The Boston Celtics, a 50-win team who will finish in the top two spots in the East, will have the best odds of the top pick in the NBA Draft this June.
With unexpected Suns win over the Thunder on Friday night, it became assured that the Brooklyn Nets will have the worst record in the NBA. Thanks to the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade three years ago — when Nets ownership told GM Billy King to put together a team that could contend immediately, at any cost — the Celtics have the right to swap picks with the Nets this season.
That means the Celtics will have a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick in the coming draft, and a 64.2 percent chance of a top three pick (and they can’t be outside the top four). So yes, one of the deepest rosters in the league is about to get even deeper.
Things get interesting if the Celtics land one of the top two picks, which are expected to be point guards Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. The Celtics have All-Star Isaiah Thomas on the roster, he’s a fan favorite on a very affordable contract ($6.5 million this season) who will be a free agent in 2018. How much are the Celtics willing to pay Thomas in a year if they have already drafted the point guard of the future? Should the Celtics use their cap space to extend Thomas’ contract this summer, at ideally less than max money, then use him as trade bait if Fultz/Ball show they are ready to take over the team? Thomas will be 29 next summer as a free agent, how many years do the Celtics want to extend him at that age (the history of undersized point guards is that when their skills start to fall of the drop is fast and steep)?
By the way, the Celtics also have the Nets pick next year. Just another piece of trade bait.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.
The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.
The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.
Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:
Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.
Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?
Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?
I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).
What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.
At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.
Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.
Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.
But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.
There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.
Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.
But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.
The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.
Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?
Ball on ESPN:
LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.
Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.
Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.