Do you buy into the notion that the Chicago Bulls aren’t shopping Jimmy Butler? Or that the Indiana Pacers won’t even listen to Paul George offers with the possibility of signing him to a designated extension, should he qualify, still in play?
The Boston Celtics sure don’t. Or maybe they’re just hoping against hope things change.
Whatever the case, their trade-deadline approach hasn’t shifted. They remain fixated on dealing for Butler or George, according to what ESPN.com’s Marc Stein said on a Tuesday episode The Lowe Post podcast (via HoopsHype):
I have heard that Boston have not abandoned all interest in Jahlil Okafor. I certainly don’t think that the priority for them, the priority is getting Jimmy Butler or Paul George, but I still think you got to keep your eyes on the Celtics with Okafor.
Talk about your extremes. Butler and George are perennial All-Stars—top-15 players in the NBA. Jahlil Okafor, while drafted third overall in 2015, looks like a sunk cost. He doesn’t space the floor, isn’t an exceptional passer and hasn’t shown an iota of defensive potential with the Philadelphia 76ers.
If anyone can turn Okafor into an asset, it’s Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. But it’s increasingly clear Boston will only pick Okafor up as an 11th hour steal. As team president Danny Ainge’s lukewarm, if nonexistent, interest in DeMarcus Cousins and Serge Ibaka trades showed, the Celtics want to use their assets on a transcendent wing.
If they cannot get that player, if they cannot land Butler or George by the trade deadline, they’re more likely to stand relatively pat, adding depth on the cheap, while keeping themselves stocked enough to make a run at both studs yet again over the summer.