Was Boston’s moving No. 1 pick first step in aggressive summer chasing stars?


It’s obvious what the Philadelphia 76ers are thinking trading for the No. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft: make Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz their big three of the future.

However, what was Danny Ainge thinking moving Boston’s No. 1 pick?

It’s a big risk, Fultz could turn out to be a stud Celtics fans will regret passing on for years. The Boston Celtics have a crowded backcourt, and that factored into their decision to trade the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia for this year’s number three pick, plus either the Lakers’ pick next year (if it falls 2-5) or the Sacramento Kings 2019 pick.

The question now is, will the Celtics draft Josh Jackson out of Kansas No. 3 (they are rumored to like him), keep him and continue their slow build? Or has the plan been to flip this pick and other assets to land a star to go after the Cavaliers sooner rather than later?

The sense is Boston is looking to move this pick and other assets to get a star.

This would be an elite player to go next to Gordon Hayward (or maybe Blake Griffin) in a revamped starting lineup in Boston.

We know there are targets the Celtics have an interest in, starting with Jimmy Butler in Chicago. The Bulls have reportedly been asking for ransom in return, but if they are willing to break this team up and rebuild, the Celtics have the pieces to jump-start that.

Boston could go after Paul George, but because he is a free agent next summer expected to at least test the market, Ainge will offer less to rent him. The Pacers had been reluctant to move George at the trade deadline, but with Larry Bird out and Kevin Prichard in running the show, has the dynamic changed?

Maybe the Celtics can talk about Kevin Love with Cleveland, or if they want to think young D'Angelo Russell with the Lakers (assuming L.A. drafts Lonzo Ball), although either of them moving are long shots. There will be other names that surprisingly pop up as available as well.

Getting a trade made is hard. This may not come together.

Drafting Jackson, or Jayson Tatum (the other guy they reportedly are high on), and keeping the pick seems like the fallback option for Boston. It’s not a bad one, they add another quality young player to the core, for example, Jackson and Jaylen Brown might pair well together.

But Boston seems poised to make a big move now, and this trade of the No. 1 pick is just the first step in an aggressive summer.