Now we know. The Boston Celtics will have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
It’s a result of the trade with Brooklyn that keeps on giving. Last year, it was Jaylen Brown at No. 3 overall. This year, it will be the top pick in the draft. And in 2018, who knows, it could very well be the No. 1 overall pick once again, depending on what the Nets are able to do this offseason.
Make no mistake about it, the tough decision that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has to now make is a great problem to have. Don’t give me this idea that the Celtics were hoping to get screwed at Tuesday night’s Lottery just because they didn’t want to feel obligated to draft 19-year-old point guard Markelle Fultz with the top pick. That’s foolish.
You want the No. 1 overall pick. If not to have first choice of the best available player, then to make sure your pick has as much trade value as possible.
Which gets us back to the decision Ainge will have to make before the draft on June 22: Make the pick, or trade the pick?
Now that we know it’s No. 1 overall, here’s what I want the Celtics to do: shop the pick.
I’m not saying they should panic and pull the trigger on the first good trade offer that comes their way. But they should definitely play the game while they can. And by that I mean the Celtics should absolutely let it be known that No. 1 overall is available for the right price. Pick up the phone, listen to offers, make counter-offers, and send outrageous proposals to teams that inquire about players who are probably untouchable.
Again, the Celtics don’t need to make any of those trades. But for all those committed to drafting Fultz, dangling that pick and gauging its value on the trade market should give everyone a pretty good sense as to just how good the kid is.
Given the way the Celtics are already contending in the East, how could you just hang up the phone on conversations about proven NBA stars, if they became available in a potential trade? You’d be nuts to ignore that and automatically commit to Fultz right away.
The Celtics obviously have the ability to sweeten any deal that would include this year’s No. 1 overall pick. They could add a roster player or two. They could even add next year’s Brooklyn pick. And given how bad the Nets will probably be next season, I don’t see how that wouldn’t be considered an extremely valuable trade chip.
Right now, the Celtics have options. Keeping the pick and drafting Fultz would probably force the team to consider trading Isaiah Thomas. Not because they’d want to, but because Thomas might not want to stick around with an organization that’s committing to the kids, especially one at his point-guard position, rather than acquire NBA-ready talent to make a serious championship run right now.
Thomas is a free agent after next season. I’d imagine he wouldn’t be too pleased if Ainge drafted Fultz. And as much as I’d like Thomas to get a big-money extension and stay in Boston, I can understand moving him if you draft Fultz.
But I don’t want to trade Thomas. I want to win now. And if the right player was available in a trade that would help you do that, then I’m all in on moving the pick.
Whatever the Celtics do, it’s a great decision to have to make. I just don’t think they should make that decision until they shop the pick.
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