When the Celtics landed the number one pick back in May, it seemed like Celtics fans, myself included, had figured out the long term plans for this team. It seemed pretty simple. Draft Fultz, sign Hayward. This makes you competitive both short and long term. It seemed like a pretty solid plan….That was until Danny Ainge traded down to the number three spot.
This opened up a world of possibilities once again for Celtics rumors. The media took every advantage they could and the rumors started swirling. First, it was Jimmy Butler (now a member of the Wolves). Then it went to Kristaps Porzingis, but after “serious” negotiations New York’s asking price was way too high. Rumors also started to come up once again about Paul George on draft night, but lasted a solid fifteen minutes before getting shut down.
Then there was the actual draft. Fultz was the consensus number one, but not every team had him on the top of their big board. After reports came out Josh Jackson was atop some franchises lists, it made sense that Danny would move down. They received a potential top 5 pick in the draft, and still could select a player that could have went first overall. Even if they didn’t want Jackson, he was easy trade bait for a team like the Knicks.
Instead, Boston hit us with another curveball. They drafted Jayson Tatum, who many believe has a lower ceiling than Jackson despite being more NBA-ready. Even with Jaylen Brown as a small forward, they went with Tatum out of Duke.
The pick seemed almost too safe to be excited about. A player with a lower ceiling, but a higher floor. Tatum comes in as a very polished player, but no scouts have projected him to be a franchise altering player such as a LeBron, Westbrook or Davis. The same can not be said about guys like Jackson or Fultz, both of which have the star power teams look for to change their franchise around.
After the top pick was traded to Philly, I wrote an article and then quit for a week. There was no point in writing about all of these useless rumors which were never going to happen. Instead of trying to project deep into the Celtics future I decided to wait until draft night, and then decide what I thought of the future of Boston basketball. Now that the Celtics have picked, I can say it isn’t as great as I expected.
One thing I can say is it hasn’t gotten worse. My biggest fear was Danny Ainge overpaying for a superstar. Jaylen Brown was someone I would’ve hated to see leave Boston, as well as Marcus Smart. Throw in those future draft picks and theres not many deals I would’ve liked with the Celtics giving up that much. So once again, just like last year and the trade deadline this year, I applaud Danny Ainge for not getting desperate.
On the other hand, Danny might have played it too safe. As mentioned earlier, Jimmy Butler is now playing for Minnesota, and it came at a relatively cheap price tag. Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and a swap of picks this year. To put it in Celtics terms, that trade would’ve equaled out to the number three pick, Jae Crowder and maybe Rozier. Of course there were already whispers of the three pick for Butler straight up. Either way, Boston said no and so far have not gotten much better for next season. Tatum will help, but not dramatically this early in his career. Clearly with the selection of Tatum and no trades so far, this team if fine with not making a splash.
So what’s next for Boston? They need to sign Gordon Hayward. They know right now they cant beat Cleveland, and at least with a Hayward signing the odds get better. Not saying they will beat Cleveland in a seven game series, but just adding Tatum this offseason spells out the same result as last year. As for their other issue, they need to address the center position. In Stevens’ offense, you need someone that can shoot. Porzingis would’ve been a perfect fit, but he’s not here and chances are he won’t be any time soon. Ante Zizic is too young to come in and be a starting five, which means Boston needs to bring someone in that can play right now. If they address these issues, this offseason is a success.
Many could have guessed after tonight, the Celtics direction would become more clear. However, after keeping the pick and making no trades, they seem to be even more un-clear. One thing that is for certain is Boston needs more pieces for right now. Whether they come in free agency or trades, Danny needs to get something done.