Saturday, June 10, 2017

Could the Celtics and Kings Be Close to a Blockbuster Trade?

The Topic
Is Fultz the motivation behind what could be a blockbuster
draft day trade involving the first overall pick and one of
the league's most storied franchises?
There's been a great deal of chatter over the past few days, generated by an alleged scheduled workout for consensus #1 NBA draft prospect Markelle Fultz with the Sacramento Kings, who currently not only don't have the top pick, but don't have a top three pick (and thus don't have a chance of drafting Fultz without trading up).  If the workout WAS scheduled, and does happen, that's an important thing.  Because there's no reason for Fultz to schedule a workout unless even he thinks it's a real scenario, and I'm sure his agent would be tapped into things at least a bit.  And for the Celtics, there would be no reason to showcase him ahead of playing him if they intended to draft him and hold onto him definitely.  So I wanted to go over what it might take to make this trade happen.

Why would the Kings do it?              
Crowder seems dissatisfied with Boston at times, and with his
team friendly contract (about $7 mil/yr for next 3 yrs) could
be a good veteran for Sacramento to target in this trade.
The Kings got fleeced this past winter in the Cousins trade, and this off-season just might be Vlade Divac's only chance to make up for that.  To do so, he likely feels a great deal of pressure to land a superstar player the team can build around.  Currently, the team has only Langston Galloway at the point guard position locked in for next season, and with just 50 games started over four years of playing on some of the worst teams this league has to offer, it's safe to say Galloway just isn't a starter in this league.  Enter Fultz, who would give them a point guard who some think could be a Russell Westbrook type in terms of being a triple double threat and scoring machine at the next level.

Why would the Celtics say yes?
For the Celtics part, Ainge couldn't be in a more opposite position than Divac, feeling almost no pressure at all.  With his team just having played in the Eastern Conference Finals despite sporting only one all star on the roster and no MVP candidates, and sitting on the number one pick in the draft with a good deal of other future assets many consider and project to be valuable, he's in the perfect position to wheel and deal.  For Divac, it's like going shopping when you're hungry.  For Ainge, it's like going with your fitness instructor.

Boston could use an interior defensive presence
like Cauley-Stein would bring.  With him and
the two picks they get from Sacramento, they
could completely rebuild their front court
behind starter Al Horford.
Ainge doesn't have to look far from the Celtics' front office to see a draft strategy that works and produces superstars, in Foxboro, about 30 minutes from where Ainge punches the clock, sits another New England GM who has written the book on smart drafting, and that involves trading back, and taking multiple bites at the proverbial apple.  What better way to do it not only with two top ten picks, but in what many consider to be the deepest draft in at least a decade?  Ainge could greatly benefit from a trade scenario with the Kings.  Beyond that, it takes the pressure off of him to draft a point guard and further clog up an already crowded back court, full of players Ainge and the rest of the front office really like, and have heavily invested in.

What would they trade?
I think that the Celtics walk in with an absolute bottom line of the Kings' 5th and 10th overall picks in this year's draft, and a player throw in-with their eyes on Willie Cauley-Stein, who would solve a lot of size and interior defensive issues for them.  The 5th and 10th picks would allow them to target players that fill other needs as well, such as perhaps Malik Monk, or Justin Jackson as defensive minded wing players with range to eventually replace Bradley and/or Crowder, or bigger forwards like Jonathan Isaac, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, or even their original top target Josh Jackson, depending on how the top 4 shakes out after the trade at the top.

The Kings should ask for the first overall pick of course, but I think they should also try to score some role players, from an organization with many.  I think Crowder is a player that could be picked up.  Perhaps even by throwing in their 2018 first round pick (conditionally I'd assume).  If they could somehow go after one of the Celtics' many guards as well, that'd be a huge score, maybe by making that draft pick unconditional?  After all, it's not like Fultz-Crowder-Zeller or whatever is getting out of the West anytime soon anyway.  Gay will be gone next season most likely, and they'll need someone to start at the 3.  He's got a great contract, and landing him would be considered a score that might help save Divac's job if he's on the hot seat at all, which some would assume he is.

Additionally, I think Sacramento should ask for Tyler Zeller in return.  He'd give them a serviceable big in place of Cauley-Stein at a reasonable contract rate of $8 million next season.
While the Kings like youngster Skal Labissierre, and also have veteran Kosta Koufos on the roster, Zeller would give them an additional rotational big man, and an extra insurance policy in the front court should anything go wrong.  The Celtics should be okay with losing him, and might even want to, in order to spend the money bringing back Kelly Olynyk or even on other players elsewhere.  $8 million is a solid chunk of money to take off your books,  Especially when it's spent on a player who has played 10 mpg the last two seasons and missed over 40 games in that same span.

This could be anything from a smokescreen rumor, to a simple pick swap, to a huge, impactful trade for both teams.  These are the important pieces however.  Who would you like to see be involved in this trade, and who do you think would win these scenarios above?

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