So hot off the presses (NBA Twitter) it appears that slippery Danny Ainge done up and traded the number one pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for their number three pick as well as the Los Angeles Lakers 2018 first round pick and the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first round pick that is owned by the Sixers. The future picks reportedly will have protections around them that will be set later. But in the moment I’m just trying to figure out what transpired to get us here and so fast.
So as we all know Danny Ainge General Manager of the Boston Celtics is a bit of a hoarder. Luckily in his line of work it helps since he tends to hoard assets. Still capitalizing from his embarrassment of riches from the infamous Nets trade of 2013 Ainge has put Boston in a position to wrest control from the Cleveland Cavaliers. This summer he was set to take Markelle Fultz by far the best player in the draft to many (including yours truly in my now outdated mock draft). Sounds great right? Sooooooo what the hell happened?
Fultz projected to fit right with the Celtics and most likely would have been able to contribute right away despite their deep backcourt rotation. His presence would have also provided Boston with some real flexibility in dealing with the impending free agency of Isaiah Thomas next summer. So I just can’t get a handle on how they could take a pass on this. Sure they get Philly’s number three pick this year but the protections around the future picks will be the sticking point in figuring out how well this deal will age for the Cs.
In the meantime they will most likely select Josh Jackson (I guess). And he’s hardly that much of a drop off from Fultz. At 6’7″ he can put in minutes right away on both wing positions and lends some much needed size to the backcourt when playing the 2. He’s a ready made defender which means he’ll fit right on in.
However this does raise questions about what the future holds for Jae Crowder and Boston’s first round draft pick from last year Jaylen Brown. Crowder had a solid season and really made occasionally made strides offensively to match his crack defense while Brown gave us a glimpse of what could be during the Cleveland series. The addition of Jackson as versatile as he is still creates a bit of a logjam at the 3 spot.
Jackson would have made a fine fit in Philly. He would have been able to get rotation minutes right away playing both wing positions and would have projected to be the best defender in the backcourt from day one. Unfortunately there has been concerns regarding his maturity level and I can definitely understand how that would be a red flag for a team with a very young core and not much in the way of veteran leadership.
Now for Philly this ain’t nothing but a win. Adding Fultz to their young core that includes Dario Saric, Joel Embiid and now Ben Simmons conceivably puts them on a faster track to respectability. The future draft picks (that are theirs via previous deals with other teams) are kind of a strange chip to throw in but I’m sure this was the sweetener needed to seal the deal.
On the court the thought of a Simmons / Fultz backcourt is pretty damned promising right now and can be downright scary just a few seasons down the line. If Simmons can stay healthy, be the NBA level passer as he’s shown and Lord help us develop a shot he can be a part of this evolution that we are starting to see at the point guard position. If Fultz can deliver as promised he’ll be an excellent compliment to Ben especially early as Fultz already projects to be a proficient scorer.
There’s really nothing to come back and haunt the 76ers here (well except the normal risks you take on in trading draft slots) and if I’m being completely honest Fultz is in my opinion a better fit than Jackson. This may very well go down as one of those rare high profile trades in which both parties win. But it doesn’t make it any less weird. Well, I suppose it could get weirder if either Philly or Boston selects Lonzo Ball. But we’re not even going to get started on that right now.