Tomase: Kristaps Porzingis? Jimmy Butler? Josh Jackson? Breaking down options for Celtics
After a lackluster playoffs and Finals, the NBA is giving us one hell of an offseason. And the Celtics are right in the middle of everything.
They’ve already swung a blockbuster with the Sixers, trading away the No. 1 pick and guard Markelle Fultz for the third pick and a future first-rounder.
Between now and Thursday night’s draft, they could trade down again. Or they could acquire Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler. Or they could go all in for Knicks strettttttcccchhhh-four Kristaps Porzingis. Or they could rent Paul George. Or they could save assets to make a run at Anthony Davis. Or they could stand pat and draft Josh Jackson . . . or Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, or Jonathan Isaac.
Add the likelihood that they’ll sign either Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin in free agency, and the C’s are where they action is, which is exactly where Danny Ainge likes to be.
So what are we to make of the last 48 hours and how it affects the team in green? Let’s break it all down.
1. Lakers, Nets are already impacting top of 2018 draft
Both teams could send top-five picks to the Celtics next June, and they swung a fascinating deal on Tuesday, with Los Angeles shipping the bloated contract of center Timofey Mozgov and former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell to the Nets for Brooks Lopez and the No. 27 pick in Thursday’s draft.
The move could be the start of dominoes that pass through Boston, with Los Angeles aggressively clearing salary cap space to pursue a pair of max-contract free agents next summer — presumably LeBron James and George.
However, the Lakers would prefer not to leave anything to chance, so they’re angling to acquire George from the Pacers now. If they succeed, then the pick the Celtics potentially own in next year’s draft — if it lands between two and five — essentially becomes worthless, since the presence of George and rookie Lonzo Ball could be enough to keep L.A. out of the high lottery.
From a Brooklyn perspective, however, the trade should help the C’s, since Lopez was the Nets’ best player and Russell, while intriguing in the long term, almost certainly represents a step back in the short term. That improves the chances of the Celtics once again winning the lottery.
2. What the hell’s happening in Cleveland?
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Kirk & Callahan on Tuesday and noted that James and the Cavs will never be more vulnerable. Demoralized after losing the Finals in five not-very-close games, Cleveland on Monday parted ways with general manager David Griffin, a questionable decision, given where we are in the calendar.
With James looking increasingly likely to exercise his opt-out next summer and take his talents to Hollywood, the Cavs find themselves in a quandary, caught between loading up for one more run alongside the King and preparing life without him.
Butler has reportedly already told the team he’d rather not be traded there. Outside of Kevin Love and maybe Kyrie Irving if owner Dan Gilbert truly loses his mind, the Cavs possess nothing of value to trade. The instability at the top and uncertainty over the roster could create an opening for Ainge to get aggressive and add Butler and Hayward in order to challenge Cleveland next spring.
3. The case for Porzingis
With Woj-bombs dropping left and right, the news that the Knicks might trade their franchise youngster sent shockwaves through the league.
Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but there’s no question Porzingis checks plenty of boxes. He’s young (21), uniquely skilled (7-foot-3 with 3-point range), and cost-controlled (signed for 2 more years before entering restricted free agency).
He’d likely require both players and draft picks to acquire, since Knicks boss Phil Jackson must show an impatient fan base that he received an offer he couldn’t refuse. The No. 3 pick, a young player or two, and a future first-rounder would be a steep price to pay.
But if choosing between Porzingis and Butler, give me the former. For one, his salary doesn’t blow up your budget. For another, even though both have two years remaining on their deals, the ability to make a qualifying offer to keep Porzingis around for a third year before he has even reached his prime is compelling.
And then there’s this, as noted by Comcast’s Gary Tanguay: if the Celtics acquire Porzingis, he could count as a chip towards acquiring Davis, should the Pelicans big man ever become available.
4. Taking a deep breath
Having already traded out of the No. 1 overall pick, it’s possible that Ainge has no further moves planned. Perhaps he’s content to select Jackson or Tatum, sign Hayward, and then hope that we’re doing this all again a year from now, except with skilled Missouri big man Michael Porter the prize instead of Fultz.
That would still be a heck of a summer for Ainge, leaving the Celtics in the position they covet — contending now, with pieces in place to continue improving in the future.
Full article @ Tomase: Kristaps Porzingis? Jimmy Butler? Josh Jackson? Breaking down options for Celtics
Source: GreenStreet Blog