Danny Ainge addressed his health, Kyrie Irving, and the Celtics’ offseason

"Yeah I mean I'm eating more plants, and not the kind of plants in Walton's garden by the way."

Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge speaks to the media for the first time since his heart attack. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge addressed the media for the first time since suffering a heart attack during the team’s playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks in early May.

He spoke on a range of topics, including the status of his health in the aftermath of the heart attack, as well as team-related topics heading into what he called an “A to Z offseason.”

His health

Asked initially about how he’s recovering from the May 3rd heart attack, Ainge was upbeat, even making a joking reference to former teammate Bill Walton.

“Yeah I mean I’m eating more plants, and not the kind of plants in Walton’s garden by the way,” Ainge said.


Assistants filled in during Ainge’s absence, assembling much of the team’s pre-draft schedule.

“I have a great bench here too,” Ainge said of the Celtics’ front office staff. On the question of whether or not it would affect his future, the architect of the current Celtics roster was unequivocal.

“My role is not going to change,” Ainge explained.

Kyrie Irving

The team’s most pressing offseason question is the future of Kyrie Irving, who can (and likely will) opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

Before the season, Irving told Celtics season ticket holders that he planned on re-signing in Boston for the long term. Yet the team’s disappointing season appeared to cause a change in Irving’s intentions. Ainge seemed unsure of saying too much on the subject of whether or not Boston’s star player would stand by his preseason commitment to come back.

“I don’t know,” Ainge said of whether Irving was still planning to re-sign. “There’s not much I can say about that, honestly. But there are ongoing conversations. We just have to wait and see what happens there.”

Still, Ainge said he hasn’t gotten any word from Irving’s “camp” that the 27-year-old guard is intent on leaving.


“I have not received that indication, no,” said Ainge.

Ainge supported Irving in the aftermath of the team’s second round playoff exit.

“I just think that it’s unfortunate that one person gets credit or blame for a team’s failures,” Ainge said. “We had a lot of reasons why the team did not succeed this year. Kyrie deserves his share of the blame, but not anymore than anybody else. There’s a lot of guys that didn’t handle things the way right way and make the sacrifices that needed to be done for the benefit of the team. They’re all going to learn from it, including Kyrie. He’s still a young player, and I think that Kyrie is going to come back even better next year.”

And on the trade that brought Irving to Boston in 2017, Ainge had no regrets.

“There’s always risk in making deals,” Ainge noted. “We’re not afraid of risk. We made a risk by trading for Kyrie and, no matter what happens with Kyrie, I’ll never regret that. You just move on, to the next deal.”

The complicated offseason and other thoughts

Ainge also answered an array of questions on other players and issues, including the impending offseason. Here are his thoughts on several topics:


Brad Stevens: “There’s no other coach I’d rather have than Brad Stevens,” said Ainge. “He’s the least of our worries.”

Gordon Hayward: “I’m really excited for Gordon’s upcoming season. He’s working hard in the gym. He’s here every day with five or six coaches,” said Ainge. “I’m anticipating great things from Gordon this next year.”

Restructuring Al Horford’s contract: “That will be discussed.”

The disappointing 2018-2019 season: “I think we all need to learn from this past season.”

Additionally, Ainge admitted his surprise that the team never gelled: “It didn’t really take where we had 100 percent buy-in from 100 percent of the players. And I did not anticipate that.”

The decision to not make a major trade deadline move: “There was nothing really at the trade deadline that we were really excited about.”

Ainge also added on the subject: “I don’t regret not making a move.”