CAMDEN, N.J. - The Celtics gave up the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft and they feel great about it.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is confident his team still will end up with the player it desired after moving down. Boston also has an additional future pick to add to its collection.
"We think there's a really good chance the player that we'll take at three was the same player we would have taken at one," Ainge said in a conference call Monday. "This was a great opportunity to acquire an impactful asset."
The Sixers on Monday acquired the No. 1 pick from the Celtics, which Boston had acquired from Brooklyn via a pick swap. In return, the Celtics received the No. 3 pick and a future first-round selection. That later pick will be either the Lakers' 2018 pick if it falls between Nos. 2 through 5, or if it does not convey, the better of the Sixers' and Kings' pick in 2019.
The Celtics will receive the lesser pick in 2019, however, if either selection is the No. 1.
The Celtics and Sixers had been in talks about a trade since the Celtics landed the first pick in the lottery last month. Ainge said the Sixers' offer was the best they received "by a significant margin." Both teams felt it was beneficial to get the deal done days before the draft.
"Sometimes when you get an offer you want, you don't want to wait for that offer to go away," Ainge said.
The Sixers are projected to draft Markelle Fultz at No. 1. The thought is the Celtics will draft Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, on the premise the Lakers take Lonzo Ball at No. 2. Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo did not speak about specific players after the trade, but Fultz did travel from Maryland for an individual workout on Saturday.
"We think the Sixers obviously wanted this No. 1 pick," Ainge said, without naming names. "I have all respect in the world for what business they've done over the last few years. I have a good relationship with Bryan Colangelo and Jerry Colangelo. They're doing a fantastic job there in Philadelphia.
This is somebody that they really wanted and stepped up to get. They have a lot of future assets. We're going to get a player that we like and in addition to some further assets."
The Celtics now are looking at the rights to potentially seven first-round selections in the next three years. In addition their own picks and the Sixers deal, they will receive a pick from the Nets in 2018, the Grizzlies in 2019 (top-8 protected), and the Clippers in 2019 (top-14 protected).
All the while, they finished with the best record (53-29) in the Eastern Conference and have All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas under contract for next season.
For all their current success, the Celtics also will be measured by the careers of the pick they acquired and the one they traded away. Ainge is ready for the comparisons between the two that will come over the years.
"These trades are always based on what players those players turn out to be," Ainge said. "We'll all be judged on days like this, and I'm not afraid of that."