BOSTON (CBS) -- While his current roster may be a bit of a nightmare on paper, Danny Ainge is pretty pleased with the plethora of future draft picks he's rounded up over the past few years.
After completing Monday's trade that sent Jeff Green to Memphis and brought another future first-round pick to Boston, Ainge now has a hefty bounty of draft selections over the next five years. They'll have as many as 14 picks over the next two NBA drafts, with six potentially coming in the first round, and could potentially add to their 24 picks they now own through 2019.
It's pretty clear that Ainge covets those picks, better termed "assets," so it should come as no surprise that he's a firm believer that a team can never own enough future selections.
"No, because draft picks are always tradable; players are not. Draft picks are always assets," Ainge said Monday night ahead of Boston's 108-100 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Ainge was in a playful mood as he spoke with reporters, adding with a grin, "Until sometimes they're drafted. Until they become players, or until they become paid."
He also threw out a "so you're telling me there's a chance" from Dumb & Dumber when asked about the potential of Tayshaun Prince and Austin Rivers joining the Celtics. Both players were acquired in the Green trade on Monday, and will likely be bought out or traded before ever suiting up for Boston (likely landing Ainge another future draft pick or two).
In other words, there was a better chance of Lloyd ending up with Mary than there is Prince or Rivers playing a game in a Celtics uniform.
As for the future of his Celtics, Ainge doesn't see any other way to rebuild than through the draft. That doesn't necessarily mean using all of those selections, and will likely end up with a flurry of trades (this time hopefully adding stars, not subtracting), much like he did when he added Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett ahead of the 2008 season. Ainge sent the No. 5 overall pick (which fittingly turned into Jeff Green), Delonte West (a first-rounder in 2004) and Wally Szczerbiak for Allen and Glen "Big Baby" Davis on draft night, a move that allowed him to convince Garnett to join the fun. To pull that off, Ainge had to send Al Jefferson (also a 2005 first-rounder, 15th overall), Gerald Green (first-rounder, 18th overall in 2005), Ryan Gomes (second-round pick in 2005), veterans Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair, and a pair of 2009 first round picks to Minnesota for his "Big Ticket" to a title.
"I think you have to build through the draft. Like last time we built [the 2008 title team] through the draft; we developed players and we were able to trade to get some veteran guys in that were more ready to win, that were more compatible with Paul [Pierce] at the time," explained Ainge. "We did it through the draft, that's how I look at it. Right now we'll do the same thing. We'll draft players, we'll develop players, and we'll look for opportunities to take steps forward."
This time around, the Celtics don't have a franchise player in Pierce to build around. Ainge said "time will tell" how much more difficult that makes the rebuild.
While it will take some time to develop those young players like Marcus Smart and James Young (first-round picks in last year's draft) as well as Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger (first-rounders in 2013 and 2012, respectively) into potentially intriguing assets (or future franchise players), there are others on the roster who will likely be on the move. Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton are both veteran players with expiring contracts who can bring something to a contender, and will likely be moved to add to Ainge's ever-growing collection of second round picks.
He may have made three deals in the last month, but Ainge is far from done ahead of the February 19 trade deadline.
"You never know," he said. "I'm not done talking."
When it comes to making trades, Ainge is never done talking.
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