If common sense prevails, moving down in the draft order wasn't about Markelle Fultz, whom the Philadelphia 76ers are now expected to take first. And it wasn't about Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, forwards whom the Celtics may target if they keep their new No. 3 pick. Sophomore forward Jaylen Brown may have more to offer Boston's rotation in 2017-18 than any rookie wing that general manager Danny Ainge would take at No. 3.
Adding the 2018 (or 2019) first-rounder from the Sixers was the key asset in the deal that got it done for Boston. Having won 53 games and having just advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics are knocking on the door right now.
Obtaining the Sixers' future pick is about the present.
Zagsblog's Adam Zagoria reported last week that league sources were saying that Boston could be looking to acquire more picks to trade for Jimmy Butler. Bleacher Report spoke to two team executives about the validity of the theory, and neither was buying that Ainge went after future picks to improve Boston's 2020 roster.
"It makes sense that they package the picks," one team exec said. "Otherwise, I would be surprised they made the trade [with Philadelphia]."
The only other possible reason for Ainge to trade down? "If you think you can get your guy at No. 3 and pick up assets," the other team exec told Bleacher Report. "Obviously, something about Fultz rubbed them wrong. Probably scared Isaiah Thomas would eat his heart or he didn't defend well enough or didn't fit their culture."
But Jackson or Tatum isn't helping Boston get past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. Jackson may bring defensive intensity, but not immediate scoring or shooting, which the Celtics could use at the 3 or 4 spots. And while he's a polished offensive player, Tatum's defense isn't a selling point, particularly after Boston finished closer to middle of the pack in defensive efficiency.
Butler, who's in his prime at 27 years old and still has two guaranteed seasons left on his contract, could be an immediate two-way difference-maker.
And as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor notes, Ainge could add Butler and still have room to offer the max to Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin in free agency, depending on what salaries are moved in a potential deal to Chicago.
And if Boston adds Butler first, Boston looks even more attractive to this summer's free-agent class.
This could be a chance for the Celtics to build their own superteam, the only kind of team capable of beating the Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series.
The Celtics now have seven first-round picks over the next three drafts. They clearly have enough assets to trade without jeopardizing their own future.
Ainge could offer No. 3, the Lakers' 2018 first-round pick if it falls between Nos. 2-5 or the Sacramento Kings' 2019 first-rounder, plus Jae Crowder—and still have the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-rounder.
And for a team like the Bulls, who have been hesitant to rebuild, they won't find a better opportunity to reset. Boston has become the most attractive trade partner in the league for a team that's stuck in limbo.
Besides selecting Jackson or Tatum, Chicago could take De'Aaron Fox at No. 3 to fill the hole at point guard and then have two lottery or top-10 picks next year, including their own, assuming the Bulls are lottery-bound.
It's still unclear what the Bulls' asking price would be for Butler or how willing they'll be to actually move him. Management has been committed to their All-Star scorer and would likely demand the house in a possible trade.
But Ainge now practically has an entire neighborhood at his disposal.
The possibility of maybe adding Hayward in free agency doesn't sound assuring enough. This is the time to make an offer Chicago can't refuse. This is the time for Boston to go all-in on Butler and for Chicago to rebuild through the draft.