Danny Ainge Addresses Celtics’ No. 1 Pick, Lonzo Ball’s Pre-Draft Invite Refusal

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The Boston Celtics have options when it comes to the 2017 NBA Draft, and that’s a pretty enviable position.

The Celtics own the No. 1 pick in the June 22 draft, thanks to that 2013 trade with the Brooklyn Nets and the ping-pong balls bouncing their way in the recent lottery. So, the question now is whether president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will select one of the top prospects with the pick, or if he’ll go the trade route for a potential superstar and/or more assets.

Ainge wasn’t ready to tip his hand as of Wednesday. But he did admit to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach that “a handful of teams” have made their interest in the No. 1 pick known to the C’s.

And that interest likely only will increase.

“There’s two things that are happening,” Ainge said, via The Globe. “I think the value of (the pick) increases the closer you get to the draft is one, and two is we really need to know the value of the whole draft, because some of the conversations that you have are trading down in the draft and trading picks for players, moving backward and so forth. So we’re in the process of evaluating the whole draft, and we’re fielding phone calls.”

If the Celtics keep the No. 1 pick, the pre-draft consensus is that Washington point guard Markelle Fultz is the top prospect from what’s considered a deep class. The C’s already have met with Fultz, and Ainge told The Globe that they want to meet with the point guard in Boston, too.

One player who won’t visit the Celtics is UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, who appears hell-bent on going to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2. And that’s something Ainge also touched upon in his interview with Himmelsbach.

“It’s strategic,” Ainge said. “Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s what his team of people are suggesting to do. I think if Paul Pierce were coming out of college and he had a chance — growing up in Inglewood, Calif., and being a Laker fan and with his family in L.A. — I think if he had a choice of going to Boston or L.A., he probably would have chosen L.A. But he got drafted by Boston, and now he’s a Boston guy.”

And Celtics fans are very grateful for that.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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