Paul Pierce wasn’t shy about publicly appreciating his role in giving the Boston Celtics the top pick in next month’s NBA Draft. He also isn’t shy about his thinking that Boston should trade it away.
Pierce said on Wednesday he thinks the Celtics need to trade the top pick in the draft in order to build a championship team for the present. The former Celtic says the top seed in the Eastern Conference can parlay the top pick for a star now to give Isaiah Thomas another weapon with which to compete against the likes of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pierce revealed his plans for the Celtics on Wednesday’s episode of ESPN’s The Jump.
On the show, ESPN senior writer Zach Lowe suggested that the Celtics use the pick in a way that builds a team that could be good for “15 or 20 years” and “kind of build two teams at once.” In other words, one that’s good now with Thomas and one that can be good later with younger talent.
Pierce wasn’t too keen on that plan.
“I disagree with the 15 to 20 years. There are no players in the draft like that,” Pierce said. “You’re talking about getting a Lebron, a Shaq, or a Tim Duncan then OK. You’re getting Markelle Fultz.”
Pierce said the Celtics need a player that can help them win right now.
You trade this pick because (Fultz) cannot help the Celtics get over the top. The window is now.
You’re a 50-win team. You’re a number one seed. You have to build on this momentum. So if you can get a Paul George, a Jimmy Butler, a Gordon (Hayward) from Utah, you have to do it.
Now I would try to persuade Gordon to sign as a free agent, you go out and try to get Gordon. Then you go out with the number one pick and try to acquire George or Jimmy Butler. You go for it.
Pierce said the Celtics need to build on what they already have, because Isiah Thomas is a star worth building around but the team needs more to compete for a title.
“You need these guys. You want to get over the top,” Pierce said. “Boston doesn’t praise winning the Eastern Conference. They’re going for a championship.”
Pierce does have a point here: winning the East in the regular season is pointless when LeBron James and the Cavaliers are looming in the postseason to deny you a shot at the title. Teams that want to actually win the thing that matters in the East need to have the tools in place to best James, and no one seems to be in that position right now.
While Joel Embiid may think teams like Philadelphia can make a run as LeBron’s dominance fades, the Celtics are in many ways built to win right now. They’re close, but it looks like they aren’t close enough just yet. Parlaying the top pick into another major piece, and maybe attracting a free agent like Hayward along the way, might be one way to bridge the gap.