The Boston Celtics' excellent 2017 trade with the Philadelphia 76ers finally wrapped up Thursday night in Brooklyn during the 2019 NBA Draft.
Celtics fans have fond memories of when team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded the No. 1 pick in 2017 to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder. The Sixers took Washington guard Markelle Fultz at No. 1, and he's no longer on Philly's roster. It's easily one of the worst top picks in recent memory. The Celtics took Jayson Tatum at No. 3, and he's a rising star with franchise-cornerstone potential. Boston completed the trade by taking Indiana wing Romeo Langford with the No. 14 pick Thursday. This pick was the future first-rounder given to Boston in the Tatum/Fultz deal.
Well, it appears Ainge might have taken advantage of the 76ers front office in another draft trade Thursday. ESPN's Jonathan Givony listed the Celtics among his winners of the 2019 draft, and his reasoning was the trade Boston made with Philadelphia.
In 2014, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was able to sniff out the Orlando Magic's interest in drafting Elfrid Payton, selecting him at No. 10 and forcing Orlando to give up an additional first-round pick to get its target.
Five years later, it appears that the Boston Celtics were able to do the same, taking advantage of the 76ers' very clear interest in Matisse Thybulle early on in the pre-draft process. The Celtics picked Thybulle at No. 20 and flipped him to Philly while moving down to No. 24 and extracting the No. 33 pick. The Celtics then turned around and auctioned off that pick to the Suns for a 2020 first-round pick, doing some nifty business considering where they started from.
And when it came time to make that 33rd pick, the Celtics reportedly snatched Carsen Edwards away from Philly, who was looking to take him at 34.
The 76ers were set to draft Carsen Edwards at 34, I’m told, but the Celtics (after acquiring this pick from the Sixers to move back 4 spots) spun Philly into plan B mode. They knew Philadelphia wanted Edwards just like Thybulle. Danny Ainge, everyone.— Brian Michael Jacobs (@BrianMikeJacobs) June 21, 2019
The 76ers' front office has been a mess since the end of the 2017-18 season, and Elton Brand hasn't performed a whole lot better than his predecessor, Bryan Colangelo. Brand went all-in this past season, giving up nearly all of the 76ers' remaining assets to acquire star forwards Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. The result was arguably the best starting unit in the league, but the bench was a real weakness and it showed in the team's second-round playoff loss to the Toronto Raptors. Brand and/or his staff apparently made the team's interest in Thybulle too obvious, and Ainge, one of the smartest executives in the league, pounced on the opportunity to acquire some nice assets as a result.
It's possible Thybulle becomes a really good player and the Celtics don't hit on their future first-rounder or receive much production from Edwards, but you cannot let a chief rival take advantage of your situation in this manner.
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