First, it was the Pistons, with the No. 7 pick. Now it appears to be the Knicks, too, with the No. 8 pick. Teams holding Top 10 slots in next month’s NBA draft are looking to move down and the Celtics, with three first-round picks on hand—No. 14, No. 26 and No. 30—are in an ideal position to move up for one of those picks.
According to Marc Berman, a longtime Knicks beat writer for the New York Post, the Knicks want to land either center James Wiseman or point guard LaMelo Ball with the eighth pick in the draft, and if neither appears to be sliding their way, they would be willing to drop down from that spot for more assets.
The Knicks are targeting Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey, according to Berman. He’s projected to go anywhere from the later lottery to the early 20s.
Last month, Bleacher Report cited “sources” indicating that the Pistons—desperate to rebuild and looking to add as many young assets as possible—would be willing to trade down from No. 7. That could pique the Celtics because Detroit has shooting guard Luke Kennard on hand, who has long been of interest to Boston.
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Either way, with a package of three picks, plus a second-rounder and some untested young guys on the payroll, the Celtics have the chance to take center stage on the draft-night trade market.
Celtics Were Too Young in the NBA Playoffs
Certainly, trading off some of these draft picks would address a problem Boston had in this postseason. The Celtics had high expectations and had, at times, shown themselves to be good enough to compete for a shot at the Finals. But they also had a roster packed with too many young players—in all, there were five rookies on last year’s Celtics. Considering the fact that the Celtics also had the chance to use their two-way players in the bubble, the team had seven rookies on hand.
That’s not going to get you to a championship—teams that young do not win titles, and it was clear at varying times last year that the Celtics badly needed a veteran presence when the offense struggled. Adding three more rookies to that mix is not going to help.
The Celtics can at least expect to lose big man Enes Kanter this offseason. Whether they foresee losing other players—Semi Ojeleye has a team option, Daniel Theis’ contract is not guaranteed and the Celtics likely would be willing to dump little-used center Vincent Poirier—will affect how they approach the draft.
Danny Ainge: Celtics ‘Will Consider’ Trading Up on NBA Draft Night
When he addressed the media about the Celtics’ offseason after the team lost to the Heat in the conference finals—the third trip to the East finals in four years for Boston—team president Danny Ainge said moving up in the draft was a possibility. But he also said that, because there is so much uncertainty among the players in this draft, it might not be a bad thing to have multiple picks.
“We’ll consider all of that,” Ainge said. “We have a lot of picks and it’s a draft where you might want a lot of picks. Or you might want to do different things. You hear you want to draft the best player available a lot, but sometimes you have to draft for need as well. So, we’ll take everything into consideration with the players on our roster and the players in this draft as well. Also, if we draft a younger player who needs some G-League time, we have that luxury as well.”