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Celtics Reportedly Tried To Trade For Joel Embiid During 2014 NBA Draft

BOSTON – Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has a track record of taking gambles on players with injury risks on draft night. He selected Avery Bradley at No. 19 in 2010 and Jared Sullinger at No. 21 in 2012, despite physical red flags that caused them to slip into the second half of the first round.

Taking flyers on talented players drafted after the lottery is understandable, but Ainge was looking to take a bigger gamble back during the 2014 NBA Draft, according to a new report from Bill Simmons of the Ringer. In the latest edition of his Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons declared that Ainge was trying to move up to No. 3 overall to select center Joel Embiid, despite the fact he had just undergone surgery for a foot fracture.

"You knew how talented [Embiid] was because he still went third," Simmons said. "The Celtics were trying to trade [for him]. They had the sixth pick that year, which ended up being Marcus Smart. They were trying to trade the sixth pick and the Brooklyn pick (17th overall) to move to three to take Embiid, even though he was hurt."

Ainge did not address any trade rumors specifically on draft night, but he confirmed to Toucher and Rich in 2014 that the Celtics would have taken Joel Embiid at No 6, if he had fallen to them.

"Yes, we would have," Ainge said in June 2014. "He was not red-flagged, meaning 'Stay away at all costs.' He was rated a little bit less than (he would have been) with (his injury) risk, but he was a guy that we were looking at, had he fallen."

The Philadelphia 76ers ultimately turned down Ainge's reported overtures and took the 7-foot-2 center at No. 3 overall on draft night. Embiid missed his first two pro seasons due to recurring foot issues, but has had an impressive start to his Sixers career last week, averaging 17.3 points and six rebounds in just 21 minutes per game.

That kind of production is making Sixers fans believe he was worth the two-year wait for his season debut. The Celtics won't be able to get their hands on Embiid anytime soon, but Ainge can rest better knowing his instincts on the 22-year-old big man were spot on.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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