Danny Ainge’s Patience Could Pay Dividends for the Boston Celtics

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Danny Ainge’s Patience Could Pay Dividends for the Boston Celtics

Post by bobheckler on Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:31 pm


Danny Ainge’s Patience Could Pay Dividends for the Boston Celtics

Posted by Bryan Toporek

Date: June 20, 2017

May 25, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) reacts after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second quarter of game five of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
By Bryan Toporek

Boston Celtics team president Danny Ainge has never been one to shy away from risk. Between swinging two big trades to assemble a Big Three that would win the 2008 NBA championship, to tearing that core down five years later in a then-controversial trade with the Brooklyn Nets, he consistently keeps one eye on the bigger picture regardless of his team’s current outlook.

By trading this year’s No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a protected Los Angeles Lakers (2018) or Sacramento Kings (2019) first-rounder, Ainge made perhaps his most substantial gamble to date.

If Washington point guard Markelle Fultz emerges as the clear-cut best player in this year’s draft class, Boston fans will tar and feather Ainge if he doesn’t nail both of the picks he acquired from Philadelphia. Then again, if Boston’s scouting department didn’t think Fultz was head-and-shoulders above his fellow prospects, Ainge could have set in motion the assembly of the next great Celtics team.

A “high-level front office source” told The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor that both Boston and Philadelphia see “little separation between No. 1 and No. 3,” which explains why the Sixers were able to place protections on the future draft considerations they sent over. (The 2018 Lakers pick will convey if it falls between Nos. 2 and 5; otherwise, the better of the two Kings and Sixers 2019 first-rounders will convey, provided neither is the No. 1 overall pick.) Whereas most draft experts consider Fultz to be on a separate tier from prospects such as Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox, it appears as though the Celtics didn’t feel the same way.

“I think even before the lottery, we’ve been evaluating these kids for a couple years, and we felt like it was very close with the top handful of players and we still feel that way,” Ainge said Monday. “We think there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at [No.] 3 is the same player we would have taken at [No.] 1. So this was a great opportunity to acquire an impactful asset.”

Whereas Fultz’s fit alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid made the cost a no-brainer for Philadelphia, Boston’s rationale is just as easy to envision. Whereas most teams that win the No. 1 overall pick are in desperate need of a franchise-caliber talent to build around, the Celtics are fresh off an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals and have two multi-time All-Stars in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Boston’s “overflowing backcourt also factored into” the decision to trade the rights to draft Fultz, as Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier all commanded significant playing time this past season.

The Vertical’s Chris Mannix took umbrage with that latter logic, writing, “If a franchise guard is available, you don’t punt because you like Terry Rozier’s upside.” Again, it comes back to the Celtics’ evaluation of Fultz versus the prospects likely to be available at No. 3, namely Kansas forward Josh Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum. If they’re looking for an impact stopper who can help slow down LeBron James, Jackson provides more immediate value than Fultz or Tatum. If they believe they need a wing scorer to keep pace with the league’s other star forwards—whether it’s James, Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard—Tatum has an edge over Jackson and Fultz.

The perceived downgrade from Fultz to Jackson or Tatum may be difficult for Celtics fans to swallow, but it could result in an enormous windfall within the next two years. With a hefty helping of lottery luck next year, Boston could be in position to select both Luka Doncic with the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 unprotected first-rounder and Michael Porter Jr. if the Lakers again win the No. 2 pick. If that L.A. selection doesn’t convey, the Celtics could instead receive the second overall pick in the 2019 draft via either the Sixers or Kings. There’s major backfire potential for Boston—if the Lakers and Kings substantially improve in short order, those picks could fall into the mid- to late lottery—but there’s also mammoth upside, too.



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Re: Danny Ainge’s Patience Could Pay Dividends for the Boston Celtics

Post by worcester on Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:45 pm

In what alternate universe is Josh Jackson a LeBron stopper?

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