Report: Celtics Targeting Westbrook and Griffin, But Jahlil Okafor More Likely

Bradley Whitaker
(Photo: Getty)

Executing a blockbuster deal in the NBA is extremely difficult, especially for a team like the Boston Celtics that has all the assets in the world, but lack “tradable” superstar talent. The C’s want to package drafts picks and young talent together to trade for a superstar. Unfortunately, other teams don’t seem to value Boston’s assets as much as proven talent, which explains why a deal hasn’t happened yet.

There’s no question Celtics GM Danny Ainge would like to acquire someone like Blake Griffin or Russell Westbrook, but he also doesn’t want to give up too much for a potential one-year rental. Obviously OKC or the Clips won’t pull the trigger unless they get something significant such as Brooklyn’s next two first-rounders, which Boston owns, but they don’t want to give up both.

Reaching a deal of that magnitude is highly unlikely, as noted by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. According to Blakely, the C’s nearly agreed to a deal on draft night with the Philadelphia 76ers. If any trade were to happen this offseason with Boston, it would likely be something similar.

The consensus among league executives spoken to by CSNNE.com is that the most likely trade for Boston will be one in which they wind up with Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor.

“From the moment Philly drafted Ben [Simmons], everyone around the league knew that they would have to trade a big, either Okafor or Nerlens [Noels],” an NBA scout told CSNNE.com. “Okafor is the better scorer; it’s not even close really. But Nerlens has that ability to run the floor and can protect the rim. Those two qualities . . . you can’t have enough guys in the frontcourt who call those two skills, strengths. That’s why Okafor is the more expendable player.”

The two teams were reportedly close to getting a deal done on draft night, and league sources claim both have kept the door ajar to getting a deal done between now and the start of training camp.

Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel would both make an immediate impact in Boston, but also would require long-term developments over time. The C’s already have a legitimate rim protector after acquiring Al Horford, so a scoring big man like Okafor would probably help the team more. Not to mention everyone becomes a good defender playing under head coach Brad Stevens.

A trade for Okafor would allow the Celtics to keep more than a trade for Westbrook or Griffin ever would, and he’d be locked under contract until the end of the 2020 season. That’s a fairly safe gamble for a player that averaged 17.5 points, seven rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game as a rookie.

That being said, Boston is probably only willing to give up one Brooklyn pick and two young players for Okafor (just my guess). Anything more would be asking a lot. Sometimes its best to see what talent develops. After all, the Golden State Warriors of today were built from three “mid-level” draft choices. There are a lot of players on the Celtics that could blossom into superstars (have you seen Jaylen Brown?).

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