SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — I have plenty of picks in my pocket.
Only one NBA general manager can attest to the above and that is Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics.
Through a handful of trades over the past few years, including the recent switcheroo with the 76ers of the No. 1 and No. 3 picks, Ainge has acquired enough draft picks in the coming years to seemingly start another NBA franchise.
And for a Boston team coming off a season in which it was the top seed in the Eastern Conference and made it the conference finals, a rookie wing isn’t the answer—not when your problem is Lebron James.
Should the Celtics choose to keep their pick, many are projecting them to draft either Kansas forward Josh Jackson or Duke forward Jayson Tatum with the third pick this evening.
Don’t get me wrong, Jackson is a promising young talent and makes a strong case for the best two-way player in the 2017 class and Tatum is a profound scorer and can get his own whenever he wants.
But acquiring either freshman doesn’t elevate the Celtics chances of dethroning the Cavs in the East—not even if Boston signs free agent All Star Gordon Hayward.
The solution: Jimmy Butler.
A three-time All-Defensive player and All Star, Butler had his best season in 2016-17 with averages of 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals.
Boston has been targeting the former Most Improved Player since last season but has yet to pull the trigger, despite having multiple trade assets including both draft picks and players.
Adding Butler would give the Celtics a second playmaker alongside Isaiah Thomas and more importantly, provide them with a top-notch defender who can guard 1-3 and challenge Lebron.
My proposed trade: the No. 3 pick, Jae Crowder and a 2018 first-round pick (which will likely fall in the top-10). Maybe throw in center Tyler Zeller to clear another $8 million off the books.
Crowder is a good defender but has limited offense as he’s become a catch-and-shoot guy on the perimeter, rarely driving to the basket or creating his own shot.
Incoming sophomore Jaylen Brown is an athletic, developing prospect that could surely pick up minutes in Crowder’s absence.
Then, after trading for Butler, sign Hayward in free agency, reuniting him with his former college and current Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens.
Hayward can create for himself and others and would give Boston a third playmaker in addition to Thomas and Butler.
Bringing on these two talented stars along with a paint-protecting center would surely allow Boston to knock off Cleveland in the East and contend with the Warriors in the NBA Finals—assuming fairly the 2017 NBA Champs are again the best in the West next season—barring any dramatic free agency shakeups with the Spurs, Clippers or Rockets.
For Ainge and the Celtics, the window is open now and acquiring proven, top-tier players is the most logical way to revamp the NBA’s most winningest franchise.
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