By now, we all know the reported deal that will likely be settled on Monday. The Celtics are reportedly sending the #1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers for the #3 pick in this years draft and a protected 2018 Lakers pick. If the pick is #2 through 5, the Celtics would get that pick. If it lands outside of 2 through 5, the Celtics would get the Sacramento Kings first round pick in 2019. It’s complicated. However, basically what it means is that by dropping two spots on Thursday, they will very likely gain another top first round pick either next year or the year after.
So, what does this mean? For one, it means that the Celtics don’t view Markelle Fultz as a future league changing player as many of the experts have suggested. In recent weeks leading up to the draft, it has been more prevalent to hear that the top four picks are pretty close and that there isn’t a clear cut #1 in Fultz as it had previously been suggested. As always, no one knows for sure. However, if Ainge doesn’t like Fultz at #1, it certainly makes sense to trade down. The question is did he get enough?
Many Celtics fans believe that the Celtics should be getting player in return along with the pick. Jahlil Okafor has been suggested. Okafor has put up some decent stats, but is really a player who’s going to make the Celtics a significantly better team? He’s known for checking out at times and being very weak defensively. Just what the Celtics need! Another big man who can’t defend down low! Wouldn’t you rather have the chance at a Top 5 pick in the draft than a player like Okafor?
The reality is that Celtics fans are starting to get tired of hearing about all of the assets Danny Ainge has piled up over the last few years. Granted, Ainge has done a tremendous job of rebuilding this team since the Pierce/Garnett era ended. He helped put the team in position to win again in the short term and he set the team up for a strong long term future. This is a major accomplishment in today’s NBA. With that said, when are all of these assets going to be cashed in? Up to this point, it’s been about trading for more picks and all the Celtics have to show for it is Jaylen Brown. Nice player…not a superstar.
Sit tight, Celtics fans. If you think it’s a given that Ainge is going to make this pick and draft Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson, you’re wrong. Ainge didn’t pile up all of these picks to build a team of role players. The Celtics need superstars to contend. It’s entirely possible and even likely that the team he’s looking to deal with felt that the #3 pick this year along with another future high end pick is more valuable to them than this year’s #1.
Anthony Davis? Jimmy Butler? Paul George? The possibilities are endless given the assets the Celtics have.
Before you pass judgement on Ainge, let’s see how the next week or two plays out. The draft is followed by NBA Free Agency starting on July 1st. The Celtics have been talking about “fireworks” a lot in the past few seasons. This could be the year the sparks are green and white.
How would you feel about Ainge if the Celtics had a BIG FOUR of Isaiah Thomas, Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford on the 4th of July?
Regardless of what you think about Ainge’s move and upcoming decisions, one thing is for sure…the next two weeks are going to be a lot of fun.