BOSTON (AP) — The price was too steep for the Boston Celtics to trade for a better draft pick. Now it will be an uphill climb for all four of their choices to make the team.
Especially at the guard position.
The Celtics added three players — Terry Rozier of Louisville, R.J. Hunter of Georgia State and Marcus Thornton of William & Mary — to an already full backcourt. They did add to a position of need by taking shot-blocking forward Jordan Mickey of Louisiana State.
“We don’t have room on the roster for all four guys,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday night.
But coach Brad Stevens figures so many guards will help the top ones develop their own games rather than measure themselves against each other.
“The best people don’t compare, they compete,” he said.
Ainge had plenty of draft picks to include in a trade, four this year and a potential 21 through 2018, including a possible 10 first-rounders. But he likely would have had to include a veteran or two and felt a deal wasn’t worth the uncertainty of how a better draft pick would develop if the Celtics did move up.
“I’m not disappointed. We tried. It just didn’t happen,” he said. “The price was way too high, but there’s so many rumors out there, so many things being said and written that aren’t even close to being true that are just made-up stories, no sources, made-up sources.”
What is accurate is that the Celtics will have some stiff competition at guard with the three newcomers joining holdovers Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Phil Pressey.
“We may be playing like super small ball in summer league, but it will be fun to see,” Stevens said.
Ainge raved about the athleticism and competitiveness of the 6-foot-1 Rozier, who averaged 17.1 points as a sophomore last season.
“He’s very complete, but I love how hard he plays more than anything,” Ainge said.
The 6-foot-6 Hunter averaged 19.7 points as a junior last season and hit 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts. For his college career, he averaged 18.4 points.
Boston chose Rozier with the 16th pick and Hunter with the 28th. In the second round, they added Mickey with the 33rd choice and Thornton with the 45th.
Hunter is known for his 3-point basket with 2.7 seconds left that gave No. 14 Georgia State a 57-56 win over No. 3 Baylor in this year’s NCAA Tournament. His coach and father, Ron Hunter, fell from his stool during the play while coaching with an Achilles tendon injury.
Rozier moved to point guard late in the season after Chris Jones was dismissed from Louisville’s team. Rozier helped the Cardinals to the Elite Eight, where they lost in overtime to Michigan State.
He’s not troubled by competing with so many guards.
“I had kind of the same thing when I went to Louisville, a lot of guards,” he said. “I’m not pretty much worried about who’s there. I’m pretty much worried about how can I get on the floor.”
But first he had an unusual celebration after being drafted.
“I got to jump in the pool with my clothes on,” Rozier said. “I had a lot of fun tonight, an unbelievable feeling. It was great.”
The Celtics had been expected to go for a frontcourt player and 6-foot-11 Bobby Portis of Arkansas was available. He’s a good outside shooter but wouldn’t provide the defensive presence inside that the Celtics lack.
They got that later in Mickey, who led the nation with 3.64 blocked shots per game.
The Celtics missed out on the draft lottery when they finished with a surprising 40-42 record and got the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They were swept 4-0 in the opening playoff round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They needed help to win more and the draft is just the start.
“What you see today is not what you’ll see tomorrow or next month,” Ainge said. “We’re a team that’s building for a championship.”
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