BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics’ draft Thursday night was a bit surprising, to say the least. The possibilities of landing a major star like Kevin Love had appeared to fade in recent days, but the team was still well positioned with assets to do some significant wheeling and dealing. Instead, Danny Ainge held pat with his two first-round picks, which even Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said was a bit unusual.
“There just hasn’t been too much movement tonight,“ Grousbeck said after Boston’s selections. “Typically on draft night, we make at least two or three trades. That’s how we roll. It’s had great effect for us. We like to be aggressive about rebuilding this team and we like to try to become contenders again as quickly as possible. We will keep working the phones, but it takes two partners to make a trade.”
So, much like the NBA trade deadline back in February, the Celtics had a quiet night. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in the long run. Landing two promising players like Marcus Smart and James Young is nothing to sneeze at.
Smart is arguably the most NBA-ready prospect selected in this draft and should be a versatile member of the team’s backcourt. Young is an 18-year-old southpaw shooter that should help an anemic Celtics offense right away. Brad Stevens told reporters he had Young in the top-11 on his big board, so that’s solid value for a player nabbed at 17.
Still, you have to wonder about the team’s options to make additional upgrades for next season now that one of the their top assets (the No. 6 pick) has been used. Outside of Rajon Rondo, a guy whom Ainge adamantly declared will be a part of the team’s future Thursday night, Boston’s other trade chips lack the appeal to make a serious addition.
Despite this reality, Grousbeck and Ainge remain confident that the team could make a serious splash in the coming weeks.
“I remember trading for Kevin Garnett in 2007 and I got a phone call about that from Minnesota on July 30th or 31st, so trade season is not over yet,” Grousbeck declared.
Ainge emphasized that the current youth on the roster was not guaranteed to be in place by the start of next season as well.
“I mean, it’s an emphasis always to develop young players, so we’re always trying to do that,” Ainge said. “But how many of them we have, and what our final roster is, I don’t know. But we’re very excited about these two guys and our young core right now.”
The Celtics still have some weapons to acquire help in the coming days, as they are armed with a few sizable trade exceptions and still have seven future first-round picks in the bank over the coming years. Boston fans need to be realistic about what this team could look like next year now. A one-year rebuild will not be happening like we saw in 2007. When all is said and done, this squad should be able to contend for a playoff spot in a poor Eastern Conference, but not much more.
Ultimately, the Celtics elected not to cash in any of their chips draft night, as they have decided to remain patient with their future. The longer road might not be appealing to fans for the interim, but the Celtics carefully picking their spots to use their assets in the coming years should prove wise for their future.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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