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June 17, 2017

Analyzing the potential Sixers-Celtics blockbuster draft trade

The major story in Philadelphia sports at the moment is the Sixers reportedly being close to landing the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft via a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics. The trade isn’t official (or even officially official) yet, so let’s get caught up in some of the reported details.


What the Sixers would be sending to Boston in a trade isn’t known yet, but ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Marc Stein broke the story, so we’ll start with their reporting:

That sounds like Dario Saric and everyone else on the Sixers roster is safe. It makes sense that Boston would acquire the No. 3 pick in the trade, but what could the other pick be? Well, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the 2018 Lakers pick could be involved:

In the proposed deal, Boston would acquire Philadelphia’s No. 3 overall pick in 2017 in a package that includes a future first from the 76ers, sources said. Philadelphia’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick that was acquired from the Lakers has been part of the discussions, sources said.

That unprotected Lakers pick is gold. Magic Johnson has openly talked about not wanting to add long-term salary this offseason, so Los Angeles is really probably only adding the second overall pick to a young roster that finished with the second-worst record in the NBA this year. The Lakers again figure to be very bad in 2017-18, and there are a couple of very highly-rated prospects (Luka Doncic, Michael Porter) at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft. A lot can and probably will change between now and then, but that is where we stand at the moment.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge has made a couple of trades over the past decade (landing Kevin Garnett, then trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) that will go down as massive victories for the Celtics, so there was a fear that he could possibly “fleece” Bryan Colangelo in this deal. First off, it’s hard to fleece the Sixers in the same way as Brooklyn a few years ago because they’re getting a 19-year-old guard who could be under team control for close to a decade, not over-the-hill veterans.

The Lakers pick would certainly be tough to part with, but if that is the main sweetener in a Markelle Fultz trade, that seems like an acceptable price of doing business.

1:50 PM UPDATE: Woj has now added a 2021 first-round pick into the mix, which is interesting.

Fultz’s whereabouts’s David Aldridge is reporting that Fultz will have to meet with the Sixers before a deal can happen:

From a logistical standpoint, a last-minute meeting shouldn’t be much of a problem. Fultz doesn’t live too far from the Delaware Valley, and Woj reported that he could be in Philly “to meet with 76ers officials as soon as Saturday.” And in late breaking news, that is exactly what appears to be happening:

While the deal is reportedly close to done, it seems as if the Sixers need to meet with Fultz and possibly acquire his physical before it comes official. But according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey, this thing could drag out all the way until draft night:

Danny Ainge

On that subject, there’s at least part of me that remembers all of the times that the Celtics have come close to a trade, only for it to fall apart at the last minute and Ainge to say on the radio, “We were this close!” So, we do have to wait until this one is official. Like, don’t record any podcasts about the potential trade or anything.

On that same subject, Jahlil Okafor is still in Philadelphia after millions of trade rumors leading up to the deadline this part February. On both sides, it's clear the deal isn't done.

Celtics motivation

The $64,000 question is why Ainge, one of the league’s top executives, is passing on a top talent that fits well on paper with the Celtics current roster. Adam Zagoria is reporting that Boston could be looking to stockpile first-round picks in order to lure Jimmy Butler from the Bulls:

If true, this would mean that the Celtics are more in win-now mode than we previously thought. Boston has been attached to Butler in trade rumors seemingly forever, and this summer is their window to attract another all-star level player in free agency with cap space.

Heck, maybe Ainge just is just higher on Josh Jackson as Pompey is reporting. But in the Butler scenario, who would the Bulls get in a trade?

I feel like that’s a pretty good note to end on. Markelle Fultz watch in Philadelphia is in full swing but the deal is not official yet. We’ll see if Bryan Colangelo can land this plane over the next few days.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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