Earlier in the NBA season, rumors swirled regarding a potential trade that would have sent rookie Philly center Jahlil Okafor to Boston at the trade deadline. Okafor is one of three highly drafted, talented big men on the 76ers roster, so it makes sense that the team is looking to unload one.
The reasoning behind Boston's interest was clear, as Okafor is an extremely talented player at a position of significant weakness. But the Celtics were unable to land him, as Philadelphia's asking price was higher than what Boston was willing to give.
Now, days after the NBA Draft lottery, Okafor-to-Boston rumors are back, but for different reasons. The 76ers were able to land the draft's number one overall selection, while Boston stuck at number three. With a roster that is just a few moves away from being a contender, Boston is wisely looking to move the pick and improve, rather than throw yet another young player into the mix.
Even though the Sixers have the top pick, the team is reportedly heavily interested in two of the draft's top-five players. They will have their choice of potential franchise players in small forwards Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram at #1, but with the team, desperately needing a point guard, are also reportedly interested in Providence guard Kris Dunn.
Dunn is considered to be one of the most NBA-ready players in the entire draft, and would slot nicely in on Philly's roster. The problem is, Dunn is projected to go in the top five, meaning the 76ers need to go out and get another pick if they are serious about bringing in Dunn.
That's where the Celtics come in. With the number three pick, Dunn's availability would be guaranteed to Philadelphia. Boston could potentially send the pick their way along with another late pick and a young player in exchange for Okafor. Then, the Celtics can immediately turn around and deal Okafor, who has the potential to be an elite player in the league, to a team such as the Bulls and bring Jimmy Butler to Boston.
With no real need for the pick, and a clear need for a star player, Boston needs to either package the pick for a star directly, or trade it to a team like the 76ers in exchange for an even more valuable asset in Okafor. Now, in no way do I want Okafor to play a single game for this team, but acquiring him gives the team a great chance to land someone like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, etc.
This is a critical offseason for Boston, as they can essentially end the rebuild and leap into contention next season. Trading a package built around the pick to Philadelphia in exchange for Okafor is one path to take, but regardless of what route Danny Ainge takes, he MUST get a star to Boston this summer.