The most telling Danny Ainge quote of them all


Here was Danny Ainge from his Tuesday Zoom session with the media …

"We have a lot of young players, and I think it was important for us this offseason to bring in some veteran players.”

At first blush, it might not seem like much. Certainly it's a comment that can get lost in the shuffle when so many are on pins and needles awaiting his explanation of how everything went down throughout the Gordon Hayward saga.

But this dynamic of which the Celtics' chief decision-maker speaks is an important one. It's a topic that, in case you forget, was brought up almost two years to the day by Kyrie Irving after Brad Stevens' team dropped to 7-6 on the young season.

"You know, looking at this locker room, just me being in my eighth year and being a quote-unquote veteran, as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes," Irving told reporters. "Right now I think that it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, 14-year vet, that could just kind of help us race along the regular season and help us understand that it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint of when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do. It’s all about attitude and effort, that’s all it is."

This was one of the things Irving was right-on about.

The following season the Celtics brought on he like of Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker to go along with Brad Wanamaker and Gordon Hayward. But it was still a roster that centered around player in their early 20's, with just one participant living life as a 30-something (Wanamaker).

As Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck pointed out during his Tuesday appearance on the Greg Hill Show, the last time the Celtics won a championship they had six players with nine or more year of NBA experience. Last season, there was one (Hayward).

It's a very real thing, as Ray Allen pointed out to days after that Irving comment in 2018.

"You always need that because you need someone who is going to steady the ship, always," Allen said. "Even when you win you have to have someone who will pull you by your collar and put you down and say, ’Guys we have a game tomorrow.’ Or tell guys to rest up, or go out and have a good time when we’re losing to shake it off of us.

"Often times you get too high when you win and you get too low when you lose. In the NBA you to play in the middle because if you don’t you put yourself in a situation where emotionally if you lose a game you end up losing a couple of games because your emotions carry over. Even when you win you carry your winning emotions over and you lose the next game. It does require you to have a good locker room presence where not only coaches are saying it, but the players are saying it. So when the coaches come into the locker room you’ve got guys in there policing things and making sure the right things are being said, the right things are being done."

Right now, the Celtics are starved for some experience.

Walker's knee is going to find him more on the exercise bike than the court to begin the season, while both Kanter and Wanamaker are gone.

It's why, as Ainge pointed out, the presence of 29-year-old Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague offer value beyond just their on-court production. Before they came board the oldest players on the roster were Walker (30), Daniel Theis (28) and Javonte Green (27).

Here is the 32-year-old Teague upon joining the Hawks last year: "This situation is a little bit different because we have young guys who can grow and I want to be that veteran who grows with them for the next couple of years."

Sound familiar?