Before the trade deadline, rumors spread like wildfire that a major trade was in the works for the Celtics. Fans across the internet and social media refreshed their feeds as each minute crept closer before the 3 p.m. deadline on February 18 approached. No one had any idea who the player of interest was, only speculation and most likely scenarios emerged.
Names like Kevin Love, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler, and DeMarcus Cousins emerged as likely candidates to be Celtics, causing a wide flux of salivation to all those who bleed green. In Boston's rebuild since the Big Three left, they have set up the team flawlessly with tremendous assets, role players, and underrated stars in the league. One thing they had yet to make happen was obtain a superstar that could put the team over the edge and compete for a title, and many believed this mysterious trade pick would be that missing puzzle piece.
As the deadline came and went, fans grew in disappointment that the prized asset the team was on the cusp of obtaining would not be a Celtic. The mystery trade fell through.
Fast forward to the following day, and rumors spread that the blockbuster deal in the works was actually none of the rumored players being thrown around, but rather Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics had an exchange in place the would include the Brooklyn Nets first rounder for the 20-year-old center out of Duke. Shortly after the deadline passed, Danny Ainge acknowledged how close the trade was to actually going through, but said it was the other team involved that backed out last minute.
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie stepped down from his position on Tuesday, sparking debate as to what that meant for the future of the organization's roster going forward.
Talented big men Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor are extremely valuable assets the Sixers have, but they are fairly thin in other areas. They are considered one of, if not the worst team in the NBA, and with their repulsive backcourt, they aren't likely to progress out of their rut anytime soon.
This is where the Celtics step in this offseason.
Considering Boston has a surplus of assets, including picks, players, and cap space, the team could revisit the trade discussed at the deadline and make it happen on draft night. Now that we know Brooklyn will have the third highest chance to win the lottery on May 17, Philadelphia may be more inclined to take the trade on draft night.
With the best odds to win the lottery, the Sixers would have the chance to have two top-three picks in the draft by making the move. With heavy need for a skilled guard, they wouldn't feel inclined to pass on the "sure-fire" prospects in Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram with the first or second pick, and have the flexibility to take a scorer like Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield, or Kris Dunn with the Brooklyn pick. In the midst of a major rebuild, this would be the perfect opportunity to lock up two future studs.
Even if the Sixers want to make a move on the Brooklyn pick, grabbing Jahlil Okafor would probably take more for the Celtics to cough up. Players such as Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder would likely be off the table, and even Marcus Smart would be hard to let go.
Cris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops believes a blockbuster including Okafor would include the Brooklyn pick and guard Avery Bradley to complete the trade.
Okafor to the Boston Celtics for Avery Bradley and Brooklyn’s 2016 first-round pick. If Celtics GM Danny Ainge really wants Okafor, then he has to pony up. Ainge still has Dallas’ first-round pick this year plus his own pick, the right to swap with Brooklyn in 2017 and Brooklyn’s pick in 2018. He can spare the 2016 Nets pick. The Sixers should then draft Simmons and Dunn and plug in one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders at shooting guard. This deal adds $3.5 million to Philadelphia’s cap.
Back in January, news broke that Bradley was unhappy with the contract he signed with the C's back in 2014, where he is scheduled to make $8,269,663 in 2016-17 and $8,808,989 in 2017-18. Though he is a key contributor for Boston, the Sixers have a ridiculous amount of cap room and could give him a fairly hefty contract extension in the near future if a trade like this were to happen. This of course comes as a sacrifice, as Bradley would be going from playing a key role on a possible title contender in the coming years (making a decent amount of money, nonetheless), to having to take over a large role for a team that likely won't even make the playoffs for a few years for a couple million dollars extra each season.
On Boston's side of things, unless a bigger opportunity comes about or Brooklyn wins the lottery, I'd take this trade in a heart beat. After Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, there is a significant drop off in talent, and Jahlil Okafor has already proven in his rookie season what he is capable of. Players like Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, and Kris Dunn are sensational, but the Celts have the cap space to sign two max level contracts this offseason.
Making this trade happen opens the door for the C's to bring in two proven All-Star talents in this free agent crop such as Al Horford, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Andre Drummond, and Hassan Whiteside, soon-to-be sophomore Jahlil Okafor, and two other first round selections this offseason.
Needless to say, this offseason has the potential to be a major haul.
Would you make this trade happen? Or would you wait to see what other options open up around draft day?
Jahlil Okafor photo: CSNNE
For more Celtics news, follow Jack Pilgrim's Twitter account: @Jack_Pilgrim. Jack Pilgrim 4/14/2016 03:08:00 PM Tweet Edit