|05.23.16 at 3:10 pm ET|
If you’re wondering what Danny Ainge is thinking heading into June 23, think long-term instead of short-term.
Appearing on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night, the president of basketball operations for the Celtics suggested that there’s a lot to consider when weighing trading the No. 3 pick or holding onto it for the best player available at that spot.
“[The pick] certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker, so that sets that back a little bit. Or we’d have to give up more [talent as part of a trade],” Ainge told the show. “I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”
So, it appears that Ainge is suggesting that making any trade to bring back a reasonable piece would involve trading one of his existing pieces, not necessarily a deal it sounds like he’s ready to make, at least not yet.
“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Ainge told the show. “We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something that’s sustainable for a longer period of time.
“I think that that’s my job in the organization. I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know my players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it. I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think we’re all on board. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit that sacrifices future assets.”
There’s been plenty of speculation as to whether the Celtics would trade the No. 3 to Philadelphia for a chance to take Providence College star Kris Dunn, after presumably taking either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.
But if the Celtics hold onto the pick, it’s not likely that they go with Dunn. Instead, names like 7-footer Dragan Bender, sharp-shooter Jamaal Murray and scoring phenom Buddy Hield are in the mix.
Then Ainge made his biggest point, something to consider whether the Celtics draft a player, sign one in free agency or acquire a player this summer in a trade.
“A player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that player’s the best player, we have to take him,” said Ainge. “We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance. There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans haven’t been excited about on draft day.
“Last year, I remember [Kristaps] Porzingis was drafted in New York and they were booing all over the place and you’re like, ‘Well, why would they be booing so much on Porzingis?’ When you draft players, I remember when I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash and we were booed. I remember being booed when Dan Majerle was drafted in Phoenix. You can’t base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do. You just really have to use our experience, our work, and our eyes, and we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is.”
|05.23.16 at 9:25 am ET|
As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Wizards guard Bradley Beal (assuming he re-signs in Washington or somewhere else) or Jazz guard Gordon Hayward.
The case for Beal
At 6-foot-5, Beal has the ideal length to be a shooting guard, the role he’s most prominently served in Washington next to John Wall. He averaged a team-leading and career-best 17.4 points per game over 55 games this past season. He led the Wizards in their 10 playoff games from 2015 when he averaged 23.4 points. He is a career 40 percent shooter from 3-point range, another huge plus in the Stevens system. He is still very, very young, only turning 23 in June.
The case against Beal
Not worth the trouble and way too complicated. To acquire Beal, the Celtics could either go out and spend for him as a restricted free agent, opening the door for the Wizards to match or use Bird rights on him. Beal’s spent his first four years trying to prove he is a part of Washington’s future. Beal is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1 because he and the team didn’t come to terms on a contract extension before a Nov. 2 deadline. “I want to be here. I don’t know,” Beal said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t even know what I’m getting into right now. It’s like choosing colleges again. But I’m happy where I am. Hopefully, we can agree with each other this summer and we can get it done. But if not, it’s a business at the end of the day.”
|05.23.16 at 9:09 am ET|
ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman checked in with WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Mike Giardi this past weekend to talk about the Celtics’ draft options and what president of basketball operations Danny Ainge should do going forward. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.
During his time on the show, Goodman provided brief scouting reports on the top players available in this year’s NBA draft. The Celtics have a whopping eight picks this year, including the third overall pick. Goodman said he was unsure of whom Ainge will select with the No. 3 pick, but he offered his best guess.
“Gun to my head, if it stays the way it is, I think he goes with Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray, one of those two. I would go with Buddy Hield,” Goodman said. “I’m not overly objective about Buddy Hield, I’ve spent a ton of time with him, I went down to the Bahamas and spent some time with his family before the Final Four. I just love the kid’s work ethic, I love how he’s developed at Oklahoma in four years, I love how he can really shoot the basketball, and now he can score off the bounce, and those are two things the Celtics need desperately. I think his upside is high because of how much he’s gotten better. He can help the Celtics now because he is 22 years old. He is high character. Lon Kruger, the Oklahoma head coach, told me multiple times [that] he’s the hardest worker he’s ever had in his career, and Lon’s been doing this for 35 years.
Added Goodman: “So those are the two guys that fit the most. Jamal Murray, the freshman at Kentucky who’s very good but not a great athlete, a really good shooter, a combo guard from Canada, had a great year this year. The X factor in all of this is, can you trade the pick?”
When asked about possible trade scenarios for Boston, Goodman was not in favor of Ainge trading up for the presumptive No. 2 pick, Duke power forward Brandon Ingram.
“I wouldn’t do it,” Goodman said. “I love Brandon Ingram, but what you’d have to give up to go from three to two is not worth it, it’s not worth giving up a ton, and I’m not even sure the Lakers would do it. To me, Brandon Ingram fits what the Lakers need desperately. They can play small-ball with him, he played the four this year at Duke. It’s just not going to happen.”
|05.21.16 at 8:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — A show of hands: Who remembers, without googling, when John Stockton was taken in the 1984 draft?
If you answered 16th, you win the prize for best understanding where we’re going with the following premise. As much as will be made of the significance of the third overall pick in the NBA (and understandably so), the Celtics also own the 16th and 23rd picks in the June 23 restocking exercise called the NBA draft and could wind up with a gem.
In that ’84 draft, everyone remembers eventual Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Rockets, Michael Jordan third to the Bulls and Charles Barkley fifth to the Sixers. But it was another future Hall of Famer in Stockton who slipped through the cracks and fell to the Jazz at 16.
There was a lot of talk this week from the Celtics about why those second two first-round picks shouldn’t be forgotten. One high-ranking executive told me, “We are in a great position. The Nets did the losing for us to get the third overall pick and we have Dallas’ and our own. This should be a lot of fun for Danny.”
Indeed, the Celtics president of basketball operations and his son, Austin, the director of player personnel, not only will have multiple scenarios for No. 3 but 16 and 23 as well.
“Obviously, you have to prepare for the entire draft, and we do that with every draft. It doesn’t really change that much for our preparation,” Austin Ainge said. “But obviously, toward the top of draft, it usually has a bigger impact on your franchise so you try to focus a lot on those guys. But there are franchise that have been drafted in every range, and that’s the benefit of having multiple picks, multiple swings at the bat.
“It’s all in context. You have their high school career, their college career, their workouts, their measurements, some of the background information we collect. It all just adds up so it’s all just small bits of information adding together. Can’t let one bit sway everything, and certainly a workout won’t, but it helps us.
“I think that’s the case in every draft, and it’s not that they end up being the same, it’s just hard for us to tell. We always say six of these next 40 picks are going to end up being really good players. It’s just that we don’t know which ones. It’s hard.”
|05.20.16 at 2:10 pm ET|
As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Oklahoma scorer Buddy Hield or Cal forward Jaylen Brown
The case for Hield
Did you watch a second of college basketball this season? Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.
The case against Hield
The senior thing actually works against him among NBA types concerned that he’s already at or near his ceiling. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level. He’s also considered a subpar defender, though Brad Stevens could change that. The biggest knock on Hield is that he’s a finished product with a not of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case scenario projections.
The case for Brown
Brown is in many ways the opposite of Hield: He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.
The case against Brown
His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers.
Brown may be more athletic and projectable, but Hield has the potential to be a legit NBA scorer with unlimited range. We’ll take polish over potential.
|05.19.16 at 6:17 pm ET|
As the days pass by leading up to this year’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice”
Today: Trading for Jahlil Okafor, using the No. 3 pick as the primary chip, or drafting Dragan Bender.
The case for Okafor
As the No. 3 overall pick a year ago, the Sixers forward established himself as a legitimate, top-notch NBA big man. At just 20 years old, Okafor was named to the NBA All-Rookie team, having averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds while playing 30 minutes per contest. He’s the legitimate, go-to, 7-footer the Celtics crave.
The case against Okafor
Google “Okafor, trouble” and you’ll get a flurry of posts using words like “off-court incident.” He also isn’t the kind of rebounder the Celtics might want from their presence in the paint.
|05.19.16 at 1:43 pm ET|
According to a story on Bleacher Report, the Lakers will seriously entertain offers for the No. 2 pick in the draft, which is widely expected to be Duke shooter Brandon Ingram. Such a move could seriously impact the Celtics.
If Los Angeles deals the No. 2 pick, that would make the Celtics’ third pick that much less valuable. If the 76ers select LSU’s Ben Simmons first overall, as expected, the Lakers hold the ticket for Ingram. The talent drop-off is considered steep after those two and the Celtics own first crack at the best of the rest.
Still, if a club is willing to listen on a player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George, or Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, the second pick will be a lot more enticing than the third.
The Lakers, according to the report, are willing to listen on the pick because they want to improve sooner rather than later, particularly with the 76ers holding their first-round pick next year if it falls outside the top three.
From the story:
Still, the Lakers will actively explore trading the pick. They want to get better as soon as possible—in part to make sure Philadelphia doesn’t get too good of a pick next year when the Lakers’ first-rounder conveys to the 76ers if it’s outside the top three. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is also seeking a better blend of youth and experience on the roster.
But it’s an open question if the Lakers can find a star another club is willing to send away. Trading away the likes of Paul George or Jimmy Butler would be hard-to-explain steps back for the Pacers or Bulls. And with George Karl gone and a new arena to open, the Kings aren’t likely to move DeMarcus Cousins.
It’s also valid to wonder why the Lakers would want to give up young assets they have under cost-controlled contracts that would fit perfectly with massive incoming free-agent deals.
So while nothing is definite with any of these picks, it’s worth noting that the Celtics may soon have some competition on the trade front.
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