Celtics complete trade of No. 1 pick to 76ers with previously unreported wrinkle

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons… and, soon, Markelle Fultz.

The 76ers have built an incredible young core. But it came at a cost – years of losing to tank for Embiid and Simmons and an extra first-round pick to move up with the Celtics to draft Fultz No. 1 overall this year. That trade, as expected, is now complete.

With the deal official, we have a clear look at the draft picks and protections involved.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have acquired the third overall selection of the 2017 NBA Draft and the favorably-protected rights to a future first round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the first overall pick in this year’s draft.

The future first round pick will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 pick if it’s within the No. 2 to No. 5 range of the 2018 draft. If it is not, the Celtics will instead receive either Sacramento’s or Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2019, whichever is more favorable. However, if either of those 2019 picks result in the first overall selection, Boston will instead receive the other first round pick.

“We’re thrilled to be able to select what we expect be an impact player with the third pick in this year’s very talented draft class, while also adding a highly valuable future asset as we continue to build towards Banner 18,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

It was previously reported the Celtics, if they don’t get the Lakers 2018 first-round pick, would get the Kings’ 2019 first-rounder. The conditions for Boston getting the higher of Philadelphia’s or Sacramento’s 2019 first-rounder (or the lower of the two, if one is No. 1) were previously unreleased.

This doesn’t change the calculus much. It’s still possible the Lakers’ 2018 pick completes the trade. If not, the Celtics get a higher floor (getting the more favorable of two picks, rather than just one wherever it lands) and a lower ceiling (no No. 1 pick) with the 2019 selection. The 76ers should be much better by then, though Embiid’s and Simmons’ injury histories cause concern. It’ll still probably be the Lakers’ or Kings’ pick going to Boston.

After Philadelphia picks Markelle Fultz No. 1, the Lakers will probably take Lonzo Ball No. 2. That puts the Celtics on the clock in a big decision, seemingly between Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum. Getting that right will factor into how this trade is judged years from now.

But whether Fultz becomes an elite player will hover the transaction more than anything else. If he’s a superstar, it’d be nearly impossible for Boston to recoup enough value from the lower draft picks it received. If not, the Celtics have set themselves up even more nicely for a future that already includes the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder.

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