Danny Ainge Is A Mad Man
This weekend has felt like an emotional rollercoaster. On Friday night there were big rumors that Danny Ainge and the Celtics were close to a deal that would send the number 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, presumably Markelle Fultz, to the Philadelphia 76ers. As time went on it only picked up more steam and was unofficially official on Saturday night. Then the actual trade call happened on Monday and it was really official. There is a LOT to discuss here so let's break it down.
First off I just want to say I hate this trade for many reasons. The main reason is I am extremely high on Markelle Fultz. Unlike most Celtics fans, that opinion isn't going to change just because Ainge didn't think so. I think Fultz has serious top-10 player potential, and in a league where you need a dynamic do-it-all point guard I think he could be special. I have been high on him since November and watched way too much bad Washington basketball for this to occur. He literally can do it all. He can take the ball to the rim and finish (often with an explosive dunk) and get to the line. He can pull up for a mid range jumper when the defense is sagging off. He can pull up for a 3 pointer and drain it in a guy's eyeball with ease. On top of all of that he has a remarkable sense of pacing, which means he is so basketball savvy that he doesn't rely on his superior athleticism (which he does have) to get past defenders and score on them. Did I mention he is also a gifted passer, a really good rebounder for a guard, and also makes plays on defense? My point is basically that Fultz is the type of talent that doesn't come around often, if at all. I could definitely be wrong because I can't see into the future and I am not a genius, but it is my belief we will massively regret passing on this kid.
Now maybe my high opinion of Fultz isn't shared by some and that's ok. Here's the thing, I don't think we got enough for him. We traded back two spots in this draft to get Philly's 3rd pick but on top of that we only got the 2018 Lakers pick that we can only use if it falls between picks 2 through 5, and if we don't get that we get the 2019 Kings pick if it is not a number 1 pick. To me that extra pick is not enough to trade down 2 spots and get a worse player. Before the rumors ever started if you asked any Celtics fan, scout, or analyst whether or not that is enough to trade the number 1 pick they would have laughed in your face. Now that our fearless leader Danny actually did it they are fine with it. I know that there are many people like me that are mad, but I have seen far too many fans' opinion change in such a short time just because they are brainwashed by Danny. Believe me Danny is a great GM who pulls off great trades, but when it involves prospects I am hesitant to completely trust his judgement. Remember two drafts ago when he tried to trade 4 first round picks, including Brooklyn ones, for Justice Winslow? That attempt was a way bigger offer for a worse prospect and he is the one who made it. Remember when he traded up a few spots in the 2013 draft and took Kelly Olynyk over Giannis Antetokounmpo? I always hear people say "well how could he have know about Giannis, he was so raw", but guess what I watched Giannis and could tell he was at least better than Olynyk. No one could have seen him being as good as he is now, but the fact he looked at Giannis then looked at Kelly and thought Kelly was better is insane. Overall he is a really good GM I just have a problem trusting him when it comes to prospects. If Danny is to win this trade then he has to take someone better than Fultz with one of the picks he acquired. I'm rooting for it to happen too, I just cant see it right now.
Let's talk about how this trade affects the Sixers. This could very well make them a dangerous team for many years to come. Embiid's injuries are looking like a real problem, but on the chance that he can turn it around they would not be just a good team, they would be amazing. Even if Embiid can't get it together a core of Fultz, Covington, Simmons, and Saric would be really good, I hear people say that Simmons injury problems are concerning, but I couldn't disagree more. He doesn't have a record of problems like Embiid does, and I think they sat him out when they didn't have to just so they could tank for one more year. So now the Celtics are potentially stacking another team in their division/conference that could give them nightmares for years to come. If Fultz is the player I think he is then he is not only going to make you regret the pick forever, he is going to do it right in your face. The Warriors will rule the NBA for the next 3-5 years and teams are positioning themselves to be good when that time comes. Right now it feels like the Sixers will be better than us when that time comes.
The other thing to factor in with this trade is how does it affect the offseason this year and how does it affect the future of the franchise? Was this a move to acquire more assets so you can grab a guy like Jimmy Butler or Paul George? Was this just a move to get 2 assets instead of one? Are we still going to go after Hayward or Griffin? We are going to find out, and reports about all of it are swirling. There have been many reports saying that the Celtics are unlikely to actually use the 3rd pick this year, meaning it will be traded. To me that sounds like it will be used in a package to get Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Honestly I hate that idea. Giving up any top assets which could set up your future for one of those players is a mistake because that means you are somewhat going all in. It means you are pushing the chips to the middle and saying we want to win now, but you can't win now. First you have to get past Lebron which doesn't seem likely, and then it is all about beating the Warriors. We haven't seen anything like this Warriors team, they are just so good that there is no move you can make to be better than them. It also looks like they aren't going anywhere anytime soon due to the fact that it was recently announced Kevin Durant is taking less than the max so the Warriors can afford to keep this team together. They are such a juggernaut that we should play it safe until it looks like they are getting worse or until they aren't together. Some people call that punting and that you can't just punt but thats not what it is at all. You can still be a very competitive young team while developing your younger players. It is the smart, rational thing to do because once the timing is right then you have a good young core that can contend and moves can even be made then to really put them over the top and make them the favorite.
There could easily be more moves to come, but from what we know so far I don't like this trade one bit. However I will say that it took some massive balls for Ainge to do this. I do like that we have a GM that clearly doesn't give a damn what anyone else says. It is better to have someone who make moves that they truly believe in than a GM who is constantly trying to please the fanbase and help sell tickets. I still strongly disagree with the move, but at least he has some conviction. It is such a big move that he is going to have to be right about it. if he is wrong and Fultz turns out to be a superstar and better than whoever we get then his legacy will be changed forever. He'll be looked at as the guy who passed on Fultz and can't evaluate top talent. There is not much we can do now though, all we can do is sit back and let it all play out.