Boston is “very open” to moving up in next month’s NBA draft, two league sources tell A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. The sources did not indicate which player the Celtics were targeting, but Blakely notes there are growing signs that their target would be Willie Cauley-Stein. Boston’s defense improved over the course of the season, ranking 12th in the league in defensive efficiency by season’s end. However, the team lacked a true defensive presence in its interior. Cauley-Stein is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, rim protector in the draft, so the fit makes sense for a team looking to improve on its 40-win campaign and become a true contender. The 21-year-old is currently the sixth best prospect according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com pegs him as the eighth best prospect. The Celtics own the 16th and the 28th pick in this year’s first round, as well as several first-rounders in the upcoming years, as our Traded Future Draft Picks page indicates. Boston already has an influx of young talent on the roster, which gives the team the flexibility to consolidate picks in order to obtain more highly regarded players.
Here’s more from Boston:
- President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is receiving praise from around the league, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald writes. “I think in today’s day and age where the NBA finds itself, with as much cap space that’s available, with how coveted young players are in the new system, to be able to operate and accumulate that many draft choices and put that on top of a lot flexibility is not easy,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti. “That’s because it’s not an exclusive marketplace they’re operating in. They have to do it in ways that are being mirrored by their competitors.”
- Suns GM Ryan McDonough spoke very highly of Ainge and the job that he has done, Bulpett writes in the same piece. “Usually teams do one or the other. You try to compete, and that involves getting rid of young players, maybe bringing in some more veteran players, trading draft picks for vets. Or you rebuild, and that means trading away veteran players, really only focusing on picks and young players. The challenge is to do both. I think the really good organizations can do it, but it’s tricky. I think when you’re with an organization like the Celtics or the Suns that have great history and tradition, it’s not really acceptable or certainly not desirable to bottom out. You don’t want to bottom out and hope for luck in the lottery. I admire the way the Celtics have done it,” McDonough said. “They’ve done a tremendous job. They’ve got all the future picks in the queue that are coming down the line. They have some good young players. Obviously they have excellent management and coaching. The fans will see over time how things will work out.”