BOSTON (CBS) — We know where the Celtics will be picking in next month’s draft, and now begins a month of speculation of what’s next for Danny Ainge.
But that’s where the fun begins.
Yes, it was another disappointing lottery night for the Celtics, who ended up with the sixth overall pick. It’s the selection the odds said they would land, but with all the bad luck the Celtics have had in the lottery throughout its 20-year history, fans were hoping things would all change given Boston’s 33 percent chance at a top three pick.
But that wasn’t the case, and gone are all those dreams of seeing Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker in green, or even listening to Dante Exum’s accent on a nightly basis. There’s a slim chance Julius Randle and his freakish build will be available, but Celtics fans are now studying up on players like Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh (who they should know something about anyways, given his Haverhill roots) as backup plans.
on paper will be on the board when it’s Boston’s turn to select, but they’re not the franchise-altering superstars everyone was hoping for as they watched the Celtics lose 57 games. The road to rebuilding appears to have gotten a little longer thanks to a coin flip and bouncing ping-pong balls.
But fear not, Ainge has plenty of options.
Ainge said throughout the season that there are no cornerstone players in the upcoming draft class, a point he echoed Tuesday night shortly after learning his team’s draft spot. Players with the highest ceiling will likely gone when it comes time for Boston to select, but count on Ainge to work the phones as much as possible — as he has numerous times before on draft night.
Kevin Love is the hottest rumor on the interweb right now, and that chatter will just get louder as June 26 approaches. It’s unclear what it will take to land the Minnesota All Star, but with two first-round picks (sixth and 17th) in 2014 and at least two first-rounders in each 2015, 2016 and 2018, along with some young talent and movable money, “Trader Danny” has plenty in his arsenal to put together an enticing package for Minnesota GM Milt Newton. It’s just a matter of that being the best package offered, and if the Wolves really want to send their franchise player to Boston for the second time in seven years.
But don’t just focus on Love. There will be other players available via trade, ones we may not hear about until a deal comes to fruition. While Ainge is historically unpredictable, he has a track record for trading his lottery picks, opting to add players with NBA experience over rookies who will need a couple of years of seasoning.
Back in 2006, Ainge sent the seventh pick (which turned into Randy Foye) and spare parts to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a second-round pick. The trade didn’t work out, as Telfair continued to be a huge bust in his new setting, but Ainge’s intentions were to bring in a point guard with two years of NBA experience over a rookie. He did the same thing in 2007, sending the fifth overall pick (Jeff Green), Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West to Seattle for veteran sharpshooter Ray Allen. It was that move that paved the way for Kevin Garnett to join Boston, and there’s another banner hanging in the TD Garden because of it.
Ainge said Wednesday morning he thinks the Celtics are in better shape to make a big move this year than they were in 2007. He has multiple first-rounders in three of the next four drafts, a good crop of young talent, and movable contracts.
Is there another Ray Allen-type trade out there this summer? Only time will tell if a team values that sixth overall pick and are willing to send a veteran player for the chance at a rookie with some upside. If not, Ainge will take another young player to add to his many assets for a future trade.
Ainge has everything he needs to make a big splash on the trade market, but he won’t trade the pick just to trade the pick. Expect him to exhaust all options, and take the route he sees best for the future of the Celtics.
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