If you’re a Boston Celtics fan, you’re having a little deja vu on Friday morning: With the third pick in the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics took a talented small forward whose first name starts with J-A-Y, and hope he can be groomed to be a future star.
Last year, it was Jaylen Brown. This year? Jayson Tatum.
So you might be nervous that the Celts are stuck in the same place they were before last season: Filled with great pieces but lacking a superstar (of course, you didn’t know Isaiah Thomas would have that kind of season). And maybe you saw the Jimmy Butler trade that cost the Minnesota Timberwolves next to nothing and wondered why Danny Ainge didn’t pounce on that kind of deal immediately.
But here’s where things get verrry interesting for Boston: The Celtics have a chance to take some of those young talents they just drafted and other pieces and turn them into gold. The kind of gold that could, at least, mean an Eastern Conference title.
There’s been tons of speculation that Utah Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward could come to the Celts to team up with his college coach, Brad Stevens. That would be a serious upgrade, but would it be enough to topple the Cleveland Cavaliers next season? I say they’d get closer but probably not.
That’s where this kind of speculation comes in:
I wonder if a contingent Paul George trade(s) could already be in place. Order of operations matters. It's easier to deal after free agency. https://t.co/JDlUHmmgyD
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 23, 2017
Agree with KOC. Makes more sense for Celts to sign Hayward or Griffin (if they can), then figure out cap situation + construct the PG trade. https://t.co/P13rpCr7OA
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 23, 2017
Imagine that. Hayward and Paul George?? Assuming a George trade guts some of their roster – including dealing one of Brown or Tatum, I’d bet – and it all works under the cap, the Celtics would have a roster that would include Thomas, Hayward, George and Al Horford.
And if the Celts could somehow get George to sign an extension to keep him from bolting to the Los Angeles Lakers after a year, as is his reported desire to do so? That’s the perfect scenario for Ainge.
Even if George doesn’t sign, it’s a risk worth taking for a shot at a ring. As we’ve noted with a George-to-Cavaliers scenario, perhaps a year with a serious contender convinces the forward to change his mind about L.A.
Right now, post-draft and pre-free agency, that’s all it is: A scenario. But one thing is certain: Ainge has to be aggressive here. As I wrote over a month ago when I called for the Celtics to trade their No. 1 pick for a star, the window is opening in Boston now, and the franchise need to take advantage of it.