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Ainge On T&R: 'I Don't Really Consider Us Rebuilding'

BOSTON (CBS) -- From everything we see on paper, the Boston Celtics are in for another rebuilding year.

They're expected to be in the bottom of the NBA barrel again this season, competing for a high draft pick rather than another title.

But while some would call Boston's current state a rebuilding stage, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn't see things that way.

"I don't really consider us rebuilding. We're building a championship," Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich during his weekly call into the show on Thursday morning. "We're in that process. We have good, young players that have bright futures and I'm really excited about watching this team."

The Celtics weren't able to light off any fireworks this offseason, missing out on the one big star that was available over the summer.

"Really there was only one star player that was available this year in Kevin Love. We put a lot of time and effort in that process, but he ended up with LeBron in Cleveland," said Ainge. "We lost out on that one, but other than that there really weren't any big names out there."

So the Celtics will trot out a roster made up of mostly young players and raw talent, with a vast collection of future draft picks in Ainge's back pocket for the right trade should it come along. But Ainge has been pleased with what he's seen during training camp from the young squad.

"We're excited about the guys that we have. I like what I see in training camp in Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. I still see a lot of potential in the young guys we have. I think they're going to get better," he said. "Even though realistically we're not a championship team, I do think we can be better than what people think."

The C's were dealt a big blow last week when they learned that Rajon Rondo will miss some time after undergoing surgery on a broken finger in his left hand following a fall in the shower.

"I was really frustrated and I felt bad for Rajon," Ainge said of the injury. "I've seen how hard he's been working and seen what state of mind he's in and physically where he's at. This summer he put in so much time, I just knew how excited he was for training camp and the beginning of the season. That was my first thought: 'Aw man, another setback for him.'

"It's important for us to have Rondo if we want to have any success this year," said Ainge.

Rondo will likely miss 6-8 weeks with the injury, but Ainge said knowing him he wouldn't be surprised if the point guard works hard and is back for opening night.

In a media day chat with Rich Shertenlieb, Rondo said there are players he would like to recruit to Boston but wouldn't give any names. Ainge also kept quiet on any recruiting talks he's had with Rondo, but noted that they have to bring in more talent to surround Rondo, in hopes of enticing the free agent to stay past this season.

"Rondo and I talk a lot, so yeah, over the years and recently, we're on the same page. I'd like to get those players too," he said with a chuckle. "The problem is there are 30 teams in the league that want to get those players and they're not easily available for any price.

"Rondo is a free agent this year and is really looking forward to a good year. We have to be a franchise he wants to continue to play for, and he has to be a good enough player that we want to pay a lot of money," said Ainge. "We're going into this year with those questions out there and there is going to be a lot of talk. But we both want each other. He wants to stay in Boston and continue his career here and we want him."

Ainge also discussed Larry Bird's famous trash talking, and shared a few stories of Larry Legend on the court.

"Larry did it out of boredom, I thought. He didn't do it during the NBA finals or big playoff games." explained Ainge. "Maybe my favorite was with Xavier McDaniels. We were down by one and he went to the sidelines. As he was walking off he told Xavier exactly what he would do, and he came out and did it. Xavier thought he was setting him up, but Larry did exactly what he said.

"It was something to keep him motivated night in and night out," said Ainge. "He was a lot of fun to play with. I have hundreds of Larry Bird stories. He was the ultimate team guy and a great competitor, and he did a lot of funny things too."


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