“Listen, the stars are always a priority,” said Ainge to 98.5’s “Toucher & Rich” Thursday morning. “One thing I learned in this league is there are different ways to win — you don’t have to have a picture of a center, a four, a three, a two, a one to win.”
Ainge continued: “There’s been too many teams that have had great success in this league with a variety of ways. But it usually involves having really good players, at whatever positions. That’s always a priority.”
As the NBA’s trade deadline grows larger on the horizon with each passing day, so too does the question of what moves, if any, Danny Ainge and the Celtics will make before March 25.
“[Shooting with size] is just one thing we have our eyes on,” said Ainge.
Size Helps, Playoff Experience Not a Must
While not outright deprioritizing his shooting with size trade aspirations, Ainge suggested to T & R that the team may already have some of what they need in that regard:
“I mean, we saw a shooter with size the other night [against Utah] when Daniel Theis hit fives 3s. Having him be able to start making shots — he’s been making them for more than just a couple games, he’s been making them for a while now — same with Grant [Williams], they are getting better with that. I think that we need to be able to spread the floor more, and having those be able to do it definitely helps. But yeah, I’m always looking for guys with more size to be able to make shots, that’s huge.”
Ainge also made it clear that recent playoff success is not necessarily a prerequisite.
“I think playoff success does matter,” Ainge said. “But I think that most players that are really good I’m not worried about them having playoff success…if they’re really good regular season players.”
Boston has an extra $20 million to spend this year due to the traded player exception produced by Gordon Hayward’s off-season sign-and-trade deal with Charlotte. It’s certainly not a bad position to be in, but it has put additional pressure on Ainge and the organization to make the right moves.
Weaknesses Not Always Obvious
Somewhat complicating the question of who the Celtics should target, is a lack of consistency in overall team play. Some games they look like bone fide world-beaters, firing on all cylinders and getting valuable contributions from starters and bench players alike. Other times, however, they look lost, void of cohesion and in need of considerable help.
Following a particularly uncompetitive loss to the Utah Jazz Tuesday night, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown spoke with frustration about the team’s general lack of fluidity. “We’ve got to find a better flow for ourselves,” insisted Brown. “We had some disconnectedness at times and the game almost seems a little harder than it should be.”
By contrast, in Thursday’s impressive 120-106 win over the Toronto Raptors, even with Brown shooting only 3-for-14 from the floor, the Celtics never appeared to lose control or focus, and ultimately dominated the flow of the game.
Kemba Walker and Semi Ojeleye, regular targets of criticism for their uneven play this season, combined for 44 points and 11 rebounds against Toronto, and were deadly from 3-point-range going 11-for-16 from long distance.