President of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t have any regret of the Celtics’ choices in Thursday night’s NBA Draft — guards Marcus Smart at No. 6 and James Young at No. 17.
Ainge went on 98.5 The Sports Hub Friday morning to talk about the draft and hit on multiple topics, including how he thinks Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Phil Pressey will mesh with the two newest Celtics.
Why he likes Smart:
I think what I love most about Marcus is most his competitiveness. He’s a fierce competitor, he’s an instigator. Strong, physical, long arms, strong hands. I think he has a chance to be a really terrific point guard.
On if Smart’s upbringing makes him tougher:
We looked into all the players, potential draftees and delved deep into their past and talked to many people involved in their past. Marcus is a very intriguing young man, a tough kid, gone through a lot. I think he has the potential to be a fantastic leader and player.
On what drafting Smart means for Rondo:
Nothing. Nothing. I think Marcus and Rondo easily can be backcourt mates. I think Marcus is a guy that we felt could play with Rondo or Avery [Bradley] or Phil Pressey and play on the court at the same time. … Marcis is long enough to guard a small forward.
On what the draft class means for Bradley’s future:
Nothing at all. We love Avery every bit as much as we always have. You’ve got to have depth and versatility. … We have room for everybody. I don’t think ... it means anything to [Rondo and Avery].
Did the Celtics made a big push to get the No. 1 pick from the Cavaliers?
That’s a little bit over blown. We did try, but there was no real serious conversation as Cleveland was determined to take the No. 1 pick. It wasn’t much in the cards.
Would the Celtics have drafted center Joel Embiid if he was available at No. 6? (Embiid went to Philadelphia at No. 3.)
Yes, we would’ve.
Did Embiid’s injuries make the Celtics nervous about possibly drafting him?
Sure. Yeah, it did.
On Embiid’s medical status:
He was not red-flagged, meaning, “Stay away at all costs.” He was rated a little bit less than that with risk, but he was guy that we were looking at had he fallen.
On the Celtics trying to land Minnesota’s Kevin Love:
I can’t talk about players under contract with another team.
On if he thinks the Timberwolves will try to trade Love:
I don’t know the answer to that.
On why the Celtics drafted James Young over any other guards available at the time:
We think that James is much younger and we think he has a chance to be a very complete player. There was a lot of players in the draft that we liked, but James Young we did have ranked much higher than where we drafted him. Young is strong, has long arms, has always been a good shooter. He didn’t shoot the ball great in the first part of his first career at Kentucky. James is one of those guys that looks like a shooter, doesn’t hesitate, can take the ball to the hole strong. We think he’s a two-way player, he can defend his position.
On the Celtics’ draft class:
We are excited about the two guys we got, we think they are top-10 guys. Don’t have expectations of them turning around our franchise … but playing a role in our successful team.
On whether the front office will take a break for the next week:
We’ll be back at work today in preparation for summer league and free agency that starts Monday. This is a busy time and this is no time to rest.
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Rachel G. Bowers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rachelgbowers.