BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA draft, it’s not unusual for a player pegged as a can’t-miss prospect to inexplicably dip on the eve of the draft.
One of the great examples of this was Paul Pierce, considered by most coming out of Kansas as a top-5 talent in 1998 who was on the board when it was time for the Celtics to select at No. 10.
Boston picked Pierce who went on to have a Hall of a Fame-worthy career that includes an NBA title in 2008 and his jersey number 34 being retired by the franchise.
In conversations with multiple league executives and scouts, the player they view as most likely to take a slight draft-night tumble is Michael Porter Jr. who missed most of his freshman season with Missouri after lower back surgery.
Porter Jr. won’t be considered a draft-day tumble unless he’s around when the New York Knicks are on the clock at No. 9.
The Knicks have had a (not so) quiet bromance for Terry Rozier III even before he blew up in the postseason. Marcus Smart, a restricted free agent, is on their radar as a potential target this summer as well.
Putting together a package involving Rozier would make re-signing Smart a more sensible move for the Celtics. And if Rozier became the central trade piece in acquiring the 6-11 Porter Jr., that too would make a lot of sense for the Celtics going forward in their quest to build a roster that has the kind of high-quality, position-less versatility needed to compete and potentially defeat the Golden State Warriors in both the short- and long-term.