Breaking up The Big Three might hand the Boston Celtics the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Depending on how the ping-pong balls bounce Tuesday night during the NBA draft lottery, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics could be celebrating. As payment from the Brooklyn Nets for the 2013 draft-day trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett out of Boston, the Celtics stand a 25 percent chance of winning the 2017 draft lottery.
Boston retained the right to swap picks in 2018 with the Nets in addition to the Celtics receiving first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Brooklyn had the NBA's worst record (20-62) in 2016-17. The worst possible outcome for the Celtics in cashing in the draft pick Tuesday will be the fourth overall selection.
While Boston's rebuilding job is nearly complete -- the Celtics were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, ahead of Cleveland -- there is plenty of work to do in Los Angeles for the Lakers. But team president Magic Johnson -- representing the team in New York during the lottery -- and head coach Luke Walton lose their first-round pick if it's not among the top three when the lottery is settled Tuesday.
The Lakers originally dealt their 2018 first-round pick to Phoenix in 2012 in the trade for Steve Nash, and the 76ers acquired it from there.
Long-suffering Philadelphia also has the best odds at landing the No. 4 overall pick with its own selection.
The NBA draft lottery was established in 1985 and determines the first three picks, while positions 4 through 14 will be placed based on the inverse order of their records. The worse a team's record is, the better their chances of winning on lottery night.