Ainge It All Together.
Danny Ainge has struck asset gold once again. Let me first begin by stating that I do believe Danny could have gotten more from the 76ers if he had held out a little longer, but this was still a great move overall. What Ainge did protecting the Lakers pick to fall between 2–5 was nothing short of genius. As we have seen in the past the NBA changes in a moments notice. An hour or so after the deal was put through we were informed that Paul George was to be shopped around by the Indiana Pacers. Two teams thought to be interested are none other than the LA LAKERS and CLEVELAND CAVS. Lets analyze for a minute what this means in terms of Celtics protecting the Lakers pick and narrowing the window for Cleveland.
LA Lakers — If the Lakers could manage to land George with out giving up the #2 selection than we may honestly see a starting lineup of Ball, Russel, George, Ingram, and (INSERT VET MIN. CENTER). Now while this team doesn’t scare anyone it most certainly puts them above atleast 8 teams in the NBA (Nets, Knicks, Hawks, Pacers, Kings, Magic, Suns, lets even say the Hornets, Pistons and Mavs who seem to be on the decline.) If Ainge did not protect this pick Celtics are stuck with a pick ranging from 10–15. What this protection does is give us not 1 but 2 opportunities to get either a top 5 pick in 2018 or a top 5 pick in 2019 which feature players like Marvin Bagley and Zion Williamson. Now I know the Kings pick is protected from #1 but Since 1985, the beginning of the lottery era only 7 teams with the highest odds have received the one pick. That is approximately 21% of the teams that finish dead last got the 1 pick. Ill take the odds of Lakers falling into 2–5 or Kings being a bottom 3 team in 2019 over the chances of Fultz becoming an instant Superstar.
Cleveland Cavs — If Cleveland does land Paul George I do believe it will be for a 1 year rental. In any scenario a trade involving George to the Cavs will undoubtedly involve the departure of Kevin Love. Lets be honest as good as Paul George is it does not put them above Golden State. Once the Cavs lose to GSW for the 3rd time in 4 years George will hit free agency and play for his hometown Lakers. With the uncertainty in Cleveland, future lack of “superstars”, and firing of Dan Griffin has caused a disgruntled Lebron. A year of chemistry with George, a roster of young talent, and a HOF GM in Magic may just be enough to lure James to move to warmer pastures in 2018. On the flip side if George does just so happen to help Cavs win in 2017–2018 and a re-up happens. A max contract of a 28 year old George along with an aging Lebron and free agent to be in 2020 Irving means these Cavs will only have a 3 year window to work with. This sets the Celtics up to be able to compete with the Cavs the next 3 years while not giving up their future. Half glass full Cavs self destruct blow up the team in 1 year. Half glass empty they win the 2017–2018 championship and compete for 3 more years at a high level.
Spreading of Assets — With this trade Ainge has now spread his assets from a #1 pick in 2017 and Nets pick 2018, to a #3 pick, Nets 2018 pick, Lakers 18 (protected). Ainge now has the ability to go after a player like Jimmy Butler while still allowing himself to keep atleast 1 maybe two projected top 5 lottery picks while gaining a Super Star. Even if we do not trade for Butler we have a great set up for a young core and cap room to look forward to in the coming years.
Free Agency — The thought that we may be able to trade for Butler and sign a player like Hayward in free agency makes these assets all the more valuable. If Hayward decides to join the Celtics on a max deal we will have an opportunity to not only battle for the East now but we will be setting ourselves up in 3-5 years to have young talent with expiring contracts of players in their early 30’s. Thus setting up a future free agent destination for players such as Anthony Davis. Karl- Anthony Towns, and many other young big name players.
The Fultz/76ers “SUPER TEAM” — Trusting the process from a player; who while performed well in minimal action , is hard to do when he has only played 33 games in 3 season. This “super team” also includes a #1 choice who has yet to touch the court in an NBA regular season game and a player who has not even been drafted yet. While this team on paper will have a nice core of young players it is obvious they will not be a threat in the next year or 2. None of these players are Superstar talents on par with Towns or Davis. As you can see neither Towns nor AD as good as they are have been able to do anything of real significance with their struggling organizations. Remember to tamper you expectations on Trusting the Process until we see a process of more than 35 wins in a season.
Draft Trade Grade: A
Ainge may have taken a risk with passing on Fultz but its a risk that is worth the taking. Give me 3 chances at hitting it big on a Superstar in the next two years over 1 player who may help his team win 3 more games than the year before. Overall Ainge made a good call and has many more decisions to make.. Lets see what kind of oil he can strike in the coming off season before we judge his love of assets as a bust.