Boston Celtics Draft Rumors: Willie Cauley-Stein Target For Draft-Day Trade — But At What Price?

Draft day for the Boston Celtics on June 25 could be a busy one, if rumors surfacing around the team’s plans prove accurate. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has four picks at his disposal, starting Number 16 — and he may package them all, or at least three of them, to move up to a position as high as Number Six, some NBA draft prognosticators believe.

And if Ainge decides to make that dramatic move, he is likely to set his sights on Kentucky Wildcats seven-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein. The 21-year-old declared his eligibility for the NBA draft after his junior year, when Kentucky advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by Wisconsin.

Cauley-Stein was rated by Draft Express the top returning prospect coming out of the SEC, whose offensive work has proved surprising given his reputation as a defensive specialist.

“I thought he was really impressive,” said Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, after watching Cauley-Stein at a workout in Los Angeles on Monday. “Just to see him knocking down three-pointer after three-pointer — that I wasn’t really prepared for.”

Sports Illustrated draft experts Chris Johnson and Jeremy Woo predict that the Celtics will package the 16th, 28th, and 33rd picks and send them to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for that team’s pick at Number Six.

They see Cauley-Stein still on the board at that position — making him an ideal selection for Boston.

“The Celtics roster features several skilled young bigs, but none with the ability to anchor a defense like Cauley-Stein,” the SI experts wrote. “He’ll thrive alongside a solid guard corps and help push Boston’s rebuild forward.”

On the other hand, Draft Express sees Cauley-Stein scooped up by the Orlando Magic at Number Five — or even the New York Knicks who hold the fourth pick in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Chad Ford, the ESPN NBA analyst, doesn’t believe that the three, or even four picks that Boston could offer Sacramento — or several of the other teams selecting in the top echelon of the draft — would not be enough.

“I’m not sure what the Celtics have that would really entice them,” Ford said in a recent interview. “All want an established young player that could help them now. Marcus Smart could get them there, but I think he’s untouchable. Not sure there’s anyone else on the Celtics roster (even when you factor in future picks the Celtics can offer) that get them that high.”

Only one thing is certain — the draft rumors will continue at least until June 25 when the Boston Celtics make their move, whatever it turns out to be.

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