Late Saturday night, it was confirmed that the Boston Celtics will trade the No. 1 pick (projected to be Markelle Fultz) to the Philadelphia 76ers.
There had been plenty of rumors about what said trade might be, but ultimately, the return package was disappointing. The Boston Celtics will send the 2017 first overall pick to Philadelphia and will receive the 2017 third overall pick and either the Lakers 2018 first round selection or the Kings 2019 first round selection.
If the Lakers 2018 pick falls between the second and fifth selections, then the Celtics will keep that. If it does not, then Boston will instead keep Sacramento’s 2019 pick.
This is a perfect move for the Sixers. Philadelphia can keep last year’s first-overall pick, Ben Simmons at point guard, as the Sixers have said they plan to do, and start Markelle Fultz as a wing guard. Now, Philadelphia’s starting lineup looks like Ben Simmons, Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid. All of a sudden, the Sixers look like a legitimately good team.
Meanwhile, all Philly had to give up was one future first round pick, while also swapping this year’s pick. That means that even with trading up to draft Fultz, the Sixers are not mortgaging their future.
What is Danny Ainge thinking?
The Boston Celtics angle in this trade is a little more complex.
GM, Danny Ainge and his Celtics just traded the known (Markelle Fultz) for the unknown. Considering Boston only received one additional draft pick to the swap, it is safe to assume that Ainge did not think Fultz would live up to his hype.
Maybe Boston had their eye on someone else the whole time. Maybe someone like Josh Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Jonathan Isaac, Jayson Tatum, or De’Aaron Fox. Or maybe this is a set-up trade to acquire a player like Jimmy Butler from the Bulls and still keep something from the pick. Only time can tell.
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The most interesting aspect of the trade is the future first-round pick. If everything works out in Boston’s favor, the Celtics will end up with the first AND second selections in the 2018 draft.
However, the Lakers could be a good team next season. They could possibly even scratch and claw their way to a playoff spot. In which case, all hope rests on the Kings being the Kings and still being awful in two seasons. Guess what? That’s also not a sure thing.
There is one certainty that I believe can be taken away from this deal: Danny Ainge is abandoning all hope for this current Celtics team contending with LeBron’s Cavaliers and Durant’s Warriors.
The Celtics are opting to prolong their rebuild in an effort to reach their peak two or three years later than what was originally planned. Ainge will be praying that the 2018 and 2019 draft classes can produce another future star that can match the caliber of Markelle Fultz.
That is why I think that the recently acquired 2017 third-overall pick will be shipped to Chicago (possibly alongside Avery Bradley) for Bulls superstar Jimmy Butler. Trading Bradley makes some additional space to sign either Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin.
Therefore, this Celtics team will continue their rebuild with other team’s draft picks, while still remaining relevant by forever being on the cusp of becoming a contender.
Watching and rooting for the Nets to be bad the last few seasons has certainly been fun. Now, Boston fans get the opportunity to root for THREE teams to absolutely stink. Joy.