If Celtics  president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t call the five teams in front of him in Thursday’s NBA draft, he wouldn’t be doing his job, so it should come as no surprise he’s inquired about what it would take to acquire a top pick from the Cavaliers , Bucks, 76ers, Magic and Jazz .
In fact, Ainge also has discussed the possibility of landing picks later in the first and into the second round, according to the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy . In all likelihood, Ainge has contacted the front offices of all 29 other teams in preparation for a draft with an infinite number of possible C’s outcomes.
As for the potential of the C’s trading into the top five, a draft-day deal of top-six picks hasn’t happened since 2008, when Minnesota and Memphis swapped No. 3 (O.J. Mayo) and No. 5 (Kevin Love ), exchanging a handful of inconsequential players in the process (Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker  and Greg Buckner to the Grizzlies ; Mike Miller , Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins  to the Timberwolves ).
While Love has since become the centerpiece of blockbuster trade discussions, neither he nor Mayo were considered franchise-altering acquisitions six years ago. Derrick Rose  and Michael Beasley were the big catches of that draft, just as Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are the clear prizes this season. Love and Mayo (sing to Frank Sinatra‘s “Love and Marriage,”  please) were more akin to Julius Randle and Marcus Smart this season.
The lack of top picks changing places in recent years has a lot to do with the increased value of those players in the new collective bargaining agreement and the scarcity of teams with win-now mentalities ending up in the top five.
A move into the top two would require a package comparable to the 2005 deal that sent Deron Williams‘ draft rights at No. 3 overall to Utah in exchange for Portland’s No. 6, No. 27 and Detroit’s 2006 first-round pick. As enamored as Ainge appears to be with Parker, it’s hard to imagine him parting ways with No. 6, No. 17 and the Clippers’ 2015 first-round pick for the Duke freshman when such a package may not be enough for a player of Love’s caliber now. It’s a different story if Ainge were to trade those picks as part of a larger deal that would bring Love to Boston.
Trading up to Nos. 3-5 seems more likely if Ainge believes any one of Dante Exum, Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Randle or Smart are significantly better than the others in that group and will be off the board when the Celtics  pick. If previous drafts are any indication, it wouldn’t take much. Without even a clear No. 1 pick in 2006, the Blazers moved up to nab LaMarcus Aldridge at No. 2 in exchange for No. 4 and Victor Khryapa. That’s the equivalent of the C’s sending No. 6 and Vitor Faverani to Orlando for the right to take Embiid or Exum.
Given Ainge’s seemingly endless list of traceable assets, the revelation that the Celtics  would like a higher pick is just another reminder that anything and everything are on the table come Thursday. The possibilities are endless.