Boston has the No. 1 pick, and it’s been expected GM Danny Ainge would take Markelle Fultz and have him as part of — and ideally lead — their young core into the future.
However, Boston may be looking to trade out of that slot and give it to Philadelphia for a series of picks, something reported by Marc Stein and Zach Lowe of ESPN.
Reports suggest there is a lot of momentum with this trade and it is likely to happen.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports confirms the Sixers and Celtics would swap picks No. 1 and No. 3 this year, plus the Sixers would send future first-round picks to Boston. The Sixers have a number of future first rounders, including the Lakers’ unprotected first rounder next year, although that would be a very steep a price. That said, most teams see a step down in player quality from 1 to 3, so it’s going to take a lot to get Boston to give it up.
This is a big gamble by the Celtics — if you trade away the No. 1 pick and he turns out to be an absolute stud, it looks very bad. The fan base would turn on Ainge.
The Sixers would get their point guard of the future in Fultz, someone who can share ball handling duties with Ben Simmons (who coach Brett Brown has said will get time at the point). Fultz’s has a very well-rounded game and can work off the ball, too.
A core of Fultz, Simmons, and Joel Embiid could be powerful in a few years.
The Celtics likely would take Kansas’ Josh Jackson at three (assuming the Lakers take Lonzo Ball, as expected despite all the smoke screens). The Celtics reportedly have been high on Jackson, although if the Lakers take Jackson at two Boston would have to choose between Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum who they like as a stretch four. Boston also would create $1.38 million in additional cap space, leaving them less than $2 million short of the $30.3 million in cap space they would need to offer Gordon Hayward a max contract.
This suggests Ainge is willing to make a longer-term bet on Isaiah Thomas, a free agent in 2018.
Pairing Josh Jackson with Jaylen Brown in a few years could give the Celtics two athletic, long, defensive forwards who could switch almost anything and guard multiple positions.