Danny Ainge is the belle of the ball right now. Everyone wants to sign up for his dance card. Holding the number one pick in the NBA Draft means that you are going to get a lot of phone calls. By all accounts, the chances of him actually trading that pick are somewhere between slim and none, but he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t pick up the phone and listen.
Danny Ainge said “a handful of teams” has already expressed interest in acquiring the No. 1 choice from the Celtics, and those suitors are probably just getting started.
“There’s two things that are happening,” Ainge said. “I think the value of [the pick] increases the closer you get to the draft is one, and two is we really need to know the value of the whole draft, because some of the conversations that you have are trading down in the draft and trading picks for players, moving backward and so forth. So we’re in the process of evaluating the whole draft, and we’re fielding phone calls.”
Again, I don’t think for a moment that the Celtics are seriously considering trading back in the draft unless they are getting an enormous haul in return.
However, that last bit is an important part of the conversation. Sure, everyone is going to call about the number 1 pick, but when that discussion goes nowhere, the topic turns to other trades and options that may be on the table.
It is well known that the Celtics are looking to make a run at Gordon Hayward in July. If they do have the opportunity to sign him, they’ll need to clear some more salary from their cap and that means trading established players for picks and/or players with lower salaries.
The timing is a bit dicey because the draft happens before free agency and they won’t know yet if they have Hayward in hand when the draft comes. However, if they wait till they get a commitment from Hayward before they make a trade, they could have less leverage in negotiations and be forced to make a less than ideal return just to clear space. Additionally, the team has a lot of guards and might be in the market to trade small-for-big anyway.
It all adds up to trade options that the Celtics need to consider. So if they are going to consider any deals that involve draft picks in this year’s draft, they have to “evaluate the whole draft” as Ainge said.
The upshot: Don’t sleep on the draft after the #1 pick. There could be more moving and shaking as the night goes along.