Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics Didn't Fail When Kevin Durant Chose Golden State Warriors
BOSTON (CBS) -- After a very busy couple of weeks for the Boston Celtics, team co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Felger & Massarotti on Thursday afternoon.
Given the spectacle that took place in the Hamptons last weekend with Kevin Durant, that topic naturally dominated the conversation.
"We always felt all along that it would make sense to come East, that it would make sense to be part of winning a championship. We thought we could win Banner 18 and 19 with him, and he'd be the leader of it. He'd be the Larry Bird of it," Grousbeck told Felger & Mazz. "Two-and-a-half hours with him and his dad. You come out of that and you feel like you have a good chance."
The flow of the conversation (and later, the signing of Al Horford) led the Celtics brass to believe they might really be able to sign Kevin Durant.
"It just seemed like the conversation was very very positive. I actually felt like we were very close," Grousbeck said.
In fact, Grousbeck said that he personally feels like the Celtics were ahead of everyone else except Golden State.
"I know we were close," he said. "I've got to say, this is just for me, not me trying to convince anybody else of anything, but just as I walk by myself thinking, I think we were in the final two teams. I think we lost in the finals, or lost in the final three. It's very hard to take a positive out of that loss, but I'm going to take it as a positive."
Upon learning of Durant's decision five minutes before the rest of the world, Grousbeck did not feel as though the Celtics failed.
"I don't feel like losing to the Golden State Warriors, with 73 wins, was a failure," Grousbeck said. "Look, having just met the guy and really having met him and gotten to know him as a person, he's a very sincere guy, and he felt that's the right thing for him to do. He and his dad are very thoughtful people, and I'm not going to say or even think anything bad about it."
"I'm not going to slam Golden State or the Golden State decision. If you're going to go to Golden State, then no, we didn't have a chance. If you're going to go to Golden State, then nobody had a chance."
Grousbeck said that Durant asked some very informed questions, including one to ownership asking if they'd be willing to spend into the luxury tax when it comes time to re-up all of the young players. The Celtics also went over possible trades the team could execute if Durant came on board, and Brad Stevens showed Durant game film of how the Celtics went on the road and beat the Warriors and Cavaliers in the regular season last year.
Ultimately, though, the Celtics' pitch came up a little short, despite the presence of Tom Brady.
"I would say [Brady's pitch to Durant] was very effective. It was very compelling. It was, 'Look this is what it's like to win in Boston, this is what it's like to play in Boston. You'll look great in green. It's a great place to raise a family,'" Grousbeck relayed. "As I recall, Tom led our designation. Tom was right up front. ... I think it was great to have Tom there, only a plus, and we really appreciate him taking time out of his schedule for the Celtics. It's an example of how the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics in this town have worked together, and it's a real plus for Boston."
Brady didn't ultimately help the team land Durant, but he did offer helpful advice to the Celtics players who were on the trip.
"He was just completely engaging and enjoyed it all. He's a competitor and he loves helping other athletes get the best," Grousbeck said. "We talked about what it's like to be in that Patriots locker room, and what the coaches say and how they approach it. It was just the perfect pep talk for the players, for our young players -- Marcus, Jae, Kelly and Isaiah -- and they were listening to every word. It was the perfect rev up to then drive up and burst into Kevin Durant's living room."
Grousbeck did not rail against the idea of stars building "super-teams," but he did make a statement of how the NBA looks for teams on the outside of that super tier.
"I think our ratings are going to be record ratings next year. I would rather have parity. We're all going to be gunning for those guys, and most of us won't have the guns. Let's face it," he said. "I'll focus for a minute on the Hawks having a changed roster, the Miami Heat having a changed roster. I'm just looking at the East right now wondering if we can get to the conference finals or wondering how we might match up with someone in the conference finals. When I want to feel better, I just think about the Boston Celtics and where we're going."
As for the overall competitiveness of the league, Grousbeck said "Everybody's coming after everybody, and everybody's got [cap] room."
Grousbeck himself experienced something new in recent weeks, as the fans at the Garden booed him off the stage on draft night after the team selected Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick.
Grousbeck said the boos were a positive experience.
"Totally energizing. No BS about that answer," Grousbeck said. "It's got me so ready to rumble and fly wherever and do whatever. I've got no problem with people. I've certainly booed my share of times at my share of people. ... It's not about making every call right. It's not about claiming to be undefeated, because we're not. But we're comfortable where we are, and bring it on."
He added: "People are entitled to do that, but it's not for lack of effort."
Grousbeck wouldn't get into specifics about conversations the team has had on trades, but he did note that one player's price has dropped considerably since draft night.
"I think draft night is often the worst time to shop, and maybe there are better times to shop when you can keep some of your assets," he said.
Grousbeck also noted that he believes that the way the Celtics made out like bandits on the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with the Nets has limited the Celtics' ability to pull off big deals, because teams don't want to end up looking as bad as the Nets do now.
With Felger & Mazz focused on other topics, Grousbeck made sure to discuss how impactful he believes Al Horford will be for the Celtics.
"We got the second-best free agent in the league to choose us over 29 teams, including his hometown team, and he took a discount to come to us," Grousbeck said. "He's going to look very good in green. I think he's going to be here for a very long time and be successful."
As for Evan Turner leaving in free agency for big money from Portland, Grousbeck simply wished him well.
"I don't usually talk about deals that don't happen," he said when asked if the team put up a fight for Turner. "Evan is a great guy and was a piece of our puzzle last year, and he's in Portland and we wish him the best."
On the whole, Grousbeck found positivity, noting that three years ago, the fear was that the Celtics were looking at perhaps a decade of rebuilding.
"I did think a little bit about this before I called in. I did some thinking -- three years ago, almost today, Doc [Rivers] had just left and then we, as they said on NBA.com, completed the demotion or destruction of their 2008 championship team," Grousbeck recalled. "Three years ago we were probably looking at a lost decade. We could easily be looking at 10 years in the darkness. And now we're three years in, we've got Brad, we've got Isaiah, who's an All-Star. We've got Al, who's a multiple time All-Star. And we've got other guys.
"So we're three years in, on the way up. I think we're going in the right direction."
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