BOSTON (CBS) — The ping-pong Gods weren’t smiling upon the Boston Celtics last night at the NBA Draft Lottery. It seems pretty clear now those same Gods believe in do-overs as they rewarded the Cleveland Cavaliers with another top pick, one year after they whiffed by selecting Anthony Bennett first overall.
While Boston fans can be bitter about Cleveland being continually rewarded for their incompetency during the post-Lebron era, they shouldn’t be too down in the dumps about Boston’s sixth overall pick.
While the value of Boston’s pick took a slight hit by falling from fifth to sixth, that is still a spot many teams around the league would want to be in during this year’s deep draft crop. The Celtics know this and will do their due diligence in finding a potential trade partner for the selection.
“We would have tried to do something with the [lottery] pick [no matter where it landed], including keep the pick,” Ainge said in a conference call with reporters last night. “We are still in the same boat now, we just have less value now. There is less value in the sixth pick compared to a one or two pick, but we will try to make the best choice. We will have to see what value that pick has around the league and at the same time, we will be evaluating all the players. Usually, people don’t trade those picks, but we will look at all of those options.”
One of those options is and will continue to be pursuing a trade for Kevin Love. The fact of the matter is the Celtics, in my estimation, still have enough assets to outbid any other team for the All-Star power forward. As a quick reminder, here is a collection of the Celtics future draft picks right now.
2014: #6 (own), #17 (via Brooklyn)
2015: Own pick and unprotected Clippers pick
2016: Own pick, Brooklyn unprotected pick
2017: Right to swap own pick with Brooklyn Nets
2018: Own pick, Brooklyn unprotected pick
That’s more first round picks than any other team has in the next five years. Other reported suitors of Love can’t come close to offering the number of picks in any trade that the Celtics can, due to the Stepien rule.
The Celtics can also provide more salary relief than nearly any other team in the NBA. Boston has four non-guaranteed salaries under contract for next season in Chris Babb, Keith Bogans, Chris Johnson, and Phil Pressey. If the Wolves are looking for cap relief, Boston can use those pieces to help Minnesota clear the books and take on additional salary via the team’s trade exception from the Brooklyn blockbuster deal last summer.
The only thing the Celtics don’t have right now that the Minnesota might be looking for is a young cornerstone type player. Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are not those guys. They are complimentary players. The Wolves wouldn’t turn them down, but they aren’t enough to push with force in any direction. It’s also not clear how much the sixth overall pick would appeal to Minnesota as a player who could be a young building block.
“The sixth pick has serious value. How serious? I don’t know yet,” Ainge explained last night. “We haven’t had a chance to talk about it or explore that even. We will look into exploring that now that we have some clarity where we are [in the draft].
If Minnesota is dead set on a young promising player and not picks or cap relief, the Celtics may be in trouble. That prospect seems unlikely though. The Celtics should have the ability to combine several first round picks, non-guaranteed salary, and young prospects to get a deal done for the All-Star.
They may have to overpay in their eyes to get a trade completed for Love, but the option to outbid any other team with their assets should be there if they choose to.
“This is an exciting time of the year and it’s an exciting time for our franchise,” Ainge said. “We could do anything from taking the two draft picks and continuing to add to our young talent or we could make some bigger deals than speed up our [rebuilding] process, and everywhere between so I think that everything is possible and it’s going to be a really interesting next month.”
As Wyc Grousbeck has suggested, the Celtics may end up with some fireworks this summer, if they really want them. The question now is whether they want to pay above market value to acquire them.
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