The Boston Celtics are reportedly having second thoughts in pursuing Jahlil Okafor. They are hesitant to trade for Philadelphia 76ers sophomore because of his prior misconducts in Boston.
The Celtics obviously like the 6-foot-11 center. However, they are not willing to go all out to get him. Keith Pompey of Philly.com stated that the Celtics have a knack for minimizing risk when bringing in players who they feel have character flaws.
For instance, general manager Danny Ainge was a staunch supporter of former Celtics player Delonte West. Even though the mercurial point guard was worth a mid-level exception contract, Ainge only offered him a minimum deal.
In Okafor’s case, his rookie campaign was anything but harmonious. Basketball pundits constantly questioned his maturity and self-control. It can be remembered that he was involved in two early morning street fights in Boston back in November 2015.
Okafor was also pulled over by police in Camden, New Jersey for driving 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge. He was fined $439 for the traffic violation late last year. In Philadelphia, he had a gun pointed at him by a heckler. Their argument allegedly stemmed from the 76ers’ dismal regular season record.
According to ESPN, Okafor averaged 17.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in his rookie season. His point production is second to Karl-Anthony Towns’ 18.3 points per game. Among rookies, only Towns and New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis grabbed more rebounds per game than Okafor.
Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE has a different take on the courtship between the Celtics and Okafor. Blakely stated that the Celtics were more likely to land Okafor via trade than Blake Griffin or Russell Westbrook.
One league official told CSNNE that Ainge is just waiting for the right time to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade. As of the moment, recent NBA rumors suggest the Celtics are quietly setting up the bait for the biggest fish on the trading block.
“I have no idea who that big fish is,” said the unnamed source. “But Danny knows there have to be certain circumstances in play that make guys available who wouldn’t be if you just went by talent. That’s how they got Ray Allen. That’s how they got KG (Kevin Garnett).