Last year, Celtics’ man in charge Danny Ainge traded the No. 1 pick in the draft, landing the No. 3 pick (Jayson Tatum) and either Sacramento or Philadelphia’s No. 1 next year (the better of the two, unless it is the No. 1 pick).
Could we see two years in a row where the No. 1 pick is traded?
Don’t bet on it, but Suns’ general manager Ryan McDonough said on ESPN’s broadcast from the Draft Combine exactly what he’s supposed to say, that he’s open to the idea (hat tip Rob Lopez of DefPen).
“We’re certainly open to that. We’ll consider it. I think we’ll have more information closer to the draft than we do today after we go through the workout process and the interview process. We’re open to that. I think if you look around the NBA, as far as the veteran players, there are probably a few we’d consider trading the pick for, outright, just pick for player.”
Hint: He was aiming that at Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, if Kawhi Leonard does become available. Or at Dell Demps the Pelicans suddenly decide they don’t want Anthony Davis anymore. Or at Tom Thibodeau if he decides to test the market for Karl-Anthony Towns (that is less insane than you might think, but not likely).
Outside of something highly improbable like any of that happening (it’s hard to imagine Leonard forcing his way out of San Antonio just to tell Phoenix he’d be happy to sign there long term), expect the Suns to keep the pick.
Ainge traded the pick last year because he didn’t believe in Markelle Fultz the way most did, he liked Tatum better. (BTW, it’s too early to fully judge that trade: We haven’t seen what Fultz will become, and we don’t know what pick the Celtics get next year.)
This year Arizona center Deandre Ayton is on top of everybody’s draft board and he is seen as a potential franchise center by most, a guy who could have a Joel Embiid/Towns kind of impact on the Suns (Ayton’s game is different from those two, we’re just talking what he could mean to the franchise). Nobody is trading that unless they are getting a franchise cornerstone piece back. Sure, if a team calls with an offer McDonough will take the call and politely listen, that’s what a GM should do, but don’t expect him to pull the trigger on anything.
This is the Suns’ first No. 1 pick in franchise history, McDonough is not going to trade that away for anything less than a Godfather deal.