Danny Ainge: Certain Celtics Prioritized Individual Goals over Winning Last Year

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

Boston Celtics basketball general manager Danny Ainge speaks during a news conference, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Boston, to introduce the team's 2019 draft players. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Still brushing the dust off a disappointing 2018-19 campaign, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge believes one of their problems last season was players prioritizing their goals over what the team needed. 

Appearing on The Michael Holley Podcast, Ainge gave his perspective on what went wrong. 

“Certain guys thought they were going to be All-Stars this year," he said. "And they work hard all summer to reach these individual goals, but we just had too much individual goals. We didn't have enough guys that winning was the most important thing. And when you have 21- and 22-year-old kids, that's gonna happen.”

There were no shortage of issues for the Celtics last season. Most of the stories involved Kyrie Irving, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent in July. 

Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix said on Fox Sports Radio that Irving's relationship with the Celtics last season "was basically a disaster from start to finish" and "his relationship with the young players on the roster was awful."

Two of those young players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, struggled as they tried to repeat their breakout performances from 2017-18. Tatum's shooting percentage dropped from 47.5 to 45.0 and his three-point percentage went from 43.4 to 37.3. 

Brown's scoring average dropped from 14.5 per game to 13.0. 

Ainge has worked to reshape the Celtics roster this summer, starting with the signing of Kemba Walker to replace Irving at point guard. Terry Rozier was dealt to the Charlotte Hornets as part of the sign-and-trade for Walker. 

Boston's success in 2019-20 and beyond depends on Tatum and Brown returning to the form they showed in the postseason two years ago when the team reached the Eastern Conference Finals.