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Did the Celtics' Future First Round Picks From Brooklyn Just Gain Value?

The Boston Celtics currently hold an impressive list of trade assets highlighted by three unprotected first round picks from the Brooklyn Nets for the 2014, 2016, and 2018 NBA Drafts. Boston also has the right to swap first round picks with the Nets in 2017.

There has always been a belief in league circles that those future Nets picks could hold some serious value to Boston by the time the respective drafts roll around, but just how much value has always been up for debate.

Brooklyn’s roster (and record) could be in rough shape by 2016, but Nets owner Mikhal Prokhorov has proven to be a big spender in recent years given his strong desire to remain competitive. He spent an NBA-high $103 million on the Nets' payroll last year and has given no indications about his willingness to change those spending habits (which lead to absurdly high luxury tax bills) in future seasons --- until now.

A new report from the New York Post indicates Prokhorov will reel in his spending for the long term.

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, with hopes of winning a $1 billion valuation for his team, has agreed to end his free-spending ways, The Post has learned...Prokhorov has indicated to suitors he will not be so free with the cash, sources said…and has quietly indicated he will keep his payroll under the luxury-tax threshold starting in the 2015-16 season, one source with direct knowledge of the auction said. “It will take a year to get to the salary cap,” the source said.

If the Post report is accurate, the picks Danny Ainge acquired from Brooklyn last summer as part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett blockbuster deal may have just become more valuable.

Prokohov’s willingness to spend big by taking on talented players on overpaid contracts in trades (Joe Johnson, Marcus Thornton) had always been the Nets’ best weapon to stay competitive in the future. Given the tough restrictions of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreements on luxury tax teams on signing players, it’s one of the few realistic ways the Nets could have improved their roster moving forward. If the Russian owner is cutting back his spending though, the Nets’ roster prospects for the future look worse than ever.

Let’s take a look at the facts: The looming departures and/or retirements of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will hurt. That reality, combined with the fact that the Nets have over $62 million committed to just three players (Johnson, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams) for the 2015-16 season, means Brooklyn will have very limited means to improve the team under the NBA’s CBA if Prokhorov is unwilling to go over the salary cap past next season.

Brooklyn’s cap space opens up in the summer of 2016 when Lopez and Johnson come off the books, but the Celtics will have already had a chance to cash in their 2016 first round pick by then. That selection would have an even higher chance to be a lottery pick, helping the Celtics’ potentially land another stud prospect. The team could also use the pick in a trade to help acquire an impact player.

Whether or not Prokhorov lives up to these reported declarations remain to be seen, but if he does, Boston’s future in the draft could be brighter than ever.

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