In news first reported by TNT’s David Aldridge on Saturday night, the Boston Celtics have agreed to trade the first overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the No. 3 pick, as well as a protected future first-round pick in either 2018 or 2019. The deal is expected to be finalized on Monday.
With the Sixers expected to take Washington’s Markelle Fultz, the door opens for a reshuffle among the order of the first five players drafted — despite the five particular players likely to be chosen remaining the same. With three point guards included in that group, it’s possible Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox may hear his name called at a different point than originally anticipated.
Along with Fultz, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Kansas’ Josh Jackson, and Duke’s Jayson Tatum, anything other than a top-five selection would be considered a shock for Fox. However, Philly’s power play to the top of the order has altered the market for point guards with respect to the best available prospect. This could potentially mean the difference between a No. 3 and a No. 5 selection for Fox — and close to a $2.3 million disparity in salary over his first three seasons as a professional.
If the trade goes through as expected, the Celtics have all but confirmed their lack of interest in a top-flight point guard prospect to pair with All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. It also suggests the Sixers are interested in adding a point guard to their lineup of unproven talent, implying that Philadelphia was originally a likely suitor for Fox at No. 3. While it’s probable that Boston still would have taken Fultz first overall under the assumption that he is the best prospect available, the burden of choosing between adding to an already crowded backcourt and passing on what could be a can’t-miss prospect has been lifted. Now, the Celtics will wait to see who the Los Angeles Lakers take at No. 2, and likely land on Jackson or Tatum to strengthen the team at forward.
With the Lakers’ pick unaffected by last night’s trade rumblings, it remains entirely possible that newly minted president of basketball operations Magic Johnson will defer to Fox with the second pick in Thursday night’s draft. But, if the Lakers decide to go with Ball — another point guard — at No. 2 instead, Fox could fall all the way to the Sacramento Kings at No. 5. The Phoenix Suns own the No. 4 overall pick, but tote a loaded backcourt not unlike the Celtics. If the Suns were to go with Fox in favor of whomever is available between Jackson and Tatum, expect rumors of an eventual trade of former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe to surface.
The Kings are in search of a young floor general to pair with rising sophomore Buddy Hield, as well as former Kentucky big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal LabissiÃ¨re. Even if every domino falls the wrong way for Fox over the first four picks, Sacramento will be a sure-fire landing spot at No. 5.