Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported the Celtics are interesting in making a deal with the Atlanta Hawks for the number 3 pick while Jonathan Givony of ESPN/Draft Express tosses the Celtics name into a group of 7 teams vying for the Grizzlies number four pick.
The Grizzlies trade would need a third team involved due to Memphis’ desire to pawn off Chandler Parson’s 2-year, $50 million contract.
Both trade scenarios could require Danny Ainge to dangle the Sacramento and Memphis picks owned by the Celtics in the 2019 draft along with the 27th pick in this year’s draft and Terry Rozier. A steep price to pay which makes either scenario a long shot to come to fruition.
If the Celtics happen to pull off either move, the expectation is that Mo Bamba or Luka Doncic is the target but I wouldn’t rule out Jaren Jackson Jr. or Wendell Carter Jr.
Bamba would fill a rim protection need that could put the Celtics defense into another stratosphere while he continues to develop his offensive arsenal towards a Joel Embiid styled game.
Doncic is a playmaking dynamo who can play both the guard and the wing. His ball-handling ability, basketball IQ and shooting make him a high-caliber talent. He doesn’t fit perfectly into the Celtics rotations at this point but his versatility would earn him playing time at several positions.
Jackson would be an ideal fit for Brad Stevens’ position-less defensive switching schemes. He can switch out and defend any position 1 through 5 and he excels at weak side rim protection. Jackson also has a solid 3-point shot in his arsenal of skills.
Wendell Carter Jr. would be a discount Al Horford with upside who could learn under the swiss-army knife All-Star, big man and then take over once Horford reaches his mid-30s and is relegated to role player status.
If the Celtics can’t move up to the Top 10 they will most likely be looking at players who possess perimeter defensive abilities, athleticism and competitive fire. These are traits that describe both Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Both players could potentially be playing elsewhere by the time next season starts. Smart because he is a restricted free agent expected to receive competitive offer sheets this summer. And Rozier because he’s in the last year of his contract, wants big money after this season along with a starting gig and his trade value has reached its apex.
The Celtics have worked out players who could fill similar roles that Smart and Rozier have in recent years.
Josh Okogie is a guard/wing combo out of Georgia Tech. He’s 6’5″ with a near 8-foot wingspan. His leaping ability rivals that of Gerald Green but he’s not as tall as Green. He has the potential to pack on more to his already solid frame and he’s known for being 100% spark plug. Okogie posted 18.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 2.5 APG as a sophomore for the Yellow Jackets last season. His two-year three-point shooting average of 38% makes Okogie a perfect “3 and D” player in today’s NBA.
Bruce Brown is a lengthy point guard who played next to Lonnie Walker in the Miami Hurricanes backcourt last season. The Roxbury, Mass. born guard saw his draft stock dip from a late lottery pick all the way down to a potential second round selection. Brown’s stock fell after he missed the final six weeks of his sophomore season after getting surgery for a left foot injury.
Brown profiles similarly to Marcus Smart in good and bad ways. He’s a physical defender with the strength to box out Bigs down on the block despite only being 6’5.” Brown averaged 7.1 RPG at Miami. He’s also a fiery competitor but his shooting woes are a major concern. His three-point shooting dipped from 34.7 % all the way down to 26.7% in addition to his 62 % shooting at the charity stripe. Luckily, his coach Jim Larranaga is the father of current Celtics assistant coach, Jay Larranaga, so the Celtics may have some insights into ways to improve Brown’s shooting woes in much the same way they have with Jaylen Brown.
Jacob Evans is a prototypical 6’6′, “3 and D” wing out of Cincinnatti. Evans brngs that tough Big East defensive style to the NBA. The kid has a knack for coming up with key blocks and big steals. His handle leaves a lot to be desired which makes him less likely to be a playmaker from the wing but his decision-making with the ball led to a 2.1 Assist-to-turnover ratio for his 3-year tenure at Cincy.
Evans’ best skill is his shooting acumen. He posted a 50.7% effective FG% last season. His 3-point shooting has bounced up and down a bit during his time in the Big East starting with a 33% mark his freshman year, a 41% mark his sophomore season and ending in a junior season performance of 37%.
De’Anthony Melton is a 6’3″ guard out of USC with a fierce defensive demeanor. He’s a tough, high energy mirror-defender with a 6’8″ wingspan. Melton has questions about his shooting ability but he’s been working out with shooting guru Drew Hanlen in the pre-draft process. The reports are favorable from scouts who’ve seen Melton’s shooting mechanics since ironing out some kinks. Melton has the handles and play-making ability to be a solid back-up point guard.
There are three more names who the Celtics may have interest in but are expected to be taken before the 27th pick arrives.
Jerome Robinson is a 6’5″ microwave scoring guard/wing out of Boston College. Robinson’s stock has risen to the point where he’s now being discussed as this draft’s Donovan Mitchell.
Donte “Big Ragu” DiVincenzo is a “3 and D” guard/wing out of Villanova. DiVincenzo is now expected to land in the late teens-early 20s. He’s a catch-and-shoot specialist with sneaky, explosive athleticism similar to that of Gordon Hayward.
Dzanan Musa is a 6’9″ scoring forward from Bosnia. The usual Europhobic concerns about his athleticism exist which also brings into question his defensive abilities but Musa’s shooting and old-man moves repertoire would fill a nice bench scoring role.