With the future of the NBA potentially in the balance after this move, you’re probably looking for a little bit of clarity — and we have you covered. Here are four things you need to know about this blockbuster draft deal.
This is a win-win trade for the 76ers and Celtics
The Sixers wanted their guy, Washington's Markelle Fultz, but there wasn’t a chance in the world he’d fall to No. 3. The Celtics, meanwhile, wanted their guy — probably Kansas' Josh Jackson or Duke's Jayson Tatum — but knew he’d be available beyond the first overall pick.
Rarely do two teams with such complementary interests actually get something done, so kudos to Danny Ainge and Bryan Colangelo for making this trade work.
Boston reportedly adds a top-notch asset — Philly reportedly will send the Celtics the Lakers' 2018 pick, protected for selections two through five; otherwise Boston gets Sacramento's 2019 pick — while the Sixers finally have the No. 1 overall pick they’ve craved since the beginning of “The Process.”
Fultz is a dynamic playmaker who should fit right in with Philly's potentially star-powered core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The Sixers just need their big guys to stay healthy. Giving up what will likely just be that Kings pick to move to No. 1 was a no-brainer.
Boston's win is a little less emphatic — in fact, if I had to pick a winner between the two teams, it's Philly — but that Kings pick should land somewhere in the top three, easily. If the Celtics were as unimpressed with Fultz as reports indicate, grabbing another high lottery pick to fall back and take the guy you want is a victory, too.
The Celtics probably aren't done dealing yet
Unless Boston really plans on waiting until LeBron James is no longer the King of the Eastern Conference, one has to assume the Celtics have another trade in mind — likely for Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.
The plan for the Celtics appears pretty simple: First, you take your guy in the draft. Then, you sign Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz in free agency. Finally, you offer your stockpile of assets, including the rights to the pick Philly's offering and next year's Nets pick, to the Bulls for Butler, putting together a core of Isaiah Thomas, Hayward, Butler and Al Horford with whichever young guys remain after your moves.
You’re not winning a championship with that squad, but you do have a fighting chance. And if Ainge decides not to swing for the fences, he has all the options in the world to make moves in the margins.
So the Sixers will take Fultz at No. 1, the Lakers will go with Lonzo Ball at No. 2, then the Celtics can take whoever they want at No. 3 — or so the theory goes.
What if the Lakers decide to go with Kansas' Jackson instead, though? Would Boston take Tatum — who could be the player the Celtics are targeting in the first place — or Jonathan Isaac over Ball, even if the UCLA point guard is seen as one of the two true star prospects in this draft?
Would the Celtics take Ball and look to move him — perhaps to the Kings for the Nos. 5 and 10 picks, plus a couple more assets? Would they trade Thomas instead?
The simplest explanation tends to be the correct one, as the movie Contact taught me oh so long ago, so Tatum probably would be the choice in that scenario. Still, I'm rooting for things to get weird.
Getty Images for SportsNet LAJerod Harris
This isn't the end of "The Process" -- it's the next step
A certain vocal contingent of Sixers fans is up in arms about this trade. They view it as the final blow against what Sam Hinkie tried to build in Philadelphia (with few real results to show for his efforts).
With apologies to these very smart basketball observers, that reaction is asinine. “The Process” was about trying to find star players who can win you championships; Hinkie merely believed that the best route to such success was through the draft. If you want the No. 1 pick, the best thing you can do is lose a lot of games, so the Sixers tanked.
Tanking was just one aspect of “The Process,” though. The overarching philosophy called for making shrewd moves, like trading one of the worst Rookies of the Year, Michael-Carter Williams, in a move that landed the Lakers pick they reportedly will use in this deal with the Celtics, or committing a heist of the Kings that gives you the right to swap picks in this year's draft, which in turn became that No. 3 pick the Sixers sent to Boston.
He wasn't around to reap the fruits of his labor, but Hinkie's fingerprints are all over this move.