Say it with me one more time. The Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and have the number one pick in the draft. Every time I think about that it makes me grin.
Sure, LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin reminded us how far this team still needs to go, but at least we made the bully bleed his own blood once on our way down. Now it is Danny Ainge’s job to close that gap and he has many options set out before him.
Starting with the obvious, he has that number 1 pick. Most experts and fans agree that he’ll be picking Markelle Fultz, the consensus top talent in the draft and the potential future star we’ve been waiting on for a long time.
Draft night is also a night when a lot of trades happen and I’m sure we’ll be covering a steady stream of rumors leading up to it. However, I have a feeling that it will be a largely uneventful evening aside from making the 1st pick and figuring out how to use the 2nd rounders.
What might be more interesting is what happens in July when free agents start talking to teams. The Celtics made it a priority to preserve cap space just for this occasion. Just how serious is Gordon Hayward willing to consider leaving Utah? If that falls through, are there other candidates the Celtics would be willing to go after (Blake Griffin perhaps)?
Or will they then turn their attention to packaging future picks and players for Jimmy Butler or Paul George? If they strike out everywhere else, do they just give Isaiah Thomas a big contract extension now? Kelly Olynyk is a restricted free agent. How much is he going to get on the market and are the Celtics going to be willing to match?
Even putting all that aside, they will probably need to deal with the increasingly crowded backcourt once Fultz is brought on board. Who’s the odd man out? Who has the greatest trade value?
The frontcourt has the opposite problem. We may have already seen the last of Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk. Ante Zizic has some potential, but he can’t do it all himself as a rookie. The team will need to work on filling in around Al Horford.
Lots of questions and no immediate answers here. It will be very interesting to track and follow and you’ll find all your breaking news, rumor tracking, and in-depth analysis right here on CelticsBlog all summer long.