Last NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics used the No. 3 pick (via Brooklyn) to pick up Jaylen Brown, an athletic wing who showed promise as this past season wore on. He was the first of Boston’s three first-round picks.
But Danny Ainge wanted a second lottery pick and everyone was on the table — including Isaiah Thomas, who went on to have an All-NBA season, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, speaking to the legendary reporter Bob Ryan on on Ryan’s podcast (hat tip CSNNE.com).
“Before the draft last year, Danny was trying to get two picks, not just Jaylen Brown,” MacMullan told Ryan. “He was on the phone with everybody from coast to coast, and he was offering everybody. That includes Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas, and anything else they needed to get where he wanted to go. There were no untouchables on that team last year.”
Thomas went on to have a monster season, averaging 28.9 points per game and leading the Celtics to the No. 1 overall seed (unfortunately, Thomas is now out for the remainder of the playoffs). That effort landed Thomas on the All-NBA second team. To be fair, to get Ainge (or Smart) would have required a very high pick, something the Celtics would not land.
MacMullan went on to say she thinks Al Horford is the only untouchable on the Boston roster this summer.
GMs do this with just about everybody — there are only a handful of true untouchables in the league. Teams gauge the market value guys they would almost never trade just to know what that market is and what other teams think. There likely was a little of that going on here — unless someone came in with a Godfather offer Thomas was staying put.
Now the Celtics have the No. 1 pick in this June’s draft (thanks again Brooklyn) and, once they take Markelle Fultz, they have some real decisions to make about Thomas, who will be a free agent in 2018 at age 29. How long a contract is Boston willing to give Thomas at that age (Thomas likely gets max money or something close)? Thomas is a fantastic player and a fan favorite, but that is not going to secure his long-term future in Boston.