Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
According to a league source, the Celtics have agreed upon a deal in which they will send the No. 1 pick to the 76ers. The trade is expected to be finalized on Monday. The source said that the Celtics will receive the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft as well as a future first-round pick from the 76ers. That choice will come in either 2018 or 2019, based on protections that have been put on the pick. While the specifics of those protections were unclear, a source said the belief was that they would actually protect the value of the pick for both teams.
[…] The Celtics have long maintained that they believe there are four elite prospects in this draft, and a league source said the team came to the decision that the gap between Fultz and the others was not massive. Also, Boston already has an overflowing backcourt that is highlighted by two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas.
The Celtics, who reportedly are equally enamored with two forwards in this year’s draft, Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum, are still attempting to schedule workouts. Jackson thus far has refused to work out for the Celtics, though he has visited twice with the Lakers, who own the second overall pick.
Los Angeles is widely considered the landing spot for UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. Multiple reports, however, suggest a division in Lakers management between preference for Ball or for Jackson.
The Celtics have Fultz, Ball, Jackson and Tatum rated as the most desirable players in this draft.
So here we are, processing something we didn’t really expect to happen (though we should always know anything is possible with Danny Ainge). The Boston Celtics have indeed traded the top pick in this year’s draft to Philadelphia for the third pick this year, and either the Lakers pick next year or Sacramento’s pick in 2019.
Let’s unbox this whole thing, shall we?
1: Danny Ainge has zero fear of backlash
This is a mostly unpopular trade at the moment. For some of us, it’s because we felt like Fultz had all the tools to become a truly franchise transforming player (this is where I landed). For others it’s because we feel like the Celtics should probably have gotten more for the pick (though this also involves having a very high opinion of Fultz).
Either way, Danny Ainge clearly does nothing to appease the masses. His job is to run the Celtics and make moves he thinks will work for the Celtics. Some moves seem unpopular in the moment, but they might be the right moves.
Consider this: A year ago, Ainge and the Celtics were booed for not selecting Kris Dunn and trading the pick. It turns out Jaylen Brown is pretty damn good and Dunn wasn’t anything particularly special in his rookie year. Then Ainge was crushed for not making a move at the trade deadline and it turned out to be pretty smart because those guys available would have done NOTHING to change any outcomes (PJ Tucker AND Serge Ibaka went to Toronto and got swept).
So the past two major decision Ainge has made were very unpopular to start but, upon further review, turned out to be the right moves. With this recent knowledge at our disposal, I’d only suggest that if you are one of the people freaking out, take a second to breathe, relax, and understand that Ainge seems to have a solid grasp on how things work. Maybe he’s onto something we don’t realize yet.
2: The Celtics clearly hold other players in as high, or higher, regard as Fultz
Somehow this year’s draft has gone from “loaded’ to “Fultz above all else.” I’ll admit to playing a role in that myself because he’s all I’ve talked about in podcasts and on radio. But it’s important to remember the draft has a bunch of guys regarded as potential franchise changers. And while Fultz has widely come to be regarded as THE franchise changer, Ainge and his staff (including Brad Stevens) have poured over all the available data and come to certain conclusion about the rest of the field.
Whether it’s Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, or Jayson Tatum, there are other guys in this draft worth moving down for. Here’s Kevin O’Connor explaining why it’s a good idea.
There are few people I trust more than Kevin with the draft and he seems pretty comfortable trading down in this scenario. If the Celtics truly had their hearts set on Jackson or Tatum, then this move makes sense. If there truly isn’t that much separation between the top five players in the draft, then this makes sense.
2A: Fultz has struggled in his workouts
I don’t want to put too much stock in any workouts, but I DO find it a little bit disturbing that by all accounts, Fultz hasn’t wowed anyone in any workouts. I’m not saying this is THE reason to trade down but it doesn’t really make me think “oh shit, they’re really screwing up.”
3: MOAR ASSETS!!
If there’s one thing Ainge is known for, it’s accumulating assets. If he truly feel like he can, at 3, get the guy he really wants while adding an additional lottery pick, then why wouldn’t he? The Lakers will still be terrible next year and the Kings will be terrible two years from now. Meanwhile the Celtics, theoretically, will continue to get better.
Let’s, for the sake of argument, say the Lakers pick is protected enough where Philly keeps it. Then Sacramento’s unprotected pick comes to Boston in 2019. The Kings continue to be a grease fire, so I expect that to be a lottery pick. If that’s the case, the Celtics will have 2017 3rd pick, 2018 unprotected Brooklyn lottery pick, and 2019 unprotected Sacramento lottery pick.
In a best-case scenario, the Celtics get the guy they really wanted in this draft while adding ANOTHER potential top 5 pick in two years.
4: The Celtics can mostly keep this core together
The third pick in the draft makes $1.1 million less than the first pick in the draft, a difference large enough to keep Avery Bradley on the team… should the Celtics choose that route.
The Rozier trade would be for a pick & no player in return. If the Celtics have a signing in mind, this trade allows them to make it happen relatively painlessly.
There also exists the possibility of signing a big FA and THEN trading for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, which would put the Celtics squarely in title contention, but also give them a massive payroll that could get problematic in the short term.
That’s all speculative at the moment. For now though, there’s the simple fact that Boston has swapped places with Philly and they’ve gotten a future lottery pick for the trouble. This means they clearly value others guys as highly as Fultz, and saw the opportunity to grab another highly valuable pick to get the guy they may have wanted all along.
If that’s the case, then Danny Ainge came out on top. If he never really wanted Fultz and he got a potentially great future 1st out of it, then kudos to Ainge for snagging an asset for simply doing what he always wanted to do.
However, there exists the possibility that Ainge botched this one in his dogged pursuit of assets. It’s entirely possible he not only whiffed on a chance to take THE guy to carry the franchise for years to come, but he also gave him to conference rival, creating a scenario where he spends years looking at the team he could have had.
The latter scenario is scary, and it’s a big reason why so many people are nervous this morning. It feels like Ainge can’t just make the obvious move for once and move forward with the consensus top pick.
But what if the consensus is wrong? What if it’s less “consensus” and more “social media-fueled mob mentality?”
There is no answer here… yet. Ainge is either a genius or an idiot right now, but it’s impossible to tell in the moment. We’ll have to wait and see how Fultz truly pans out, whether the Celtics ended up getting a player just as good (or maybe better), and where the Celtics go from here.
All your trade-related links:
ESPN Boston: What’s next for Celtics after dealing top pick?
MassLive: Boston Celtics trade No. 1 pick: Players, fans react as Markelle Fultz is headed to Philadelphia 76ers | Boston Celtics draft rumors 2017: Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson high on Celtics board (report) | Boston Celtics rumors 2017: Celtics passed on Markelle Fultz due in part to ‘overflowing back court’ (report)