He's counting on the team's young players to improve enough to get them there with help from older players like Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak, obtained from Minnesota in a trade made by general manager Danny Ainge last season.
"Danny's done well in trades," Grousbeck said in an interview yesterday with The Associated Press, "but we really like building our own team. We started young. We drafted three high school kids and we're letting them mature."
The Celtics play New Jersey tonight in their fifth exhibition game and their first this year at the TD Banknorth Garden, where the new scoreboard was unveiled last night.
Point guard Rajon Rondo, a first-round pick this year out of Kentucky, has played well. Their previous three first-rounders center Kendrick Perkins (2003), forward Al Jefferson (2004) and guard Gerald Green (2005) all gained experience last season.
"The best way to build the team, we believe, is from the bottom up through getting great players in the draft," fellow owner Steve Pagliuca said in the same interview. "We're basically trying to develop a core. You win in the NBA with a core of star players and we think we have several people who can be that."
The group headed by Grousbeck, the team's chief executive officer, took over in the middle of the 2002-03 season. The Celtics made the playoffs the first three seasons but missed them last season with a 33-49 record after going 45-37 the previous year but losing in the first round.
"Any year we don't make the playoffs is a disappointment and we didn't make the playoffs last year," Grousbeck said. "We would be disappointed if we didn't make the playoffs."
The Celtics have four exhibition games left before starting the regular season Nov. 1 at home against the Hornets, who will play six regular season games in New Orleans and 35 plus any playoff games, in Oklahoma City.
"We definitely got here by finding good people and betting on them" in other businesses, Grousbeck said. "Danny has found some very good kids in the draft, but they're kids. We're going to hang in there with these kids and bet on them."
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