Now that the trade deadline is behind us, there’s been one storyline that may not be discussed often but what I think may be one of the more enticing stories as we head towards the end of the year. The fact that the Boston Celtics, who are currently 2nd in the East with a 39-22 record, may own the 1st overall pick in this year’s draft.
How could that be possible?
Back in 2013 the Brooklyn Nets traded a handful of players and 3 first round picks for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. The Celtics used the first of the Nets picks in 2014 and acquired James Young from Kentucky, who hasn’t made much of an impact since being drafted. But last year the Celtics had the 3rd pick in the draft via the Brooklyn Nets and drafted Jaylen Brown who has put in quality minutes off the bench and has tremendous upside.
The final first rounder will be this year’s pick and thanks to how poorly the Nets have played this year, it could be the 1st overall selection. The Nets, who own the worst record in the NBA at 10-49, are up in arms as to how to rebuild the franchise while the Celtics are left with an interesting decision. Do you go get a prospect in the draft or do you trade the pick for a star veteran?
If the Celtics were able to get the first overall pick in the draft, which isn’t guarantee due to the lottery system in the NBA, the Celtics could potentially select the next big star in the NBA. Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball would add another great guard for Boston and would create a deadly front court with already Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley manning the guard positions. It would also make Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier expendable and the Celtics may be able to trade one of them for a rim protector inside, which the Celtics currently lack. Fultz and Ball are most likely going to be great players in the NBA, but are they good enough to the point where the Celtics can dethrone the Cavaliers? And after that would they be able to get past the Warriors or the Spurs in the West? Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens has done well with developing his young talent up to this point and may have the opportunity to develop the next superstar in Boston.
The other route the Celtics can go is to trade the pick for a veteran player. Lots of names have been thrown into the mix but most notedly Carmelo Anthony or Jimmy Butler have been receiving a lot of the buzz.
Carmelo has been the star on the struggling Knicks for years and after a promising start to the season, the Knicks have really fallen off a cliff. The Knicks front office may be looking to hit the restart button once again and could potentially look to trade the aging veteran. Acquiring the first pick in the draft would be a step in the right direction as Fultz or Ball would fit in well at Madison Square Garden. For the Celtics, acquiring Melo would give the impression that the Celtics are ready to win now and Anthony is still one of the best all around forwards in the league. The question with Anthony would be his age. At age 32, Melo has been sidelined with a few lingering injuries over the past few years and may be past his prime in a couple more years. Another obstacle would be the no trade clause in his contract, so if Carmelo doesn’t waive that than the trade would fall through.
Jimmy Butler has seen in Celtics trade rumors for quite a while. During last year’s trade deadline and draft there was speculation of a potential Butler to Boston acquisition but nothing came to fruition. Yet again, after news surfaced of a locker room meltdown in Chicago once again Butler’s name began being thrown around in trade rumors. Jimmy Butler’s rise to stardom was slow and steady as he was only the 30th pick in the first round in 2011. But over the years the Marquette product has become one of the better all around forwards in the NBA.
His fantastic scoring ability along with his tenacious defense has made him a hot commodity around the league and the Celtics may be able to send a perfect package to the Bulls in order to acquire the rising star. The question with Butler will be whether or not the Bulls are ready to rebuild yet? They currently are only a game under .500 and own the 7th seed in the East. Are Bulls bold enough to dismantle the new look Bulls that they created last offseason in order to build towards the future?
The Celtics will have a lot on their minds as the deadline approaches. Ultimately, whichever decision the Celtics decide to make will either rise the Celtics to the top or have them fall off a cliff. There’s a lot at risk so it’ll be interesting to see when the Celtics make their decision. I have doubts that the Celtics will be able to piece together a blockbuster trade right before the deadline but Celtics GM Danny Ainge hasn’t been afraid to make splashy trades in the past. Most likely, if we see a trade go down it’ll be after the lottery or the day of the draft. The Celtics have a tremendous opportunity that no team has ever had in the past and how the Celtics use this opportunity is in the hands of the Celtics front office.