The Long Game

The NBA lottery was this past week. Each team in the lottery learns the order of their draft rank.

The Boston Celtics won the rights to select number one overall. The Boston Celtics are currently playing in the Eastern Conference finals. Typically the best teams in the NBA do not also win the rights to select #1.

How did this happen?

In 2014 the Celtics traded four players to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the Nets’ first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Boston also received the rights to swap first round picks in 2017.

The prized pieces in the Nets acquisition were age 37 (Kevin Garnett) and 36 (Paul Pierce). The Nets leveraged their future to pay for historical performance.

The Nets finished 20–62 this year to finish last. The Celtics went 53–29 and won the Eastern Conference. The trade is now popularly discussed as “the worst trade in NBA history.”

Here’s what is interesting. The Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge, finished in fourth place for Executive of the Year for the 2014–15 season. Danny only received one first place vote.

The lone first place vote came from Sam Hinkie. The former Philadelphia 76ers General Manager. Sam Hinkie resigned last year amidst organizational pressure.

Who’s playing the long game?