Well, it happened. I had been tentative to predict any risky moves for my Sixers and instead was encouraging them to either trade down with the Kings or stay put and just take Josh Jackson. But, as I’m sure you’ve all heard, they made the blockbuster trade of the year in order to get the number one pick: Markelle Fultz. I was surprised when I first heard the rumor, but it just seemed more realistic every minute.
I know why the Sixers are making this move. Over the last 4 years, they’ve won a grand total of 75 games over the last 4 years, good enough to average 18.75 wins a year. Even worse, if you take out last year’s 28 win season, that win average drops to 15.5 wins per season. Just horrible numbers and possibly the worst 3 year stretch for any team in NBA history. But now, with this move, the Sixers are signalling to their fans that the Process is over, and this is the result. We even used picks that Hinkie got us, the 2018 Lakers’ pick and the 2019 Kings’ pick, in order to get Fultz. The Sixers’ staff must truly believe that Fultz was the last piece and now they have the young superstars necessary in order to win. I don’t know if I like the fact that we gave up two picks that are probably going to be very high up, given the current state of both the Lakers and Kings. but this is still not the worst thing that could’ve happened. I was also really hoping that the Sixers could find a way to get Jahlil Okafor off this team forever, but alas, not all dreams come true. This is a monumental deal that I’m sure will have a resounding impact throughout the entire league for years to come. For Philly, they’re telling everyone that they now expect to start winning now behind their super young and ultra talented “superteam” core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and of course, Markelle Fultz.
For the Celtics? Oh boy, it’s about to get real. Thanks to this move, GM Danny Ainge has now stockpiled up 7 first round picks over the next 3 years, most of which will be end top-end lottery picks. What does this mean? Are the Celtics about to use their assets to send Chicago an offer for Jimmy Butler that they can’t refuse? Are they going to use their wealth of potential assets to entice free agents like Gordon Hayward? Maybe they’re following the path of the 90s Cowboys and are intent on drafting a hoard of young talent in order to load their team up to the brink. Maybe they’re setting up all their assets to get an even bigger free agent, like Anthony Davis, who’s contract will be up in two years, and might want to leave the struggling Pelicans. Whatever the case may be, the truth is that the whole league has their eyes on Boston. Ainge is truly the mystery man of the NBA right now. I’ve already seen Celtic fans denouncing him on social media for trading away a guy who they thought is a guaranteed superstar. But I’ll be honest, I like what he did if it’s for this reason. The Celtics already have their point guard, whether or not you think they should trade Isaiah Thomas while his value his high, and Fultz does play the same position. And no, they couldn’t just move him over to shooting guard, as they already have Avery Bradley, who is a top 10 shooting guard himself and almost cracked the all star game this year. Not to the mention, the Celtics possess quality backup guards in relentless scrappers Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. The Celtics clearly thought that Josh Jackson is their guy and that they shouldn’t waste the number one pick on their guy when they know he’ll be on the board at 3. This is what smart teams do. This is what Belichick does with the Patriots, move down into smarter position even if it’s an unpopular decision.
This move also makes clear that Boston is fairly confident that Magic Johnson and the Lakers want to take Lonzo Ball at number 2, and I agree with them. The Lakers want Lonzo. They love publicity, drama, and excitement, exactly what Lonzo brings. He is their ticket back to showtime. But if for some reason, if Lonzo doesn’t go to them, and instead the Lakers take Josh Jackson, then don’t expect the Celtics to draft Mr.Ball. They already decided to pass on one point guard, and given that Lonzo refuses to workout for them, I doubt they make him their guy. They’d much more likely trade this pick again to someone like the Bulls. Then maybe we see Lonzo fall to the Suns, who reportedly really like him.
Whatever the case may be, this trade has shaken up the entire future of the NBA despite having no actual players involved, just draft picks. As a Sixers fan, I’m afraid that this is a bad move, but I’m also giddy inside that this could be the start of something surreal. Welcome to the new era everybody.
UPDATE: As of the now, the trade is officially the Sixers giving the third overall pick plus next years’ Lakers pick as long as it falls between #2-5, but if it does not, the Sixers retain the pick and instead give the 2019 Sacramento Kings unprotected first round pick all for the Celtics first overall pick this year.