Celtics GM Danny Ainge explains trade with Sixers from Boston's perspective

Celtics GM Danny Ainge explains trade with Sixers from Boston's perspective

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Celtics gave up the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft and they feel great about it.
 
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is confident his team still will end up with the player it desired after moving down. Boston also has an additional future pick to add to its collection. 
 
"We think there's a really good chance the player that we'll take at three was the same player we would have taken at one," Ainge said in a conference call Monday. "This was a great opportunity to acquire an impactful asset."
 
The Sixers on Monday acquired the No. 1 pick from the Celtics, which Boston had acquired from Brooklyn via a pick swap. In return, the Celtics received the No. 3 pick and a future first-round selection. That later pick will be either the Lakers' 2018 pick if it falls between Nos. 2 through 5, or if it does not convey, the better of the Sixers' and Kings' pick in 2019.

The Celtics will receive the lesser pick in 2019, however, if either selection is the No. 1.
 
The Celtics and Sixers had been in talks about a trade since the Celtics landed the first pick in the lottery last month. Ainge said the Sixers' offer was the best they received "by a significant margin." Both teams felt it was beneficial to get the deal done days before the draft.
 
"Sometimes when you get an offer you want, you don't want to wait for that offer to go away," Ainge said. 
 
The Sixers are projected to draft Markelle Fultz at No. 1. The thought is the Celtics will draft Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, on the premise the Lakers take Lonzo Ball at No. 2. Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo did not speak about specific players after the trade, but Fultz did travel from Maryland for an individual workout on Saturday.
 
"We think the Sixers obviously wanted this No. 1 pick," Ainge said, without naming names. "I have all respect in the world for what business they've done over the last few years. I have a good relationship with Bryan Colangelo and Jerry Colangelo. They're doing a fantastic job there in Philadelphia.

"This is somebody that they really wanted and stepped up to get. They have a lot of future assets. We're going to get a player that we like and in addition to some further assets."
 
The Celtics now are looking at the rights to potentially seven first-round selections in the next three years. In addition their own picks and the Sixers deal, they will receive a pick from the Nets in 2018, the Grizzlies in 2019 (top-8 protected), and the Clippers in 2019 (top-14 protected).
 
All the while, they finished with the best record (53-29) in the Eastern Conference and have All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas under contract for next season.
 
For all their current success, the Celtics also will be measured by the careers of the pick they acquired and the one they traded away. Ainge is ready for the comparisons between the two that will come over the years.
 
"These trades are always based on what players those players turn out to be," Ainge said. "We'll all be judged on days like this, and I'm not afraid of that."

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart heard his name called, while Villanova teammate Kris Jenkins did not.

Hart snuck into the first round of Thursday night's NBA draft, going 30th overall to the Utah Jazz. However, the Wildcat is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, via a trade.

While Jenkins went undrafted, it looks like he'll have a shot with an NBA team. Jenkins will join the Washington Wizards this offseason to compete for a roster spot, according to a report by NBA.com's David Aldridge.

After winning the national title as a junior with Villanova, Hart collected plenty of accolades in a standout senior season. The 6-foot-5 wing was named a consensus first-team All-American, Big East Player of the Year and took home the Julius Erving award as the top small forward in the country.

For the 32-4 Wildcats, Hart, a Silver Spring, Maryland native, averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

"I'm my biggest critic," he said last week after a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. "I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

As Hart travels west, Jenkins, on the other hand, will head home for his NBA opportunity. The 6-foot-6 forward, beloved for his buzzer-beating three-pointer to win Villanova its 2016 national championship, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He worked out for the Wizards in early June. He also worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday.

"It's a blessing," he said after his session with the Wizards, via the Washington Post. "You always root for the hometown team, you always want them to do well. Honestly it's humbling to be in this position, to grow up in this area, to have some games here and play college ball here and then come back and work out for the Wizards."

After flirting with the NBA draft process following their title-winning season, both Hart and Jenkins decided to return to school for their senior campaigns.

They both took to Twitter on Thursday night following the draft — Hart in excitement, Jenkins more in a humorous manner.

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

CAMDEN, N.J. — You don't have to do much research on Markelle Fultz to find his perceived shortcomings.

Washington finished 9-22 his only season there. Draft experts also questioned his effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

None of that concerned the Sixers when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night (see story).

"One of the weaknesses was, 'Does he bring it every night defensively? Did he have that killer instinct?'" Sixers head coach Brett Brown said following the pick. "I think if you take a high character person and you take an athlete, you have the foundation to coach him to be an elite defender."

There isn't much question about Fultz's offensive game. The 19-year-old guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in his only season with the Huskies. He also shot an impressive 41.3 percent from three-point range.

His skill set as a shooter and scorer seems to complement the skills of franchise centerpieces Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. With his selection, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is hoping the Sixers can start to build a winning culture.

But does Fultz's nine-win season at Washington concern him at all?

"You look at every aspect of evaluating a prospect," Colangelo said. "We've dug very deep on this and we feel that regardless of whatever the performance of the University of Washington Huskies was last year, it's not relevant to who Markelle represents, what he represents as a player, and how he is going to fit in and help us turn this program around."

Fultz took an interesting path to being the No. 1 pick. He didn't make the varsity team at famed DeMatha High School in Maryland as a sophomore (see story). A growth spurt helped bring more attention to his game.

He chose Washington because of the relationship he had developed with its coaching staff. He also thought he'd have the opportunity to play with sophomores Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray. Instead, both players were surprise one-and-dones and Fultz was forced to carry the team on his shoulders.

"He wasn't always considered the best prospect, but he emerged and earned the right to be the best prospect," Colangelo said. "You're talking about a young man who goes to the University of Washington, didn't have great team success. Unfortunately, part of that may be personnel driven, part of that may be circumstantial.

"To do what he did at the level of the Pac-12 and to be able to average 23 points a game, six rebounds and six assists. You're talking, again, about great performance on the floor, a player that does so many different things and we believe someone that's going to help make his teammates better. "

Colangelo mentioned that Fultz "has the tools" to become an excellent defender. Fultz stands at 6-foot-4 with an impressive 6-foot-10 span. He also has plenty of athleticism and strength to compete defensively against NBA ones and twos.

Brown acknowledged that defense could be the biggest hole in Fultz's game, but feels like he could get the most out of Fultz on the defensive end.

"I think that down deep he understands the knock against him and I believe that when we get him with our program, he understands how we see the world here," Brown said. "It's gonna be an evolution, no doubt. But it's a willing defensive player and it's a willing athlete, a gifted athlete under a roof of a quality person. I think having those types of qualities lets you have a far better chance to mold him into the type of defensive player we need here."