Ainge has 'good conversation' with Greg Oden


Ainge has 'good conversation' with Greg Oden

BOSTON Danny Ainge has made no secret about his focus these days shifting between preparing for the present-day struggles of the Boston Celtics, while planning for the future.

Saturday's visit with former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden falls into the latter category.

Oden, who has had multiple knee injuries since being taken with the top pick in the 2007 NBA draft, was in town on Saturday to meet with the C's.

"It was just a chance to get to know Greg a little better," Ainge, president of basketball operations, told on Saturday. "We meet with free agents all the time."

While that may be true, few come with as much uncertainty as Oden who hasn't played since 2009 due to injuries to both knees with each requiring micro-fracture surgery.

That said, it hasn't slowed down the number of teams - the C's included - that have expressed interest in adding the 7-foot-1 center to their roster.

But all teams interested know that his availability will not be until the 2013-2014 season, and even that isn't a given.

For Ainge, Saturday wasn't so much about Oden the basketball player, but rather Oden the player and whether he could be the type of player that could fit in with the Celtics culture.

"It was a good conversation," said Ainge, who added that no contract offer was made to Oden. "When he has been healthy, he has been a good player in our league. Like I said, this was just a chance for us to get to know him better. That's all."

With no shot of Oden helping address their most immediate need - more size - there's still a definite need for the Celtics to add a big man for next season.

Kevin Garnett and Fab Melo are the only centers under contract for the 2013-2014 season. And with Garnett likely to give some thought to retirement this summer, the Celtics will surely look to add at least one center during the offseason.

And while it's way too early to say Oden is the guy, the C's are at the very least in the mix for his services.

Before an Ohio State basketball game last month, the former Buckeye All-American told the Associated Press that he was rehabbing while taking classes in Columbus, Ohio.

"I don't know when, but I'm taking this year off. I'll play next year," he told the Associated Press.

There have been multiple reports indicating that Oden was eyeing a return to Cleveland or Miami.

However, he said he's not leaning towards any one team in particular right now.

"Right now I'm not worrying about where," Oden told The AP. "I'm only worried about my knee."

Oden spent his first five NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick and in doing so, passed on perennial all-star Kevin Durant.

Injuries limited Oden to just 82 games over five seasons before the Blazers waived him in March. With Portland, Oden averaged 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in addition to 1.4 blocks per game.

His injury-prone professional career came on the heels of an impressive year at Ohio State, his lone season as a Buckeye. Oden was instrumental in leading the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA Final Four.

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice


Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

The NBA is honoring longtime TNT broadcaster Craig Sager to begin the season, with teams wearing Sager-themed shirts across the league. 

Sager, 65, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014, and it was announced in March that he had an expected three-to-six months to live. 

The Celtics celebrated Sager in full force at the end of Tuesday’s practice, changing into shirts with multi-colored flowers and clashing patterns in an ode to Sager’s signature style. The group gathered for pictures and shouted “Sager Strong,” a hashtag that’s circulated in support of the 65-year-old. 

After news emerged that his cancer had returned in March, TNT worked out a deal with ABC that allowed Sager to cover the NBA Finals for the first time in his 34-year career, leading to a memorable exchange with LeBron James after the Cavaliers won the NBA title.