Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is among the most creative at his position in sports. He understands the invisible trade value chart, and has used it to the best of the team’s ability in the past.
This is why Boston — already a surprise contender in the Eastern Conference — is sitting here with the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
It’s a valuable pick for a number of reasons.
First off, this is expected to be one of the most talent-laden draft classes in recent history with Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram headlining what should be an impressive group.
Secondly, that pick Boston acquired from Brooklyn will likely be in the top five of the draft. Brooklyn enters the unofficial second half of the season tied for the third-worst record in the Association.
If the ping-pong ball were to bounce in Boston’s direction, it could very well be looking at deciding between Simmons and Ingram with that pick.
So why would Boston even consider moving this pick before knowing what it is going to be? The answer to that question is proven talent and value.
If Ainge and Co. can acquire a proven commodity to help during the final two months of the regular season while still acquiring long-term help, they would be smart to think about it.
In this, Ainge has indicated he’s already entertained phone calls regarding Brooklyn’s pick:
“We know it’s important, but it’s not untouchable, either,” Ainge said, via The Boston Globe. “It’s important and it has value for us. It’s not the most important value. We have some (Celtics) players we value more than we value the Brooklyn pick.”
In order for the Celtics to move Brooklyn’s pick before Thursday’s trade deadline, they would have to get a transcendent player — someone that elevates the team from surprising status to conference contending status. That much is obvious.
With that said, Ainge has made sure to indicate that the Celtics have been willing to engage in conversations for the pick:
“We’re listening to teams that call and ask us, whatever assets we may have. There are players we would trade the Brooklyn pick for, and many players that we wouldn’t.”
Boston had previously been connected to Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, but those rumors involved a three-team deal that would sent Carmelo Anthony to Cleveland.
A trade of that magnitude between three teams in the same conference, two of which are sitting at the top of the standings, seems unlikely in the middle of the year.
With all the picks Boston possesses, it could potentially work out a deal for Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who has already been the subject of trade rumors. The Denver Nuggets have also been said to be engaging in trade talks that would move some of their core players, Kenneth Faried included.
In reality, it would have to be a trade of this magnitude for Boston to move the pick it acquired from Brooklyn. Whether that happens this week or in the offseason. Well, that’s the million-dollar question.