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Celtics' president Danny Ainge suggests they would not have picked Markelle Fultz No. 1 in NBA Draft

Celtics' president Danny Ainge suggests they would not have picked Markelle Fultz No. 1 in NBA Draft

In trading the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia Sixers, the Boston Celtics essentially passed on the opportunity to select Markelle Fultz, a star point guard who has emerged as the best prospect in the draft by most accounts. The Celtics, however, may not be so convinced about the University of Washington guard.

In explaining the deal on Monday, Celtics president Danny Ainge had this to day:

Well, that is interesting. That means the Celtics are much higher on another prospect which could mean Josh Jackson of Kansas, De'Aaron Fox of Kentucky, Jayson Tatum of Duke or maybe even Lonzo Ball of UCLA, if they think he will fall past the Lakers at No. 2.

If Ainge is right and the Celtics do pick a better player than Fultz, then this trade will go down as a major success for them. They got this year's No. 3 pick from the Sixers and a future first round pick depending on protections.

Who do the Celtics like better than Fultz? We should find out Thursday, unless the Lakers pick him before they are on the clock, of course.

[RELATED: Projected No. 1 pick in NBA Draft Markelle Fultz signs shoe deal]

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Will the Cavs-Celtics trade involving Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas affect the Wizards' chances at all?

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Will the Cavs-Celtics trade involving Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas affect the Wizards' chances at all?

The Cavaliers and Celtics pulled off one of the biggest NBA trades in years, if not decades, on Tuesday night, one that features two All-Star point guards in Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, a very good player in Jae Crowder, a 2016 first round pick in Ante Zizic and an unprotected 2019 Nets first round pick that could be the key to Cleveland's dreaded life after LeBron James.

Boston and Cleveland entered this offseason as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, so naturally this should affect the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference a great deal, right? Maybe not.

In fact, this could have little effect on the rest of the East whatsoever, at least in the short-term. That's because both teams got good value back for 2017-18, but neither made a significant leap when it comes to their chances of winning the title next June.

[RELATED: PODCAST - MARCIN GORTAT ON HIS SUMMER]

Yes, All-Star point guards in Irving and Thomas switched sides, and in Crowder the Cavs now have a physical defender who gives opponents fits on the perimeter. That could help the Cavs in the East and if they match up with the Warriors in the NBA Finals once again.

But the Cavs were already going to be very good and before this trade remained the odds-on favorites to win the East. They now remain the favorites and may have taken a slight step forward, as long as Thomas recovers well from the hip injury that ended his 2016-17 season.

In Irving, the Celtics get a guy with an extra year on his contract. He's four years younger than Thomas and isn't currently dealing with an injury. They have to feel good about that, plus they don't lose much in Crowder, given he plays small forward. Even without Crowder, they could have the most depth at that position in the NBA when you factor in Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown and Marcus Morris. As good as Crowder is, he could have been fighting for minutes in that group.

If the Wizards are to take a step forward or backward in the East, it will likely have nothing to do with this trade. They are counting on improving from within with a core of young players now signed to long-term contracts.

[RELATED: Ranking the top point guards in the NBA]

Overall, the Wizards' odds against the Cavs and Celtics will probably be determined by other things unrelated to this trade, like if LeBron James truly begins his decline or if the Celtics losing Avery Bradley in a previous deal will hurt their ability to stop John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

That last point could be the determining factor in whether the Wizards can leapfrog either the Cavs or Celtics. Boston lost their best answer to what is arguably the best backcourt in the East. 

This trade could, if anything, just make things more interesting for Washington fans. Now the Wizards-Celtics rivalry can center around the debate about which All-Star point guard and former No. 1 pick is better: Wall or Irving? And with the Cavs, the Wizards now have a guy in Crowder who has been a true enemy for years. That matchup just got more intriguing.

The East could be more fun next year due to this trade, but don't expect the odds in Vegas to change much at all because of it.

[RELATED: WALL WORKS OUT WITH LEBRON, TWITTER OVERRACTS]

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Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and others in blockbuster deal

Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and others in blockbuster deal

The Cavs and Celtics have pulled off one of the biggest trades the NBA has seen in years, a blockbuster deal that will send Kyrie Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 unprotected first round pick. The final deal was reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Whew, where do we start? First of all, this is the top two teams in the East, teams that met in the conference finals this spring, trading All-Star point guards for each other. It's not often you see that.

For the Celtics, they will have Irving for at least the next two seasons under his current contract. Considering Thomas' deal runs up after this year, that's good news for them.

[RELATED: THOMAS OR IRVING? ONLY ONE IS A TOP 5 PG]

That said, this is an unbelievable haul for the Cavs. Not only do they remain very good in the short-term with Thomas stepping in to fill the same role Irving did, but they get deeper with Crowder and set themselves up extremely well long-term with the Nets' pick. The Nets were the worst team in basketball this past season, the odds of them still being very bad two years from now seem good. The Cavs are in good position now even if LeBron James leaves next summer, knowing they have an extra first round pick that could be a top selection.

The first game of the NBA season, by the way, is Celtics at Cavs on Oct. 17. That should be a good one.

For the rest of the Eastern Conference, teams like the Wizards, it's hard to draw major conclusions from this deal. The Cavs were the best team in the East and have a good chance of remaining the top dogs. The Celtics gave up a lot, but they also added other pieces this offseason with Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum. Only time will tell if either got signifincatly better or worse.

Cleveland, however, does look much better off in the long run. That could affect how some view James' future, as many have speculated about whether this will be his final season with the Cavs. Now they appear to have a very sound long-term plan.

This trade will send shockwaves throughout the NBA, but may not affect the standings in the Eastern Conference very much. Still, it's a big one.

[RELATED: WALL WORKS OUT WITH LEBRON, TWITTER OVERRACTS]

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