The Boston Celtics have traded the No. 1 overall pick to Philadelphia for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder. The 76ers are expected to draft Markelle Fultz, but Boston’s selection could surprise some people.
“I think they’re going to take Jayson Tatum, and I am a fan of Jayson Tatum,” The Vertical’s Bobby Marks said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I like him better than Josh Jackson from Kansas. He’s a good, solid kid off the court, and I think his game will translate great to the next level. He’s a big three, I think he can play four for you – he’s the perfect small-ball (player). I think they’ll keep the pick, and I think it’s going to be Tatum.”
Tatum, 6-8, would be a welcome addition for Isaiah Thomas, at least for one year. Thomas, who is slated to earn $6.26 million next season – an absolute steal – will be a free agent in 2018.
The Celtics will have a hard choice to make.
“I have a hard time committing $25-, $30 million to him,” Marks said. “I really do. He is a great regular-season player and he will win you a lot of games, but I think when we get to the playoffs, there are certainly some limitations here. There really are. And to pay him on the level of John Wall and Russell Westbrook – some of these top-tier guards – that’s a big number. Tis payroll for Boston is going to go through the roof. Avery Bradley is a free agent. What are you going to pay him? If you asked me would I rather have Avery Bradley or Isaiah Thomas, I’d rather have Avery Bradley because he can play both ends of the court.”
Of course, the Celtics could have kept the first overall pick and drafted the aforementioned Fultz, so perhaps they see Thomas as the long-term answer at point guard.
Or maybe they just don’t like Fultz and feel they can get a better point guard elsewhere.
“Some people feel like he bailed out at the end of the year,” Marks said of Fultz, referring to his 9-22 campaign at Washington. “That’s a common perception on the kid. What kind of bad habits did he pick up at Washington that maybe translates to Philadelphia? But I am a Fultz fan. I just think it’s so hard to find point guards in this league. It’s a point guard- and wing-dominated league and now Philadelphia has him for the next four, five, maybe eight, nine years based on how his contract could be.”
Sticking in the East, Marks also weighed in on the drama surrounding Paul George. The 27-year-old has reportedly informed the Pacers he does not intend to re-sign with the team once he becomes a free agent next summer.
“Well, at least he’s honest, Marks said, laughing. “A least he didn’t wait until September or October here. I think the writing’s been on the wall all along that he would opt out of his contract and explore his options. We’ve heard Los Angeles for the last couple of months here.”
The Pacers, meanwhile, will likely look to trade George – and sooner rather than later.
“I don’t think it diminishes (their) leverage,” Marks said. “Indiana really didn’t have much leverage as is. Teams are under the impression it would have been a one-year rental anyway unless we can really sell the player on the organization during the year. So it’s open now. Let’s see where he can find a home by the end of the week. I have a hard time believing that this thing could linger into free agency. I think teams are going to have to get on with their business.”