No surprise, C’s get No. 7 pick


BOSTON (AP) – Danny Ainge wasn’t surprised or disappointed when the Boston Celtics got the seventh pick in Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery.

The team’s executive director of basketball operations said, “We feel very confident that we’re going to get a very good player.”

There’s no consensus No. 1 pick or as much difference in quality among the top 10 as there had been in past years. One reason is that a new rule prohibits high school players from being drafted.

The lottery involved the 14 non-playoff teams, ranked in inverse order of number of wins. Portland, with the fewest wins, had the best chance for the top pick but ended up at No. 4. Utah, the best of the non-playoff teams, had the worst chance.

Any team ranked fourth through 14th that didn’t make the top three would pick in its original spot. Minnesota and Boston both were 33-49, but the Timberwolves won a tiebreaker and got the sixth spot with the Celtics seventh.

“I’m not really disappointed,” Ainge said in a conference call. “I guess we were holding out some hope” of moving into the top three.

Boston’s chances of getting the No. 1 pick were just 5.3 percent. That went, instead, to Toronto, which had an 8.8 percent chance.

The Celtics began holding workouts Monday for potential picks in the June 28 draft.

The lottery result “doesn’t change what we’re doing or what we’ve been doing,” Ainge said. “We’ve kind of been preparing over the last month that this would be the most logical place we would be.”

Ainge expected some teams to be interested in trading for the seventh pick, but said “we really are planning right now on making that pick,” although he will field calls from other teams and also be “proactive” in gauging interest in it.

The Celtics have no second-round pick after trading that to Minnesota.

They would have gotten one had Golden State moved ahead of Houston in the lottery. But that didn’t happen.

“We have some second-round picks on our roster that we’re still developing,” Ainge said, so he’s not concerned about being without one. Boston drafted Ryan Gomes and Orien Greene in the second round last season and both saw considerable playing time.

Even if the Celtics had won the No. 1 pick, Ainge wasn’t sure who he would have taken.

“This is a tough draft to figure out who the No. 1 player is,” he said. “We think there’s more than seven good players in this draft.”

AP-ES-05-23-06 2158EDT