The Celtics will once again have a rooting interest in the NBA draft lottery, even if it is only a minor one. The Grizzlies still owe Boston a first-round pick. It’s currently slotted to be the 14th overall choice. If it stays there, the Celtics will receive it.
But when the teams made a 2015 deal that sent Jeff Green to Memphis, the Grizzlies put some protections on the future pick they sent to Boston. It is top-six protected this year, so if the Grizzlies get some lottery luck on Thursday night and vault into the top four, they will keep the choice this year, and Boston will get Memphis’s unprotected first-round draft pick next season. But there is just a 2.4 percent chance of that happening.
Memphis has a talented young roster that features likely rookie of the year Ja Morant, so it could be better next season. But the Celtics would prefer for the draft choice to roll into next year anyway, because then so much more would be possible.