Celtics owner: Boston would trade No. 1 pick only for ‘second coming’

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Celtics president Danny Ainge said he’d explore trading the No. 1 pick.

His boss indicated Boston will keep the selection.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, via CSN New England:

I think these picks are very, very valuable. You think of it, if you’re going to trade this pick as part of a package for an establish star making max, you’ve got to send max money out the door, as well. You’ve got to send more guys along. So, this guy coming back better be the second coming. What’s more, he’s going to be halfway through his career, whoever he is. And he’s going to be paid right now a ton of money, which restricts you in other ways.

If you can get a really good guy with this pick, you’ve got him. You can build with him. You can grow with him. You can coach him up. And you get to max money eventually – five, six years down the road – but it’s a totally different thing.

So, these picks are really valuable in today’s NBA. And so our intention would be to make the pick unless someone blows us away with an offer. That’s the way I would probably think about it.

I’m not trying to lay down rules of the road for the basketball staff when they make their recommendations. I’m just trying to say how I feel. And it’s the way we felt in February, quite honestly.

This could be a play for leverage in trade discussions, but Grousbeck’s assessment is sound. A relatively cheap four-year contract followed by the team control of restricted free agency makes first-round picks so valuable.

There’d be nothing wrong with Boston trading the No. 1 pick. It’s just difficult for other teams to match its value. This pick is more valuable than Paul George (on an expiring contract) and probably Jimmy Butler (locked up two more years). Teams with more valuable stars are in no rush to trade.

So, expect the Celtics to draft Markelle Fultz. It’s not a lock, but Grousbeck’s comments make it even more likely.