Markelle Fultz has been locked in at No. 1 on the mock draft circuit since the NBA Draft Lottery, with it seeming all but certain he’d end up up in Celtics green. A new development hasn’t changed his standing as a prospect, but it has shifted expectations for the team he’ll end up on.
According to Aliene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee, Markelle Fultz will work out for the Sacramento Kings over the weekend.
Hearing late tonight that possible overall No.1 draft pick Markelle Fultz is working out for Kings on Sunday. Media availability unclear ...— Ailene Voisin (@ailene_voisin) June 9, 2017
This contradicts an earlier claim from the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, who said Fultz would be working out for one team and one team only—the Boston Celtics.
If indeed that has changed—if it was ever true to begin with—it would suggest the Celtics are more open to trading the No. 1 pick than has yet to be reported. Given how far ahead most of the league views Fultz as a prospect, there’s no real value for him to work out for other teams unless he and his agent believe someone else could end up with the No. 1 pick on draft night.
Unless Boston’s draft evaluation team sees something the rest of the NBA doesn’t, the justification for trading down from the No. 1 spot is obvious—they want to trade out altogether and execute a deal for a readymade star, a la Jimmy Butler, while trying to preserve their depth and future assets. That means looking for teams with multiple high-value picks or young players to assume part of the cost.
In that scenario, the Kings make a lot of sense, but the Sixers are also perfectly positioned to join up on a deal with the Celtics at No. 1. They own their own top-three pick this year, a couple valuable future picks from the Lakers and Kings, and exciting young players like Dario Saric.
All parties in a Chicago-Boston-Philly deal could get something they want. The Bulls could begin a total rebuild and stockpile picks over the next few years, the Celtics get the star player they want to compete now, and the Sixers get the top pick in the draft. It’s not perfect—the Bulls really shouldn’t make any deal with Boston without getting No. 1 back—but if they haven’t already, the Sixers should be on the phone and trying to make it happen.
Even if it’s unrealistic, the Sixers may never have an opportunity like this again. There’s a clear No. 1 talent in the draft, he’s the best possible fit for the team, and the team with the top selection is in a position where they might not be inclined to continue building slowly. A hefty price to move up shouldn’t deter them from trying to go get Markelle Fultz.