Tatum explains how Celtics hoodwinked 76ers with No. 1 pick
As if winning the draft lottery (via Brooklyn) wasn't a big enough shock, Ainge sent more waves through the NBA when he dealt the No. 1 pick to the Sixers in exchange for the No. 3 pick and a future draft asset. Of course, Philly selected Markelle Fultz first overall, with the Celtics nabbing Tatum two picks later.
Tatum maintains he was Boston's top target all along, and that the team would have been content to select him at No. 1 prior to moving down in the draft.
"The Celtics were always going to pick me No. 1, but Philly didn't know that," Tatum said on the WTF In the Attic Podcast. "Philly thought that Boston was going to pick Markelle. So Philly traded the pick and gave Boston a pick for next year. So Boston was like, 'well, we can still get the player we want, and next year's pick, and then we get the player we wanted for less money.' Boston still got all that they wanted and Philly had to give up still to get the No. 1 pick."
If accurate, it means the Celtics were essentially bluffing about their interest in Fultz all along in order to add one more asset to their war chest. Mission accomplished.
Since the Los Angeles Lakers were inextricably linked with Lonzo Ball at No. 2, it stands to reason that Philadelphia could have just taken Fultz at No. 3 without having to give up a pick in next year's draft. That future pick, previously owned by the Lakers, is protected through picks 2-5; if it falls within that window, the Sixers will instead send a 2019 pick that previously belonged to the Sacramento Kings.