PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia completed its trade for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, landing the pick from the Boston Celtics on Monday in a move that clears the way for the 76ers to grab guard Markelle Fultz.
Philadelphia will hold the No. 1 pick for the second straight year, and worked Fultz out on Saturday night as talks with the Celtics got to the final stages. It was agreed to in principle at that point, with the last holdup being the customary league approval on the terms.
Boston gets the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft from Philadelphia, plus either a first-rounder in 2018 and 2019. If the Los Angeles Lakers hold a pick between No. 2 and No. 5 next season, Boston gets that one. If not, Philadelphia will send Boston either its own first-rounder in 2019 or Sacramento’s first-rounder that year.
In short, Philadelphia gets the guard it wanted in Fultz, and Boston gets a draft-pick haul in exchange for sliding down only two spots this year.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of this trade, which puts us in the enviable position of selecting first overall in consecutive draft years,” 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “History suggests that No. 1 has the greatest odds of producing franchise-level talent and we are confident that this year’s draft class has that very potential.
“Thursday night will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”
Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told reporters that he believes the player the Celtics will now choose at No. 3 would be the same one they would have taken at No. 1 — with speculation being he will grab Kansas forward Josh Jackson, after Fultz goes No. 1 to Philadelphia and Lonzo Ball likely goes No. 2 to the Lakers.
“This is certainly a trade that is under the microscope more than others,” Ainge said. “But we’re not afraid of that.”
In 2016, the Sixers picked Ben Simmons, who didn’t play at all during the season after breaking a bone in his foot.
Fultz, barring something shocking, will join a core in Philadelphia that includes Simmons, Jahlil Okafor and 2017 Rookie of the Year finalists Joel Embiid and Dario Saric.
“I am incredibly excited that we’ve acquired the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft,” 76ers managing general partner Josh Harris said. “This pick provides us a tremendous opportunity to add another foundational player to our promising core. Bryan and his team have done a great job in positioning our organization for what we believe will be long-term success.”
The Celtics could be gearing up for more moves. After finishing with the No. 1 seed in the East this season, they are trying to package some of their picks for an established star that could help them close the gap on NBA finalists Cleveland and Golden State.
With Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, Ainge is looking to make a deal like the seven-for-one trade in 2007 that brought Kevin Garnett — and an NBA-record 17th championship — to Boston.
For now, Boston has seven first-round selections in the next three years.
With Thomas, though, the Celtics didn’t necessarily need a point guard — which is the piece Philadelphia apparently wanted most.
Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25 games during his lone college season at Washington, excelling on a team that finished 9-22 and lost its final 13 games. Fultz, who went to high school in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, led the Pac-12 in scoring and finished No. 6 among all Division I players. He was the top freshman scorer in the country.
Cavaliers let GM Griffin go
David Griffin’s run with the Cleveland Cavaliers is over after one championship and three straight trips to the NBA Finals. The general manager and team mutually parted ways on Monday when owner Dan Gilbert said Griffin’s contract will not be extended once it expires June 30, AP reports.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA Championship,” Gilbert said in a statement. “We have no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group, but we are confident our current front office will continue to aggressively explore and pursue opportunities to improve our team in the weeks ahead.”
Griffin’s departure comes on the anniversary of the Cavs’ dramatic Game 7 win over Golden State, capping a historic comeback that gave Cleveland its first major professional sports championship since 1964.
He’s also leaving three days before the draft — the Cavs are currently without a pick — and on the eve of free agency. Cleveland could have a busy summer as it looks to revamp its roster after losing to the Warriors in five games in this year’s finals.
A team spokesman said Trent Redden, the team’s senior vice president of basketball operations, is also not returning. Assistant general manager Koby Altman remains with the team and is part of a group overseeing draft preparation and trade talks.
The Cavs have reportedly been contacted by the Indiana Pacers in a potential deal for All-Star Paul George, who will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season.
The 47-year-old Griffin had been Cleveland’s GM since May 2014. He took over the role on a full-time basis after serving as an interim GM for three months following Chris Grant’s firing.
Griffin was in control during the team’s return to prominence after LeBron James came back from Miami. Griffin orchestrated the trade that brought All-Star Kevin Love from Minnesota, and he bolstered the Cavs’ roster with other trades and crafty free agent signings.