Until this weekend’s trade of the #1 pick for the #3 pick between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia Sixers, no teams had swapped picks in the Top 5 of the Draft in nine years.
Yesterday, per the all-powerful Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers traded up from the #3 slot to the #1 slot for the small price of a mere single, itty-bitty future draft pick.
The price for the Celtics to drop to #3? A single future draft pick, most likely to convey in 2019 via the Sacramento Kings. The Celtics could receive the coveted Laker pick, originally a part of the 2012 Steve Nash trade, but only if it lands in the 2, 3, 4 or 5 position in next year’s draft after the lottery. Otherwise, the Celtics get the Kings’ 2019 first round pick outright.
For the Sixers, this is a fleecing. All it took to get their man, Markelle Fultz, was basically someone else’s draft pick two years down the road that may or may not produce an NBA rotation player.
So. Many. Questions.
Why trade NOW?
We still have five days to get to the actual draft. Why wouldn’t the Celtics wait until the Sixers are on the clock after the Lakers make their pick at #2?
Probably because the Celtics don’t plan to keep the #3 pick. Rumors are already flying that the Celtics now want to use the #3 pick and the other pick they got in this deal, plus one or more of their own (they still have the next two Nets picks in their back pocket) and some players to get the player they REALLY want.
By executing this trade 4 days early (the Celtics can finalize it tomorrow with the league office), the Celtics now have plenty of time to push for a trade for an All-Star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. George only has one year left on his contract, though, so that would be a risky move.
Rumorly, the Celtics still want to sign Gordon Hayward outright, even while acquiring Butler or George, who presumably could co-exist as a pair of small forwards in the same lineup. One would most often push to shooting guard, which makes Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart less valuable.
The Celtics are not done making moves, if they can keep finding trading partners.
How does this impact the #4 pick?
We don’t yet know how the Suns draft board ACTUALLY shakes out. If you take Markelle Fultz off the board, any of the next 5 guys could conceivably take any position of order on a team’s final board.
- Lonzo Ball (passer-est)
- Josh Jackson (Garnett-iest)
- De’Aaron Fox (athletic-est)
- Jayson Tatum (Melo-est)
- Jonathan Isaac (toolsie-est)
There is no major talent difference between that next pack of players. They just bring different skills to the table.
If the Suns are desperate for ONE of those players, then the rumor of absorbing a bad contract (Luol Deng?) from the Lakers to move up to #2 overall could make sense. The Suns can eat the money if they are getting their core player of the future.
The Sixers are now for sure taking Markelle Fultz.
The Celtics are for sure not sure they want any of these guys and might just trade out of the draft entirely if they can get an All-Star.
Which player would a trade-in team want at #3? Presumably, the trade-in team would be either the Bulls or the Pacers. Either team giving up their current All-Star small forward will likely want a replacement. So, either Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum.
If the Lakers are still taking Ball at #2 like most everyone STILL expects despite these smoke screens, guess how the draft board will shake out ahead of the Suns pick?
- Markelle Fultz (
- Lonzo Ball (Lakers)
- Josh Jackson/Jayson Tatum (
Yep. The same we always expected anyway. Sure, there’s a chance for a surprise or two, but very likely nothing has changed ahead of the Suns pick at #4.
The Suns must still ask themselves: Do we like Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson SO much that we’re willing to give up something to be 100% sure we get him? Or, is De’Aaron Fox or Jonathan Isaac good enough to be our choice anyway, no matter what happens in the first three picks?
How does this impact the #5 pick?
The Sixers/Celtics trade doesn't necessarily impact the Kings at #5, except for one area in particular: the cost of trading up in this draft just went down a bit.
Rumor had it the Kings were at least considering packaging this year’s #5 AND #10 picks just to move up 1-3 slots to ensure they get De’Aaron Fox.
Now seeing the Sixers move up two slots for the mere most-likely cost of a 2019 unprotected pick via a bad team (the Kings themselves) must make the Kings feel a little more bold about their endeavors.
Except the Kings have little else to trade in the way of first round draft picks. They have already traded their 2019 first round pick (no protections). With the Stepien Rule that means they cannot trade either of their 2018 or 2020 picks in any deal prior to the 2018 draft next summer.
The Kings DO have the Sixers’ second round pick this year (#34) in their back pocket. They also have an abundance of duplicative young forward/centers, and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic is 25 now, but just won the Euroleague Championship AND league MVP trophy this spring, so he MIGHT come to the NBA now on a market-level deal. Some combination of those assets could help them move up a slot or two.
What if the Kings call up the Suns, who likely don’t want De’Aaron Fox anyway, and offer the #5, #34 and Bogdan to move to #4? Or even just the #5 and Bogdan?
Or, the Kings could call the Lakers and offer something like #5, #34, Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan to move up to #2?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Kings make a move, leaving the Suns or Lakers still with the choice at #5 of the last man sitting between Ball, Tatum and Jackson.
Would the Lakers even want to take that chance and drop all the way from #2 to #5, given their 2018 first round draft pick is sure to finally to convey to... someone? Especially if the booty doesn’t really include any star power beyond that #5 pick?
Overall impact to Suns
Depends on what the Suns really want.
If the Suns really want Josh Jackson or Lonzo Ball, then they need to trade up to the #2 slot all by themselves. Is it worth taking on a bad contract or two to get there?
If the Suns are focusing instead on De’Aaron Fox, Jonathan Isaac or Jayson Tatum, then staying right there at the #4 slot is perfect.
And if the Suns are okay with ANY of those three (Fox/Isaac/Tatum), then why not explore trading down to #5 if it gets you some asset(s) you didn’t have.
Gonna be an interesting week, Suns fans.
Hold onto your hats! Trade winds are a blowin‘
*all draft picks rights and protections courtesy of realgm.com