Pick 6: Celtics end draft with plenty of 'NBA bodies'
WALTHAM, MASS. >> The Boston Celtics had an extra-long table lined up for their post-draft news conference Friday, a day after they picked six players.
When it came time for the traditional picture of the rookies wearing Celtics caps, photographers asked them to squeeze together so they could all fit in the frame. Coach Brad Stevens said he would only speak about the draft class in general.
"I won't go into them individually," he said, "because that would take a long time."
Boston went into Thursday night's event with a record eight of the 60 picks in the two-round draft, coming away with six players after trading two second-rounders to Memphis. A day later, it set in: Stevens and general manager Danny Ainge have to decide what to do with them.
"We're not going to have all six guys on our roster this year," Ainge said at the news conference at the team's practice facility. "We're in the process of figuring that out."
Boston has been stockpiling draft picks since Ainge dismantled the core of the team that won the 2008 NBA championship — the franchise's 17th — and returned to the finals two years later. But with two projected franchise players and their top pick at No. 3 overall, the Celtics' draft haul was heavier on quantity than quality.
Fans at the Celtics' draft party at the TD Garden had their hearts set on Providence guard Kris Dunn, either to keep him or to trade him for an established NBA player. Instead, Ainge picked Jaylen Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward from California.
When owner Wyc Grousbeck went out to explain the pick, he was greeted with boos.
Ainge said his only regret was that he wasn't the one who went out to face the fans. (He was still making picks at the time.) If fans had a problem with the pick, they should take it out on him.
"I would have enjoyed it," said Ainge, who as a player was known for getting under opponents' skin. "It's what I love about Boston. ... I love the passion of Boston fans. I love that they feel it and I never take that stuff personally."
Ainge said fans will change their mind after watching Brown play.
"It's hard for me to say 'Wow!' when I watch basketball players because I've been around so many great ones in my life," said Ainge, who was a teammate of Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley. "But he had me say 'Wow!' a few times."
Brown, 19, averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds, with defense that helped earn him honors as the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. But Boston fans also knew that he shot 43 percent from the floor and 65 percent from the line in his only year in college.
"The only thing that I don't like about that is it's a reflection on Jaylen instead of a reflection on me," he said. "It's OK to boo me. But give him a chance. Let's see. Let's wait a year. Then boo me. Let's not boo the kid when his name is announced."
Still, Brown said he was "excited to go to work for the city," proclaiming himself confident that he would be able to compete in the NBA. On a scaled from 1-10, he said, "I'm about a 12 right now."
The Celtics followed Brown with two international players: French forward Guerschon Yabusele at No. 16 and Croatian 6-11 center Ante Zizic at No. 23. In the second round, Boston traded the Nos. 31 and 35 picks for a future first-rounder, then grabbed Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson (No. 45), Providence forward Ben Bentil (51) and Iowa State forward Abdel Nader (58).
All of the picks except Jackson, who couldn't make it to Boston, were at the Celtics' practice facility on Friday, making for a busy round of interviews and radio hits.
Stevens noted that the NBA has a 15-man roster limit and it would take most of the summer for that to sort itself out, and he's trying to be patient. "It does create a challenge for a guy that wants to be drawing up everything that we're going to do on Oct. 1," he said.
Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca said that having eight picks led to a record number of pre-draft workouts, and the meetings were more complex with so many different slots to plan for. Ainge said he had so many meetings that he feels like he had a personal relationship with just about everyone in the draft.
"Eight's a lot. I can't lie about that," Ainge said. "It was more difficult than I even thought. ... It was a monumental task this year."
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