Yesterday morning, the Celtics and 76ers finalized a deal that would send the 1st overall pick in the 2017 Draft from Boston to Philly in exchange for the 3rd overall pick and a first-round pick that belongs to the Lakers in 2018.
Thus continues Celtics general manager Danny Ainge’s never-ending obsession with stockpiling draft picks and assets, but this move raises a lot more questions than answers.
As a Celtics fan, I’ve learned to trust Danny Ainge. He compiled the Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, essentially out of nothing, propelling the Celtics to their first O’Brien Trophy since the 80’s.
When Ray Allen jetted for Miami (I’m still sick) that Celtics squad turned stale and old.
Ainge once again pulled a masterstroke by selling some old ass parts to the Nets for that franchise’s entire future. The exact trade is pretty ridiculous, here are the details from the official Nets press release at the time,
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and three first round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018), as well as the right to swap first round picks in 2017.
I trusted Danny Ainge that same summer when he traded Doc Rivers, his own championship coach, to the Clippers for an unprotected first-round pick.
And then even though Brad Stevens looks like a high-school science teacher and was hired from a college I had never heard of before 2010, I believed that Danny Ainge knew what he was doing when he hired him.
But now Ainge has traded the number 1 overall pick, which by all accounts will be Washington freshman point guard Markelle Fultz, and I’m pretty fucking skeptical.
Danny Ainge told reporters after officially announcing the trade,
“I think even before the lottery, we’ve been evaluating these kids for a couple years, and we felt like it was very close with the top handful of players, and we still feel that way. We think there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at 3 is the same player we would have taken at 1. So this was a great opportunity to acquire an impactful asset.”
This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Before Monday, the Celtics had only worked out Fultz. Every sign seemed to point to the fact that Fultz was the Celtics guy, until news quickly leaked last Friday that they were considering Kansas swingman Josh Jackson with the first pick, then suddenly the trade with the 76ers was as good as done.
Josh Jackson seems awesome and everyone pretty much thinks he’ll be a legitimately good player in the league, but experts’ projections for Fultz are much more impressive.
According to The Vertical’s Chris Mannix, one league exec described Fultz as a “transformative player” and the consensus is that he is the best player in this draft by far.
Even if Danny Ainge has a different evaluation of Fultz than the entire rest of the league, even if he is so sold on Josh Jackson, why take a player that plays the exact same position as the player you took at the same pick in the draft last year?
Jaylen Brown, an athletic wing and third pick in last year’s draft, seems like a really interesting prospect, which makes trading down away from the 1st pick to take Josh Jackson even more nonsensical.
What is the point of having all these assets, and the list of future picks is truly ridiculous, if you just use them to acquire more picks?
The only way this makes sense is if Danny Ainge plans on trading a bunch of these assets for a team-changing, All-Star caliber player.
Maybe Ainge thinks he can get Jimmy Butler, Paul George, or even Kristaps Porzingis, but all those trades have complications and every team in the league will be lining up to vie for these guys.
Of course, there’s still a lot of parts to move around before the draft on Thursday. It feels like a new massive story breaks every hour now (gotta keep Woj’s twitter open).
With free agency opening up in July, the Celtics have been linked with names like Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin, perhaps Danny Ainge has multiple aces up his sleeve.
Over all these years, I’ve learned to trust Danny Ainge, but I’ve never been so skeptical about the larger plan in Boston.
Regardless, this shit is fun (unless you’re a Knicks fan, I’m sorry y’all).
As teams react to the Warriors and how easily they just washed LeBron, these next couple days and weeks will effectively define the NBA of the future.