By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA trade deadline is just two weeks away, and while it’s been fairly quiet, things could ramp up thanks to the Memphis Grizzlies.
And that could be great news for the Boston Celtics, who own one of Memphis’ upcoming first-round picks. It just won’t be great news as quickly as some would hope, but as it did with the #NetsPicks over the last few years, patience could pay off in a big way.
While Boston likely won’t receive Memphis’ pick this summer, waiting another couple of years could reap major benefits for Danny Ainge and company. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Grizzlies are ready to rebuild and will begin entertaining trade offers for franchise stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Memphis has had a woeful season so far, but it’s been a bit too woeful for the Celtics to grab their 2019 draft pick, which is top-8 protected.
Memphis has dropped 12 of their last 13, winning just seven games over the last two months. Even with a slew of Eastern Conferences teams really stinking this season, the Grizzlies currently own the sixth-worst record in the NBA, and will likely land within the top eight in June’s draft.
But if they trade their two stars, or even one of them, the odds of Boston getting their first-round pick over the next two years goes up. The pick is top-6 protected in 2020, before all protections go away in 2021.
Having that pick in his back pocket would be an excellent trade chip for Ainge should a superstar player, say somewhere like New Orleans, becomes available on the trade market this summer.
The Memphis pick isn’t the only selection the Celtics are waiting on, though it’s likely the only one that will survive this summer. Boston will likely snag the Sacramento Kings’ pick in six months, though that is nowhere near as appealing as it once was. The No. 1 overall protection is no longer a concern, since the Kings are 24-23 and competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. That is currently projected to be the No. 13 overall pick, far from the top-5 selection most predicted before the season began. The Celtics will also likely receive the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round pick this summer, currently projected to be No. 19.
Receiving four first-round picks (including their own) this summer would have been a bit of an overkill for the Celtics. Now that it looks like they’ll be waiting on the Memphis pick for at least another year, their riches are a little more spread out and give Ainge some more flexibility to do his thing moving forward.