Walker grabbed referee Tom Washington
in Game 3 and was suspended for Game 4. Paul Pierce elbowed Pacers
guard Jamaal Tinsley with 12.9 seconds left in Game 6 and was
ejected, but Boston won in overtime.
Ainge, the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations,
said the team may institute new rules about proper behavior. But
he's more worried about his players having an emotional meltdown
when they fall behind, a recurrent problem all season.
"It's the play under duress that frustrates me more than the
suspension and the push of Tinsley," Ainge said in a season-ending
meeting with reporters.
In Indiana's 97-70 win in Boston in Game 7, the Celtics trailed
43-41 early in the third quarter. When the quarter ended, the
Pacers were ahead 65-50.
"It was a miserable third quarter of Game 7 that I still feel
the pain from," Ainge said. "We're fighting through adversity
throughout that game and then, all of a sudden, we leave guys open
for 3-pointers. We just do things that you can't win with."
Though he said there were more positives than negatives during
the season, Ainge added more "emotional stability is needed" and
individual meetings will be held with players.
Walker and Gary Payton may not be a part of that. Payton, who
has expressed a desire to play on the West Coast, and Walker, who
wants to come back, might not return.
Ainge also stressed that he isn't eager to trade Pierce, coming
off one of his best seasons despite his Game 6 blunder.
"I'm not doing my job if I'm not entertaining, listening to
offers" to trade Pierce, Ainge said. "I just don't see it
If Payton doesn't return, Ainge said he would add a point guard
rather than let two-year pro Marcus Banks and rookie Delonte West
handle the position themselves, although one could emerge as the
Doc Rivers was in his first year as Boston's coach and had to
deal with deciding on playing time for Payton, a 15-year veteran.
"It wasn't easy for Doc, being a young coach, and having to
deal with veteran guys," Ainge said. "But Doc has to know that
he's our coach and he's our guy."
Jefferson emerged as the leader of a rookie group that often
showed more composure and maturity than veterans.
Still, Ainge is concerned about the "sense of entitlement" of
players throughout the NBA who should be "grateful" for
fulfilling dreams of playing in the league.
"The league is trying to change [its] image and I just feel
like we need players that are going to respect the game more," he