By: John Morgan Francis
With three days until the NBA Draft, I am releasing my fifth Draft Edition piece. The Boston Celtics officially acquired the third overall pick today from the Philadelphia 76ers, along with a future first round pick, for their first overall pick. Here I’ll examine three options Celtics GM Danny Ainge can entertain with his new pick.
Option A: Rebuild
Let’s be honest here. If the Celtics traded Jae Crowder and the third pick for Jimmy Butler then signed Gordon Hayward, I’m not sure they’d get past Cleveland. Even if they did, do you really believe they’d beat Golden State? Barring any significant injury or suspension, it’s highly unlikely.
Boston should draft Duke’s Jayson Tatum third. They already have Jaylen Brown who is an athletic wing defender. Tatum would be the opposite: a crafty wing who can score the ball at will.
Most Celtics fans will shun me for this but I believe it’s time to deal Isaiah Thomas. The value of the All-NBA guard is a mid-lottery pick. Both New York and Minnesota need an elite point guard to take them to the next level.
Freeing themselves of IT’s upcoming max contract would allow them to have maximum cap space and play the guys they draft as much as possible.
With the lottery selection they obtain, they could take N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. He’s an NBA-ready combo guard whom Ainge loves. His high motor and tenacity for the game is the perfect description of a Boston Celtic.
It is unlikely Ainge trades his most polished gem, but for the future of the franchise, it’d be worth it.
Boston would also be able to hold onto their future draft picks. Instead of feeling obliged to win now and deal them all away, they could hope to hit big on a few rising stars and contend in 4-5 years.
Option B: Trade
This trade wouldn’t exactly be for a superstar. If Boston wants Tatum, as they should, he would likely still be there at five. The Sacramento Kings desperately want Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox. With Fultz and Ball pretty much locked in at the first two picks, the Kings could move up to three and take him.
Sacramento would have to forfeit their fifth and tenth picks but for a guy who actually wants to lead the Kings (good luck buddy) it may be worth it.
This would also mean Boston could legitimately still get Jackson or Tatum at fifth. They could also draft Gonzaga big man Zach Collins tenth. He’d be able to instantly fix their rebounding and shot blocking issues.
Boston could acquire these two picks and package them with future first round picks and key contracts for super star Anthony Davis but there’s not a definite answer to if he’s available or not. However, a mother load of an offer like this would be hard for New Orleans to reject.
Option C: Trade
This would indeed be for a superstar, likely Jimmy Butler and no one else. Giannis Antetokounmpo would be favorable candidate but he’s surely unavailable.
It should be noted Philadelphia was offered Butler for the third pick and balancing contracts but rejected the offer to instead obtain the first overall pick. Boston has been linked to Butler for over a year now and this could be their time to strike.
The Celtics would likely have to include Jae Crowder in the trade so they could continue their pursuit of Gordon Hayward in free agency.
This trade helps Boston win now and they could have Butler for the next three seasons. However, judging on Butler’s playoff performance this past spring, I’m not sold on him as the number one option on a contending team. The two moves also don’t put Boston over Golden State and maybe not even Cleveland.
If I had to select an option, my guess is Danny Ainge will go with Option A but instead of trading Thomas, he extends him and as well pursues Gordon Hayward in free agency. This allows Boston to be competitive while securing future potential.
Stay tuned for more draft analysis leading up to Thursday night.
Twitter handle: @MonJorgan