BOSTON -- When word quickly spread that the Boston Celtics were serious about trading away the top overall pick to Philadelphia, there was sense among Celtics Nation that Danny Ainge was about to pull another fast one.
- Celtics will trade No. 1 overall pick to Sixers Monday
- Markelle Fultz struggles in workout for Philadelphia
After all, who can forget the 2013 fleecing of the Brooklyn Nets, which is still paying dividends to the Celtics like the top overall pick in Thursday’s draft?
But as the details began to spill out as to what the Celtics were getting for the top overall pick -- the No. 3 selection in Thursday’s draft and either a future first-round pick in 2018 (if the pick falls between 2 and 5 overall) from the Los Angeles Lakers, or a 2019 pick from the Sacramento Kings -- it seemed a bit underwhelming.
That’s because when it comes to the Celtics and doing deals, fans around here have become spoiled to Danny Ainge coming out ahead most of the time.
More than anything else, this deal forces fans to truly believe in Ainge’s visionary approach to building this team into a title contender.
On the surface, it feels as though the Celtics passed on a likely future All-Star caliber player in Markelle Fultz, who will play in the same division and potentially haunt Boston for the next decade or so.
But this isn't about whether the Celtics got too much or not enough.
It's about “In Danny We Trust."
Because unlike past trades Ainge has engineered, he's never done made one with the top overall pick in hand. And because of that, the support that he has had for so long will be tested in aways it never has before.
Whether you are a die-hard Celtics or just a casual NBA observer, there’s no getting around the impact Ainge has had on this franchise since becoming its president of basketball operations.
In just four years, he shipped out many of the team’s big-name core players (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo) and replaced them with good but lesser-known talent whose collective efforts got the Celtics into this season's Eastern Conference Finals, where they were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games.
But as Ainge went about collecting assets in recent years, one thing became quite certain:
No matter how many first-round picks you have, if they're not in the top five or so it’s not easy to entice teams to strike a deal.
Middle to late first-round picks do little to move the needle and, thus, are hard to move.
But as we saw on Saturday, having the top pick in the draft is indeed a game-changer.
None of the players has been to Boston for a workout, but the Celtics did see Tatum during a workout earlier this month in Los Angeles. Both Jackson and Ball declined earlier workout requests from the Celtics.
With Fultz slated to go number one overall to Philadelphia, both Jackson and Ball might have a change of heart leading up to Thursday’s draft.
It remains to be seen if Celtics Nation will have a similar change emotionally after Ainge decided to use the top overall pick to get an additional draft pick rather than use the pick for a player to keep.
Only time will tell if Ainge got this one right or screwed up royally which will bring out the best and worst of Celtics Nation who for now, seem divided on this trade which has forced them to do what they’ve done for years -- trust that Ainge has done the right thing by this franchise for the present as well as the not-so-distant future.