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NBA Draft: Celtics officially trade number-one pick to 76ers

The deal that was reported done over the weekend is now official. The 76ers will take Markelle Fultz first overall, and the Celtics slide down to third overall. Protections are steep, and Boston can’t get a number-one pick from Philadelphia in either potential return.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Markelle Fultz has officially left the building, that building being the TD Garden. The photoshoots, the lunches, the dreams of a new number 20 in a Celtics uniform for the future are over. The 76ers are now on the clock.

After a weekend of reports, speculation, debate and finally clarity on the return, the Celtics officially announced their trade with Philadelphia on Monday. The return is what was expected, but steep protections on the pick the Cs will be getting back are now known.

In exchange for flipping number one for number three, the Celts will receive the 2018 Lakers first-round pick from the Sixers if it is between second and fifth overall. If it’s first or 6-30, the Sixers keep it, and Boston’s return gets pushed back to 2019.

What’s new is that the 2019 pick the Cs could potentially receive is in the form of a pick swap. They’ll either get the Sixers’ or the Kings’ first-round pick in ‘19, whichever is more favorable, but there’s one catch. If the 76ers own the number-one overall pick in 2019, the Celts get the lower pick and Philadelphia keeps number one.

The notion that Boston can’t get a number-one pick back in the future from Philadelphia after giving one up is as tough to digest as the motive of this deal. Stephen A. Smith hinted at the Celtics’ interest in acquiring Jimmy Butler from the Bulls out of the three spot, but the Celts worked out Jayson Tatum today in a possible sign that they could be using the pick.

Danny Ainge said after the trade that the player they want to select could still be available at three, giving further clout to them using that pick.

All that is known now is that this is the boldest deal of Ainge’s tenure as GM, one that could become career-defining alongside his Kevin Garnett trade that brought a championship back to Boston in 2008. The next move they make before Thursday’s NBA Draft will finally reveal the motive, whether this deal was made to bring in an All-Star or to push the Celtics’ draft-pick assets backward.

The 76ers have announced a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today.

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