Wednesday morning, ESPN Senior Writer Marc Stein reported that the Celtics trade offers centered around the third overall pick had been denied on three separate fronts.
According to Stein, the Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz, and Milwaukee Bucks are all uninterested in moving one of their proven “stars” for the third pick in this year’s NBA draft. The Celtics had reportedly been eyeing Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Jabari Parker, and Khris Middleton. After seeing Middleton’s name it should be pretty obvious why I said “stars.”
First things first, THANK GOD the C’s didn’t part ways with the third pick for the likes of Khris Middleton. Sure he can score a bit, he averaged 18 points in 36 minutes of play per game, but he also plays for the Bucks. There are only so many players on the Bucks that can actually score the ball so somebody has to take the shots. On top of that, he just signed a five-year $70 million contract. If you ask me, that’s far too much for a mediocre player like Middleton. So thank you Bucks, for keeping Middleton.
Obviously trading the pick for Butler or Hayward would have been welcomed by all Boston fans, and we’ve all known for quite some time now that both guys have been on Danny’s radar. Parker on the other hand, surprised me a bit. While I’ve never heard his name connected to the Celtics in any way, it makes sense that the versatile forward would be someone Danny Ainge wants. The part the surprised me is the fact that he is just one season removed from a torn ACL that sidelined him for the better half of his rookie season. In addition to that, he was the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, so I wasn’t even aware that he was available to be traded and the Bucks quickly shut that notion down by dubbing him “untouchable.”
Stein went on to add that the Philadelphia 76ers have been trying to pry that third pick away from the Celtics by offering Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel, something I touched on in my article today. So far, Danny Ainge and the Celtics brass have done a good job resisting these offers, and my hope is that they continue to do so now that their other offers have been denied. The Celtics seem adamant in moving this pick elsewhere, but they the talent to be had at the third pick is nothing to scoff at, so they shouldn’t settle and simply take the offer from the highest bidder.
Don’t get me wrong, Okafor is a great player but he isn’t necessarily the player the Celtics need. There’s no doubt they could use his low-post presence on offense and in just one season he has already proved he is a force to be reckoned with on offense when he is healthy. He averaged 17.5 and seven rebound per game before shin and knee injuries sidelined him for the remainder of the season late in February. Besides the threat of lingering injuries, the knock on Okafor is his defense and mobility. In today’s NBA, centers are much more mobile than they used to be and they have to be able to guard smaller, quicker guys like Draymond Green at times. That’s why Noel may be the more favorable Sixer for the Celtics to target. Unfortunately, the asking price for Noel is probably much higher for this exact reason.
Now hear me out, this next tade scenario is completely hypothetical. The 76ers desperately want to get back into the lottery this year in order to draft Providence guard Kris Dunn. According to Chad Ford, Dunn appears to be the number three player on most team’s draft boards, so one would think that the 76ers view the Celtics pick as the most coveted.
Amazed at how different NBA teams are evaluating draft lottery prospects Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender,… https://t.co/wtd1a6QHV2
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 20, 2016
So, if the 76ers really want Dunn, Ainge holds all of the power. With Joel Embiid working his way back into basketball shape and Dario Saric reportedly joining the team this year, the 76ers have a plethora of bigs. In addition, they have been shopping Okafor since last year’s trade deadline, meaning he will most likely be available after the draft if the Celtics choose to keep the pick. That being said, DON’T SETTLE AND TRADE THE PICK FOR JUST OKAFOR DANNY. If I’m Danny Ainge, I’m doing everything in my power to get Noel AND Okafor for the third pick. Obviously it wouldn’t be a straight up trade and I’m sure the Celtics would have to sweeten the pot with additional picks and players, but at this point it’s worth a shot. Admittedly, I’m no GM but I am well versed in ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine. So let’s say the Celtics offer the third pick, the 16th pick, Avery Bradley, and honestly, toss in any of our “big men” (Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, I’m looking at you guys). The Celtics also own the 23rd pick which I’m sure they’d be willing to part ways with if necessary to pull in two good, young big men. The outcome for the 76ers? They get their point guard of the future in Dunn, Ben Simmons with the first pick, a veteran shooting guard in Bradley, and the talent to be had at 16 and 23 shouldn’t be that bad this year. Sure they’d have no big men to speak of if Embidd isn’t available at the start of next season, but honestly, the 76ers are looking at another year at the bottom regardless of what they do in the draft this year. So it all really depends on how much they want Dunn.