By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) –The Celtics were busy on draft night. Not the kind of busy most fans were hoping for, but they were busy nonetheless.
There were some rumblings that Danny Ainge would try to package his trio of first-round picks and move up, but that never happened. There was no blockbuster for a star player. Instead, the Celtics stood pat and made their pick at No. 14.
After that pick is when things started to get a little crazy. In the end, Boston drafted four players and pulled off a pair of trades on Thursday night. It wasn’t as exciting of a night as some expected, and in the end, it could even be considered a bit underwhelming. There isn’t any more clarity to the roster, which remains in flux with the futures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in doubt, and it’s a bit surprising that the Celtics walked away with four new young players.
But Danny Ainge also cleared some cap space, which was one of his goals on draft night. Now he has a long offseason ahead of him as he tries to figure out the next best path for the Celtics.
Here is everything the Boston Celtics did at the 2019 NBA Draft:
Drafted Romeo Langford at No. 14
The Celtics were in the mix to trade up to the No. 5 pick after the draft got underway, but the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up keeping the pick and drafting Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland. So the Celtics stayed at No. 14 and picked Indiana guard Romeo Langford.
The 6-foot-6, 216-pound Langford attacks the basket like a mad man, which earned him plenty of trips to the free throw line in his only season as Indiana. He averaged 6.1 free throws per game, getting to the stripe 194 times, making 72 percent of those freebies. Langford, 19, averaged 16.5 points off 45 percent shooting, but hit just 27 percent of his shots from downtown. He’ll have to work on that in Brad Stevens’ system, but the two should get along just fine, since they’re both natives of The Hoosier State.
A torn ligament in his thumb may have led to Langford’s struggles with his shot, but he still played 32 games for the Hoosiers. Danny Ainge also praised Langford’s versatility on both ends of the floor when speaking about his moves after the draft.
Traded No. 20 to Philadelphia for Nos. 24 and 33
Technically, the Celtics drafted Matisse Thybulle at No. 20. He even wore a Celtics hat when he arrived on the stage at the Barclay’s Center.
But Thybulle is not a Celtic. Boston drafted him for the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a draft night swap, with the Celtics receiving two picks (Nos. 24 and 33) in return. They only kept one of those picks, taking Purdue guard Carsen Edwards in the second round. More on him in a moment.
Drafted Grant Williams At No. 22
For their second selection, the Celtics took 6-foot-7 forward Grant Williams out of Tennessee at No. 22. While he’s a little undersized for a power forward, Williams has a powerful game around the rim and is praised for being an intelligent player. Williams said ahead of the draft that when he learns a play, he learns the play as if he’s playing every position on the floor. That had Stevens gushing about Williams after the selection.
“He’s a guy that I kind of look at as a guy with a point guard’s mind. You can run offense through him at the elbows, on the block, at the top of the key,” said the C’s head coach. “He just thinks the game. He’s a tough, tough guy, and he’s a versatile player who can shoot the ball.”
Williams averaged 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game over his three seasons at Tennessee and had his best season in 2019, averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 boards. He also spends a lot of time at the line, attempting seven free throws per game during his junior year, when he was the SEC Player of the Year.
Reportedly Traded No. 24 and Aron Baynes to Phoenix
That No. 24 pick didn’t remain with the Celtics for long. They reportedly sent it to Phoenix (the pick became Virginia guard Ty Jerome) along with center Aron Baynes for a future pick.
Moving Baynes clears another $5.4 million in cap space for Boston this summer, and they also reportedly grabbed Milwaukee’s first-round pick next season. That pick isn’t going to be very good, since Milwaukee could be the best team in the East when all the dust settles, but the cap space is important for the C’s. And in trading a pick this year for a future pick, it’s another salary that they don’t have to put on the books for this season.
Hopefully Baynes gets bought out, because Phoenix won’t be contending for a title anytime soon.
Drafted Purdue Guard Carsen Edwards At No. 33
Technically, it was the 76ers making the pick. But Edwards is a Celtic, and he could make a pretty big impact in the Boston backcourt off the bench.
Edwards is a gifted scoring guard, averaging 24.3 points with Purdue as a junior last year. Like Boston’s previous picks, he too gets to the line quite a bit, averaging 6.1 free throws per game. He put on a show in the NCAA tournament, averaging 34.8 points in Purdue’s four games, including a pair of 42-point games.
Drafted LSU Guard Tremont Waters At No. 51
With their final pick of the night, Boston drafted LSU guard Tremont Waters. A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Waters was in Brooklyn for the draft festivities. Now, he doesn’t have to travel far for his new NBA home.
Size is the biggest issue with the 5-foot-11 Waters, but he played some spectacular defense at LSU. He was named to the SEC All-Defensive team after making 96 steals last season, setting a new LSU record for swipes in a season.
Waters was a Bob Cousy Award finalist after averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.8 steals for the Tigers. He’ll likely sign a two-way deal with the Celtics and spend most of his time with the Maine Red Claws.
So there you have it. Four new players, another first-round pick next year, and some cap space this summer. Langford, Williams and Edwards can all get to the line, which is something the Celtics lacked last season, and they could each find themselves playing big roles this season depending on how the roster shakes out. Ainge also got himself some extra cap space for this summer, with their reported trade of Baynes bringing Boston’s available funds to just under $26 million. That number could go up depending on what happens with Terry Rozier and Boston’s other free agents.
There are still so many questions with the Celtics and a lot of work to be done. They are very much a work in progress, and likely will be for a while. Up next is free agency, which gets underway June 30.
Draft night was just the first of many busy nights ahead for the Boston Celtics this offseason.