Bird understands Ainge's trade of Pierce

Bird understands Ainge's trade of Pierce
July 9, 2013, 12:30 am
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ORLANDO, Fla. — You can add former Boston Celtics great and Hall of Famer Larry Bird to the list of folks who would have liked to have seen Paul Pierce finish out his career with the Celtics.
Bird, team President of the Indiana Pacers, spoke with reporters following the Pacers' summer league play on Monday.

He touched on a wide range of topics, but none more important around these parts than his thoughts on the many changes his former teammate Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, is making.

Danny Ainge knows what he's doing," Bird said. "He's had great success. He's won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge, I only doubt him when he had the ball in his hands with three seconds to go, but not in the position he has now. Danny does a good job."

Among Ainge's most noticeable changes for this upcoming season will be the trade that sends Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn.

The NBA moratorium on contract signings will be lifted on Wednesday, but the C's deal with the Nets won't be completed until Friday due to one of the players in the deal - Kris Joseph, a former Celtics draft pick - not being able to be traded until July 12 which is three months after he signed with the Nets.

"We stayed as long as we could with a championship team," Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck told "I don't think anyone thinks we would have had a chance if we held on to them for one more year. It's time. Everybody sees that. Fans see that. We see that. Once you make that decision, you go full speed ahead."

Celtics legend Red Auerbach had some options to mull over near the end of Bird's tenure in the NBA, but rebuffed all inquiries.

Bird played 13 seasons, all with Boston. But on Monday, he said he was planning to retire earlier than he did.

"It was tough. I knew I was on my way out," Bird said. "I was going to leave a few years earlier but Celtics CEO (1990-1994) Dave Gavitt talked me into staying. It was tough. There was always talk of whether Red should have traded us early, but there was some loyalty in that organization and they decided to keep us."

But loyalty to players these days is trumped by loyalty to ownership and the fans.

"You always have to look out for the franchise," Bird said. "You always do."

That's why for Bird, it's a bittersweet time right now, knowing that a fellow Celtics legend will be playing for someone other than the C's.

"I have a lot of respect for Paul and what he accomplished there," Bird said. "It's a tough situation."

Especially when most believe that both still have enough in the tank to where they can help a playoff contender like the Brooklyn Nets.

"It's hard for me to tell because I know they both played more minutes than I ever played, but they've both been pretty healthy throughout their careers," Bird said. "They haven't had the major injuries that I had throughout my career. I think they have plenty left. The way they'll be coached and the bench that they have, they'll pick their spots but when the time comes they'll be there."