Thoughts on the Celtics Trading the #1 Pick
It seems like just yesterday I was rejoicing about the Celtics’ lottery win. And then on Friday afternoon everything that Boston fans had been waiting for since the Nets trade first went down was being sent to Philly in a package that includes an additional future 1st round pick. If there were ever a draft to trade down in, this would be the one. But make no mistake, Markelle Fultz is the prize of this draft and every GM (including Ainge) knows it. Ainge is taking a risk that has Celtics fans pissed at him more than they’ve ever been. You finally get the #1 pick and you trade it to a division rival so he can come to Boston and terrorize you 4 times a year? Danny has always talked about fireworks, and this might be the summer he finally backs up those words.
My initial reaction was just like any other Celtics fan’s: what the fuck? How many draft picks does one team need? You’re just gonna keep collecting assets and not turn them into actual players? The worst part about it is Boston (and Fultz himself) was already embracing the fact that he would soon be a Celtic. This kid, unlike Ball and Jackson who have yet to work out for us, actually wanted to play in Boston. You have the next young superstar who wants to play for you and you punt on the selection? Ainge is putting his legacy on the line with this trade, and he better hope he doesn’t miss.
But after my initial drunken rage surpassed, I woke up today with a new mindset. Mainly because this trade cleared a few things up about our squad. First and foremost, it tells me that Danny wants to win now and he has some sort of plan this summer. I don’t know what it is, but he’s collecting all of these picks for something. The additional 1st rounder Philly is sending us is LA’s pick next year if it falls between 2-5, which at this point (barring some Paul George trade) looks likely to fall in that range. So that pick coupled with the fact we have Brooklyn’s pick next year again could result in us having 2 top 5 picks in next year’s draft, if all of the stars aligned. Plus, we still have the #3 pick in a loaded draft this year. Fultz is the best prospect, but Ball, Jackson, Tatum, and Fox all have star potential as well. They’re saying we’re leaning towards Tatum at this point, and I wouldn’t mind having Melo 2.0 at the end of the day.
It also tells us that Boston is comfortable with the backcourt they currently have for the foreseeable future. It was almost certain that if Fultz got drafted somebody had to leave. Now if you draft a Tatum or Jackson you upgrade a position that could use more scoring production, and both have the versatility to slide over to the 4. I’m just convinced Ainge isn’t done dealing. I think he’ll keep this year’s pick but he’ll use some of those future picks and potentially a starter to trade for a star. I wouldn’t be surprised if we go into the league year with just the #3 pick as our only new addition, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we ended it with the #3 pick, Butler/George, and Gordon Hayward. There are a lot of options out there.
Drafting Fultz would have signaled the plan to continue gradually building through the draft and free agency. That still seems to be the plan, but Ainge thinks he can pull off a major trade at the same time. This trade was likely the start of several moves for the Celtics this offseason. With the draft Thursday night, shit is about to get interesting.
And here's a picture of former Celtics coach Doc Rivers: