Stupid pingpong balls.
The 2014 NBA draft lottery wasn't kind to the Boston Celtics. It wasn't ridiculously cruel either, but visions of shooting up the draft ladder were thwarted by a combination of mathematics and the Cleveland Cavaliers being awarded their third No. 1 overall pick since 2011, because, apparently, they're still basking in residual karma from losing LeBron James nearly four years ago.
Fate wasn't so generous in Boston. The Celtics ended up with the sixth overall pick, crushing general manager Danny Ainge's hopes of adding a top-three selection to his current stable of talent.
"We (Ainge and staff) were all disappointed," Ainge admitted, per Basketball Insiders' Jessica Camerato. "But at the same time, we were prepared for this and we knew that this was a strong possibility. It’s a momentary disappointment. You hope to get the lucky ball, but now we have some clarity and some marching orders."
To be absolutely sure, vaulting up the draft board was a long shot. The Celtics had a 12.01 percent chance of landing the third pick, an 11.11 percent shot at second overall and a 10.3 percent chance of snagging No. 1. That they didn't move up isn't surprising.
On the flip side, it's difficult to find solace in the odds. Cleveland had a 1.7 percent chance of winning the lottery and, well, you know what happened.
But there's little time to wallow in algebraic disappointment. Like Ainge says, the Celtics were prepared for this. They have a job to do—one that the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett says will potentially include brokering some trades:
As of last night, league sources said the Celtics had yet to investigate what it would take to pry Kevin Love from Minnesota.
That won’t be the case much longer.
Having slipped one spot to sixth in the draft in last night’s NBA lottery, a move that coincided with the odds, the Celts will now dive headlong into the trade market in an attempt to see if they can accelerate their reconstruction project. They will look at all available targets, Love among them.
Failing to fall in the top three makes it more likely that the Celtics are aggressive on the trade market. Ainge has been critical of this year's draft class, so it's not hard to see him trading out of No. 6 for a shot at Kevin Love, who is reportedly available, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Love won't come cheap—as in, he'll cost more than just Boston's pick—but the Celtics have numerous assets they can pair with their selection. Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and the 17th overall pick (via the Brooklyn Nets) can all be used to sweeten the package.
Other stars could become available, too. Disgruntled dignitaries aren't uncommon, and the sixth pick has value as a centerpiece in a draft as deep as this. According to the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, high-end talents like Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart, among many others, could fall to No. 6.
Moving up will also be a possibility. The Cavs haven't limited themselves to keeping the top selection, per The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer:
Griffin says #Cavs will be open-minded with pick, wouldn't rule out trading it.— M.S. Boyer/J. Valade (@PDcavsinsider) May 21, 2014
Would should the Celtics do with their 2014 first-round draft pick?
Using a combination of picks and talent, the Celtics could make a play for No. 1 overall in hopes of landing one of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid. If Cleveland is truly open to dealing, Boston has the means to make something happen.
“I think that everything’s possible,” Ainge said, via Bulpett, “and it’s going to be a really interesting next month.”
Indeed, it will.
With so many options at the Celtics' disposable, how could it not?