Celtics president Danny Ainge wants to move up in NBA draft

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said his team is exploring the possibility of moving up in the draft and is hopeful to utilize Boston's surplus of draft picks to target desired talent.

"We're having discussions to move up with both of our picks in the first round," Ainge said Tuesday morning at the team's training center. "We're trying to move up with at least one of them. I think there will be some movement."

While Ainge stressed that all options are in play given that Boston owns four picks -- Nos. 16, 28, 33 and 45 -- he didn't shy away from admitting that moving up is a goal for his team, and he believes there's a chance to do such given the pre-draft chatter among league executives.

"Just there's a lot of talk, a lot more talk [than usual]," Ainge said. "I guess I'm hopeful that there's some movement. We have a lot of different things going on, a lot of possibilities. Usually nothing happens. But we're hopeful."

Added Ainge: "Right now we don't even know where we are drafting or the position we'll be in. We think there's going to be a lot of activity on draft night. So stay tuned. Our draft pick may have been traded before we even make the pick. I'm excited about the draft, it's going to be a fun day."

Ainge reaffirmed what his son, Austin, the team's director of player personnel, stressed from the start of the team's pre-draft workout process -- that Boston was unlikely to utilize all four of its current picks. The Celtics are hopeful they can use their surplus of selections, both this year and in future drafts, to help entice a deal.

"We're always looking for quality over quantity," Ainge said. "We have a lot of picks, so we'd like to make fewer picks this year and next year and so forth. But that's really hard to do. Especially around draft time. People fall in love with these players and fall in love with the names and the potential of all these players. Draft time is not an easy time to make deals to move up in the draft. It's very challenging to get up, especially up in the top five or six players."

Ainge said he doesn't get the sense that teams are eager to move down, but is hopeful Boston can change their minds.

"[Teams] have to be enticed to move down," Ainge said. "Nobody wants to move down."

Ainge said he believes the strength of the draft lies with the big men expected to be among the first names called Thursday night. He punted on guessing how many impact players would be available, but admitted, "Probably there will be more than what I think right now. There usually is and that's what we're trying to identify."

Added Ainge: "You can't really view the draft [as a way to add immediate talent]. You are trying to build something through the draft; you're not necessarily trying to win a championship through the draft. Some of the greatest players in the NBA today -- like Kevin Durant wasn't a winning, impactful player right out of the gate. It took him a while to become a winning player and he's one of the best players in the league."

Ainge waited a beat before cracking, "So I think we'd like to draft someone like that."