SINCE the early 1960s, the Boston Celtics logo features a leprechaun named Lucky spinning a basketball. This is apt given that the Celtics are the winningest franchise in NBA history with 17 titles, the last title won back in 2008. The Celtics returned to the Finals one more time in 2010.
After failed attempts to get back in contention, the team blew up their ageing core sending Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for several role players back in 2013. The Celtics also received the Nets’ 2014, 2016, and 2018 first-round picks, with the right to swap picks in 2017. This is one of the more infamous and lopsided trades in NBA history as it loaded the Celtics with draft picks and helped them build foundations for the future.
A day after the Celtics entered the Eastern Conference, Lucky up again giving Boston the No.1 draft despite being the No. 1 team in the East. This is the first time in recent memory that the top team in a Conference is getting the first pick. Next year, Boston will have the pick of Brooklyn once again and this will surely be a Top 5 pick. Coming off a 20-62 season, the Nets are horrible and have a core of Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin. They have cap space to sign a good free agent but I doubt if anyone wants to join this team as built.
So what happens next? The Celtics are basically holding all the cards this offseason and then some. If they keep the pick, they will definitely get point guard Markelle Fultz, a do-it-all guard who is primarily a scorer and has potential to be a franchise player. The only problem with this is that their best player Isaiah Thomas is also a point guard. This is a good dilemma but a dilemma no less.
The Celtics can also go for swingman Josh Jackson or even Lonzo Ball but that really goes against conventional wisdom of always getting the best player in the draft. Besides, Boston is so loaded in nearly all positions that any rookie they get will instantly have competition.
The Celtics also have the option to trade away the No.1 pick in a “win-now” scenario and get veterans Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana Pacers’ Paul George to get them over the top. They can also keep the pick and entice the likes of L.A.’s Blake Griffin or the Jazz’s Gordon Hayward. Draft and rebuild? Trade? Free agency? The Celtics clearly have the luxury of doing either of the three and still come out on top. The real question to be answered is—What move will give Boston the best chance of beating LeBron James and finally, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors?
With all options on the table, all teams will wait on the offseason moves Boston makes since it would influence their own strategies. The Celtics are indeed in an unenviable position but it’s not all about luck. They are in this position now due to shrewd planning, disciplined decisions, and patience. It is a good time to be a Celtic.