BOSTON (AP) — 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.”
Philadelphia will select first for the second straight year. 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.