Expecting the Grizzlies to suck this season was a risky proposition
Last spring the Celtics had a chance to draft twice in the lottery. Their hopes for a high pick from the Kings had all but vanished as Sacramento improved quite a bit last season. Danny Ainge held onto that valuable Lakers/Kings pick and it fell all the way to #14 by the time it conveyed to the Celtics. There was also a Grizzlies pick in play as the draft lottery approached. It was top 8 protected and reportedly the Celtics didn't want it to convey in the 2019 lottery. And almost to a man Celtics reporters and bloggers agreed with that. I was dubious of this and I remember reading a lot of comments on the site in the Shout Box also questioning, "Are we sure we don't want the pick this year?"
The #9 pick in the hand didn't seem as attractive as the top 6 protected pick in 2020 or the unprotected pick in 2021. Well fast forward a year and the Grizzlies are the hottest team in the NBA with a 7 game winning streak. They are currently the 8th seed in the Western Conference and if the draft was held today their pick would be #17. Who knows how high the pick might end up as their young core grows the 2nd half of the season.
Obviously the Celtics wanting the pick not to convey last season didn't make it not do so, but a Rui Hachimura, P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro or Cam Reddish would have been all been available at that #9 spot. Probably the bigger question is has Danny Ainge best used these draft assets by holding onto them until they've lost almost all their value? At one point that Lakers/Kings pick was very valuable? A year ago this Grizzlies pick was very valuable as well. Maybe he regrets trading the Nets pick to the Cavs in the Kyrie Irving deal which Cleveland used on Collin Sexton (A wiser GM would have picked Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at that spot). Who knows who Danny would have drafted? For a GM that has been drafting for 16 years now, he has way more misses out of the top 6 than he has hits.
Besides the Jay's (both drafted at #3), the Celtics don't have very attractive young players to trade. Their two main assets were the Kings and Grizzlies picks. Then it became the Grizzlies pick. Now? Well now we don't really have any trade chips to augment the Jay core. I wasn't one of the people celebrating when the Grizzlies moved up to the #2 spot, so the pick didn't convey. Seen that movie already in Sacramento with De'Aaron Fox leadings the Kings out of the cellar. Expected the same from Ja Morant. Not celebrating now either that my fears proved correct.
Maybe the Celtics tried to trade the Lakers/Kings pick when it still had value and things just fell through. Maybe they tried to trade the Grizzlies pick when it still had value, but again trades just fell through, but as much as the Grizzlies are a fun story this season for NBA fans, their success, expected or not, has hindered the Celtics future somewhat.