Apparently, where there’s smoke, there’s fire with Danny Ainge and the rumors of his interest in moving way up in the draft Thursday night.
“Yeah, we’re having discussions with both of our picks in the first round, trying to move up with at least one of them. I think there’ll be some movement,” Ainge said at a pre-draft media availability at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday.
The Celtics have picks No. 16 and 28 and could package a deal to move up.
Naturally, Philadelphia declined, since a Second Team All-Rookie point guard (Smart) and two non-lottery picks don’t equal a First Team All-Rookie center (Noel) and a high lottery pick.
Still, recent reports indicate the Celtics are aggressively shopping for a high lottery pick, and team president Danny Ainge admitted as much in Tuesday’s pre-draft meeting with the media. Ainge also confirmed nobody on his middling roster is untouchable in trade discussions — all of which could be a smokescreen for ulterior motives in Boston’s front office.
The asking price for picks as high as No. 3 has historically been either an All-Star caliber player or another high lottery pick and additional assets — neither of which the C’s currently possess.
There are countless reasons the Celtics would be interested in trading for both a rim-protecting center of Noel’s caliber and a No. 3 pick that would net the best non-center in the draft (Justise Winslow, D’Angelo Russell, et al.). Among those reasons could be a desire to package those assets for DeMarcus Cousins.
Of course, there are also reasons rival executives would want this non-deal leaked, including an attempt to smoke out the actual value of the packages discussed on both sides. Don’t forget: Every executive has an agenda over the next 48 hours.
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).
Country: France (plays for Nantere in France’s LNB Pro A league)
Weight: 247 pounds
Key 2014-15 stats: 22.5 minutes, 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds (in French league)
Scouting report: Jaiteh’s greatest attributes are associated with his physical ability. He’s got great size for a center and his length hints at his potential as a rim protector at the next level. On offense, the projected second-rounder still is developing his mid-range jumper, but he is active on the offensive glass and shows a willingness to body up defenders on the block.
While Jaiteh’s build is desirable, many scouts have noted his lack of leaping ability and lateral quickness, both defects on defense. When playing for his French team, Nantere, Jaiteh proved prone to bigger, more athletic big men on defense in the low block. Additionally, NBA execs wonder if Jaiteh’s post moves will evolve at the next level or simply stall in their developmental stage.
“At 6-11 and 250 pounds Jaiteh has the size to be a pure center,” Carl Berman of NetScouts said. “Right now he can rebound and really goes after it on the offensive boards. He doesn’t appear to be the most athletic player and has a lot of work to do on his entire offensive game. He does have a decent touch on hooks around the basket. However, his physicality and rebounding prowess combined with his size make him a second-round possibility in this year’s NBA draft.”
Notes: Jaiteh has said he does not intend to be a “draft-and-stash” player, instead expecting to contribute immediately to whichever team drafts him. Playing against Frapport in the Eurochallenge semifinal, Jaiteh had one of the finest performances of his career, tallying 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 30 minutes. His nickname around the European leagues is “Mam.”
With two first-round picks, reports have surfaced around the possibility of Celtics‘ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge trying to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft. The Celtics currently hold the 16th and 28th picks in the first round, both making for huge bargaining chips around the league.
Additionally, rumors have continued about a foot issue with potential top-five pick Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, causing him to slide in the first round. Cauley-Stein, a rim protector, is exactly what the Celtics have scoured the market for over the past two years since the departure of Kevin Garnett. Another potential target is Kristaps Porzingis, out of Latvia, who is graded by some as the top talent in the draft and would give the Celtics a true scoring option off the pick-and-roll with point guard Isaiah Thomas.
With an excess of cap space, the C’s could also be looking to move picks for an established NBA player. As speculation continues regarding the fate of DeMarcus Cousins, the Celtics remain a dark horse to acquire him if Kings’ ownership cuts the cord.
The Kings made it pretty clear over the past week they aren’t trading All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins, as owner Vivek Ranadive told USA TODAY that there’s “zero interest” in dealing him and general manager Vlade Divac told The Sacramento Bee, “That is not happening.” But …
New Kings coach George Karl is urging Divac and multiple players to help convince Ranadive that Cousins must go, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a development that all but ensures Karl and Cousins will not enter the 2015-16 NBA season on the same page.
Cousins’ agents Jarrin Akana and Dan Fegan have a contentious history with Karl, and Fegan has experience pushing for a high-profile center’s move to Los Angeles from the franchise that drafted him, as he helped orchestrate Dwight Howard‘s trade from Orlando.
Scouting report: Harrison’s biggest strengths are measurables. Standing at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he has the size and length to dominate smaller point guards on defense. Though he’s not the quickest point guard in the draft, Harrison can cause trouble in the lane by drawing lots of fouls. The projected second-rounder displayed improvement in his jump shot during his sophomore campaign after enduring criticism as a freshman.
One of scouts’ biggest concerns regarding Harrison and his twin brother Aaron surround their attitudes. Through interviews and on-court body language, the twins often give off an apathetic aura toward the game. More practically, Andrew is seen as turnover-prone. Last season, he committed 1.6 turnovers in just 25.5 minutes per game.
When asked about his strengths and weaknesses, Harrison indicated that he was more concerned with improving his defense than his decision-making.
“My strength is mid-range jumper, getting to the rack and finding my teammates,” he said. “I just need to keep working on my 3 and my defense, really.”
Notes: A year after winning the national title, Harrison and his brother helped lead Kentucky to the brink of perfection, a 38-1 season record and a Final Four berth last season. Harrison led the Wildcats in assists, free throws and free throw attempts. He attempted 159 free throws, 15 more than the Wildcats’ next-highest player.