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Danny Ainge says Celtics are looking to move up in draft

WALTHAM — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gave the Boston faithful much to speculate on Tuesday when he acknowledged that he is trying to move up in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

The Celtics have four picks — Nos. 16, 28, 33, and 45 — and Ainge, speaking to reporters at the team’s training facility, said the organization is trying hard to move up for a prized prospect to bolster the rebuilding plan.

“We think there’s going to be a lot of activity on draft night,” said Ainge. “So stay tuned. Our draft pick may have been traded before we even make the pick.


“There’s a lot more talk. 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. We’re having discussions to move up with both of our [first-round] picks.’’

“We’re trying to move up with at least one of them. I think there will be some movement.”

Ainge’s statements prompt a lot of speculation as to whom the team covets. If the Celtics move into the top 10, they potentially would have a shot at big men Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Myles Turner (Texas), and Trey Lyles (Kentucky).

Such players are expected to go higher than 16, so they have not come in for workouts for the Celtics.

“The list [of players we like] is long right now just because we have so many picks,’’ Ainge said. “We don’t have a short list this year.”

There has been speculation that the Celtics are involved in talks for Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins. Ainge would not comment on any potential trades, but did say the makeup of the roster is open for discussion.

“There’s no such things as untouchables, but there’s guys that we love and are part of our core that we don’t want to move, sure,” Ainge said. “Nobody wants to [trade down]; they have to be enticed to.”


The question is how far the Celtics could move up without trading core players. Teams that trade down generally want proven veterans in return.

“I may not know the answer to that until draft night, because a lot of teams, they may be waiting on one player [to draft] and if they get that player, they may be unwilling to trade under any circumstance,’’ Ainge said.

“Those are probably draft-night answers that we are trying to prepare. Like how far would we go, how far will we go to get which player? And which players are worth moving up in the draft for? It’s a complex process that we’re all trying to figure out.”

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Jared Sullinger conducted his basketball camp this week in Kingston, looking slimmer. The forward said he is 100 percent healthy after missing nearly two months last season with a foot stress fracture.

“What foot?” Sullinger joked. “There’s no worries. I’m good. That’s what the offseason is for. I was fully healthy coming back [for the playoff series against] the Cavs, it was just shaking the rust off. I was very rusty.”

Sullinger, 23, said he has concentrated on running to attempt to trim weight. Ainge and team officials want Sullinger to report to camp this fall in better physical condition.

“Just running, having long runs, getting prepared for the Boston Marathon maybe one year, just having a lot of fun,” he said. “I think my body’s finally telling me it’s time to lose weight. I think the body is actually listening to the brain.”


Sullinger, who just finished his third year, is eligible for a contract extension this summer but the Celtics are likely going to pass a long-term deal for now, and perhaps enabling him to be a restricted free agent next summer.