Danny Ainge on Marcus Smart: ‘I Like His Fire’

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Has Danny Ainge found a suitable replacement for Rajon Rondo?

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the media at the NBA Draft Combine that the fan-shoving incident that led to Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart three game suspension, isn’t necessarily a negative when it comes to evaluating the temperamental point guard.

“I sorta like Marcus Smart. I like his fire,” Ainge said while appearing on ESPN’s combine broadcast during the second day of on-court activities from Quest Multisport in Chicago. “I don’t know all the details of that, haven’t researched that yet, but we will look into that. But [it won’t affect his draft stock] much. I think he’s a great kid, a great player and I think he’ll have a bright future.”

Smart was scheduled to meet with Boston for a private interview on Friday.  When asked about rumors that Smart’s draft stock may plunge after a shaking sophomore season, Ainge again referenced Smart’s intensity.

“I want passion,” said Ainge, who then quipped, “I got myself in trouble a few times on the court. I don’t worry too much. I’d much rather try to calm a player down than try to light a fire under somebody. I’m a big fan of passionate players.”

“I think just maturity helps,” said Ainge. “But, again, there’s not a lot of players that are very emotional and very passionate. It’s hard to find those guys that care and do anything it takes to win. I just prefer those. That’s part of being on a team and having your teammates help each other through it, and coaches that know the players and their personalities, and know weaknesses and challenges. That’s just what you have to deal with on a team.”

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