Ainge: Celtics Have Good Players But We Need Great Ones

Coming off a season in which the Celtics were the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference and stole a win against the Cavaliers in the conference finals, the team has every reason to be optimistic. However, team President Danny Ainge now enters the offseason with a lot of key decisions to make that could potentially restructure the entire roster.

Ainge spoke to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald to discuss his team and plans moving forward. While Ainge views the 2016/17 campaign as a positive step, he acknowledged that the road to a championship will be the biggest challenge moving forward.

“I feel like it doesn’t really matter what we’ve accomplished. If we’d lost Game 7 against the Wizards, I don’t feel any different than if we’re where we are today,” Ainge said. “I know that we’re good. I know that we’re not great. I know that we still have more to do, and, you know, that next step is by far the hardest.”

All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas will hit free agency after next season and is open to putting off extension talks to allow the Celtics to lure free agents. Also, the team holds the No.1 overall pick in the NBA Draft — which they’re expected to use on Washington product Markelle Fultz. In terms of free agents, the team will will have to make decisions on Gerald Green, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Jerebko with Kelly Olynyk a restricted free agent. Players like Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley currently figure into next year’s plans but trades for superstar players could results in any one of them moving.

“We have a lot of good players,” Ainge said, “but we need some great ones.”

Also, the team’s young but successful head coach Brad Stevens will be a key influence in the team’s decisions. An argument can be made that Stevens’ presence will be as big a recruitment tool as any player on the the roster. All told, fans, players, coaches, executives, and anybody associated with the Celtics should expect a revamped team — in some form — next season.

“So I feel like, yeah, this will be a very busy summer with a lot of difficult decisions,” Ainge said. “I feel like we will be prepared and are prepared. The only person that hasn’t been involved in day-to-day discussions with what we’ll try to do is Brad [Stevens], and he will be filled in on everything once he gets a little bit of rest. He will be filled in and be a big part of the decisions that we make.”

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