The Celtics will receive at least one additional first-round pick in the deal, which is expected to be finalized Monday, sources told ESPN. The Sixers, in addition to their No. 3 overall pick, are sending the 2018 first-round pick they own via the Los Angeles Lakers, which the Sixers acquired from Phoenix at the 2015 trade deadline.
By Lewis Gould
The Sixers and the Boston Celtics agreed late last night to swap the Nos. 1 and 3 picks in Thursday’s NBA draft, and Philly is expected to use the No. 1 pick on former Washington guard Markelle Fultz.
Fultz worked out for the 76ers yesterday at their Camden facility. Donning a Sixers cap as he arrived at the team’s practice facility, Fultz visited the 76ers in a get-to-know-you session, with the workout and a meeting with team officials on his itinerary.
His visit was expected to be one of the final hurdles to clear before Boston and Philadelphia could decide to actually consummate the trade.
Joel Embiid was among Sixers players who were on hand for the workout. He tweeted a photo later Saturday, standing alongside Fultz and Sixers players Ben Simmons and Robert Covington.
“I let God take care of it,” he said. “I wake up every morning and get ready to go to the gym. I don’t really pay attention to everything that’s going on. I’m truly blessed to be in this position. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”
Once the trade is finalized, the first four spots in the draft order will exactly mirror the first-four order from last year: Philly would have the No. 1 pick, the Lakers would have No. 2, Boston would have No. 3 and Phoenix would have No. 4.
Fultz’s rise to stardom has been rapid. In 2014, he was playing junior varsity basketball in high school. Barely three years later, he’s almost certainly going to become the NBA’s No. 1 pick.
“[The last few days have] been crazy, man,” Fultz said. “Just knowing that the draft is a couple days away, it’s been unbelievable. It’s been a blessing. Like I said, a dream I always had. I’m just anxious to get to that day and just get it over with so I can know where I’m going and put full investment into whatever team I’m going to.”
A 6-4 guard, Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25 games during his lone college season at Washington, excelling on a team that finished 9-22 and lost its final 13 games. Fultz led the Pac-12 in scoring and finished No. 6 among all Division I players, and he was the top freshman scorer in the country.
Over the past 10 seasons, only two other freshmen had a better scoring average in college: Kevin Durant for Texas in 2006-07 and Michael Beasley for Kansas State in 2007-08.
Durant and Beasley were both No. 2 picks.
Philly had the No. 1 draft spot on three previous occasions, taking Doug Collins in 1973, Allen Iverson in 1996 and Simmons a year ago.
With Simmons missing all of last season with an injury, the 76ers could be the first team to have two rookie No. 1 overall picks on the same team.
The 76ers have a top-three pick for the fourth straight year: They took Embiid at No. 3 in 2014, Jahlil Okafor at No. 3 in 2015 and Simmons at No. 1 in 2016. But with Fultz, Philadelphia — which has asked its fans to endure some very dismal stretches and “Trust The Process” for the past few years — would probably expect to turn a real corner toward respectability again.
The Sixers went 28-54 last season, after winning 19, 18 and 10 games in the previous three seasons.
Last season’s improved win total came with 81 combined appearances from Okafor (50), Embiid (31) and Simmons (0).
However, Embiid and Dario Saric will finish in the top three when the NBA Rookie of the Year results are announced on June 26, and Simmons is expected to be ready for next season after recovering from foot surgery.