The Celtics aren’t counting themselves out of the draft madness on Thursday. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Boston is trying to work its way up into the lottery:
Boston is aggressively working to move up into the late lottery, if not higher, league sources tell Y!. Celtics own No. 21 and 22 picks.
A trade like this might just be a necessity for a Celtics team that desperately needs some youth to develop up front, which it hasn’t had since it traded Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City last year. Greg Stiemsma is a free agent, and he didn’t really work out anyway. If Kevin Garnett doesn’t return to the Celtics for one more year, this team is going to be in big trouble in terms of a center.
That’s where this trade comes in.
The Celtics could package both of their first-round picks—and, if necessary, guys like rookies E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson—to move into the late lottery.
If they can complete a deal, they’re almost assured of having a shot at North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller, a true seven-footer who runs the floor extremely well and is incredibly athletic for his size. He seems like exactly the type of player Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would covet.
Though Zeller is still a bit raw, he has some upside—not as much as an Andre Drummond, obviously, but enough to make a big difference on a team that is going to be at a huge disadvantage up front if KG retires.
Speaking of KG, his uncertain future lends another layer to this trade rumor. According to the Boston Herald‘s Mark Murphy, Garnett won’t decide until at least July 1 whether to retire or return to Boston for another year. Much of the Celtics’ direction for 2012-13 hinges upon that decision.
If KG stays, this team needs only a couple of pieces to reboot for another title run, and Zeller could easily fill one of their biggest holes. If KG leaves, though, the Celtics need to start rebuilding. They’re an old team, and if they lose two of their cornerstones in KG and Ray Allen, they are going to need to replace a lot of production and a lot of talent—and it makes sense to start the rebuilding process now.
That might mean moving even higher up in the draft than the late lottery. And it also might mean they’re gearing up to make a big trade that might involve some bigger pieces than a couple of rookies.
But that, of course, is assuming that Ainge knows something we don’t about KG’s future, which is entirely possible.
No matter what happens, the Celtics are doing the right thing. Chances are, center Fab Melo—who is currently slated to be the best big man available when the Celtics’ No. 21 selection rolls around—isn’t the answer for Boston. The Celtics need more.
Even if it means giving up one of their draft picks, it’ll be worth it to bring in some premiere talent up front.
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