The trade that will send the overall number one pick in the NBA Draft from the Celtics to the Sixers in exchange for the third pick in the draft is expected to be made official today. Everyone is asking, "What is Danny Ainge thinking?" Some ask the question derisively thinking he's crazy to be gambling on "assets" when "sure thing" Markelle Fultz is just sitting there at number one. And he's trading him to a Division rival? Crazy!
Others are asking "What is Danny Ainge thinking?" because they think/know that another shoe will be dropping. Put me in this camp.
My guess is Ainge is fine with trading the number one for the third pick because Fultz wasn't at the top of his draft board anyway. If that's the case why not pick up another great asset like the 2-5th pick in next years's draft or the unprotected Kings pick in 2019 and still get the guy you had listed at number one on your draft board? Remember Ainge was the guy who saw the potential of Isaiah Thomas when nobody else in the NBA did and used a draft pick he got basically for free to trade for him. Ainge is an excellent talent evaluator.
So what does Boston do with all these assets Ainge has accumulated? Paul George? How about the Lakers pick next year (or Kings 2019 1st), Jae Crowder and the Celtics 2019 1st rounder. Does that get it done? Or does it raise the stakes to weaken the other contenders who match the offer? Paul could be a one-year rental or he could love Boston like Paul Pierce (another LA native who dreamed of playing for the Lakers). At the least George would allow Jaylen Brown another year to grow into the position.
Jimmy Butler? Another possibility but what price would the Bulls want for Butler? And how would that effect Jaylen Brown's development (Brown is basically just a younger Butler). My guess is the price is judged to be too steep for Butler.
How about the unhappy Kristaps Porzingis? Ainge has already shown he's not afraid to deal within the Division. Why not make a Godfather-type offer to the desiccated husk that is Phil Jackson?
Anthony Davis? This is the Holy Grail and Ainge now has to pieces to make a really attractive offer to the Pelicans.
What about Free Agents Gordon Haywood and Blake Griffin? Haywood has been the most mentioned because of his ties to coach Brad Stevens but Utah can offer more money and now that it's clear that the Pacers will be trading Paul George they will need a marquee player replacement and and the Indiana native Haywood fits that bill to a tee.
Blake Griffin has health concerns but he would fit the Celtics needs the best. The team needs rebounding help. A starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Paul George, Al Horford, and Blake Griffin would be tough to beat. And just think on how deep the bench would be with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier and the third pick from this draft would be. Griffin loves stand-up comedy so the Celtics should put Bill Burr on the recruiting trail.
Lots and lots of questions. And don't expect any answers until Ainge actually acts because like Bill Belichick - Ainge doesn't give away any hints to what he's actually thinking. The Boston press (and fans) having decades of experience with Ainge and Belichick should know this by now.
But apparently not.