The phone has been ringing.
Although the Boston Celtics haven’t pulled the trigger on any significant deals this season, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acknowledged last week that teams across the NBA have been calling about potential trades. The 2017 Brooklyn Nets first-round draft pick, which the Celtics own by virtue of a previous trade, is one asset teams seem to covet, according to Ainge.
“Yes, they have,” Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” when asked whether trade talks have started. “Nothing’s close or imminent, but there are people calling (about the Nets pick). It’s a valuable pick so we’re going to explore that.”
The Nets have the worst record in the NBA, so it’s possible the Celtics could end up with a top-three pick — if not the first overall pick — for the second consecutive draft. Boston, which also owned Brooklyn’s first-round pick last season, selected Jaylen Brown third overall in 2016.
The C’s again could opt to keep the pick in the hopes of landing a young stud. Boston currently is third in the Eastern Conference and could be one star player away from becoming a legitimate title contender, though. Ainge and Co. must do their homework to see whether the risk of trading such a high selection is worth the potential reward. Evaluating the upcoming draft class, of course, is a huge part of that process.
“Every draft is different,” Ainge said. “But I think that sometimes you have the top one (pick) is better than other drafts. … This one is a little bit more equal in the top few picks of the draft as it appears right now. This is something that we’re spending all our time (on). We have people all over the world evaluating this as we speak. So I think that at this point in time, I think that, yeah, there’s four or five guys that there’s not a lot of separation at the top of this draft.”
The Celtics are an up-and-coming team with a solid core, but their championship hopes likely hinge on what they do with their enviable flexibility. Their most important decision might center on the Brooklyn pick, which will become an even bigger talking point as the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline approaches.
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