The Boston Celtics won the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft on Tuesday after the draft lottery. Now, they will have to make a decision on what to do with that pick.
The presumptive number one overall pick is Markelle Fultz and it seems likely that the Celtics will choose the Washington point guard as their next franchise building block. General manager Danny Ainge insinuated as much, though he admitted they will take other options into consideration.
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck was not as diplomatic as he told CSN New England that they will only trade the pick if they are utterly sure of the player it would net them. (Transcript via Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk)
I think these picks are very, very valuable. You think of it, if you’re going to trade this pick as part of a package for an establish star making max, you’ve got to send max money out the door, as well. You’ve got to send more guys along. So, this guy coming back better be the second coming. What’s more, he’s going to be halfway through his career, whoever he is. And he’s going to be paid right now a ton of money, which restricts you in other ways.
If you can get a really good guy with this pick, you’ve got him. You can build with him. You can grow with him. You can coach him up. And you get to max money eventually – five, six years down the road – but it’s a totally different thing.
So, these picks are really valuable in today’s NBA. And so our intention would be to make the pick unless someone blows us away with an offer. That’s the way I would probably think about it.
Grousbeck did clarify that ultimately the decision will be made by the basketball operations staff. Nevertheless, it’s notable that the team owner is laying down some sort of an ultimatum regarding the pick.
As for Grousbeck’s reasoning, it makes sense. He clearly understands the value of first round picks in the NBA. That’s all good and dandy, but the fact of the matter is that it will be difficult for Boston to find a player that will have a star-level impact in the near future with that pick.
Meanwhile, the pick could be the centerpiece in a trade for, say, Paul George or Jimmy Butler, two proven vets that would become the best players on the team. If the Celtics want to continue to compete in the East and attempt to upset the Cavaliers en route to a Finals run, they’re going to need better players than a rookie.