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Sports

June 24, 2009

In Ainge, Celtics fans should trust

WALTHAM — Technically speaking, the Boston Celtics will have the 58th selection in tomorrow night's NBA Draft.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge met with the assembled media yesterday to "discuss" the draft possibilities.

But the dozen or so TV cameras and three dozen reporters in attendance at the Celtics workout facility in Waltham told a different story.

Something is brewing.

The Celtics, let's be honest, overachieved in 2008-09. They lost Kevin Garnett in late March pretty much lost any chance at repeating for a championship. Losing Leon Powe was probably the official nail in the coffin.

The fact that they almost beat the Orlando Magic, losing in seven games in the Eastern Conference championship series, was good enough for the masses around here.

Apparently, it wasn't good enough for Ainge.

With a healthy Garnett, maybe they are favorites next year along with the Lakers or Cavaliers.

"If we don't do anything (major), we are contenders, yes," said Ainge after yesterday's press conference. "So we're OK if that's the case. But if there is a chance to make our team better than we are now, of course I would consider it."

He's not talking about dealing away Brian Scalabrine or Eddie House. He's talking about at least one member of The Big Three, probably Ray Allen. He's talking about his talented young point guard, Rajon Rondo. And he's talking about his rugged center, Kendrick Perkins.

Basically, everybody outside of Garnett and Paul Pierce is fair game.

Allen's contract is expiring after the 2009-10 season, which means he is a prized commodity in the NBA. It means after one season, a team could open up some room on their salary cap for a younger free agent.

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