By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We’ve heard plenty of rumors about the Celtics wanting to turn their three first-round picks in next week’s draft into anything but three first-round picks in next week’s draft. Whether it’s trading up, trading down or trading out, we’ve heard them all.
Now we’re hearing a new one. Danny Ainge is reportedly trying to turn his three first rounders (Nos. 14, 26 and 30) into a higher lottery pick, and then flipping that higher lottery pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for guard Jrue Holiday.
Now that is one spicy rumor from the latest mock draft by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor:
The Celtics have offered up their three first-round picks (nos. 14, 26, and 30) in trades to try and move into the lottery, but multiple league sources say they intend to reroute that pick to the Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday. If Boston is able to acquire the necessary assets, it’d still need to add salaries to make a deal work. Could that mean Gordon Hayward or Kemba Walker could be on the move? No matter the case, the Celtics are up to something big to try and bolster their title odds. If they keep the 14th pick, Hampton makes sense because he could immediately serve as a spark-plug scorer off the bench and provide long-term upside.
Holiday is signed through next season, making $25 million this year and $26.2 million next year, and the Celtics would have to match that salary in any trade. As O’Connor notes, Hayward ($34.1 million) or Walker ($34.3 million) would go a long way in matching Holiday’s salary. But we still don’t know what Hayward is going to do with his player option after the draft, which complicates the move a bit, and who knows if New Orleans would want three years of Walker. Hayward is the likeliest trade piece for the Celtics, but the uncertainty over his future throws everything off.
Given Holiday’s strong defense, it’s also possible that Marcus Smart could be included in a swap. There are a lot of different ways the Celtics could go on this one ahead of the draft. But chances are that if he has to give up three picks to get a lottery pick, then give up that lottery pick AND core players off his roster, Ainge is going to want more than just Holiday in return.
There’s always the chance this could become a three-team trade, but Ainge discussed the difficulties of completing those deals on Wednesday. There’s a lot going on with this rumor, but Ainge and company have time to iron things out ahead of the draft.
As for his fit in Boston though, Holiday would be a fine addition. He’s one of the league’s best defensive guards and he’s no slouch on offense either, averaging 191. points off 46 percent shooting to go with 6.7 assists. Brad Stevens would quickly fall in love with the 11-year veteran, if he hasn’t already from afar.
It’s a pretty loaded rumor with the draft just a few days away. Ainge is going to explore every way possible to consolidate Boston’s trio of first-round picks and try to put the Celtics closer to a title, so expect plenty more rumors leading up to Wednesday’s draft — and beyond.