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Danny Ainge: Celtics Made Deadline Deals Because I Want Our Players to Feel Hope

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

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

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Friday he sensed "discouragement" within the team, which led him to make several deals before Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

The team'sΒ moves were highlighted by the acquisition of shooting guard Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic, and it also brought in center Luke Kornet and power forward Moritz Wagner as part of a three-team deal with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

Ainge explained his mindset that led to the deadline additions:

"This is a team I put together. I am responsible for it. I think that you talked about patience, I think I am very, very patient. I've been at this a long time. I think there's a time to overreact, but I didn't feel pressure to do any of these things. I feel that this is a deal I would have done at any time over the last few years, probably, with this opportunity. But I guess the greatest pressure is just I want our players to feel hope, and I want our coach to feel hope, and I sense some discouragement internally with our guys. So that was one reason why we did something now as opposed to waiting down the road."

The Celtics entered the season with high expectations after finishing third in the Eastern Conference with a 48-24 record, but they've struggled to find any level of consistency this year.

They sit eighth in the East with a 21-23 record, and it's been more of the same as of late with a 4-6 mark over their past 10 games. At minimum, their goal should be climbing to at least sixth in the standings to avoid the play-in tournament before the playoffs.

Fournier should provide a spark at the offensive end. He averaged 19.7 points and 3.7 assists across 26 appearances for the Magic before the deal. The 6'7" guard is also knocking down 2.8 threes per game this season while shooting 38.8 percent from beyond the arc.

"And so there is optimism and we get our team together and we have team meetings and film sessions and we go on a little run, but we're not able to sustain it," Ainge said. "I just hope that by adding another veteran player that's a versatile shooter with size and versatility, that's just going to give us a jolt."

The coming weeks could provide an opening for Boston to make a serious run.

While it's posted a 8-16 record on the road, it heads back to TD Garden for a seven-game homestand following back-to-back road contests with the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday and Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. The C's are 13-7 on their home floor.

The arrival of Fournier paired with an extended stretch at home that only includes one game against a top-tier opponent (April 6 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers) presents a golden opportunity to gain ground.

For a team with the Celtics' overall talent, they still have time to start clicking on all cylinders and find top form just in time for the playoffs, which would make them dangerous regardless of their seed.