BOSTON -- Getting to the conference finals is not easy. Doing so in a year where you may wind up with the No. 1 pick is damn near impossible.
And yet here we are, hours away from the NBA draft lottery, where the Celtics are on the verge of delivering the ultimate 1-2 punch to the league: being at the top of their game -- the conference finals -- while building toward the future through the draft in the best way imaginable -- landing the No. 1 pick.
By way of the 2013 Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade to Brooklyn, the Celtics swapped their first-round pick this year for the Nets’ first-round pick, which has the best odds (25 percent) of being the top overall selection.
And if the Celtics acquire the top overall pick, the options are plentiful.
They can keep it and draft who they believe is the best player, which will likely be Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.
Boston could move the pick for a later selection and in doing so, most likely get addition picks in return.
Or they could package the pick with players and swing a trade for another All-Star caliber talent to join Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford as part of the team’s All-Star nucleus.
As has been the case in every draft, Danny Ainge isn’t tipping his hand as far as what he wants to do other than to keep all of his options open.
That makes sense when you consider that unlike most teams that are in the hunt to land the top overall pick, Ainge and the Celtics aren’t nearly as pressed to add more young talent to a roster that right now, is loaded -- some might say overloaded -- with young talent that’s looking to get on the floor sooner rather than later.
And considering at the top of the draft board are a pair of guards in Fultz and Ball, the Celtics in all likelihood will have to empty the roster a bit at the guard position.
The guard whom most teams covet on the Celtics roster is Avery Bradley, according to multiple sources.
A 6-foot-2 all-NBA defender, Bradley’s ability to play both ends of the floor at a high level not to mention his team-friendly contract (he signed a four-year, $32 million contract in 2014 which has one year worth $8.8 million left, after this season) makes him a player that could easily be moved.
But the Celtics would only do that if they were getting a bona fide all-star caliber player in return because to them, Bradley’s play when healthy puts him in the conversation as an all-star possible.
Rookie Demetrius Jackson signed a four-year, $5.5 million contract but if he’s waived prior to July 15 the Celtics are only on the hook for $650,000.
Terry Rozier, who was up and down as a second-year pro this season, is another possible that could be on the move.
The bottom line is the Celtics have options, lots of them.
And them landing the No. 1 pick tonight would be another one to add to the already-stacked list of possibilities for this franchise that continues to be on the fast track towards being an NBA title contender.