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What happens to Isaiah Thomas if the Celtics win the NBA draft lottery?

The Boston Celtics, despite contending for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, have the best odds of winning the 2017 NBA draft lottery. Thanks to an infamous trade with the Nets four years ago, the Celtics have the right to swap picks with Brooklyn this year. The Brooklyn pick is guaranteed to be in the top four due to the structure of the lottery. The Boston pick will be around No. 27 or No. 28.

The swap is going to happen. It’s just a matter of determining how high a pick Boston will end up receiving. The Celtics will have a 25 percent chance of picking No. 1, a 21 percent chance of picking cheap nba jerseys No. 2, an 18 percent of picking No. 3, and a 36 percent chance of picking No. 4.

Markelle Fultz — a point guard — is the consensus No. 1 overall pick at the moment as he’s been there for much of the past year. None of his rivals for the top spot made the Final Four. As scouts go back and look at his season in Seattle again, odds are a consensus builds around him before the lottery on May 16.

Fultz is seen as a franchise cornerstone, the type of point guard you expect to some day give a max contract and pencil in as one of your All-Stars as you’re competing for championships. He’s a John Wall, a Kyrie Irving. He might be better, but we need to see him in the NBA to know. You don’t pass him up because you have an All-Star point guard. You don’t pass up prospects like Fultz.
The Celtics, meanwhile, have an All-Star point guard named Isaiah Thomas.

He might make an All-NBA team and he’s probably going to be on a couple of MVP ballots. He’s also on the best contract in the NBA (non-rookie edition) and will be a free agent in 2018. Thomas is known for having a massive chip on his shoulder due to being told repeatedly he, at 5’8, doesn’t belong in the NBA.

What if Boston wins the No. 1 pick? What if it becomes clear in May that Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, will pick Fultz in June? What does that do to Isaiah amid the Celtics’ playoff run?

Perhaps nothing cheap authentic jerseys. Thomas is incredibly confident, and he performs well when challenged. Boston loves him. Brad Stevens has an amazing rapport with his players and should be able to keep the team focused on what could be a trip to the conference finals.

There’s also the matter of the Washington Huskies: Isaiah played there under Lorenzo Romar and maintains strong connections to the program. Fultz was Romar’s last big Huskie star before the coach was fired earlier this month.
It’s still weird. It still has to be unsettling.

And it could get even more weird and unsettling heading into a summer where Thomas should reasonably expect to be talking contract extension. Boston can use its cap space to pay and extend Thomas, but the Celtics are also chasing free agents or unbalanced trades for stars. That cap space is precious.

Imagine, then, that you are Isaiah Thomas. You are an NBA All-Star making $6 million, which is $20 million less than another NBA All-Star guard in the East, DeMar DeRozan. You are the best player on one of the two best teams in the East. You have become a hero in a basketball town who worships legitimate legends.

Imagine you are all that, and your team drafts another point guard No. 1 overall and withholds a big pay raise to go get another big-name player who will make at least three times your salary.

Isaiah Thomas is only human. That’s going to bug him.

It’s going to bug him if the Celtics are ejected from the NBA playoffs by the Cavaliers or Wizards and the resulting talk is all about how you can’t make the NBA Finals if Isaiah Thomas is your best player. (Those takes pretty much write themselves.)

It’s going to bug him when July comes and the headlines are about Boston chasing this free agent or that cheap nhl jerseys, when the headlines are about Fultz dominating Summer League. It’s going to bug him when every question on media day next fall is about whether he can play with Fultz, whether he feels disrespected by the draft choice or the lack of an extension, and whether he plans to re-sign with Boston in 2018.

It’s going to bug him to realize he’s the sixth-highest paid player on the Celtics. This stuff would bug anyone, but especially a guy who has been fighting to prove himself his entire adult life.

This is all a thought experiment, of course. The issue is avoided if the Celtics don’t win the No. 1 pick — there’s a 75 percent probability they will not — because Boston would then line up to take a wing like Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, or Jonathan Isaac. (Something tells me Danny Ainge isn’t enamored with Lonzo Ball.)

The issue could also be avoided if the Celtics decide to part with the pick to swing a deal for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, which is one of the directions Boston could go if they disappoint in the playoffs. (You could see an early exit go one of two ways: The Celtics decide an Isaiah-led team is too flawed so they rebuild younger, or the Celtics decide they need more star power now and trade away youth.)

But if the Celtics do win the No. 1 pick — and no team will have a better shot than them — what happens with Isaiah Thomas’s psyche and future is an incredible subplot to watch.
31.3.17 09:11


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