The Boston Celtics are in a bit of a pinch in terms of cap space. Even with the impending departure of Kyrie Irving the C’s still have problems. Therefore, they will be forced to improve their roster in the upcoming NBA Draft. They currently hold the 14th, 20th, and 22nd picks in the first round of this year’s draft. However, this draft holds the key to the Celtics biggest hole at PG; that answer is Ja Morant. The Memphis Grizzlies, who possess the #2 pick, are slotted to take Morant but may be willing to explore trading the pick. Here is how Danny Ainge can swing the trade.
First, lets start by outlining what won’t be on the trade table. Gordon Hayward‘s contract-production combo makes him immovable. If Horford accepts his $30M option, he would also be hard to trade due to his age and what he can bring to a team. Sean Faulkner breaks down the cap problems perfectly in his roster prediction article. Also, expect the Grizzlies to want to keep Mike Conley and Jaren Jackson Jr., quality players that they can build around without the #2 pick. Lastly, I’d imagine Jayson Tatum is untouchable, as Ainge and Brad Stevens see huge potential in him.
Trade One: C’s try the Danny Ainge low-ball
Celtics receive: #2 pick (Ja Morant), C.J. Miles Grizzlies receive: Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye, #20 pick, #22 pick
Danny Ainge has made a living off of stealing picks in the NBA Draft for well under their value. Here, he places one of his excess wings (Brown) with some extra compensation and takes C.J. Miles to keep salary fairly close. Notice the Celtics lottery pick (14th overall) is not included in this trade. If Memphis sees Brown as value enough, the C’s could replace Brown at 14 with talented wings projected to be there. This would be a steal for Ainge if he can pull it off. Draft props don’t favor this result, though Ainge’s success would be a payday for any willing bettor.
Trade Two: Blockbuster shakeup
Celtics receive: #2 pick (Ja Morant), Kyle Anderson, Jevon Carter Grizzles Receive: Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, Semi Ojeleye, #14 pick, #22 Pick
Ultimately, the Celtics will have to give the Grizzlies a rather nice haul if they hope to land the uber-talented Morant. This NBA Draft is top heavy, and thus drives up trade value of top-5 picks. The Celtics get to keep their 20th pick, and get a quality wing in Kyle Anderson. The Grizzlies, in turn, get young talent to bolster their roster and a lottery pick to help ease the loss of Anderson. This is the most likely trade scenario, and would give the Celtics some contract flexibility and a future star in Ja Morant.