On Friday, it was reported that the Philadelphia 76ers were going to put some players on the trade block ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft. This should come as no surprise, given the Sixers’ penchant for wheeling and dealing during the last few years of tanking. However, this round of talks has a different feel to it as Bryan Colangelo will now be making the calls instead of Sam Hinkie, who left the team earlier in the offseason.
Because of this change in the personnel man, some of Hinkie’s latest picks are being put on the trade block. This includes Nerlens Noel and last year’s No. 3 overall pick, Jahlil Okafor. Of the two, Okafor definitely has more trade value, and he could end up being a good fit with the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics have long needed a star player at the center position, and they have been linked to Demarcus Cousins in the past. The team currently has a surplus of assets, and there is no doubt that Danny Ainge will be looking to cash in on those this offseason. Okafor would be an excellent threat as an interior scorer to pair with Isaiah Thomas, who will be able to drive the lane and open up space for the big man to work.
In terms of what this type of deal might cost the Celtics, the price may not be as steep as some would think. There are some major concerns with Okafor that will drive his value down a bit. Okafor did have some off the court issues during his first season that made the Sixers assign him a security guard at one point in the offseason. He was acting immature on the court as well, and got into some arguments with officials.
Still, Okafor’s talent is off the charts as he averaged 17.5 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game as a mere rookie. In all likelihood, the Sixers will be looking to acquire a first-round pick and maybe some young players with starting potential for Okafor, as they will look to accelerate their slow rebuilding process.
For the Celtics, this would mean giving up the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, maybe another late first-round pick, and probably one of their young guards to get Okafor. If I had to guess, I think Marcus Smart would be the guy the Sixers would want, unless they were to target Kris Dunn with the No. 3 pick.
At the end of the day, this deal would allow the Sixers to acquire two or three potential starters to (presumably) pair with Ben Simmons while the Celtics would get a player with star potential. It would be a relatively fair deal for both sides, and I could see it happening in the days leading up to the draft.