BOSTON (CBS) -- The Philadelphia 76ers have a nice collection of young bigs, and the Boston Celtics have a nice collection of tradeable assets in future draft picks and young players with some upside.
So you'd think it's only a matter of time until the two sides start having some trade talks, given the recent reports that the Sixers will likely be trading either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor this summer.
"I think that there's a very high likelihood, that whether it's to move up in the draft or use them to grab a free agent in a sign and trade or just to a trade, that you will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season," ESPN's NBA Insider Chad Ford said in a radio interview on Thursday.
Ford notes that the Sixers likely prefer to keep Noel over Okafor, and Okafor would probably net more on the trade market. The second overall pick in last year's NBA Draft, Okafor averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in 53 games, though the season was marred with off-the-court issues and a perceived lack of focus on it.
The Celtics and Sixers were reportedly talking an Okafor swap at the trade deadline, and Danny Ainge would likely jump back into trade talks with Philly for the young big man this summer. Ford said if Boston is willing to trade the third overall pick in the upcoming draft for Okafor, "[the trade] would be done tomorrow." He's just not convinced Ainge would give up the pick for Okafor at this point in time.
Noel looks to be the better of the two given the concerns about Okafor's attitude on the court (he also has a sweet, sweet fade), but in the end he may not be the one Bryan Colangelo chooses to ship out of town. Either player would provide a boost to Boston's frontcourt, which greatly needed someone to pull down rebounds on a consistent basis and clog up the paint last season, but it would take a lot more to turn the Celtics into a title contender in 2016-17.
In acquiring another young player, instead of a proven veteran, it would signify the Celtics are in for a longer rebuild than the quick fix some were hoping for. But with some offseason options appearing to dry up already, this may be the route Ainge and the Celtics choose to (or are forced to) take this summer.
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