The Boston Celtics refuse to give up a first-round pick for a rival player they know is unwanted by his current team, and whose value has cratered amid the NBA’ spacing revolution.
With the Philadelphia 76ers intent on moving Okafor rather than buying him out, the Celtics have been named as a potential landing spot. Head coach Brad Stevens is a talent whisperer, and Boston always seems light on size—even though its defensive rebounding numbers are a stark improvement over last season’s marks.
Philadelphia does not want to buy out his contract and then watch him sign with a conference rival with no compensation. The Celtics have long held interest in Okafor, but as more of a project than an immediate contributor. Boston is also not willing to part with a first-round pick for Okafor.
Surprised? Of course you’re not.
The Sixers aren’t getting a first-round pick for a player on an expiring contract. It ain’t happening. They declined his team option. He will be a free agent after this season. If they’re going to take a flyer on him, they’re better off doing so in a way that doesn’t require they cough up a first-rounder—even a low-end one.
Besides, the Sixers will be lucky to get a second-round pick from anyone at this point. Even if they were just giving Okafor away, the Celtics might not be open to using the exception they gained following Gordon Hayward’s injury to absorb him. And they don’t have the expendable salary fodder to match his incoming cap hit. So while they make sense as a landing spot for the young big man, the likelihood of them entering the fold is predicated on whether the Sixers move off their buyout stance.