|Three ways to survive in the East: Imagining Celtics president Danny Ainge’s phone conversations on NBA draft day||06.26.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
Well, it’s here. The day that will shape the Celtics‘ future, for better or worse. The 2014 NBA draft, where anything can happen happens.
With a wealth of picks, an All-Star point guard, tradeable contracts and expiring deals, Celtics president Danny Ainge is the annoying guy at a party, inserting himself into every conversation in the room.
With only hours left until Cleveland is on the clock, here are the three best possible phone conversations Ainge could have on Thursday.
1. MORTGAGE THE FARM FOR KEVIN LOVE
Danny Ainge: “Hi, Flip, it’s Danny again.”
Timberwolves president/coach Flip Saunders: “What do you want this time?”
Danny: “Are you sure you don’t want our two first-round picks this year, next year’s Clippers pick and Kelly Olynyk for Love?”
Flip: “I’m not sure how many times I can say no, but no.”
Danny: “But …”
Danny: “I’m not sure you’ve consider quite how awesome Kelly’s hair really is.”
Flip: “No means no.”
Wyc Grousbeck enters Danny’s office.
Wyc: “Fireworks, Danny, fireworks!”
Flip: “I’m sorry, did I just hear Wyc say fireworks?”
Danny: “Oh, yeah, we’ve got this Fourth of July party in a few days. It’s nothing. Didn’t you get the invite? Anywho, what if I throw Jared Sullinger into the deal?”
Flip: “Let me think about it for a second. Aaaaaaannnnnnndddddd no.”
Danny: “Ah, can you hold on for a second?”
Flip: “No …”
Danny puts the phone down. “I’d Do Anything for Love’ plays on hold.
Wyc: “We can’t afford another losing season, Danny. I met with Bob Kraft, John Henry and Jeremy Jacobs for our weekly tea and crumpets yesterday, and they were all making fun of me, telling me we’re the fifth wheel behind the Revolution. The Revs, Danny, the Revs! When Wyc promises fireworks, Wyc delivers fireworks.”
Danny picks up the phone.
Danny: “You still there, Flip?”
Danny: “How about one of Brooklyn’s picks, too?”
Flip: “Just so we’re straight: You’re offering four first-round picks, Sully and Kelly?”
Danny: “Well, when you put it that way …”
Flip: “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
Joel Embiid‘s foot and back injuries have created a domino effect leading up to the draft – especially with the holder of the fourth overall pick, the Magic.
The Kansas center’s medical issues have caused him to slide on most mock drafts, pushing players such as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum higher up in the draft order, and potentially out of Orlando’s reach.
As a result, the Magic could use both their fourth and 12th overall picks in an effort to trade into a top-three position in the draft.
“Everything’s really fluid at the moment,” said first-year Magic general manager Rob Hennigan. “I think there’s a possibility we could select at [No.] 4 and [No.] 12, and I think there’s a possibility that one or both of those picks could be in play. So our job … is to prioritize what we feel is the best opportunity for us, and then go ahead and try to capitalize on that.”
While the Magic have tradeable pieces in Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic, Hennigan would not give any hints on what his team plans to do Thursday night.
“I think the big thing for us is to just stay the course — continue to add to the team, continue to improve the team, and do it in a fashion that allows us to show improvement, [and] allows us to play in more meaningful games next season,” Hennigan said. “But at the same time we don’t want to skip steps. We don’t want to compromise our vision to build a competitive team for a long time.
“If there’s an opportunity out there that will allow us to speed that up – great. If not, I think onus is on us to continue to chip away and stay disciplined.”
Meanwhile, the Magic reportedly made a move, acquiring Evan Fournier and the No. 56 pick from the Nuggets for Arron Afflalo.
The 21-year-old Fournier, a 2012 first-round pick from France, is heading into his third NBA campaign. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds last season.
The 28-year-old Afflalo, who would have been Orlando’s top returning scorer (18.2 ppg), returns to the team he played for from 2009-12 before being sent to the Magic as part of the Dwight Howard multi-team trade. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from UCLA has an option to become a free agent after the 2014-15 season.
The Knicks center, along with point guard Raymond Felton, was traded to the Mavs in exchange for guards Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington and center Samuel Dalembert.
The Knicks also receive both of Dallas’ picks in Thursday’s draft — the 34th and 51st selections (both in the second round). New York previously did not have a pick in what should be a deep draft on Thursday.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v4.0||06.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET|
This year’s draft is starting to feel like it could be one of the most entertaining in years. Seriously, how could there be any more drama?
The old projected top pick, Joel Embiid, is injured and sliding down draft boards. We have no clue if Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker will be the No. 1 pick by the Cavaliers. We don’t even know that Cleveland will keep the first pick — teams like the Magic, Jazz and Celtics are rumored to have interest.
The Celtics also are rumored to be one of three finalists to acquire the No. 8 pick from the Kings. Then the Lakers seem pretty serious about trying to package Steve Nash and the No. 7 pick in an attempt to get young talent. Or, dare I say, the Lakers could be trying to clear cap space to make a play on Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
A mock draft seems almost pointless since we are expecting so many trades. Let’s not forget that Kevin Love‘s name will be one we hear in rumors a few times Thursday. Expect to see one of the wildest drafts in recent memory, but if there is less movement than expected, here’s how it could shake down.
1. Cavaliers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – Embiid has been projected as the top pick for a while, even with his back issues. His broken foot is a whole different monster, though. Those two red flags will cause him to slip, and Parker is the best player in the draft right now. Wiggins will get a look here, especially if the Cavs are looking for a player to fit alongside LeBron (in their dream scenario). Owner Dan Gilbert wants to be very involved in the pick, and he reportedly likes Wiggins. That’s a risky strategy for Cleveland, so just take the sure thing in Parker — the Cavs really can’t afford to blow this one.
2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The Bucks now hold the easiest pick in the draft. Sit back and see what the team with the top pick does, then take the other top prospect. If Parker goes No. 1, then Wiggins goes to Milwaukee to play with a decent young core. The Bucks may prefer one to the other, but they have to be pleased either way it plays out.
3. 76ers, Dante Exum (Australia) – Philly ends up the biggest loser as a result of the Embiid injury. The Sixers would have been the team that ended up with the third top prospect that was passed over, but now they have a difficult choice to make. Embiid probably still is too risky this high in the draft, so Exum is the best overall talent available. Exum would either come in to be a backcourt-mate to Michael Carter-Williams or to take MCW’s job if the 76ers look to trade the Rookie of the Year.
4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – With Exum off the board, and Orlando seeking a point guard, Smart makes sense with this pick. Of course, any of the big men on the board will be tempting to the Magic, but they have been most interested in Smart and Exum all year.
5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) – The Jazz already have a lot of young talent in their frontcourt. But if all the guards are taken early, and Utah does not trade up, Vonleh may be the most appealing piece. Vonleh is more capable of stepping away from the basket than the remaining bigs; that could be the determining factor.
6. Celtics, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – One of the big questions of the draft becomes how far Embiid will slip. Danny Ainge will face a tough decision if he slips to No. 6, and in the end he won’t be able to pass up Embiid’s potential. If Ainge is unable to add an All-Star caliber player through a trade, Embiid is a fantastic fit for the future to play alongside Jared Sullinger in a rebuild scenario.
|What it would take for Celtics to acquire Picks 1-5||at 11:08 am ET|
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.
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Team’s biggest needs||06.23.14 at 10:28 am ET|
With Celtics fans focused on the fantasy of acquiring players like Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, it’s easy to forget the plentiful attractive options in the 2014 NBA draft. With two first-round selections and the versatility to move or add more picks, fans should still be excited about the chance of building through the draft.
That’s one reason I published my 2014 NBA Draft Guide as a means of putting all of my research into one convenient 115-page package for fans and readers to download. This article includes a more in-depth look at what’s included for each club in the “team needs” section of the book, but watch the video above to find out what else is included in the guide, which can be downloaded by clicking here.
The Celtics roster needs a lot of work this summer, but the three biggest draft needs are a rim protector, a sharpshooter and a go-to scorer. Below are five options for each need that could be addressed with either the No. 6 or 17 pick. Click on each player’s name to discover a more complete draft profile.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v3.0||06.12.14 at 9:50 am ET|
2014 has brought us one of the most unpredictable NBA drafts in years. The only guarantee that we have just two weeks out from draft day (June 26) is that there are no sure things.
If we know one thing, it’s this: Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins will be the first three names called (in no particular order). But all three still have as legitimate a shot to go No. 1 as they do No. 2 or 3.
This is going to be the type of draft where mocks will be changing all the way up until draft night when we find out what actually happens. Here is my latest crack at trying to break it down in my mock draft 3.0, picks 1-17 pick as usual.
1. Cavaliers, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – No changes here. Embiid is going to work out for the Cavs and show them what he can do on the court. But more importantly, he will have a physical done on his back to make sure it is healthy. With Embiid’s NBA potential, it feels like only a poor medical report can keep him from being the top selection.
2. Bucks, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – I don’t see there being a debate as to whom to take between Parker and Wiggins, but many teams do. In this scenario, the Bucks make the right call. Parker is going to be a star, and could be just the building block the Bucks need to rebuild. Parker is the best player in this draft right now. He should have the inside track at Rookie of the Year no matter where he lands.
3. 76ers, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The 76ers have the easiest pick in the draft. Simply take the leftover top-three pick that Cleveland and Milwaukee pass on. Although I don’t see Wiggins reaching his ceiling, he is going to be a solid player. Michael Carter-Williams and Wiggins would create one of the biggest, fastest and most athletic backcourts in the game.
4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – Last mock I wrote that Exum going fourth to the Magic was about as sure a thing as we had in this draft. Well, over the last couple of weeks Smart has been climbing and Exum has been slipping, combining to change this pick to one of the least certain picks in the draft. Exum could still be the pick, but the Magic are just much more familiar with Smart right now. So let’s try this again. The most certain pick in the 2014 draft will be that the Magic take either Smart or Exum. There, that works.
5. Jazz, Dante Exum (Australia) – Exum falls into Utah’s lap here, and the Jazz get a great fit. With their frontcourt in place, the Jazz get a dynamic guard to put next to Trey Burke. The real question would be if Exum goes to Orlando. Would the Magic go big with Vonleh? Or stick with a guard in Smart?
6. Celtics, Aaron Gordon (Airzona, freshman) – Sorry to be boring, but reports that Danny Ainge is locked in on Gordon make it tough to go with someone else here. However, nothing is written in stone. Gordon would immediately become the Celtics‘ best athlete if he were the pick. He is not the only guy who will be working out in Waltham before the draft, though. Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Doug McDermott and Smart either have worked out or are scheduled to pay a visit so the Celtics can get a closer look at them.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v2.0 has more clarity||05.30.14 at 10:04 am ET|
About a month ago I posted my first mock draft. In the words of Lloyd Christmas, “I was way off!”
Since April, the lottery has provided us the clarity of who will own each pick, while the draft combine gave the prospects a chance to show team executives their talent. The result? A completely different draft board. We think we know the top three picks, but we have no clue in what order. This is a good draft, we know that, but predicting the picks is as tough as any year.
So without further adieu, here’s my mock draft 2.0, covering both of the Celtics‘ selections.
1. Cavaliers, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – From all accounts, it sounds like Embiid’s back is healthy. If that holds true when the 7-footer goes through his workouts, Embiid’s potential will be too high for Cleveland to pass up. Everyone is quick to use the Greg Oden comparison, but Embiid is much smoother on his feet for his size.
2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The Bucks are absolutely horrible, but they have good young pieces in Larry Sanders, John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since they already have so many players to develop, why not do the same with Wiggins? Personally, I do not see Wiggins as a star in the league. But if the Bucks do, they will roll the dice on him.
3. 76ers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – Philly makes out great here coming away with a sure thing. Parker is ready to play now and probably would be the best player on the 76ers roster. At worst he is a longtime NBA starter, but I see Parker as the clear-cut best player in this draft. I would be surprised if he did not end up as a less-selfish Carmelo Anthony-type player.
4. Magic, Dante Exum (Australia) – Orlando has long loved Exum. The Magic should have the chance to snag him at No. 4, and they will if they can. This is probably the surest pick in the draft at the moment. There are rumors that Philly would take Exum and No. 3 and look to trade the Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams. MCW’s trade value probably will never be higher, but taking Exum over Parker would be a mistake.
5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) – Vonleh has scouts going crazy over his 7-foot, 4 1/2-inch wingspan. Obviously that is a nice quality to have in a league with as much size as the NBA, but is Vonleh’s length important enough to draft over talents like Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon? I’m not yet sold, but many are.
6. Celtics, Aaron Gordon (Arizona, freshman) – From all I can gather, Danny Ainge loves Gordon if he is going to use the No. 6 pick. I wrote last week about the players that Ainge will most likely be selecting from with this pick. There are some unique talents on the list, but in the end Gordon’s potential, flexibility to play both forward spots, and versatility on both ends of the floor make him the pick.