ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe reported Friday that the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are in “serious talks” over a deal that would send the number one pick to Philadelphia in exchange for likely the number three pick as well as other future picks. This would mean the Celtics would be passing up on drafting Markelle Fultz to add more assets, with Josh Jackson a likely target at the third pick.
Zach Lowe then went on SportsCenter and said the deal is essentially agreed to as of Friday evening. The Sixers would most likely send the Los Angeles Lakers’ unprotected 2018 draft pick with this year’s number three pick. The 2018 Lakers pick is expected to be a high lottery pick in a draft with several fascinating prospects, per usual.
League sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me that the Sixers and Celtics are in serious talks on a trade involving the No. 1 overall pick.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 16, 2017
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Sixers are waiting for medical information on Markelle Fultz, which would corroborate the serious nature of the talks as reported by ESPN. Woj reports the talks are far along enough that Fultz may travel to Philadelphia on Saturday to meet with team leadership.
Sense from involved parties in Boston-Philly talks is Cs are all in. Checking physicals, poised to give No. 1 for package centered on No. 3— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 16, 2017
This would be a blockbuster deal that would draw a connection to the rumors of the Celtics’ interest in swing Josh Jackson or possibly dynamic scorer Jason Taytum. ESPN’s Chad Ford reported this week that an anonymous GM told him that he thinks the Celtics love Jackson so much that they would consider taking him at the first pick. Trading down to add more assets makes sense if he is at the top of their board. Of course, there is always the chance the Lakers pass on Lonzo Ball to take Jackson, presenting the Celtics with a fascinating decision if they are picking at three.
A move down from Fultz to take a player like Jackson would be a big surprise, although the Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown picks show the Ainge administration’s adoration for guys with intensity and high basketball IQ. Multiple sources had previously told CelticsBlog that one of the major goals for Fultz was for him to increase his intensity and physicality. Jackson certainly does not have this concern.
This opens the door to a potential commitment to a more comprehensive youth rebuild. It also reduces the cap hold of the draft pick sitting on the Celtics’ books going into free agency, making it easier to fit in a max salary to someone like Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin. If the Celtics were to draft a wing like Taytum or Jackson, it could make Griffin a more probable fit than Hayward. A move like this would possibly indicate that the Celtics already have a high degree of confidence that they will get one of their free agency targets. It would also mean Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown will be included in prospective trade talks, as the Celtics would have a logjam at the wing/swing.
However, this could set the stage for the Celtics to send a multitude of top picks for a seemingly unattainable trade target such as Anthony Davis, with enough picks in the package to allow a complete rebuild overnight for a team such as the Pelicans. The Celtics already have the number one and next year’s Nets pick, but this trade could allow them to posses at least three or four high lottery picks to package if the Sixers’ rights to the Lakers and Kings picks next year are in play.
New Orleans’ GM Dell Demps is in a peculiar situation, where he has been essentially fighting for his job for years and has taken several steps to try to make his team a playoff contender. Demps knows that if Davis doesn’t see a clear path to contention in the near future that he could demand a trade at a time where leverage is poor. A draft night trade that can give the Pelicans an unprecedented package of picks could be his only exit strategy while saving face. If the Celtics are getting back channel feedback that a star such as Davis is ready to leverage his way out of town, this may be their one change to facilitate it.
While there is little to indicate that Davis is a possibility, he is one of the few truly elite young players that is in a situation where the current team is in a difficult spot.
The other possibility is to facilitate a trade for an All-Star currently on the market such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler, while still retaining enough high picks to maintain a two-phase rebuild. The gamble here is that
It is eerily reminiscent of the last time the Celtics owned the top pick in the draft, which they traded to the Warriors — who were once in Philadelphia — for the number three pick and Robert Parish. They took Kevin McHale with that pick and formed the original Big Three with Larry Bird.
Their teammate? Danny Ainge.