We are only a few days away from the NBA draft, and the Boston Celtics remarkably have the number one pick in the NBA draft.
The Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge, has started to stir the pot already, as it seems the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are close to agreeing on a trade which would send the number one pick to Philadelphia, in exchange for the third overall pick and a handful of other picks Philadelphia has the rights to.
Ainge was able to squeeze everything he had out of the “Big three” era, and now he’s left himself at a crossroad between building for the future, winning now, or a mixture of the two. Everyone in the sports media world has an opinion on what the Celtics should do. Should they trade the pick and get a superstar like Jimmy Butler or Paul George? Do they draft Fultz and trade Isaiah Thomas? Or maybe they should trade down in the draft and take a forward?
Because it seems the Celtics have almost too many options, it’s time to figure out once and for all what move the Celtics should make.
After watching the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors compete in the finals, it is clear that the Celtics are a long way from seriously threatening either one of those teams in a seven game series. If the Celtics were to theoretically acquire Paul George or Jimmy Butler, I’m not sure it would make them favorites in a series against the Cavs, let alone the Warriors. There is not a single player available on the trade market that will instantly turn the Celtics into a juggernaut.
Assuming that this is the case, which in my opinion it is, that should eliminate the “trade for a star” option from the equation. Why would the Celtics salvage their long-term future to put themselves in a position that wouldn’t even guarantee them to be a favorite in their own conference? Not to mention the fact that the Celtics appear to have a legitimate shot of landing Gordon Hayward in free agency. I’d much rather have Gordon Hayward and Markelle Fultz then just Paul George or just Jimmy Butler.
The bottom line is that Boston would be foolish to give up their future in order to push for a title now. In my head, I’m picturing a scenario in which the Celtics trade Fultz for Jimmy Butler, and still can’t get over the hump and win a championship. Meanwhile, Markelle Fultz will be turning into one of the most promising young players in the league. Perhaps that’s just my negativity kicking in, but I’d much rather have Fultz, or any other top prospect, for the next 15 seasons, as opposed to four of five of Jimmy Butler.
Another feasible option is to trade down in the draft. Over the past 24 hours, there have been numerous sources saying that Boston is interested in trading down to the third pick. In return they’d receive a package of other future lottery picks from Philadelphia, which would likely include the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 first round pick. Other rumors have suggested that Boston would then use that package of picks to acquire Jimmy Butler. If that’s what Boston intends to do with those picks, it’s basically just another way of pursuing the “get a superstar” option that I already shut down.
If Boston feels that another player, like Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, would be a better fit, then why should they take the third or fourth best prospect with the number one pick? It’s hard to dispute a move like that because I haven’t attended any of these prospects’ workouts. When it comes to player evaluation, I am going to trust Danny Ainge and the Celtics’ scouts to choose the right prospect to draft.
At the end of the day, I’d love to see Markelle Fultz and Isaiah Thomas team up as members of the Celtics’ backcourt. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as a forward duo either. Going all-in for a title now would be a mistake. As long as Golden State is healthy and Lebron is still in his prime, the Celtics will not have a chance at winning the title in the near future. It’s not everyday you have the chance at landing the number one overall pick in the draft, and historically the number one pick frequently lives up to the hype.
Whether the Celtics decide to take Fultz at one, or trade down to the third, it’s time to build for the 2023 NBA finals, and not the 2018 finals.