Celtics have plenty of chips as NBA Draft begins
LeBron James has enrolled his kids in Los Angeles schools.
Kawhi Leonard has established himself as at-best, a one-year rental – one that might skip out early on his Back Bay lease if the Celtics chose to take a risk on him and things went awry.
So with the National Basketball Association Draft on tap Thursday night, it’s time to dig into Danny Ainge’s current state of mind and determine where he’s thinking about taking this franchise as the roaring 2020s
Boston, which held the lead in the fourth quarter of Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals against King James and Cavaliers with its top two players Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, owns the 27th pick of the first round and doesn’t have a pick in Round 2.
What the Celtics do have is a deep cache of future picks and potential bombshells to offer teams looking to deal, if necessary.
If the playoff run proved anything, it’s that rookie Jayson Tatum could be special. And second-year man Jaylen Brown, while potentially very good, is a notch behind – more slated for the good, not great role.
Those factors are previous draft, back-to-back jacks for Ainge.
Now, can he find the final piece? It most likely won’t come via free agency. Sorry, LeBron just isn’t interested in the drab Northeast. He needs LA.
And trade? The Spurs will want a Tatum for Leonard, and that’s just not worth it.
And that’s why No. 27 tonight matters so much. That spot in the draft, deep in the first round, is built for Boston’s chief immediate need.
Ainge needs to find an assassin, a designated 3-point sniper, a one-dimensional yet lethal weapon, who can stand, catch and fire from beyond the arc.
This team has its ball-dominator in Kyrie, a slew of slashers in Tatum, Hayward and Brown. You’re just not going to find the big rebounder this team needs at 27.
So let’s find some instant offense.
Could it come from Duke’s Grayson Allen? Quite simply, if he’s the next JJ Redick, the Celtics could do worse.
The most important question here is how has Allen matured. He had a couple or three on-court head-scratchers at Duke. Is he ready for adulthood and a real job?
Allen’s teammate Gary Trent Jr. could be a second option. A bit more athletic, he too can stroke it.
The good news is that these guys won’t be asked to do much more. The bad news is that if Ainge drafts one of them, of a reasonable mad-bombing facsimile, it could spell the end of time here for Marcus Smart and possibly Terry Rozier.
Those of us who endured Game 7, with all those ugly clanging rim-shots against the Cavs might not exactly see that as a bad thing.
Regardless, Ainge is sitting pretty because of his previous draft day dealings.
That doesn’t mean some extra offense from the three-point line wouldn’t be a bad thing.