On Tuesday, May 16 2017, the Boston Celtics were awarded the Brooklyn Nets rights to the number one pick in the upcoming draft over the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers. With Boston currently sitting as one of the best teams to ever receive the first overall pick, and also with the plethora of trade options that will now become available, the Celtics are playing chess with the rest of the league, and it is looking very bright. The 2017 draft appears to have some of the best talent we’ve seen in a draft for a while, so the first pick will be highly coveted.
On May 18th, the All-NBA team rosters were announced, thus unveiling the list of players that are eligible for the NBA’s “super max” contract, worth 5 years and 207 million dollars. Top targets Paul George and Gordon Hayward were absent from this list, making them ineligible for any contract beyond the standard max. While the Celtics only have the money for one max contract, they will still have the cash to acquire either player, if all goes according to plan.
Former Celtic, Paul Pierce has expressed his opinion on what Boston should do with their pick, stating that the team should use it as trade bait to grab one of the available stars. Who knows if Boston will listen to their former star, however they may want to consider his words seeing as Paul Pierce was the one to get them the pick by convincing teammate Kevin Garnett to waive his no trade clause to go to the Nets back in 2013, giving the Celtics this pick plus other first round picks.
If the Celtics choose to listen to Pierce and look to trade the pick, it seems that all focus will be on stars Paul George and Jimmy Butler. Jimmy to Boston rumors have surfaced every deadline, and George’s name has also come up recently due to the failing Indiana Pacers franchise and George’s soon to expire contract. To land a player of either George or Butler’s magnitude, the pick would surely have to be dangled to entice the respective GM, along with other assets. Since Jimmy Butler was named to the All-NBA third team, the eligibility for a super max contract is something to keep in mind as well for the Celtics.
However, if Boston decides that one of the prospects eligible for the draft is more enticing than a trade possibility, Danny Ainge will be quick to fire the trigger on acquiring them on draft night. Projected first overall pick, Markelle Fultz has previously expressed that he and Isaiah Thomas, also a Washington alum, would work well together. The duo of both scoring threats, in addition to the guards already on the Celtics roster, could measure up to be one of the scariest backcourts in the NBA.
Possibly the best part of the argument to keep the pick, is that the Celtics would still have the cap space available to sign a free agent. Gordon Hayward appears to be first on the Celtics list of potential signings, and would be a fantastic addition to a Celtics team looking to force their way back into the finals for the first time since 2010.
Whatever Celtics GM Danny Ainge decides to do, he has put the whole NBA on watch. The Celtics are in position to work their way into becoming an Eastern Conference juggernaut, if all goes according to Ainge’s master plan. Make sure to keep an eye out for this Celtics team in the next few months, as their upcoming moves may define the Celtics future for years to come.