With the 2017 NBA Draft coming up on June 22, the Boston Celtics are widely expected to select 19-year-old University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz with the top pick in the draft, a pick they won in the May 16 NBA Draft Lottery. However, as would also be expected, rumors have now surfaced that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge will trade that coveted pick — specifically, the rumors have indicated that the Philadelphia 76ers or Indiana Pacers could end up picking first in the draft, after making a blockbuster trade with the Celtics.
The consensus among draft experts, based on a survey of mock draft postings from 12 prognosticators conducted by NBA.com, is that Fultz will indeed become that overall top pick, with all 12 mock drafts agreeing that the Celtics will select Ball. And the young Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native has said that he hopes to become that pick — and to go to the Celtics.
“I want to be the Number One pick really bad,” Fultz told ESPN.com this week. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and I feel like I would fit well in Boston.”
However, according to the rumors, Fultz would indeed become the Number one pick — but he would not go to Boston. In fact, in one scenario popularized by former HBO host and ESPN commentator Bill Simmons, himself a devoted Celtics fan, Fultz would end up in Philadelphia with Boston’s traditional rival, the 76ers — the result of a complicated three-team trade.
Here’s how the Simmons scenario would play out. The third team involved would be, according to Simmons, the Sacramento Kings who would acquire the third overall pick in the draft from Philadelphia — a pick they would presumably use on another 19-year-old point guard, De’Aaron Fox of the Kentucky Wildcats.
–Philly gets 1 (Fultz)
–Kings get 3 (Fox), 37, Boston’s 2018 1st
–Celts get: 5 (Isaac), 10 (?), Saric, LAL’s 2018 1st
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) May 29, 2017
Sacramento would also pick up the highest of Boston’s three second-round picks, at Number 37, a pick that originally belonged to the Minnesota Timberwolves but acquired by Boston when the Celtics traded Brandan Wright to the Phoenix Suns in 2015. And finally, the Kings would take Boston’s 2018 first-round pick.
The Sixers would get only the top pick in this year’s draft, which they would use to select Fultz. But the Celtics would make off with arguably the richest haul in the three-team deal, in exchange for surrendering the top pick on June 22. Not only would Philadelphia, according to Simmons, send 23-year-old Croatian power forward Dario Saric to Boston, the Celtics would also pick up the fifth pick in the 2017 draft from Sacramento — a pick that once belonged to Philadelphia — and in 2018, the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round pick which is now owned by the 76ers.
Boston, Simmons expects, would use the fifth pick to select six-foot-10-inch, 19-year-old power forward Jonathan Isaac, a player who has been compared to Kevin Durant for his combination of size and fluid style of play.
But a second Celtics rumor, this one originated by CBS Sports draft expert Reid Forgrave, paints a very different picture. In this one, Ainge and the Celtics — who made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017, but were dominated in that series by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers — adopt a “go for it now” mentality, sending not only this year’s top pick, but also two second-round picks and a first round pick in 2019 for superstar forward Paul George.
Forgrave also sees the Celtics picking up 32-year-old veteran center Al Jefferson — their own first-round pick way back in 2004 — as part of the deal.
“This trade assumes that George shows interest in staying with Boston and not just in hopping on the first train to Los Angeles, and that Gordon Hayward stays put in Utah instead of heading to Boston,” added Forgrave, who assumes that the Pacers would pick Fultz with the top pick. “It helps that the Pacers are throwing in someone who can shore up the Celtics’ post play in Al Jefferson.”
As for what the Celtics think of all of these draft rumors and trade speculation — Ainge has not ruled out any option, telling the Boston Globe, “We still know we need to get better. Everybody in our organization knows we need to get better. We need to add.”
[Featured Image By Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]