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The Celtics and Sixers Are Playing ‘Let’s Make a Deal!’

Markelle Fultz could be headed to Philly while Danny Ainge’s pursuit of a third star continues apace. Let the draft madness begin!

(AP Images/Ringer Illustration)
(AP Images/Ringer Illustration)

Put the lawnmower back in the shed. Close that grill and cancel those plans. We were so close to getting to the weekend on only rumors and guesses, but as Friday wound down, Marc Stein dropped a bombshell on us, assuring that we’ll keep our eyes glued to our screens through Sunday.

Wait. Is this really happening?

Oh, this is definitely happening.

At 2 p.m. PT, Jonathan Givony reported that Fultz was headed to Boston for a final meeting. Eleven minutes later, Woj countered that he was actually being rerouted to Philly because of how far along the trade talks were. The madness has begun.

Here are the reported details: Boston would trade no. 1, otherwise known as Markelle Fultz, for Philly’s no. 3 plus a future first-rounder and more picks, per Woj.

Human insatiability is natural, but Danny Ainge’s ability to never have enough picks is truly astounding. He has officially tapped into his inner Hinkie and infused it with the Belichickian propensity to trade down in the draft, something our own Kevin O’Connor talked about this week and something Chris Ryan and Bill Simmons discussed on The Ringer NBA Show just Thursday. Remember when Ainge reportedly wanted Justise Winslow so badly that he was willing to give up four picks? What do you think he’s going to want for the no. 1 overall in a loaded draft?

The question becomes: For what? To simply have more assets seems counterintuitive, unless the Celtics are truly head-over-heels for Josh Jackson, as some reports have said, and want to get more picks out of their position. According to DraftExpress’s Givony, Jackson, who may also be in play for the Lakers at no. 2, did not fare well in his Los Angeles workout, but there’s still a chance that the Celtics’ rumored trade-down could incite a bidding war between Philly and L.A. for Fultz, who reportedly “murdered” his Lakers workout and is a player Magic is in love with.

There’s also the very real possibility that this is a stepping stone for the Celtics. They still want and need a star, and this could be a chance to truly load up on even more assets to force either Chicago (Jimmy Butler) or Indiana (Paul George) to say no to a treasure chest.

I’ve long stopped trusting that the Celtics will make any sort of trade — whether for a star or anyone else, for that matter — but if this deal is as done as it appears, this undoubtedly presents them the best chance to finally make it.

Not to be forgotten: This could lead to an Embiid-Simmons-Fultz core in Philly. Don’t let Draymond and LeBron fool you. The earlier a superteam begins the better.