Celtics

Danny Ainge thinks Jayson Tatum is ‘going to be a Hall of Fame player’

Ainge also responded to a report that he's planning to take a step back.

Danny Ainge Celtics
Danny Ainge prior to a Celtics-Heat matchup on May 11. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” on Thursday for his weekly interview, discussing a range of topics that included his own future.

Ainge was asked about a report from fellow 98.5 host Tony Massarotti, who said on Wednesday that he heard the Celtics were “calling around” and exploring the possibility of Ainge taking a step back from the “day-to-day grind.”

“I have thought that way before, but that’s not going on right now,” Ainge said of the report, reiterating that “there are not” plans to restructure his role.

“I mean, I have a really good staff of people,” Ainge added. “With Mike Zarren, and my son Austin, and Dave Lewin, and Remy Cofield, those guys have been doing a lot more over the last couple of years. I have been delegating a lot. Those guys are very, very capable.”

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Here are a few other topics Ainge covered in the interview:

Projecting Jayson Tatum’s future

Forced to qualify for the NBA playoffs by going through the league’s play-in tournament, the Celtics eased past the Wizards on Tuesday, 118-100. The highlight performance for Boston came from Jayson Tatum, who dropped 50 points on Washington.

Ainge said he classifies the 23-year-old Tatum as a “top-echelon player.”

“He has exceeded expectations from when we drafted him,” Ainge said. “I knew he was going to be a good young player, but all the great ones are.”

While Ainge declined to say whether he thinks Tatum will win a league MVP at some point, he gave him the highest of praise.

“I think it’s easy to see now that Jayson Tatum is going to be a Hall of Fame player,” Ainge said. “I don’t think anybody doubts any of that. But I hate to give him those kind of accolades because I’d like to try to push him to work harder, and meet their goals. And I don’t want him to get complacent.”

The latest on fan capacity at TD Garden for Celtics-Nets

Though Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that large sports venues in Massachusetts will be allowed to return to full capacity on May 29 when the state lifts nearly all COVID-19 restrictions, Ainge noted that the NBA still has to clarify its policy before the Celtics can formally announce additional ticket availability.

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“I don’t know that,” Ainge said when asked if attendance would be at 100-percent capacity for Game 4 against the Nets on Sunday, May 30.

“We’re waiting to figure all that out,” Ainge said. “There’s our state and then there’s the NBA. There’s all sorts of protocols and hoops to jump through. So it’s pretty complicated. I’m not sure how that’s going to work.

“I haven’t heard that when it comes to NBA capacity,” Ainge added. “I’m not sure that we’re there yet.”

A Robert Williams update

Robert Williams left Tuesday’s play-in game in the first half after suffering a lower body injury. The 23-year-old has been dealing with turf toe toward the end of the regular season.

“He’s day-to-day, I don’t know,” Ainge said when asked if he would be available for Game 1 on Saturday in Brooklyn.

“I don’t know until practice today,” Ainge said on whether Williams would practice. “Yesterday was a day off, so we’ll see how his toe responds and just going to take it day by day.”

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