The Sixers and Celtics made it official on Monday and announced that the trade that had been reported over the weekend was indeed happening, as Philadelphia acquired the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s draft, while the Celtics received the No. 3 pick and a future first rounder as well.
The Sixers will, almost assuredly, use the top pick on Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, while the Celtics are still mulling all of their options with the third pick, whether Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, or trading it away for veteran help. We had heard a number of versions of the trade over the weekend, but on Monday we learned the official details regarding the protections on the future pick that will go to the Celtics.
Boston will receive the 2018 Lakers pick owned by Philadelphia currently, so long as that pick is between Nos. 2 and 5 in next year’s lottery. If that ends up being the top pick or lower than five, the Sixers keep it and the Celtics will receive a 2019 first rounder. That first round pick will be either the 2019 Kings selection or the 2019 Sixers selection, whichever one is the higher pick, with one very important protection.
If the Kings or Sixers pick in 2019 ends up winning the lottery, Philadelphia keeps that and Boston will get the other pick. For a team in the Sixers that expects to be a playoff contender by then, that’s could, potentially, be a massive protection if the Kings continue to struggle and end up winning the lottery in two years. Should that happen, and the Sixers progress as anticipated into being even a middle of the pack playoff team in the East by 2019, the Celtics would end up with a pick outside of the lottery.
In summation, the Celtics traded the No. 1 overall pick in a loaded draft for the No. 3 pick (which still could be good) and a future first rounder that cannot be a top selection. If you had to grade out this trade, you’d say that both teams are getting what they want, but you’d have to say that it favors the Sixers at least slightly, considering we at least know what they’re getting out of it (Markelle Fultz). If things go the wrong way for Boston in the 2018 and 2019 lotteries, this could become a really bad deal, but most likely, the Celtics will receive a pair of top five picks for their No. 1 this year and it will be considered a fair trade.
The biggest question for Boston in terms of how well this trade benefits them is what they’re able to turn all of these assets into. If it’s young players, that might be fine, but they have a core group right now that has a finite window with which they can contend, and a possible 2019 first rounder doesn’t fit into said window. However, if they are able to turn those picks into one or more quality players, by a combination of draft and trade, this will likely be looked back on as a win-win trade for both teams.
Ainge, who said this was the best offer they got for the pick by far, seemed to indicate in his Monday availability that he plans on using the No. 3 overall pick and selecting a player, and stated that it’s the player the Celtics were considering at No. 1 anyways.
That goes along with the reports that the Celtics were considering Kansas’ Josh Jackson ahead of Fultz, although there has been recent steam behind Boston taking Jayson Tatum out of Duke. Either would fit better into the Celtics’ roster needs on the wing than Fultz, but few draft evaluators would consider them better talents. However, if Boston was insistent on picking for need in this year’s draft and felt that it was at least close between either Tatum or Jackson and Fultz, then moving back and collecting another future pick is the smarter move rather than reaching for need at No. 1.
The biggest determining factor in whether this trade is viewed as a win for the Sixers or a win for the Celtics is how Fultz produces at the NBA level. If he becomes the star that some project him to be, the Celtics and Ainge specifically will be critiqued and questioned for passing on him for years to come.