After months of discussing how well Markelle Fultz will fit in Boston with the first overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics decided to spice things up days before Draft night by shipping the first overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the third overall pick in this year’s draft along with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 first round pick (Protected) or the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first round pick, if or when the deal is finalized. It was an interesting move for both GM’s Danny Ainge and Bryan Colangelo to swap picks. Many speculated that Philly absolutely fell in love with Fultz during his workout for the Sixers and would do just about anything to trade up to snag the combo guard from Washington.
Now the trade does make sense for both teams, on one side you have Philly, a team with a very nice core group of wings and big men including Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and “The Process” Joel Embiid, and are looking to add not only more depth at the guard position, but a guard like Fultz with superstar potential who can score at will, spread the floor, and run the 1 for Philly. On the other hand, Boston drops down to the third pick, and once again collects a few more draft picks to bolster their bright future.
But who are some of the true winners and losers of this pick swap between the Celtics and the Sixers?
- Danny Ainge – Once again Danny Ainge pulled off an act of strategy and wizardry by adding on more first round draft picks from lottery teams, although the Lakers pick of 2018 is protected the C’s are still in the hunt for a top 10-15 pick. With the trade Boston now has three first round picks in 2018 (BOS, LAL, BKN), and up to four first round picks in 2019 (BOS, LAC, SAC, and MEM) and no that was not a typo, four first rounder’s. Ainge also has picks to play with in attempts to get established stars such as Jimmy Butler or Paul George. There are also swirling reports of a potential blockbuster trade for All-NBA F/C Anthony Davis, by packaging a handful of draft picks to New Orleans. Danny Ainge is the evil genius of the NBA who is continuously building for the future.
- Markelle Fultz – The trade benefits Fultz to the fullest by going to Philadelphia. Although the Sixers have been a struggling group, the future is as bright as the sun, and by adding Fultz, there will be no hesitation on who is the main playmaker for the 76ers. Simmons does have some LeBron play-making in his DNA, but expect Fultz to do the bulk of the creating on offense. If the core of Saric, Fultz, Simmons, and Embiid stick together, Philly will become an Eastern Conference contender in seasons to come. If Fultz does have a better season than fellow “rookie” Ben Simmons he is a shoe-in to win Rookie of the Year as well, expect pretty solid numbers from the former Husky, anywhere from 14-17 ppg and 5-6 apg.
- Isaiah Thomas – With Fultz not becoming a Celtic its time to finally “Bring out the Brinks Truck”, Boston is most likely going to re-sign the “Little Ticket” for the long haul at the end of next season, which is a huge win and pay day for Thomas, The Celtics can offer close to 200 million for the electrifying scorer. Not saying it is impossible to have another season like he did in ’16-’17 but if Thomas can put up anywhere from 24-28 ppg, along with 7-8 apg, it will be a smart move for Boston to have kept him and shipped the 2017 first overall pick. Fultz was ultimately a threat to Thomas’ job as the main guard for the Celtics, with him gone it is smooth sailing for IT4 in Bean Town.
- The Number 3 pick in the Draft– Not saying that Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson is a losing pick for Boston, but the roles of both rookies will be limited in Brad Stevens style of ball movement and team play, The Celtics needed help when it came to a go-to scorer not named Isaiah Thomas. Of course Fultz would step and help right away, but now if the C’s go with Jackson or Tatum, they will not be starting right away and both would be clawing their way up for playing time. Not to mention Isaiah’s ball-dominance in stretches of games can make players feel non-existent at times.
- Kyle Lowry (and other free-agent point guards) – With Fultz being the man in Philly, the Sixers do not have to reach out and sign a point guard to a heavy contract. Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Jeff Teague, and Derrick Rose can now officially scratch Philadelphia off their lists of places to potentially sign. Philadelphia now has money they can throw at other players at positions of need now that point guard is taken care of, the Sixers have enough cap to sign two max contracts.
- The Los Angeles Lakers – After a great workout, and with President Magic Johnson having really high praise for the former Washington guard, the Lakers missed out on making a move with Boston for the number 1 pick. The Lakers did not meet what the Celtics requirements for trading the pick which included 3 future first round picks. The Lakers are now in a bind with the second pick, do they commit to UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, who had sub-par performances in his workouts with the Lakers, or does L.A. go with Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox or possibly forward Josh Jackson from Kansas? Magic and Rob Pelinka has some serious decisions to make before Draft night.
Regardless of the end result, this trade could be memorable in many ways. For Boston they might have missed out on the next best thing since sliced bread, and for Philly, Colangelo and Co. felt like they just struck oil. As the old saying goes, only time will tell.
Written By : Daniel Malakismail