The Celtics will head into the 2020 NBA Draft with the No. 14 overall pick (via the Grizzlies) after Memphis failed to move up in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery on Thursday night.
The odds (97.6 percent) highly favored that the pick would remain slotted in at No. 14 after the Grizzlies missed out on a playoff berth in the Western Conference in Orlando. The Celtics were owed the pick from Memphis stemming from the 2015 trade of Jeff Green.
The pick officially gives Boston three first-round picks (No. 14, 26, 30) for the 2020 NBA Draft, the most out of any team in the league. The Celtics will also have one second-round pick (No. 47 via Brooklyn) that they acquired in the Terry Rozier for Kemba Walker sign-and-trade with Charlotte last summer. Boston also lost their own second-round pick (No. 56) to Charlotte in that deal.
What will the Celtics do with their four draft picks? I took a closer look at the looming roster crunch back in April. Here’s a refresher of the options the front office will need to manage the picks.
Essentially, any first-round pick taken is guaranteed a roster spot unless they are considered a draft-and-stash. The conundrum for Boston? While cheap last first-round talent is helpful in controlling the payroll, finding a spot for more than one rookie on the 15-man roster next year will be a challenge.
Under contract for 2020-21
Kemba Walker ($34.3 million)
Gordon Hayward ($34.1 million – player option)
Jaylen Brown ($23 million)
Marcus Smart ($13.4 million)
Jayson Tatum ($9.8 million once team option is picked up in October)
Daniel Theis ($5 million – team option)
Enes Kanter ($5 million – player option)
Romeo Langford ($3.6 million)
Vincent Poirier ($2.6 million)
Grant Williams ($2.5 million)
Robert Williams ($2.0 million)
Semi Ojeleye ($1.8 million non-guaranteed)
Carsen Edwards ($1.5 million)
Javonte Green ($1.5 million non-guaranteed)
Guaranteed: 12 (if Kanter, Hayward both opt in)
Non-guaranteed: 2 (Ojeleye (7/1 guarantee date), Green)
Likely open roster spots entering offseason: 2 (Ojeleye gets kept and Green gets eventually cut in this projection)
Analysis: This number assumes Hayward and Kanter opts in and the Celtics guarantee Ojeleye’s cheap contract ($1.8 million for next season). Green will likely remain on the roster until training camp since he will have a chance to make the team and his deal is fully non-guaranteed. So technically his roster spot will be open for him or anyone else to earn. More roster space could be created with trades of additional players (Poirier would be a candidate to be dumped) but moving the center would likely cost an asset to dump the salary while freeing up a roster spot. Tremont Waters and Brad Wanamaker will likely be fighting it out for one of these roster spots while the C’s will have the taxpayer mid-level ($6 million) to bring in one or more veterans if they choose from the free-agent market. All of these factors will create a squeeze for Danny Ainge if he elects to use multiple draft picks in the first round.
Celtics draft picks for 2020: No. 14, No. 26, No. 30, No. 47
There are a few ways the Celtics can get around this roster crunch in regards to draft picks if they only have room for one or two rookies. Here are the main options:
1. The Celtics trade one or more first-round picks for a future first-round selection or a veteran (Ex: C’s traded No. 24 last year for Milwaukee’s 2020 first-round pick).
Upside: Retaining an asset for future trades when a rookie won’t help in the present or improving the team more in the present with a veteran that fills a need right away.
Downside: Losing some value on the draft pick. Teams know the Celtics are looking to dump picks so it’s easy to offer a downgrade knowing Boston may not have a better option. The C’s dumping No. 24 in 2019 for a future Bucks pick (No. 30 in 2020) is a risk that could become common. Finding a veteran that helps the Celtics now and also fits into an already pricy payroll will be a challenge.
2. The Celtics use multiple picks to trade up in the draft.