The Boston Celtics made the playoffs in 2014-2015, but that doesn’t mean they’re any closer to the ultimate goal of winning a championship than before the season. Danny Ainge wants to make his team a winner again, and he’s certainly chosen the right coach to help him do it. Yet Brad Stevens’ fantastic job with the the Celtics in his second year on the sidelines, ironically, might have actually pushed the franchise further from title contention.
Why? By guiding Boston to a 40-42 record and seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, Stevens ensured his team wouldn’t have a lottery selection in the upcoming draft. And when a roster is in such dire need of a cornerstone-type talent as the Celtics, there’s no easier way to acquire it than with a highly regarded rookie.
But Ainge, unsurprisingly, isn’t content choosing 16th and 28th (via the Los Angeles Clippers as compensation for Doc Rivers) on June 25. According to Gary Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, Boston is offering both of their current picks in hopes of acquiring a lottery choice.
It’s hardly a secret a slew of teams, including several lottery ones, are exploring potential trades. One team that is making a concerted effort to move into the lottery, league sources claim, is Boston. The Celtics are dangling their two No. 1 picks: Nos. 16 and 28.
The Celtics not only need to draft higher to find a star player, but can also sacrifice quality for quantity. Ainge could have as many as four first-round picks at his disposal next June, have the right to swap selections with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017, and could receive first-rounders from both Brooklyn and the Memphis Grizzlies one summer later. Actually using each of those choices on draft night never made sense; Boston was always going to consolidate its assets.
The question now becomes which team they’re targeting in the lottery, and whether or not they’re comfortable attaching a young player to the picks as a sweetener.
But there still isn’t an obvious trade partner for the Celtics. The Detroit Pistons would be glad to deal the seventh pick, but only for a player who could help Stan Van Gundy reach his goal of making the playoffs next season. Would Boston consider parting with Kelly Olynyk, for example?
Time will tell. Just over two weeks from the draft, though, expect to hear constant whispers regarding the Celtics.