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Irish Coffee: Valuing Celtics lottery trade potential

05.20.14 at 2:40 am ET

As the Celtics await their NBA lottery fate Tuesday, when Danny Ainge learns his reward for watching this past abysmal season, let’€™s keep in mind the potential trade value of a pick that could range anywhere from 1-8.

If Ainge hopes to land Kevin Love or make another draft-day trade, using this lottery bait, he must™ weigh the relative merits of keeping or trading the pick. A look back at deals involving top-eight selections over the last decade offers some insight into a) the level of talent each pick fetches in return, and b) who actually wins these trades.


6. Nerlens Noel, 76ers

On draft day, Philadelphia surprisingly sent All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and the No. 42 pick (Pierre Jackson) to the Pelicans for the right to draft Noel and a protected 2014 first-round selection. The winner of this trade remains to be seen. Still, if Holiday landed a top-six pick, what’€™s Rajon Rondo worth? A top-three pick?


6. Damian Lillard, Blazers

In possibly the decade’€™s worst trade, the Nets exchanged this lottery pick, Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams for Portland’€™s Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline. Just a hunch, but I’m guessing the Celtics would have no such luck dealing Wallace for Julius Randle come draft night.


1. Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers (from Clippers)

In an abomination of a trade, the Clippers dealt an eventual lottery pick and Baron Davis to Cleveland for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon at the 2011 trade deadline. Had the Clips known their pick would ultimately be No. 1 overall, they never would have pulled the trigger. (Then again, had the Clips known a lot of things …) Regardless, this gives Ainge a lot to think about if he lands the first overall pick.

3. Enes Kanter, Jazz (from Nets)

Again at the 2011 trade deadline, Utah swapped Deron Williams for New Jersey’€™s Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first-round picks, including Kanter. Now, this is the kind of trade Ainge might be looking for if he decides to deal Rondo. Likewise, Williams was a two-time All-Star by then, not all that dissimilar from Love.

7. Bismack Biyombo, Bobcats (from Kings)

In a three-team trade, Charlotte landed Biyombo from the Kings and Corey Maggette from the Bucks. Meanwhile, Sacramento received John Salmons and the No. 10 pick (Jimmer Fredette), and the Bucks acquired Beno Udrih, Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and the No. 19 pick (Tobias Harris). Somewhere Tommy Heinsohn sticks a needle into an Adam Silver voodoo doll, praying the C’s don’t end up at seven.


5. Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves (from Wizards)

The Wizards dealt the fifth overall pick, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Bad times. I can’t see Ainge trading a top-five pick for anything but a bona fide star.

6. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (from Celtics)

This Minnesota pick actually once belonged to the Celtics, who originally acquired it in 2006, but found its way back to the Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett deal. Things kind of worked out OK for Boston here, although it took a heckuva lot more than the sixth overall pick to acquire KG (i.e., Can Jared Sullinger be Al Jefferson 2.0?).


3. O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies (from Timberwolves)
5. Kevin Love, Timberwolves (from Grizzlies)

Minnesota and Memphis swapped picks and a ton of players. The T-Wolves acquired Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins in addition to Love’€™s draft rights. And the Grizzlies received Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner with Mayo. While Minny still hasn’€™t reached the playoffs with Love, it’€™s the organization’€™s inability to make more moves like this one that has him wanting out. At the time, this was essentially a pick-for-a-pick trade, but it stresses the importance of targeting the right player come draft day should Ainge hold onto the pick.


5. Jeff Green, SuperSonics (from Celtics)

In the most memorable draft-day trade of recent memory around these parts, the Celtics traded the fifth overall pick along with Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a 2008 second-round pick to Seattle for Ray Allen and the No. 35 pick (Glen Davis). Naturally, Allen became a staple of the C’€™s new Big Three era while Green found his way back to Boston after a few solid seasons in Oklahoma City. Ainge would make this trade one million out of one million times, except Love is just entering his prime whereas Allen was already past his 30th birthday in 2008.

8. Brandan Wright, Warriors (from Bobcats)

Charlotte dealt the eighth pick for Jason Richardson and the No. 36 selection (Jermareo Davidson). Richardson played just one season in Charlotte, and Wright never amounted to anything more than a role player. What a sad state of affairs the eighth pick would be for the C’s. Thankfully, there’s only a 0.3 percent chance of that happening.


2. LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers (from Bulls)
4. Tyrus Thomas, Bulls (from Blazers)

The Bulls dealt the No. 2 pick and a 2007 second-rounder for the No. 4 pick and the immortal Viktor Khryapa. Thomas never reached his potential, and Aldridge is a perennial All-Star. If Ainge lands outside the top three, he can at least take solace in the fact that the Bulls were dumb enough to let a team back into it.

6. Brandon Roy, Blazers (from Timberwolves)
7. Randy Foye, Timberwolves (from Blazers)

The Blazers and Wolves swapped picks, but Portland originally moved into that spot in the deal that sent the C’€™s No. 7  pick, Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau to Portland for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff‘€™s expiring contract and a 2008 second-round pick that was later used to acquire Allen. More than anything, this was a cap-saving move for the Celtics. Could we see a No. 7 pick, Wallace and whoever the current Celtics version of Dickau is for a poop soup cap-friendly package like this again? Not exactly the fireworks Wyc Grousbeck promised.

8. Rudy Gay, Grizzlies (from Rockets)

The Rockets dealt the eighth pick and Stromile Swift for Shane Battier, whose impact was later documented in a Michael Lewis piece: ‘€œThe No-Stats All-Star.‘€ Meanwhile, Gay has developed into a productive, albeit oft-traded player. Not a terrible trade for either team, but Ainge sure isn’t going into the lottery thinking, “Boy, I’m just hoping to not pull off a terrible trade.” Again, this is the problem of the C’s drafting in the latter half of their potential spots.


3. Deron Williams, Jazz (from Blazers)
6. Martell Webster, Blazers (from Jazz)

The Blazers traded the third pick for the No. 6 pick, No. 27 pick (Linas Kleiza) and a 2006 first-rounder (Joel Freeland). Ouch, ouch and ouch. Funny how we keep seeing the same names over and over again. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or Mike Zarren) to figure out it’s better to be drafting in the top three than the next three.


2. Emeka Okafor, Bobcats (from Clippers)
4. Shaun Livingston, Clippers (from Bobcats)

In a weak draft, the Clippers dealt the second overall pick for Charlotte’€™s first- and second-round picks, selecting Livingston and Lionel Chalmers at No. 4 and 34, respectively. More like Blockbuster Video than a blockbuster trade. Again, though, this represents another precedent for trading up a couple picks at the top of the draft. Remember, the C’s also own the No. 17 pick and could offer, say, the No. 5 pick and No. 17 pick for the rights to Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid. It’s at least a possibility if the Ping Pong balls don’t fall their way.

5. Devin Harris, Mavericks (from Wizards)

The Wizards sent the No. 5 overall pick along with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner to Dallas in exchange for Antawn Jamison. Harris and Jamison eventually received All-Star Game invitations, helping their new teams to the playoffs, but both players were ultimately traded again without making a significant impact. Would the Celtics really be happy acquiring an established player of a 28-year-old Jamison’s caliber with a top-five pick?

7. Luol Deng, Bulls (from Suns)

The Suns acquired a future first-round selection (Nate Robinson, the No. 21 overall pick in 2005, who was subsequently dealt to the Knicks for Dijon Thompson and Kurt Thomas) as well as the 31st pick in the 2004 draft (Jackson Vroman) from the Bulls in exchange for the right to draft Deng. Chicago won that one.

In reality, few teams have pulled the trigger on draft day, and the Celtics and Timberwolves are repeatedly among them. That’s not a whole lot to hang your hat on, if you’re Ainge. And even fewer teams have successfully traded a top-eight pick for talent. More often than not, the team acquiring that pick has made out best in the deal. In fact, the Celtics are the only team of the past decade to send a pick that high elsewhere and acquire a championship piece in return — and they did it twice. Now that’s something (or someone) for Ainge to hang a hat on.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love
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