Once again, the Boston Celtics have a few first-round picks, this time in the 2019 NBA draft, but what happens if they win the NBA Draft Lottery?
They have the Sacramento Kings’ pick (top-1 protected), the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick (top-8 protected), the Los Angeles Clippers’ pick (top-14 protected), and their own pick at No. 22. The most valuable one out of the bunch is the Kings pick.
The big picture: The Celtics currently have $123,291,172 committed in to the payroll for next season.
- The salary cap will increase to 109 million for the 2019-2020 season, but they are still over $14 million above the cap.
- The only unrestricted free agent is Marcus Morris
What’s at stake: That pick is top-1 protected, meaning that of the Kings fall anywhere from 2-14 that pick goes to the Celtics.
- If the Kings are able to win the draft lottery, then that pick will go to the Philadelphia 76ers, who then give their late first-round pick to the Celtics, which is at No. 24.
- According to Tankathon, the Kings have a 1% chance of winning the lottery and sending their pick to the Sixers.
Best case scenario: If the Kings pick lands at No. 2, then it goes to the Celtics. Assuming the No. 1 pick is Zion Williamson, the Celtics would most likely take the second best prospect, Ja Morant.
- The 6-foot-3 guard electrified college basketball, averaging 24.5 points for the Murray State Racers.
- A native of Dalzell, South Carolina, Morant led all of Division I with 10 assists per game.
- His crazy athleticism combined with his great shooting makes him the most enticing guard in the upcoming draft.
- Morant was a consensus first-team All-American as well as the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year.
Morant would be a great replacement for Terry Rozier, who is expected to get big money this summer as a free agent. A backcourt of Irving, Morant, and Marcus Smart would terrorize the entire league.
Knowing Trader Danny, Ainge may want to part with the pick for a well established player in the league.
Trade for Davis: One the big names on the trade market is Anthony Davis, whom Ainge has been trying to get for awhile.
- If Ainge were to package that No. 2 Kings pick, along with Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, that would be an offer that New Orleans should strongly consider.
- If the Pelicans would rather have Tatum, the Celtics could package Tatum with the Kings pick and the Clippers pick for Davis
Celts add another Gordon: With the logjam in the Orlando Magic frontcourt, the Magic may be willing to part with 6-foot-9 forward Aaron Gordon.
- Along with the No. 2 pick, The Magic would receive the Clippers pick, which is No. 16 overall.
- Aaron Gordon is coming off a great year where his per game averages were 16 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.
- His shooting has improved greatly as he ended the season shooting career high 35% from beyond the arc.
- Gordon replaces Marcus Morris, who the Celtics will let walk as he will demand more money in the offseason.
This offseason will be hectic for Ainge. Terry Rozier, Brad Wanamaker, and Daniel Theis all have qualifying offers for next season. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Guerschon Yabusele all have team options that will be picked up by the Celtics.
Marcus Morris is an unrestricted free agent. Al Horford and Aron Baynes have player options. Those guys will most likely pick up those options and stick around for another year.
What will Ainge do? Ainge will let Morris walk as he will be asking for a big payday after only making $5.5 million this season. Rozier is expected to test free agency as he will demand more money on the market. He will most likely be a restricted free agent after he turned down an extension for $12 million a year. Ainge will tender Wanamaker’s and Theis’ qualifying offers.
The main priority: There have been many rumors that Irving wants to explore options other than signing with the Celtics. Ainge’s first priority in the offseason is to convince Irving to stay and sign a long term contract. That will determine what Ainge does with the pick. If Kyrie stays, he will trade it. If he leaves, then he will draft his replacement in Morant.
The Celtics will still be way over the cap limit, which will prompt the owners to pay the luxury tax. Co-owner Wyc Grousbeck says he has no problem doing that.
Outlook: No matter what Ainge does, the Celtics will be a championship contender. If Kyrie is a Celtic next season, the Celtics will once again be the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.