What I would do, if I were Danny Ainge

By Matthew Cunha

The Celtics had a world of options open up when the won the 2017 Draft Lottery. Now it is time for Danny Ainge and company to pick their path. I wanted to highlight some of those options and pick the path that I would take if I were calling the shots for the green.


#1 – Use Fultz as a piece – Use the number one pick on Fultz/sign a free agent/trade for a decent player and use the 2018 first round pick from Brooklyn as a trade chip.


This method works if the Celtics think that Fultz can play with IT. This strategy uses Fultz as piece to the puzzle in hopes that he can put the C’s over the top along with a good a free agent and solid player acquired for next year’s pick. By decent players, think Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jokic category.


#2 – Complete Rebuild – Use the number one pick on Fultz/sign a free agent/make another pick in 2018


This strategy involves winning with Fultz, Jaylen Brown, and the 2018 pick rather than with IT and Horford. If the Celtics take this strategy, they acknowledge that cannot win in the present, and that IT and Horford are just gap players. The free agent signed will likely be a younger player that will emerge the same time as Fultz and Brown.


#3 – All in – Trade the number one pick plus 2018 first round pick and assets for a superstar/sign a free agent.


When I say superstar, I mean someone who is a complete franchise changer. Not George or Butler, but an Anthony Davis or a Kristaps Porzingis. If this strategy is employed, the Celtics feel that an additional superstar can help them knock down the current Warriors and Cavs. The idea is to win with IT and Horford rather than without them in 3 years.


#4 – Stick with what fits – Trade down in this year’s draft for a mediocre player/draft Josh Jackson/sign a free agent/ trade for another decent player with the 2018 pick or use


This method improves the current Celtics, but also says the Celtics do not think IT could play with Fultz. It adds three decent players, and think would speak to the Celtics trust they have their superstar locked down in free agency.


#5. – Most Value –  Leverage the Lakers for decent player (Julius Randle) so they are guaranteed Ball, draft Fultz, add a free agent, trade for decent player with the 2018 pick or use it.


This method is the first method, only adding a player through smart conversation with the Lakers. You get the most possible without really giving up anything, but involves a risk factor.


*Note – In every scenario the C’s sign a marquee free agent. The team has the cap-room and there is no question that they will be going after them.


  • Realistic Options – Gordon Hayward – I think Mr. Hayward lands in Boston. He wants to play for his college coach and have a Butler reunion.
  • Other Options – Kyle Lowry, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Blake Griffin


If I were Danny Ainge, I think I go with option number one. Fultz is predicted to be an incredible talent and I don’t think that you can pass that up. Option 5 looks better, but I wouldn’t risk losing Fultz for just a decent player. #1 enables the C’s to be competitive right now, and depending on free agency and players gained through trade, you might just be able to knock down the Cavs and Warriors in two to three years. Yet, you have a guy who could be a superstar for the next 15 years when LeBron is gone, and the Warriors super team is no longer. It as a win-win. Regardless of what Danny does, the future is bright. So much can be done with the number one pick in your back pocket. There is no bad option.


Matthew Cunha is a producer on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.