I really loved being part of the Celtics team throughout this race. I loved being there with them. It was exciting. The other side of the coin is that I think we have now overestimated. I think the performance was a bit exaggerated in the audience’s mind, or in my own mind, because I’m the one who said it. [We were] We got to the final and won twice from winning it, but when you look back, Brooklyn was a tough streak, then we had to play seven games. [against the Bucks and Heat]. Then we lost [to Golden State]. Therefore, we are not a practical team to repeat as champions of the East. I think we are a high quality team.
we added Malcolm [Brogdon]and now [Danilo Gallinari] Painful, but we added them to a good, high-quality team. We are in the mix. There will probably be five or six teams that you can say are rival teams, and I definitely think we’re on that list… but I would caution against overconfidence. And anyone who asks me what I think of the team, I’m just saying I don’t want to overstate it.
You are the favorite to win the title, but it seems that you are trying to lower these expectations?
I am, but I’m not trying to do it in a manipulative way. this is what I feel. Look, I wouldn’t pick anyone in front of us. But I don’t think we have any smooth sailing ahead. We were a good team last year that won a few key matches and we were in the same mix. But I don’t have us favorites. There are five or six favorite participants, as far as I know.
What is your guidance to Chief of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens after the end of last season?
Do whatever it takes to get better, because we weren’t good enough. So do whatever it takes to get better. The ocean boils. He did everything he could to make us better.
Now that Brad has spent two summers on this post, what are the differences between working with him and Danny Aing?
I think Brad is very consultative. He loves to talk and break things down. Danny is more complex in his ways and has his own opinions. Brad is keen to get all the information and learn as much as he can. Its spreadsheets are organized and you can click on presentations and click on anything and it is entered into the data behind the statement. It is impressive.
What he did to build the team was amazing. No luck. He did a good job keeping track of things and seeing what he had to do. Those moves were well thought out and he did an excellent job building the team.
Therefore, his data-driven analytical approach blends with a truly warm personality. I’m sure his relationships with other general managers are open and communicative. I’m not on those calls, but Brad has a lot of personal warmth, and a lot of data. And I think Danny is more like a former professional athlete. [He’s] Funny as hell, but kind of a seat.
There has been a lot of discussion about your approach to the luxury tax. You’re obviously going to be a tax team this year. . .
I think we’re spending about $200 million on the list this year, and Brad has the green light to spend more. People can write or think whatever they want. Or you can actually take a look at what we’re doing, which is doing everything we can to win the championship. We are now in full add-on mode. Will you be deliberating on future draft picks and young players under the age of 30? I hope not. But money is not a consideration at all, and this list shows it.
You said Brad has the green light to spend more. How do those conversations go?
We are not worried about that. Just tell us who you want when Brad puts together a list, compiled based on basketball. Let’s put it this way.
Clearly, Jason Tatum is still at the center of this whole process. How can he keep growing?
I can’t take my eyes off Jason when he’s on the court. it is amazing. He is a great player. People keep saying he has a positive side from here, which is hard to imagine. I just give him so much credit for building his game. Every year it gets better. He’s been amazing last year, and he’s been a fantastic person on and off the field. I just love having him here. I’m thrilled he’s here, and all I’ve seen all summer are pictures of him working out, so I guess he’s taking it seriously. I think he’s really looking forward to showing people some things.
This was another summer in which some of your top players spread around the trade. Have you contacted them before?
Teams communicate with each other all the time about anyone on the list. Any General Manager will tell you that for most weeks of the year they have mentioned everyone in their name to another General Manager. This is absolutely true. Now, you can mention a player by saying, “So you don’t ask me about it,” but the name is still mentioned. But most of the rumors you see are agents trying to put their player’s name in the newspaper, because it makes other teams think, “Well, if the Celtics are interested, we should be interested as well.” Now, this isn’t a comment on anything over the summer, but overall, I think, a real note.
Do you have any concerns about entering the public? The things that make you anxious?
Well, we had a slow start last year, and even a slow middle. I think there are a lot of expectations and a lot of expectations the players have imposed on themselves, which we love. We want them to covet a banner. I think every fan, myself included, totally looks forward to Banner. Last year was freer and easier. There were low expectations. We had changes in the front office and coaching staff, new menu.
Now there are high expectations and we are favored to win. And we collapsed last fall with less pressure. So I’m apprehensive. I’m definitely not sure how to start. I hope we start strong and start kicking people [butts]. But I don’t know that this would definitely be the case. It’s one of the reasons I say to anyone who will listen, including anyone who will read this newspaper, I think it’s dangerous to overestimate the performance of the supplement. We went 3-1 in four tough series, and there’s no banner. We’re in the mix, but we have to prove it.
What did you see in coach Emi Odoka last year?
Apparently, Ime has a training chop. It was his first time as a head coach and he had to develop into this role, but he has developed the ability to lead this roster through fire and win some tough matches. So, that was impressive.
You honor Bill Russell on opening night against the 76ers. Can you share anything about what has been planned?
We plan to celebrate and consult with his widow and family, and there are sensitivities to doing anything over the top. But we will honor Bill Russell. It’s not clear if the family wants a big celebration. It’s not a hit on Boston or the Celtics. It’s like they’re not sure what seems right at this point.
But we’ll definitely honor Bale on opening night, and plan to get some pictures on the field and something to memorialize on the uniform. But it is still under discussion. We’re very focused on doing what we can, but we want to make sure the family is happy.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Tribute to Russell and play opening night. Christmas Eve against the Bucks at home. Let’s take these two. Listen, I want to take this team all the way. I want to move on, we will watch every game like a hawk, and if there is any way to improve the team along the way, I’m sure we will. But I really like the list now, and I like our chances of making some noise.
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.