Posted on May 17, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When your team loses 60+ games like the Brooklyn Nets or 50+ like the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and several others, there hasn’t been much to make fans happy. But the promise of a better future with the help of one of the better young basketball players in the country?
The lottery occurred Tuesday night, and as it turns out, many of the NBA’s cellar dwellers will be in a position to select a tremendous player from a very deep draft class–but not the best player.
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A cellar dweller will not be picking the best player in the draft. No, that team is the current No. 1 seed from the Eastern Conference—the Boston Celtics.
Crazy, right? The worst teams are supposed to select high in the draft. How in the world did one of the best get the No. 1 pick? Well—it was a really smart trade four years ago that did the trick.
Back in 2013, someone with the New Jersey-but-soon-to-be-Brooklyn Nets thought it would be a good idea to trade a handful of players, three first-round picks, and the option to swap first round picks in 2017 to the Boston Celtics to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
So—the decision was made to essentially give away the future of the team for two old guys. Neither ended up doing much in the short amount of time they spent on the Nets roster—but the Nets are still paying for the move years later.
Thanks to the trade rather than be guaranteed to at least have the No. 4 pick in the draft and have a 25 percent shot at getting the No. 1 pick, the Nets will be picking towards the end of the first round. Sure enough—their selection would have been the No. 1 pick.
So, once again, it sucks to be a Brooklyn Nets fan.
But the trade is not going to come up all roses for the Celtics. If Boston selects who the majority of the basketball-loving free world thinks they should, the team could end up losing Isaiah Thomas in free agency.
Wait—what? How in the world could the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft cost the Celtics MVP-candidate Isaiah Thomas?
Boston will be expected to select Washington point guard Markelle Fultz with the selection. Not sure who that is? Well—he’s pretty awesome. The general consensus on Fultz is that he the kind of point guard that every team wishes it could have. He’s that good and is expected to be even better.
But wait? Don’t the Celtics already have a point guard in Thomas? Yes—but Fultz is not the kind of player you pass up. The Celtics know this which is why the probably will not do so.
Thomas is 28 and set to become a free agent at the end of next season. The Celtics will likely talk about an extension this year or they may wait and see how well Fultz adjusts to the NBA. If Fultz can play sooner rather than later, the Celtics may not need Thomas.
If they don’t need him, they certainly will not want to pay him what he’s worth—but someone will. So while he may call Boston home next season, fans ought to hold off on buying their Celtics Isaiah Thomas jersey.
This is just speculation, of course. Thomas could get the monster extension he deserves this summer. The Celtics could view someone else as a better fit, or they could trade the pick. Maybe they’ll figure out a way for the two to coexist and Thomas will not demand an insane pay raise.
Teams have been known to shock the world with the No. 1 pick before—it could happen this year. It probably will not—but it could.