In a conference call with the media on Wednesday, Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge was asked about how he’s dealing with the pre-draft process. Ainge spoke about how it’s different without pre-draft meetings. While giving that answer, the Celtics GM dropped a nugget about the drafting of Rajon Rondo in 2006:
“Let’s use Rajon Rondo as an example. Had I not been able to meet with him and look into his eyes, I don’t think I would have drafted him. I needed to get to know him. To understand what kind of person he is.”
Ainge had to swing a draft day trade with the Phoenix Suns in order to acquire Rondo. Boston sent Phoenix a 2007 first-round pick (via the Cleveland Cavaliers) for Rondo’s draft rights as the 21st pick. The Celtics also had to take on Brian Grant’s contract in the deal.
Ainge went on to clarify that he doesn’t always have to meet with a player pre-draft in order to feel comfortable selecting him. Ainge said the Celtics drafted Avery Bradley without a pre-draft workout. He also said that during his time with the Suns, they drafted Steve Nash without meeting him pre-draft.
Ainge said the process is certainly different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that every team is in the same boat. He talked about how teams are only able to meet with seniors currently, as they await the Early Entry list from the NBA. Ainge also said that every team is preparing as best they can by watching film leading up to the draft on June 25, but that he believes the NBA will ultimately push the draft back.