On Wednesday afternoon, Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck made an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub to discuss his team’s recent struggles.
Here’s what we learned.
Grousbeck is happy with both Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge
One of the most popular talking points around the Celtics currently is whether the team’s 15-16 start warrants calls for Stevens’ job (as well as Ainge’s, to a lesser extent).
Grousbeck brushed those questions away, expressing confidence in both Stevens and Ainge. He said he appreciates that Ainge made good draft picks in both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, neither of whom was projected to be a top-three selection, and he has been impressed by Boston’s player development under Stevens.
“Immediately, either one of those guys would be the top candidate in the league for the job,” Grousbeck said. “It doesn’t matter who else is out there. So they are our guys, and we’re sticking with them. And it was not even a question in my mind.”
The Celtics have no intention of letting their top players go.
This will come as little surprise, but the Celtics are very committed to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
“I think we’ve got a roster that isn’t a contending roster right now, but it has the makings of something good, I hope,” Grousbeck said. “Starting at the top of the roster with the best players, they’re keepers, and we’re going to keep them.”
Grousbeck added that he has been pleased with Robert Williams’ development, and both Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard are “developing before our eyes.”
Still, a young roster isn’t always easy for a coach.
“As Doc Rivers found out when you coach a young team, it’s a pain in the neck half the time, and you get gray hair, and you have to hope it gets better,” Grousbeck said.
Don’t bother dreaming of Cade Cunningham or Jonathan Kuminga in the draft.
A seed germinating in the minds of some Celtics fans: If Boston keeps losing, could the team find itself accidentally (or maybe not-so-accidentally) in range of some help via the draft? The 2021 class is loaded with intriguing talent including a few players considered franchise-changers, and even the mid-to-late lottery could offer potential stars. Oklahoma State star guard Cade Cunningham or G-League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga could be viable options.
Grousbeck scoffed slightly at the idea the Celtics might “tank” when one of the hosts said he has started receiving calls and emails from fans.
“We are not trying to do that. That’s not us,” Grousbeck said.
He quipped that the Celtics are losing games they are trying to win, and that a tanking season might have made him enjoy the games over the weekend.
“But anyway, we haven’t discussed it and it’s not part of the DNA and I would like to win the next 15 games in a row and tell everybody to save the emails and save the calls to you,” Grousbeck said.
The Celtics might wait to use their TPE until the summer.
Celtics fans might want to buckle up for some news they won’t like: Boston might not use its $28.5 million trade exception by the deadline. At the very least, they might not use the whole thing since Tristan Thompson signing the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception hard-capped them this offseason.
“Maybe we can use part of it within the hard cap at the trade deadline,” Grousbeck said. “And if it’s available to us when we want to do it, we’ll do it if the right deal is there, but otherwise it’s something we’ll probably look more to the offseason.”
Grousbeck said the Celtics are not a contending roster as things currently stand. If that’s the case, they may want to wait to see if they can make a different acquisition this offseason.
Of course, other teams will know the Celtics are in a use-it-or-lose-it situation this offseason if they don’t use it now, so Grousbeck might be trying to play down Boston’s interest in making a trade.
Something weird may have happened with the Indiana deal this summer.
Over the summer, the Celtics reportedly had an offer to sign-and-trade Gordon Hayward to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Myles Turner and Doug McDermott. Per reporting at the time, the Celtics preferred Victor Oladipo or T.J. Warren. Eventually, of course, Hayward signed a four-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets.
What happened in the middle is murky. The prevailing narrative is that Ainge got greedy and lost out on a potential haul for Hayward, but Grousbeck suggested that narrative doesn’t tell the whole story.
“There’s always more to a deal, or oftentimes more to a deal than gets out into whatever the agents leak that they want to have portrayed,” Grousbeck said. “But talking about any particular deal, what they want to get back in terms of players or draft picks is usually extreme and insane. If we don’t do the deal, typically it’s because of who they want to get back or what they want to take from us — four unprotected draft picks or whatever else.
“That’s not that’s not what Indiana was, but it was not a deal that was happening.”
Hope that clears it up.
It is still unclear when fans will be allowed back at TD Garden.
Grousbeck wouldn’t divulge how discussions have unfolded regarding the return of fans to TD Garden.
“There’s been a lot of discussion going on, and it feels like people all the way around the table want it to happen,” Grousbeck said. “But I don’t have anything else to say right now.”
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