It was hard to keep up with all the wheeling and dealing Thursday night.
Trades were happening left and right during the 2019 NBA Draft, which proved extremely unpredictable beyond the top three picks of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett to the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks, respectively. The Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns were among the busiest teams, even coming together for a deal in the middle of the first round.
The Celtics, who entered the night with four picks (three first-rounders), traded veteran center Aron Baynes and the No. 24 overall selection to the Suns for a 2020 first-rounder (previously owned by the Milwaukee Bucks). Phoenix used the No. 24 selection, which Boston previously acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers, to choose Virginia guard Ty Jerome.
So, who won the deal?
Well, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton graded the trade and awarded the Celtics a “B+” for clearing additional salary cap space — Baynes was slated to earn $5.4 million from Boston after exercising his player option for the 2019-20 season — while also acquiring a future asset.
Here’s an excerpt from Pelton’s analysis:
Although the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2020 first-rounder will more likely than not fall lower in the draft than No. 24, an unused pick will still be easier for the Celtics to trade at some point in the next year than any player they took with this selection.
Boston will again have up to three picks in the 2020 first round: the team’s own selection, one from the Memphis Grizzlies that is top-six protected and now this one, which is protected for the top seven picks. (In other words, barring catastrophic injuries, the Celtics will get Milwaukee’s pick.)
The Celtics acquired picks No. 24 and No. 33 from the Sixers in exchange for pick No. 20. Boston, which also selected Tennessee forward Grant Williams with the No. 22 pick, chose Purdue guard Carsen Edwards with the No. 33 pick.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Celtics’ trade with the Suns, however, is the additional cap space gained by unloading Baynes’ contract. Boston stands to lose both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge at least has some flexibility moving forward.
Here’s more from Pelton:
Secondly, Boston adds to the potential cap space created if Al Horford and Kyrie Irving sign elsewhere as unrestricted free agents. At this point, the Celtics could retain the rights to restricted free agent Terry Rozier and still have more than $25 million in projected cap space. And if they renounce Rozier to chase a replacement at point guard, Boston would have room for a max offer to a player with nine or fewer years of experience.
The Suns had a head-scratching draft, and that was evident in their trade with the Celtics. Pelton gave Phoenix a “C-” for its deal with Boston — obviously a far worse mark than the C’s received — even though what happens next will go a long way toward determining the real winner and loser.