The Boston Celtics are interested in acquiring Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, but won't jeopardize the bright future of the franchise in order to get a deal done.
Boston is unwilling to part with a first-round draft selection in a potential trade for the disgruntled big man, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
The Celtics own one guaranteed pick (their own) in 2018, and could have another if the Los Angeles Lakers are awarded a draft pick between 2-5 in the lottery this summer. Additionally, Boston could have up to four first-round selections in the 2019 draft, depending on how protected picks shake out with other teams.
Philadelphia has refused to buy out Okafor, sparking trade rumors. Boston is one of a handful of interested teams, but Okafor's trade value has been squandered after he was cut from the Sixers' rotation. The lack of playing time is frustrating the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, and he's begging to leave town.
“This is my life,” Okafor recently told Philly.com. “This is my career and I’m not getting an opportunity here, which is fine... The team looks great and I’m not a part of that. I want the team to do great things, but at the same time I want to play.”
Boston, which has an additional $8.4 million to spend on payroll after being granted an injury exemption in the wake of Gordon Hayward's devastating ankle injury, could definitely find a spot in its rotation for Okafor behind starter Al Horford. The Celtics have plenty of future second-round picks they could include in a swap, but would likely be hesitant to deal any current players on the roster with the team in contention in the Eastern Conference.
Another barrier to potentially dealing Okafor is the fact that the 21-year-old is set to become a free agent this summer. Many teams view him as a project player, which means any interested party would likely want to sign him to a contract extension.
Okafor, in limited action, has averaged 14.7 points and six rebounds in 104 career NBA games.