The Boston Celtics are on the clock after winning the NBA Draft Lottery and securing the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft.
Just about every mock draft you’ll find has the Celtics taking Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the first pick, but the Celtics should be doing all they can (and perhaps they’ve already started) to convince the world they’ll actually take UCLA star Lonzo Ball with the first selection.
Danny Ainge and the C’s have no shortage of options after finally having the pingpong balls fall their way. We are, after all, talking about a team more focused on preparing for the Eastern Conference finals than, say, trusting the process. There’s a very real possibility the Celtics don’t make that first pick, ultimately trading it for an established star to add to an already impressive nucleus.
But here’s another option. If the Celtics can convince the world they’re in love with Ball, things get even more interesting. Because if they can convince the Los Angeles Lakers — who own the No. 2 pick — they love Ball, then maybe, just maybe, Boston can get its longtime rival to do something weird in order to trade up for the top pick.
The Lakers are saying all the right things and they’re in a good place. If the Celtics take Fultz or trade the pick to another team who likes Fultz, then Ball just falls into their laps at No. 2. But again, if Boston is able to put the heat on the Lakers, L.A. has some decisions to make as the C’s and Lakers continue their rivalry with a big game of NBA draft chicken.
And here’s another wrinkle. Ball, his loudmouth father and seemingly the entire Los Angeles-based Ball family aren’t shy about wanting to play for the Lakers. According to a report (almost certainly from LaVar Ball himself), Lonzo might not even work out with any team not named the Lakers.
Oh, also this:
They want this to happen. The Lakers seemingly want this to happen. And the only ones who can stop it from happening are the Celtics. How’s that for a story?
Boston ultimately might take Fultz or trade the pick. Either option seems great. And this probably would be a more realistic possibility had the Lakers fell out of the top three. But for the sake of the story — and perhaps even for the sake of somehow, someway fleecing the Lakers — maybe Ainge and the Celtics have one more trick up their sleeves.
It’s probably a pipe dream, but you might as well make your biggest rival and a player who has no desire to join your top-seeded, 53-win team playing for a trip to the NBA Finals twist in the wind for a month.
Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports Images