Danny Ainge on D&K scoffs at those who overlooked Irving and Hayward during playoffs

Danny Ainge on D&K scoffs at those who overlooked Irving and Hayward during playoffs

During the playoffs, as Jayson Tatum lit up the scoreboard and Terry Rozier took over the fourth quarter of games, some folks started to dismiss injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was not one of those people.

In an interview Friday with “Dale & Keefe,” Ainge scoffed at the notion that the Celtics don’t need their two prized acquisitions from last year.

“I still remember very clearly why we were so excited to get Kyrie,” Ainge said. “Isn’t it amazing how some people just forget how Kyrie was just earlier this year in the 60 games he played for us? And how great Gordon was last year on a 51-win team? How he scored 40 points in a playoff game against the Clippers and helped win that series. I understand people have short memories, but I certainly don’t. I’m really excited about Gordon and Kyrie. Even though the injury happened to Gordon this year, watching him work and seeing his determination and commitment to excellence, I’m really excited for him this upcoming year.”

With Irving and Hayward due back, there are questions about whether there will be enough shots to go around for everybody. But Ainge said he isn’t concerned about members of his projected starting lineup –– Irving, Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Hayward and Al Horford –– becoming marginalized.  

“You need that kind of scoring,” Ainge said. “Look at Golden State. They have four games who have the ball in their hands all the time, with Klay Thompson, (Steph) Curry, KD and Draymond Green –– even though Draymond is more of a facilitator, he still has the ball, plays a point-center. The better your team becomes, the more sacrifices guys have to make. So yeah, it’s not going to be perfect every night. There’s going to be some nights where guys get a lot more shots than they get some other nights. But at the same time, it’s a heavy burden having to carry a team offensively every single night. The more you have, the better your team is.”

Hayward recently underwent succesful surgery to remove a screw and plate inserted into his broken ankle, but Ainge said the forward is in good spirits. 

“It was a little bit of a surprise. But in the medical world, I guess I’m never surprised,” he said. “It’s just something that needed to be done. Gordon is in great spirits and a good place. He felt like things weren’t progressing as he had hoped, and the plate just made him a little bit uncomfortable. His foot strength is all there. In his mind, he should be feeling different, so this was removed a little earlier than normal. The bone is totally healed, as are all the muscles, ligaments, tendons and everything else. I think Gordon is in a better place right now than he was a couple of weeks ago after having this surgery.”

Though Ainge said he’s content with his roster, there will inevitably be changes entering next season. Marcus Smart’s status is uncertain, as he’ll embark on free agency next month. Earlier this week, Smart declared he’s worth more than $12-14 million on the open market. Ainge explained why those kinds of proclamations don’t bother him.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Ainge said. “I know it creates headlines and talk radio buzz, but from my standpoint, I’m not worried. I’m worried about how players are working and how they perform on the court. I don’t pay much attention to what they say. Marcus was responding to a question he was flat out asked.” 

There was a rumor that emerged this week about the Celtics looking to move up in the draft to select Texas center Mo Bamba, but Ainge didn’t seem that enthralled about this year’s class when asked.

“It’s a good draft. It’s not a special, special draft. But it’s a very good draft. I think it’s got some decent depth,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s one of the better ones or one of the worst ones. It’s a normal draft. But we’re excited about who we can potentially add late in the draft.”

The Celtics don’t need to do much this offseason. But Ainge is always active. As he said early in the interview, he didn’t expect to bring in 11 new players at the start of last summer, either. 

Danny Ainge on D&K:”isn’t it amazing how quickly people forgot how good Kyrie Irving & Gordon Hayward are”

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