Ainge May Already Have a Deal in Place for the Celtics


When Ainge told ESPN’s Chris Forsberg that “there’s no such thing as untouchables” on the Celtics roster, it sounded like more of a warning than a statement of facts; as if he’s already certain there’ll be a major roster move by draft night.  Could Ainge already have a deal in place then?

Considering Tuesday’s madness, it appears Ainge is taking an aggressive approach to this offseason, even going as far as allegedly trying to trade Marcus Smart to the 76ers for Nerlens Noel and the third overall pick.  With the 16th, 28th, 33rd and 45th picks in this year’s draft, Danny Ainge has hinted that he’s looking to package some of those picks in order to move up in the draft: “We have a lot of picks, so we’d like to make fewer picks this year and next year and so forth”.

Ainge has remained relatively coy concerning the players he’s targeting in this year’s draft, however, the Celtics have only brought players slated to land in the middle of the first round to work out. This list includes Bobby Portis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Montrezl Harrell, Justin Anderson and Terry Rozier; all of whom are projected to be chosen in the 15-30 pick range.

While Ainge’s comments have expressed confidence in his ability to move the Celtics up in the draft, player agents don’t share the same optimism, seeing as many lottery-bound players have opted not to work out in for the Celtics. Agents just don’t believe the Celtics can offer teams with lottery picks a package worth trading down for. If the Celtics were to manage to trade up, it’d be for a late-lottery team, hovering around picks 9-12.

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Yet, if Ainge simply had no chance of trading up, then why have his comments been so optimistically cryptic?

Ainge tells ESPN: “Our draft pick may have been traded before we even make the pick. I’m excited about the draft, it’s going to be a fun day.”

Those don’t sound like the words of a man with zero options.  Chances are, Ainge has at least one potential deal in place.  He’ll likely wait until draft night to pounce, considering he’ll want to hear as many offers as possible, before choosing the most promising one.

The leaking of the proposed Marcus Smart trade suggests Ainge is primarily concerned with finding the Celtics a capable big man.  There will always be talented point guards available in either free agency or the draft, however, there are a finite number of big men capable of starting in the NBA.  Unfortunately for the Celtics, all of this draft’s best centers will be selected with top-5 picks.

This may require Ainge to boost out the valuable Nets’ first rounders stolen from Billy King. The Celtics could play through this season with the talents we’ve got and hold off on drafting a center in future drafts using these Nets’ picks, which will likely be lottery picks since the Nets are projected to regress for the next several years.

At this juncture, though, its more than likely that the Celtics won’t be using all four of their draft picks on Friday, as Ainge has all but downright said he has a deal in place for at least one of those picks.