December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Celtics’ draft pick

It’s easy to see why the Celtics would want to trade the Number One pick in the 2017 rookie draft. It’s a rare occurrence, to be sure; a full 37 years have passed since they saw fit to swap the right to choose first for other assets. Then again, that very instance proves the value in doing so for the right reasons; they dealt it to acquire would-be Hall of Famers Robert Parish and the third pick, which turned out to be Kevin McHale. This time around, they’re open to sending over their pick to the Sixers for the latter’s third-overall pick (which they are projected to use on their top target) and a future first-round pick (which figures to still be a high one).

There’s a risk, to be sure. The only way the Celtics truly come out ahead of the planned transaction is if they wind up with the rookie they want. By all indications, they’re angling for Josh Jackson (a forward who has already worked out for them, and who is said to be a good fit for their current roster), and while the Sixers and Lakers appear to want Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, respectively, nothing is certain until the actual draft happens later this week at the Barclays Center. Considering how talks on the Number One pick have progressed, however, it looks like they’re willing to take the chance.

Celtics general manager and head of hoops operations Danny Ainge is no fool, so any deal on the top choice will happen closer to draft day. He’ll survey the landscape and then get the best of the offers, although, at this point, it’s hard to believe that of the Sixers will be topped. And as good as Fultz has been touted to be, the green and white don’t need to add to an already-stacked position. Meanwhile, the red, white, and blue see the likely Number One pick as a good complement to a unit that includes Joel Embiid up front and Ben Simmons, last year’s top choice, in the backcourt.

In any case, Ainge is exactly where he wants to be: once again a prominent dealer in the draft. He’ll be a fixture in the coming years, what with the Celtics owning two first-round picks next year and potentially three first-round picks in 2019 and 2020. He stockpiled following the breakup of the 2008 championship core, and he’s now reaping the benefits of his foresight. Talk about the rich getting richer.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Basic Energy Corp.