Danny Ainge’s latest comments about last year’s Celtics left a lot of room for interpretation

Nick Friar
November 26, 2019 - 12:30 pm

Even though Kyrie Irving isn’t expected to play against the Celtics on Friday, the point guard’s failed run in Boston is, once again, being discussed on the national level. So much so that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to revisit the topic.

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Ainge stuck to the theme “I don’t really know why (Irving) gets all the blame.” Members of the organization and those who left after last season have expressed a similar sentiment.

Though Ainge took it another step.

“I’m the one who should be blamed for last year,” Ainge said. “We put a team together that just didn’t have the pieces that didn’t fit. We had a lot of talent, a lot of expectations. But it’s certainly not Kyrie’s fault.”

Ainge even disclosed the first thing he would’ve done differently if he had a second chance — which is where things get confusing.

“I think in hindsight, I wish I would have cleaned out the roster a little bit to make it easier for Brad,” he said. “We had a deep roster. We were built for a longer run, but we had a lot of young guys who had a lot of success without Gordon (Hayward) and Kyrie. And the guys that had success without those two guys felt like it was their time for the spotlight, and it just didn’t mesh.”

Now, it seems safe to think Terry Rozier was in the group of young guys Ainge would’ve shipped out. What’s unclear: who else is in the mix? Are those guys still on the roster? Are they players Boston relies heavily on?

As the interview progressed, Ainge mentioned the way Kemba Walker has changed the vibe of the team. But would Ainge trade what he has now for a team featuring Irving, Hayward and Al Horford, minus the “young guys”?

Or could “young guys” specifically be a reference to Rozier and Ainge doesn’t want to call him out? A lot of gray area between these remarks.