Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Celtics draft plan and the rumors surrounding DeMarcus Cousins. To hear the full interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
With reports emerging that the Celtics offered Marcus Smart and two first-round picks to the 76ers for Nerlens Noel and the third overall selection, Mannix speculated that Smart could be moved at any point leading up to the draft.
“I heard that last night and I … couldn’t nail down all the details of the Philadelphia conversation, but I heard the Celtics were talking Marcus Smart and Nerlens Noel with the Sixers,” Mannix said. “… That’s why I wrote that anyone on the roster was available. But I believe it to be true now that it’s been put out there. I don’t think Boston is actively trying to dump Marcus Smart by any stretch, but I think Danny Ainge and the Celtics are looking to do anything they possibly can to get into that top-five, specifically the top-three because that’s where I think the true impact players are in this draft. You’re talking about either bigs or a point guard like D’Angelo Russell. Marcus Smart is available in the right deal any time in the next couple of days.”
Mannix continued to discuss Ainge’s trade plans, predicting the Celtics will trade up for a lottery pick.
“I’d be surprised if Boston didn’t get in the top 10,” Mannix said. “Three might be a leap. … I don’t think [the Celtics] are going to get that high, but pick number six with Sacramento is available. We’ve all heard the DeMarcus Cousins talk that’s out there, and that pick could be packaged with Cousins in a blockbuster deal with the Kings that probably wouldn’t involve Boston. But if the Cousins talk falls through, I think the Kings are more than willing to move back into the teens, in exchange for some kind of serviceable role player.
“I don’t know who that could mean on Boston’s roster, it could be [Jared] Sullinger, it could be [Kelly] Olynyk, it could be any number of guys. No. 9 I think is available too with Charlotte. The Hornets just made that Lance Stephenson trade with the Clippers, they got back Spencer Hawes, but they still have a gaping hole at the two-guard spot. And if Devin Booker, who is the 18-year-old two-guard from Kentucky, is off the board by No. 9, and I think he will be … I think the Hornets would be inclined to move back into a position where they can take R.J. Hunter later on in the draft. … I think Danny’s in a great position to move into the top-10 which is why I say at this point I’d be surprised if he didn’t get into the top 10.”
Despite concerns about his foot, Willie Cauley-Stein is still a target for Ainge and the Celtics, according to Mannix.
“Yeah, I think Cauley-Stein is someone that they would look at at No. 9,” Mannix said. “I think if you’re jumping up to No. 3, you’re looking for something different. But at No. 9 or maybe even No. 6, that type of guy. I was talking to a couple of coaches that have worked out Cauley-Stein and scouted him last night. They view him as almost the most sure-thing in the lottery. You know you’re going to get a Tyson Chandler-type defensive player. I had one coach tell me last night that he though Cauley-Stein was going to be better defensively than Tyson Chandler because Cauley-Stein can get out on the perimeter and defend guards better than Chandler could at that stage of his career. … Offensively, he could turn out to be Kendrick Perkins-type limited, because he just doesn’t have a lot of offensive moves, he didn’t show any offensive moves in three years at Kentucky. But if you can get a stalwart defensive anchor for your team with the sixth or the ninth pick, it’s not a bad thing to get.”
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