The Celtics are in great shape. They’re up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals with a young rotation. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier are all stepping up. Al Horford is reminding everyone he’s a star, and Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will get the chance next year.
The Hornets are in terrible shape. They missed the playoffs for the second straight season, and they’re so capped out, they’re already facing a luxury-tax crunch for next season. Even with Kemba Walker, they appear stuck in mediocrity.
But both teams could have been in a middle ground if Charlotte accepted Boston’s draft-night offer in 2015.
Wanting to get Justise Winslow, the Celtics reportedly offered six picks – including four potential first-rounders – for the No. 9 pick. The Hornets rejected the deal and took Frank Kaminsky, which has earned them plenty of criticism ever since.
But maybe we should save some admonishment for the Pistons (who drafted Stanley Johnson No. 8) and Heat (who drafted Winslow No. 10). Apparently, they also received Boston’s walloping offer.
I know the Pistons passed on it. Whatever it was eight, nine, 10. It was Pistons passed. They offered the same thing. They wouldn’t even talk about it, because they wanted to take Stanley Johnson.
The ninth pick was Charlotte. Jordan couldn’t figure it out in time and finally didn’t do it, so they passed on those four picks, one of which would have been Jaylen Brown. Another one would have been Rozier.
And then the 10th pick, they called Riley, and Riley just laughed and hung up on them. Riley was like, “No, I’m taking Justise Winslow. I’ll talk to you guys later.”
It hasn’t been revealed precisely which picks the Celtics offered. They had many stockpiled. A good bet is it including the No. 16 pick in 2015, which they used on Terry Rozier. I’m not sure whether Simmons is reporting or just supposing Boston offered the 2016 Nets pick (which became Jaylen Brown).
There’s enough variability in the picks and protections not to know just how good this offer was. But, even near the plausible minimum, it was pretty darn good.
To some degree, it’s just logical that if the Celtics wanted Winslow that badly, they would have made the same offer to every team in that range. But Danny Ainge admitted after the draft he might have gotten carried away. It seemed possible he didn’t go that far with Detroit on the clock and came to his senses with Miami picking. Alas.
The Pistons, Hornets and Heat are all locked into expensive rosters with merely moderate upsides. Stanley Johnson, Frank Kaminsky and even Justise Winslow – the Celtics’ dream selection – top out at fine. Detroit, Charlotte and Miami almost certainly would have been better off accepting this trade.
Boston was fortunate none did.
For a while, the Pistons and Heat were fortunate attention was placed squarely on the Hornets passing on the offer. That ought to change.