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Celtics have options to pick from in NBA Draft

Wheels will spin with 4 selections

As the Celtics got off to a dismal start last season and then traded away perhaps their two best players — Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green — the focus turned toward the future, toward the NBA Draft.

It would signify a brighter day, a new opportunity and — most likely — a very high pick. Instead of a slow mope to the lottery, however, the Celtics made a few trades, made a few big shots, and made a run to the playoffs.

Some supporters felt that the Celtics had, in a roundabout way, thwarted their progress by progressing.

And so Thursday night arrives with a bit less pomp and circumstance than some were expecting, but there could still be fireworks at Celtics headquarters.


The Celtics enter the night with the 16th, 28th, 33d, and 45th overall selections. Team executives have made it clear they would rather not draft four players, though, because that is not the best way to accelerate a rebuild.

They have consistently said they would consider all options — trading up, trading down, or drafting a European player and stashing him overseas. And on Tuesday, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge specifically said the Celtics are looking to acquire a higher pick.

“There’s a lot more talk, and I guess I’m hopeful that there’s some movement,” he said. “We have a lot of things going on, a lot of possibilities.”

Although Ainge would be reluctant to break up the team’s young core, he emphasized that no player on the roster is considered untouchable. The Celtics could combine a pick or multiple picks with a returning player in a deal.

A league source said that if the Celtics packaged just the 16th and 28th selections in a trade, it would probably be enough to move them into the 9-12 range, but no higher.


“Danny is a wheeler and dealer, a bit of a gambler,” the source said. “And you’ll find some guys that will value those multiple picks that they think they can then turn around and do something with.”

Trade rumors will swirl throughout draft night, but in most cases it will be difficult to finalize anything in advance because the draft is so fluid. When a team wants to trade up to select a particular player at No. 5 and that player is taken at No. 4, everything fizzles.

If the Celtics end up making four picks Thursday night, it would at least increase their margin for error, Ainge said.

“Generally speaking, the philosophy is that drafting more is typically better, because you get more cracks at it,” Ainge said. “And the other is that there are a lot of good players around the league that are 15th to 30th to 40th picks in the draft, and so sometimes a team will pick three picks and the guy that’s the best player will be their third pick.”

The Celtics’ most obvious needs are a versatile, athletic big man who is capable of protecting the rim, and a long-range shooter, perhaps a wing player.

But Ainge emphasized that the Celtics will draft the best player available rather than worrying about plugging holes, mostly because rosters change so frequently. Positional needs would come into play only when deciding among equally talented prospects, Ainge said.

Ainge also has made it known that the Celtics will not let possible moves in free agency dictate their decisions during the draft. So, for example, a potential pursuit of forward Kevin Love — who opted out of the final year of his contract with the Cavaliers Wednesday — would be an unrelated event.


However it plays out, by the draft’s end the Celtics’ important offseason will have begun to take shape. After months of preparation, Ainge is eager to finally make some moves.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s like taking the shot.”

A second look

Danny Ainge has stockpiled as many as 22 selections over the next four drafts, with 12 to be used in the second round. Since the NBA switched to a two-round draft format in 1989, the Celtics have had little luck while mining for talent. But there have been a many quality second-round picks in that time throughout the league, including 14 players who developed into All-Stars.​

28Sherman Douglas (1989)
29Toni Kukoc (1990)
30 Gilbert Arenas (2001)**
Anderson Varejao (2004)
32Gabe Pruitt (2007)Rashard Lewis (1998)**
33Junior Burrough (1995)
34 Carlos Boozer (2002)**
35Glen Davis* (2007)DeAndre Jordan (2008)
36Andrei Fetisov* (1994)Clifford Robinson (1989)**
37 Nick Van Exel (1993)**
Mehmet Okur (2001)**
38Steve Hamer (1996)Chandler Parsons (2011)
40Dino Radja (1989)Monta Ellis (2005)
Justin Reed (2004)Lance Stephenson (2010)
41 Popeye Jones (1992)
Cuttino Mobley (1998)
42 Stephen Jackson (1997)
43 Michael Redd (2000)**
45 Antonio Davis (1990)**
Goran Dragic (2008)
47Darren Morningstar (1992)Mo Williams (2003)**
Josip Sesar* (2000)Paul Millsap (2006)**
Bill Walker* (2008)
48 Cedric Ceballos (1990)**
Marc Gasol (2007)**
49Leon Powe* (2006)
50Darius Songaila (2002)
Ryan Gomes (2005)
51Kris Joseph (2012)Kyle Korver (2003)**
52Luke Harangody (2010)
53Orien Green (2005)
Colton Iverson* (2013)
55Ben Pepper (1997)Luis Scola (2002)
Kris Clack (1999)
E’Twaun Moore (2011)
56Brandon Hunter (2003)
57 Manu Ginobili (1999)**
Marcin Gortat (2005)
58Lester Hudson (2009)
60Semih Erden (2008)Isaiah Thomas (2011)
*Rights acquired in draft trade

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach