The Boston Celtics sent shockwaves through the NBA on Monday when they officially traded away the No. 1 overall selection in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the No. 3 pick and a future first round selection.
Since the Celtics made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals and had the best record in the East during the past regular season, it was a bit of a surprise when Danny Ainge decided that the team should move down from the coveted first spot in the draft, given the fact that Boston could have selected whoever they felt the best prospect was without a single team ahead of them.
But, as the day went on, Ainge’s mentality became crystal-clear and the controversial strategy of trading down in the draft began to make sense.
Not only did the Celtics gain yet another potential trade asset in the future pick, but Ainge conveyed that he believes the player that they would have taken first overall will still be available at the third selection.
"I think even before the lottery, we've been evaluating these kids for a couple years, and we felt like it was very close with the top handful of players and we still feel that way," Ainge said in a conference call Monday after the deal was finalized, per ESPN.
"We think there's a really good chance the player we'll take at [No.] 3 is the same player we would have taken at [No.] 1. So this was a great opportunity to acquire an impactful asset,” Ainge said.
Therefore, in addition to not losing out on the player that they expect to draft, the move was made to simply gain another potential high-level selection in the future and Ainge touched on how the 76ers have a real need for Markelle Fultz, which is why they were inclined to move up.
"We think it's very good value. We think the 76ers obviously wanted this No. 1 pick. I have all the respect in the world for what business they've done over the last few years,” Ainge noted. “I have a good relationship with Bryan Colangelo and Jerry Colangelo and I think they're doing a fantastic job there in Philadelphia. I think this is somebody they really wanted and stepped up to get. They have a lot of future assets and we're gonna get a player that we like in addition to some further assets."
Ainge didn’t touch on the speculation that the team was stockpiling assets in order to land a superstar like Jimmy Butler, but rather responded as if the Celtics would indeed use their new pick.
"We feel like it's a jump-start for us," Ainge explained. "We're getting the player we want. They're getting the player they want. And we'll get an additional player that we want in next year's draft, or the year after. So I think it's a good deal for both teams.”