Celtics

Sixers hurting Jahlil Okafor's trade value by not playing him

Sixers hurting Jahlil Okafor's trade value by not playing him

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are no different than the handful of teams that have expressed interest in Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor.

They like him for the right price which as it stands now, is too high for every team that’s considered a possible landing spot  – that includes the Celtics.

Okafor is looking for the quickest exit out of Philadelphia now that the Sixers have made it abundantly clear that he is not in their plans for the present or the future.

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"A buyout or a trade," Okafor told reporters in Philadelphia on Wednesday. "A buyout's not the only option. It's just, I want to get on the court. That's not happening here. It could be a buyout, it could be a trade. I just want something to happen rather quickly."

He has been a healthy scratch in all but one game this season in addition to the Sixers declining to pick up the fourth-year option on his contract worth about $6.3 million which rarely happens to a player selected as high as Okafor (No. 3 overall) was in 2015.

A league source told NBC Sports Boston that the issue at hand, Okafor’s future, has been made unclear because of two factors.

The Sixers overvalued Okafor’s value in the eyes of other teams, presuming that because he was a high draft pick that they can expect comparable compensation in return. 

Also, they underestimated how not playing him would significantly lessen his value in the eyes of potential trade partners, which includes the Celtics.

“This isn’t rocket science,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “You have a player you want to get rid of, you need to get rid of. So … you don’t play him? That makes absolutely no sense in the world.”

One of the knocks on Okafor has been his inability to keep his weight at a manageable. With a mostly vegan diet, he lost about 30 pounds during the offseason and looked to be in the best shape of his basketball career.

But that career is very much up in the air with the Sixers, a team that has no interest in playing him now or motivated to trade him elsewhere.

The Celtics were recently awarded an $8.4 million disabled player exception in relation to the left leg/ankle injury suffered by Gordon Hayward that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

If Okafor gets a buyout, the Celtics would be well-positioned to sign him which would provide another big body who is at his best scoring around the post in half court sets – a strength that would set him apart from most of the current Celtics.

And while Boston has entertained the idea of trading for Okafor, Boston isn’t interested in giving up assets other than a possible second-round pick for Okafor.

It's not a matter of whether they think he's worth it.

Boston is willing to gamble that the Sixers will ultimately buy him out which would allow them to sign him for the remainder of the season, providing the kind of depth that could be just what they need to move beyond last season's success and represent the East in the NBA Finals. 

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NBC Sports Boston to air five Maine Red Claws games in 2018

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NBC Sports Boston to air five Maine Red Claws games in 2018

Starting on Saturday, Jan. 20, NBC Sports Boston will televise five Celtics' G League affiliate Maine Red Claws games during the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Maine Red Claws to offer basketball fans an opportunity to watch competitive and compelling Minor League basketball at the highest levels,” said Princell Hair, Senior Vice President & General Manager of NBC Sports Boston. “New England fans expect the best basketball coverage from us and we are confident we will offer an unparalleled viewing experience through these Red Claws games both on TV and online.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Dajuan Eubanks, President of the Maine Red Claws. ”Red Claws games are a perfect opportunity to watch future Celtics stars like Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele grow. Being the proud affiliate of the Boston Celtics, it is a natural fit for the Red Claws to be teaming up with NBC Sports Boston, and bringing Crustacean Nation to all of New England.”

Here are the upcoming Red Claws games that will be offered on NBC Sports Boston this season:

  • Saturday, January 20th at 9:30pm vs. Westchester Knicks [Tape Delayed]
  • Sunday, January 28th at 1:00pm vs. Long Island Nets [LIVE]
  • Saturday, February 10th at 7:00pm vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants [LIVE]
  • Sunday, February 25th at 1:00pm vs. Windy City Bulls [LIVE]
  • Sunday, March 18th at 1:00pm vs. Lakeland Magicc[LIVE] 

 

Could Cavaliers trade Isaiah Thomas in deal for DeAndre Jordan or George Hill?

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Could Cavaliers trade Isaiah Thomas in deal for DeAndre Jordan or George Hill?

BOSTON – Considering the expectations for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season and how they’ve fallen well short of meeting them thus far – even with LeBron James having an MVP-worthy season – it’s no surprise that the Cavs are ratcheting up their pursuit of potential trade targets to better position themselves for a postseason run that would include knocking off upper-tier teams in the East which includes the Boston Celtics. 

MORE - C's weaknesses exposed during two-game losing streak

Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that the Cavs are interested in pursuing a pair of separate deals involving the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Sacramento’s George Hill. 

As you look up and down the Cleveland roster, there are a ton of players who have done some amazing things in this league. 

Derrick Rose is a former league MVP. 

Dwyane Wade has won multiple NBA titles with and without LeBron James. 

Former Celtic Isaiah Thomas emerged from being an NBA afterthought to a player just a year ago had the highest scoring average of any player in the Eastern Conference. 

But that past success has meant little this season as the Cavs (27-17) are looking more and more like a team that instead of racing past foes, is closer to being put out to pasture as a title contender. 

They have to do something to try and close the ever-increasing gap forming between them and Boston and to a certain degree, the Toronto Raptors (30-13) who also have a better record than Cleveland. 

The most tradable asset Cleveland has besides James, is Kevin Love. 

He is having another all-star caliber season for the Cavs, but Love’s strong play can’t mask the team’s biggest weakness – team defense. 

Cleveland has a defensive efficiency rating of 109.2 which ranks 28th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA. 

Which is why making a move for Jordan would on many levels make a lot of sense. 

Cleveland would be parting ways with one of the best stretch bigs in the NBA in Love, but they would be adding a defensive presence in the middle that would instantly elevate them from being a cellar dweller defensively in the NBA.

And because of their $22.6 million salaries, you could make the deal straight-up without needing to include any additional players or picks.

As we’ve seen through the years, teams that compete at the highest of levels and make deep playoff runs tend to be average to above-average squads defensively. 

Which is why the Celtics (34-12) and their top-rated defense have been on the short list of title contenders who don’t reside in the Bay Area.

The addition of Jordan to the Cavs roster would certainly close that defensive gap that exists between Boston and Cleveland now. 

But that won’t be enough. 

They could use a little more fire power and versatility on the perimeter which is why the pursuit of George Hill would be a smart pick-up. 

Cleveland is helped by the fact that Hill is not happy with how things are playing out with the Kings in what has been a season that hasn’t gone quite how many in Sacramento had intended. 

Things began to unravel when Scott Perry left the franchise to become the General Manager of the New York Knicks. His departure seemed to usher in the return of their being a rebuilding mindset which is not what Hill signed up for. 

So, a chance for him to leave one of the worst teams in the NBA to play for one that’s focused on competing for titles, would be a welcomed change for sure. 

But what will the price be? 

The Cavs would certainly try and peddle J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert in a deal, but that’s not likely to get the attention of the Kings unless the Brooklyn pick Cleveland acquired in the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade with Boston, is included. 

Short of that, Cleveland might be asked to part with Isaiah Thomas although two league executives told NBC Sports Boston on Friday night that the idea of Thomas being traded back to the team that drafted him with the 60th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, is “highly unlikely” at this time.

The bottom line is we’re at the halfway point of the season and Cleveland doesn’t look like a team that’s built to compete for a title, and hasn’t shown signs of that changing anytime soon. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics have lost two in a row but their outlook is considerably more rosy. Not only because they have the best record in the East, but also because the identity of their team – good defensively, rarely gets blown out and can come back from huge deficits and beat anybody in the league, Golden State included – is akin to what you expect to see from title contenders. 

And while Cleveland didn’t get off to the best of starts last season and still managed to get all the way to the NBA Finals, there are a few changes this go around. 

There are legitimate threats to them in the East (Boston, Toronto) when last season truth be told, there were none. 

At this point a year ago, they were 30-14.

Today, they are 27-17. 

And maybe most important, as great a player as LeBron James is, he is not going to get them back to the Finals by himself. He’s worked harder than expected to get them to where they are now. 

Unless he gets more help, be it internally or externally via trade, James will find himself in an unfamiliar role when the NBA Finals around – a spectator.

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