Could Coby White answer the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving question?
The NBA lottery is tonight, as the 14 teams with ping pong balls in the drum learn what order they will pick in the NBA draft on June 20. Most of the teams in the lottery are bottom feeders from the past regular season, which is the NBA’s way of trying to legislate parity.
In the latest mock draft, Dukies Zion, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish are projected in the top seven, with the Knicks statistically having the best chance to pull the No. 1 pick out of the drum by virtue of their dismal 17-65 regular-season record. Carolina has Coby White, Nassir Little and Cameron Johnson all slated to go in the first round, as well.
The Celtics already have three lower first-round picks due to trades and maneuvers over the last two years, and they of course have to decide whether to give Kyrie the max contract worth $186 million, trade him to someone who will pay that or let him go as a free agent to create more room under their salary cap.
But there is an italicized line in the mock draft that could change all that, and it has to do with the Memphis Grizzlies, who are projected to wind up with the eighth pick and grab White, the sensational point guard whose stock rose after his great freshman year at Carolina. The Grizzlies have a better than 50 percent chance to draft at No. 8, but if they slide any lower their pick goes to Boston, which might then answer the Kyrie question.
If the Celtics picked that high and selected White, they could let Kyrie go or trade him. Irving played only one full season since leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning the 2017 NBA title. But under his leadership this season, the Celtics skidded to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and lost their semifinal series to Milwaukee 4 games to one.
Is Coby White as good as Kyrie Irving? Not now and maybe not ever, but with other new players joining the team and maybe even trading some of those draft picks for Anthony Davis, the Celtics could have a completely new look, with none other than Coby running the show for the legendary franchise. Let’s watch closely for a hint on where UNC’s first No. 1 might be headed.