BOSTON (CBS) — Markelle Fultz is an exceptional basketball player. Everyone knows that. But exactly how good is he?
“I had a conversation with on GM recently who told me that if Markelle Fultz was in last year’s draft, he would’ve gone No. 1,” Chris Mannix told Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “And Ben Simmons, he’s a guy that’s looked like a great player for a long time. And [the GM] thought Markelle Fultz would’ve gone ahead of Ben Simmons.”
Mannix said that Fultz is considered to be NBA-ready and is almost universally praised in NBA circles. For those reasons, Mannix said the Celtics will be wise to use their draft pick on the point guard out of Washington.
“He’s the type of player that you just simply can’t trade that pick, because if you trade it and even if you wind up with a Jimmy Butler or a Paul George, you have to kind of prepare yourself for the reality that Markelle Fultz is probably going to be kicking people’s asses for the next 10 to 15 years and being a perennial all-star,” Mannix said. “Obviously there’s no such thing as a sure thing in the draft, but he’s the closest thing to it.”
Some other topics covered:
–Mannix dumped cold water over any speculation that the Celtics might be able to trade the pick to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. Mannix explained that Pelicans ownership basically employs the GM and head coach on a one-year basis, so any franchise-altering trade like that likely wouldn’t get approved.
–Mannix said that Kristaps Porzingis likely isn’t available via trade, but even if he was, a straight-up trade of Fultz for Porzingis would not be favorable for the Celtics.
–Mannix suggested the best way for the Celtics to try to catch the Cavaliers is to build a roster “organically, and you can do that, and by next year be a team that’s so much improved that you are a real threat.” Mannix said that adding Gordon Hayward via free agency and Fultz via the draft does make the Celtics a much better team.
–Mannix said that Isaiah Thomas and Fultz should be able to play together, using Portland’s use of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard as an example. “That’s the second-best backcourt in the NBA,” Mannix said.
–However, Mannix said Boston might be reluctant to extend Thomas this summer as he enters the final year of his deal. “They’re committed to cap space, and you can’t have cap space if you extend Isaiah Thomas or you extend Avery Bradley.”
–And, as to what Thomas is looking for in a contract. “Isaiah wants to get paid; he wants the Russell Westbrook type of extension where he gets his money now. And I don’t think that’s the priority for Boston. I think the priority for Boston is to add talent to the roster, and way way down on that list is to give Isaiah his money. So I’m real interested to see Isaiah’s reaction to that as much as I am the drafting of Markelle Fultz.”
Listen to the full interview below: