Rumor: Celtics in talks with Sixers regarding the third pick

With the Finals in the rear view mirror, it's time to get into 48 straight hours of rumors and hearsay leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft on Thursday night. With the Sixers under new management, they're under pressure to make moves to get a core together sooner than later. The new drivers of the process are stepping on the gas. Can Danny Ainge take advantage of a willing trade partner?

With the Celtics giving up the third pick, the big question is who is their target on the Sixers. The name the most commonly comes up is last year's third pick, Jahlil Okafor. Word is they are dangling Okafor to get an additional top five pick in this year's draft, but no one is biting. ESPN's Chad Ford threw out a hypothetical deal that allows the Celtics to hang onto the third pick:

I have no problem with the Celtics unloading Avery Bradley for an impact guy, I'm just not so sure Okafor fits into what the Celtics are ultimately trying to do here. He's a more explosive offensive player and less obese version of Jared Sullinger, but the same defensive liabilities are there. Does Okafor take this team to the next level?

Hurting the Sixers leverage is that 2014 third pick and social media maven Joel Embid has finally been cleared to start playing basketball.

The Sixers have to move someone, right? They have so many big men. With Nerlens Noel a better fit for the "modern NBA", it will be interesting to see where these trade talks between the Celtics and Sixers lead.

The best trade option from the Celtics point of view? It might be unpopular for those Celtics fans looking to make a splash right now, but it could well be the best value. Trade this year's third pick and #31 back to the Sixers in exchange for their first round pick next year. In a stronger draft the Celtics would gain another lottery ticket in addition to the Nets pick swap in the hopes of drafting a game-changer in 2017.

Why would the Sixers do it? Maybe they want to get their guy (Dunn) now. Maybe the new regime wants to take tanking off the table completely and start to bet on themselves. Maybe they view their pick next year to be less valuable than the third pick this year (though the rest of the league would not). The Sixers have the Lakers first round pick (protected 1-3) and the rights to swap with the inevitably lottery-bound Kings in the 2017 Draft. Philly has a presence in next year's lottery even if they do trade their own pick to the Celtics.

The Celtics would still have six draft picks, two non-guaranteed deals, and cap space to play with to build their 2016-2017 squad and make some moves. And the Sixers' pick next year could be used for a Jimmy Butler-type trade after the draft if nothing materializes in the next 48 hours, giving the Celtics a more flexible and more valuable asset.

It's Belichekian, it's not that exciting, but it's worth considering.

Photo Credit Mark L. Baer USA Today