The Celtics are going to trade the No. 3 pick, I’m positive.
No one, including Danny Ainge, knows where that pick is going right now - however.
Ainge will smartly let this thing play out. He will wait and find another team to panic on or around NBA Draft day on June 23 and ship the pick out for a superstar player, or something that will help him land a superstar player.
Ainge, I think, believes that this draft class is OK. Not great. Not awful. But OK.
I don’t think he believes that he can draft a transcendent player at No. 3 in this draft, but for the sake of speculation – let’s play the game.
In Metro’s NBA Mock Drafts, I’ve had the Celtics going out on a limb and picking Cal swingman Jaylen Brown for months now. By the looks of it, the Celtics could actually trade back a few spots to get him. Brown is a 6-foot-6 swingman who can finish at the rim. He is the type of player Ainge always wants.
Ainge went hard after a 6-foot-6 swingman who can finish at the rim last summer in Justise Winslow – who landed with the Heat. Ainge built the last great Celtics team around a 6-foot-7 swingman who could finish at the rim nine years ago in Paul Pierce. With apologies to Jae Crowder and Evan Turner, the Celtics lack this type of player right now.
Most mocks in the immediate aftermath of the lottery had the Celtics tabbing 7-foot-1 Croatian Dragan Bender with the No. 3 pick. Yup, thanks to Kristaps Porzingis it’s officially OK for everyone to like European lottery picks again. As if all European players are made the same.
Bender could prove to be the next Porzingis, sure, just as he could prove to be the next Darko Milicic. The fact of the matter is, it’s a risk, and it’s a risk I don’t believe Ainge will take. Not in this all-important year.
Ainge is the ultimate go big or go home GM. When Celtics fans were reeling from falling in the 2007 lottery, he traded the No. 5 pick along with Delonte West, and Wally Szczerbiak to the Seattle Supersonics in exchange for Ray Allen. Celtics fans currently think of Allen as not much more than a third-wheel, but people forget that at that time Allen was still regarded as one of the top players in the league despite being 31-years-old. Two years prior to the trade, a healthy Allen almost single-handedly led the Sonics to a 52-30 record.
Today, the Celtics can offer a much more enticing package for a player of 2007 Ray Allen’s caliber. Obviously, No. 3 is better than No. 5 and the Celtics have more attractive pieces on their current roster to deal away than they did in 2007.
Oh, and then there’s the Nets picks. Yes, there are more Nets picks!
The Celtics have the right to swap picks with Brooklyn next season (which they obviously will) and they own Brooklyn’s pick in 2018. The Nets aren’t getting any better anytime soon, which means those two picks could be just as valuable as this year’s pick.
So, this summer you can now EXPECT a big-name player like Jahlil Okafor, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony to be coming to Boston. There’s been far too much smoke for far too long for their not to be a blockbuster fire, and if history is any indication - Ainge is a bona fide pyro.