Boston Celtics legend and General Manager Danny Ainge went on Boston radio and teased a major move that he was negotiating up until the NBA trade deadline for his Celtics. The Brooklyn pick? Apparently dangled. The move was purportedly, per Ainge, big enough to justify spreading a rumor. Tuned-in national writers Zach Lowe and Marc Stein surmised he was bluffing, but Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald hears the target was Sixers forward/center Jahlil Okafor.
To fairly judge the Celtics' execution at the trade deadline, we must first accept the unassailable fact that the club as presently constructed cannot compete for an NBA championship.
Danny Ainge clearly doesn't. And that is healthy. It's why he spent the last several days trying to get the kind of magnetic player needed to lift the Celtics from the NBA's middle earth. While a league source has indicated the late target Ainge has referred to in radio interviews was Philadelphia's Jahlil Okafor, Ainge has turned silent on the matter.
In any case, we do know the deal was dead on Wednesday and that the other club pulled the plug. The locals left the porch light on, but nothing returned to life.
The Sixers reportedly called around the league to gauge the trade value of Okafor, and Boston would have made an interesting match. The Celtics have a slew of draft picks available for trade, and if the Sixers wanted to sell on Okafor Boston would be a theoretical match.
As Philly Mag's Derek Bodner noted, the potential draft pick upside after such a deal would have been significant:
If the #sixers had the Nets pick as well as the Kings pick swap rights, they'd have a 65.1% chance at a top-2 pick heading into lottery.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 20, 2016
And a 5.03% chance at One-Two-Four. https://t.co/mEFP7zPhOj— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 20, 2016
The downside? No Lakers pick and two not-top-3 picks. Either way, the team would be playing the odds and ditching yet another lottery pick early in his career.
At this point, with so much of the franchise's future uncertain, holding onto Okafor instead of abandoning ship is probably the right call in my opinion, especially if the Brooklyn pick was the only desirable return in the deal. Though I suppose this all depends on whether you think Okafor is workable or fatally flawed, which is a completely different discussion for a different time.