If the Boston Celtics had gotten their way at the 2015 NBA Draft, they might look much different today and perhaps not as good.
In 2015, in the midst of a rebuild, the Celtics badly coveted Duke wing Justise Winslow in the draft and made a big play to try to move up to draft him.
The Celtics, picking at 16th, reportedly offered six draft picks, including four future first-rounders, to the Charlotte Hornets to move up to ninth to draft Winslow. Perhaps just as insanely, the Hornets turned it down to draft forward Frank Kaminsky.
Winslow instead was taken tenth by the Miami Heat and the Celtics drafted guard Terry Rozier with the 16th pick. Celtics GM Danny Ainge said afterward (via ESPN): “There was a time when I thought, ‘Woah, this is getting a little out of control.’ We’re putting a lot of eggs in one young player’s basket.”
The exact details of the Celtics’ offer are unknown — the picks could have come with heavy protections or they may have been their own later picks as opposed to the highly valuable Brooklyn Nets picks.
It’s also possible that the Celtics would have blown their masterful rebuild had this trade gone through.
If any of the Nets picks were included in the trade offer to the Hornets, the Celtics might not have had the chance to move down from No. 1 in this year’s draft and take Jayson Tatum, a promising scorer, at No. 3. There might not be versatile second-year forward Jaylen Brown, who was taken with the third pick in the 2016 draft.
Giving up a future pick might have also meant missing out on Kyrie Irving this summer. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote, there’s no Irving deal without the 2018 Nets pick.
The Celtics’ rebuild after stripping down the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen Big Three has been one of the best in NBA history. Through a combination of draft picks, scouting, coaching, savvy trades, and now some big free agency signings (Al Horford and Gordon Hayward), the Celtics went from a team in the middle of a tear-down to a championship contender in two seasons.
Winslow could have turned into a valuable contributor for the Celtics, perhaps even an All-Star, but the rebuild almost certainly would not gone as well had Boston given up so many assets for him.
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