BOSTON (CBS) — Here we go again.
It’s been two weeks since the NBA season tipped off, so it’s about time we get another story about a potential Jahlil Okafor-Philadelphia 76ers divorce, and reports of the Boston Celtics being interested in the big man’s services.
Okafor is finally healthy, but has only played in one game this season. The 76ers declined his fourth-year option on Tuesday, which did not make the 21-year-old very happy. So he asked that Philadelphia set him free by buying out his contract, a request the team has denied in hopes of getting something — anything — for the center.
Enter the Celtics, who now have an $8.4 million injury exception due to Gordon Hayward’s fractured ankle. Danny Ainge has expressed interest in Okafor in the past, and rumors about the center heading to Boston pop up anytime his name is mentioned. But Ainge has been unwilling to give up anything of real value (Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier), and this time sounds no different, as Keith Pompey of Philly.com is reporting the C’s won’t give up much for Okafor and are hoping for an eventual buyout.
Okafor would give the C’s another low-post option — an offensive-minded one at that — to go with Al Horford, Aron Baynes and rookie Daniel Theis. Should they acquire him now via trade, they would own his bird rights if they decide to bring him back after this season, which would help given their lack of cap space in the offseason. And if there is anyone who can help the disappointing big man, it’s Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
But Philly isn’t about to let the third overall pick in 2015 walk away to a division rival for nothing, and the Celtics don’t seem interested on giving up anything good for someone they could get for nothing if they wait for a possible buy-out.
So this is probably going remain a drawn out, messy “process.” But that’s nothing new with anything regarding the 76ers and Okafor.