Armed with a bushel of future picks and a roster full of good-but-not-great talent, the Boston Celtics have been desperately looking to add a young cornerstone seemingly since the moment Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett left town three years ago.
But despite rumors earlier in the day that the Celtics were contemplating offering the #3 pick and "a contract" to Milwaukee for Middleton, ESPN's Marc Stein reported late on Tuesday that the interest in a deal with the Bucks remains decidedly one-sided:
Sources say the Celtics are one of just a number of teams trying to convince Utah to surrender Hayward -- Phoenix, which holds two lottery picks (No. 4 and 13) in Thursday's draft, is another -- but the Jazz have been telling interested teams that he is not available.
The same, sources say, goes for Parker and Middleton in Milwaukee, since the Bucks regard both of those young cornerstones, as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo, as untouchables.
I hesitate to call any player "untouchable" in the strictest sense of the word; that's usually code for teams wanting to publicly make it clear they like a guy and have no expectation of moving him. But semantics aside it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Bucks are looking to keep rather than deal their three young core players. While the #3 pick in this year's draft certainly could become a star, there's hardly a guarantee that Dragan Bender, Jamal Murray, etc. eventually become as good as Middleton is now. Perhaps just as importantly, there's no reason to think the Bucks are looking to deal away valuable young assets to take a step back next year and become even younger, a sentiment that John Hammond seemed to echo yesterday following the Bucks' last workout before Thursday's draft. Via Charles Gardner:
"I think we could get involved in multiple discussions and very prominent discussions, if we chose to do that," Hammond said.
"We're believing that players we have are keeper players and guys that can be parts to a championship team someday. We believe in the youth in this team and some of the experience we have."
Granted, there has to be some offer that the Bucks would consider for Middleton, but at this point there's really no reason to accept anything less than a ridiculous, over-the-top deal. After all, Middleton is really good, he fits what the Bucks need (shooting, wing defense), and he's locked up long term at an attractive price. At some point you have to win basketball games, and Middleton should help them do that both now and in the future. For more on that topic, you can listen to my appearance this morning on 105.7 The Fan's morning show with Mike Wickett and Chuck Freimund, where I talked a bit about Middleton's value and whether the Bucks might look to make a trade on draft night.
Speaking of which, just because the Bucks are happy with Middleton, Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn't mean a trade is unlikely. Selecting 10th, 36th and 38th, the Bucks seem likely to move at least one of those picks and also figure to be shopping Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams. They don't have to do a deal before the draft -- Monroe in particular could be a trade option for teams in the second and third weeks of free agency once more attractive free agents are off the market -- but historically June has been the most active period since Hammond arrived in Milwaukee in 2008.
- June 26, 2008: Richard Jefferson (NJN) acquired for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.
- June 24, 2009: Kurt Thomas (SAS), Bruce Bowen (SAS) and Amir Johnson (DET) acquired for Richard Jefferson.
- June 23, 2010: Corey Maggette (GSW) and 2010 2nd rounder (GSW) acquired forDan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell.
- June 23, 2011: Stephen Jackson (CHA), Beno Udrih (SAC) and 2011 #19 (Tobias Harris) acquired for Corey Maggette, John Salmons and 2011 #10 (Jimmer Fredette).
- June 27, 2012: Samuel Dalembert (HOU) and 2012 #14 (John Henson) acquired forShaun Livingston, Jon Leuer, Jon Brockman and 2012 #12 (Jeremy Lamb).
- June 11, 2015: Non-guaranteed deals of Caron Butler and Shawne Williams (DET) acquired for Ersan Ilyasova.
- June 25, 2015: Greivis Vasquez (TOR) acquired for the rights to 2015 #46 (Norman Powell) and the Clippers' 2017 lottery-protected first rounder.