Danny Ainge reflects on season, future


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Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Danny Ainge is moving on after the Celtics’ second-round loss to the Heat.


Coaches and staff lingered around the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham today, moving on after being eliminated by the Miami Heat last night, evaluating an emotional season after falling short of their championship expectations. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his final weekly WEEI appearance of the season, touching on several different aspects of the season and possibilities for next season from the impact of injuries, to the likelihood of a starting lineup shift to his biggest regret — and no, it wasn’t the Kendrick Perkins trade.

Here are some highlights. Visit WEEI for the full audio.

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On the future of the team:
“We need to make changes for sure. I don’t think [the roster is good enough to compete for a title next year]. But having said that that’s my job is to evaluate the reasons why we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing … We do have a team that next year come playoff time will be a year older and a team like Miami will be in their prime years.”

On the Kendrick Perkins trade:
“I know that there’s people out there that want to blame the Perkins trade for our lack of success this year, I’m OK with that. There’s a legitimate argument to be made. I don’t really buy into the screens being set and Rondo being in a bit of a funk.”

The starting lineup could see some significant changes next season. If Jeff Green returns, Ainge said the 24-year-old’s role will certainly be enhanced. Ainge said he intends to extend Green a qualifying offer before the July 30 deadline. He threw out the hypothetical possibility of Paul Pierce coming off the bench, but said the veterans will be willing to play different roles.

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“Knowing father time never loses, I think their being able to carry a team day in and out might be over,” Ainge said. “But their ability to be contributors to very good basketball teams is still there. we have to surround them with good players if we have any chance of winning a championship next year … ”


On the starting lineup changing:
“Maybe there’s a change of roles. Maybe Paul comes off the bench, cuts down on his minutes. Maybe we find a way to get Jeff more minutes. His role will expand if he’s back here next year. There’s no question about that … ”
“It wouldn’t totally shock me if there’s a change in the starting lineup, but that’s just way too tough to tell.”
On the possibility of trading one of the Big Three:
“I would have to look into that if a good trade came about”
On the possibility of trading Rondo:
Probably not. I can’t ever say never, but that’s not our plan right now, probably not.
Ainge was willing to take the fallout from the trade, but the one thing he said he regrets is not doing more to bring back Tony Allen, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Memphis Grizzles, who are currently battling the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals. He said the team could have used Allen’s toughness.
Ainge’s biggest regret:
“I would have fought harder to bring Tony Allen back,” Ainge said. “We tried to sign Tony, we tried to come within our rules of staying in our two-year program. I think that Tony would have helped us.
“We offered Tony a two-year deal out of the gate, but then when Memphis showed him some love and he started thinking about the idea of more playing time … Then, he wanted a change of scenery.”
With coach Doc Rivers saying last night that he was leaning heavily toward returning next season, Ainge said that the notion that Rivers was wedded to the Big Three Era only was false and that he sees Rivers as a coach who could be with the franchise for several years in the way that longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was in Utah before retiring this season.
On Rivers’s long-term future with the team:

“I think that’s the wrong assumption about Doc,” Ainge said. “That’s what most people think, he would just be here with this group of guys. I think Doc is a coach at heart. I think Doc likes the idea of staying in Boston.
“If there comes a time where our goal change in a year or two, where the goal is to make the playoffs, I think Doc would welcome that challenge too. He knows that every year of your career, you can’t be fighting for an NBA championship.
“I think he likes the idea of being a Jerry Sloan type coach and being with a franchise for a long time.”
Glen Davis said he thinks he ready to be a started in this league, Ainge didn’t address it, but he said that he wanted to try to bring him back next season. Ainge said he didn’t think conditioning was the reason for his subpar postseason.
“We had a weight clause with Glen in his contract. He did good [with that]. I didn’t see it on the court. I saw him competing hard. I know Glen had some sore knees. There’s just a lot of factors.”
The likelihood that Shaquille O’Neal retires is strong, Ainge said, but Jermaine O’Neal, who spoke with Ainge today, could return.