On Monday, it was made official. The Boston Celtics are trading the number one pick in tomorrow’s draft to the Philadelphia 76ers, who in return will send Gang Green the third pick plus either the selection they gained from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 or if that stays protected, they’ll deliver a pick garnered from the Sacramento Kings in 2019.
Could this, in all honesty, be a great deal for both sides if all things come to fruition?
Starting with the team in Pennsylvania, adding Markelle Fultz to their growing core could be a potential blockbuster move. It allows them to move Ben Simmons into a more natural small forward role, or even as a combo guard next to the Washington standout, with both able to score and make plays for others.
Add the frightening talents of Joel Embiid, if he can stay healthy, and the surprising rise of Dario Saric into the mix and you have a young foundation of which a high-quality team can be built out of. Again, the sticking point is them staying fit and those high picks playing to their potential but with Brett Brown at the helm, there could be real hope of the 76ers being contenders in 2-3 years’ time.
Even if it does blow up, say that Embiid can’t stay healthy or the college form of their two number one picks doesn’t translate to the NBA, they haven’t given up a whole lot. They still own their own pick and should that Lakers one drops out of the 2-5 safety net, they’ll keep the Kings pick too, which at least for the time being looks like it could still be in the lottery bar a dramatic shift in California.
Trusting the process might have finally paid off.
As for the Celtics, they can now stack up their options on their terms before deciding where their immediate future lies. They want to contend as soon as they can, they want to add another superstar in the mix and don’t want to overload a backfield in a year that they could challenge the dominance of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.
For starters, drafting Fultz might have been a good move for the future but for the now, he would have been sitting behind both Isaiah Thomas, the face of the franchise, and Avery Bradley, one of the best two-way guards in the league.
That’s not to say a combination of him and Marcus Smart coming off the bench wouldn’t have been frightening, it’s just that bringing him on board might convince more than one of those three to jump ship. If you’re Bradley, for example, will Boston give you as big of a deal as you should be getting if they have a number one pick in your position on the roster?
So, dropping to three gives them the perfect opportunity to draft Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson, both forwards that could be solid enough to finally give them depth at the big position. Add to that, they give themselves a safety net should free agency not come together or an asset that other teams might covet in a trade.
It also doesn’t limit them come July to go after Gordon Hayward either. The team would be delighted to have a high draft pick off the bench while the current Utah Jazz forward supplements the already solid starting five and they could play a number of interesting small ball mixes with them as well.
Should they miss there, picking up another draft pick to dangle in front of teams looking at trades can also only be a good thing. That extra pick could be enough to push Chicago into a deal, with the Celtics having another in their back pocket should they decide to hand the Bulls a king’s ransom for Jimmy Butler.
The fact of the matter is, unlike most trades in any of the big American sports, there are big positives from both teams. Both still have options if the eventual results do not pay off, while they could be even competing toe-to-toe down the line if everything goes exactly to plan.
In that eventuality, one might be annoyed at the other for gifting them that win but if it pushes you closer to the promised land of the NBA Finals, are you really that disappointed?
Now it’s time to just sit back and watch the fireworks on draft night.