Celtics resist overtures, pick Jaylen Brown with third pick
BOSTON >> With little mystery surrounding how the first two picks would go in Thursday's NBA draft, there was much anticipation surrounding what could happen when the Celtics went on the clock at No. 3.
It turned out to be pretty simple.
Despite receiving a lot of interest from teams looking to trade into the slot, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said that none of the offers they received were strong enough to take.
So Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge picked California freshman Jaylen Brown, sticking with his promise to select the best available player.
"We weren't even close to any of the offers that came in. None of them were even in the mix," Grousbeck said after Brown was selected. "If they were close, we might have stretched. We didn't feel anything was close and we'd give counter offers and the other side didn't feel it was close."
Brown worked out twice for the Celtics leading up to the draft, but said the pick still took him by surprise.
"I promise you I had no idea," Brown said from New York. "I was actually sweating bullets when the final seconds came in. But I knew they were heavily interested when they asked me to come back for a second workout. But you hear different things every day.
"But I'm glad to be here, and I think it's the right fit."
Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward out of California, averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game en route to being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
He also has a reputation as an elite defender, which could fit Boston's defensive culture under coach Brad Stevens.
Boston entered the night with eight total picks, the most picks the Celtics have had since 1987.
They added a pair of international players with their remaining two first-round picks, taking Guerschon Yabusele at No. 16 and Croatian 6-11 center Ante Zizic at No. 23.
Boston also had five second-round picks.
The 20-year-old Yabusele is an intriguing 6-7 stretch forward out of France with an imposing presence in the paint at 260 pounds, while the 19-year-old Zizic is a throwback big man at 6-11 with natural aggression. Either could compete for a roster spot, or be stashed in Europe for a few years to develop.
Yabusele said he was fine with waiting for his opportunity.
"It's not a problem for me even if I got to go one year, two years in Europe, in another country and play I'll go," he said. "I just want to play in the NBA and try to be better."
Before this year, Boston had a top-three pick only three times since the common draft era began in 1966. The Celtics selected Kevin McHale third overall in 1980, Len Bias second in 1986, and Chauncey Billups third in 1997.
Ainge said in the weeks leading up to the draft that he expected to receive overtures from other teams looking to trade for the No. 3 pick. But he also reiterated that he believed there was quality talent beyond the top two picks.
"This was not a day to make a deal," Grousbeck said. "So we didn't. And we're very happy to build with a piece, and maybe even an important piece."
While that sounds completely reasonable, about 4,000 fans who were invited to TD Garden for a draft party Thursday didn't exactly agree.
When Grousbeck walked out to speak to the crowd shortly after the pick was announced, he was greeted with more than a smattering of boos.
Grousbeck didn't take any offense to the reception.
"In 14 years, that's probably the worst one I've gotten. But I'll view this as that people really care," Grousbeck said. "You pay your money, you get to come in. We're a bunch of fans that bought this team. And being a fan means you're emotional, and you're emotionally invested in the team."
"But I actually believe if those fans knew what I knew and were in that room, I think if most of them might have done the same thing," he said.
Boston has a handful of free agent decisions to make this offseason, but entered the draft hoping to land an additional wing scorer and frontcourt players to fortify its interior defense.
The addition of Brown adds some wing scoring ability to a roster that already features All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
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