|Celtics choice: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender||05.19.16 at 6:17 pm ET|
As the days pass by leading up to this year’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice”
Today: Trading for Jahlil Okafor, using the No. 3 pick as the primary chip, or drafting Dragan Bender.
The case for Okafor
As the No. 3 overall pick a year ago, the Sixers forward established himself as a legitimate, top-notch NBA big man. At just 20 years old, Okafor was named to the NBA All-Rookie team, having averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds while playing 30 minutes per contest. He’s the legitimate, go-to, 7-footer the Celtics crave.
The case against Okafor
Google “Okafor, trouble” and you’ll get a flurry of posts using words like “off-court incident.” He also isn’t the kind of rebounder the Celtics might want from their presence in the paint.
|Report: Lakers to explore trading No. 2 pick, which could hamper Celtics efforts to deal 3rd pick||05.19.16 at 1:43 pm ET|
According to a story on Bleacher Report, the Lakers will seriously entertain offers for the No. 2 pick in the draft, which is widely expected to be Duke shooter Brandon Ingram. Such a move could seriously impact the Celtics.
If Los Angeles deals the No. 2 pick, that would make the Celtics’ third pick that much less valuable. If the 76ers select LSU’s Ben Simmons first overall, as expected, the Lakers hold the ticket for Ingram. The talent drop-off is considered steep after those two and the Celtics own first crack at the best of the rest.
Still, if a club is willing to listen on a player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George, or Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, the second pick will be a lot more enticing than the third.
The Lakers, according to the report, are willing to listen on the pick because they want to improve sooner rather than later, particularly with the 76ers holding their first-round pick next year if it falls outside the top three.
From the story:
Still, the Lakers will actively explore trading the pick. They want to get better as soon as possible—in part to make sure Philadelphia doesn’t get too good of a pick next year when the Lakers’ first-rounder conveys to the 76ers if it’s outside the top three. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is also seeking a better blend of youth and experience on the roster.
But it’s an open question if the Lakers can find a star another club is willing to send away. Trading away the likes of Paul George or Jimmy Butler would be hard-to-explain steps back for the Pacers or Bulls. And with George Karl gone and a new arena to open, the Kings aren’t likely to move DeMarcus Cousins.
It’s also valid to wonder why the Lakers would want to give up young assets they have under cost-controlled contracts that would fit perfectly with massive incoming free-agent deals.
So while nothing is definite with any of these picks, it’s worth noting that the Celtics may soon have some competition on the trade front.
|Brad Stevens on Dale & Holley: Tradition is Celtics’ best selling point for star free agents||05.09.16 at 4:22 pm ET|
Celtics coach Brad Stevens joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the current NBA landscape and the future of the team. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
This is considered a pivotal offseason for the Celtics, who are coming off a first-round elimination at the hands of the Hawks but have the third-best shot at the first overall pick because they have the Nets’ first-round selection. Whether with picks, a trade of roster players or in free agency, the team hopes to add at least one star player to the roster.
Stevens, who is coming off his third season in Boston, says he will play whatever role he can in trying to recruit players, but noted he considers the Celtics’ history to be the biggest draw.
“I’ll play an active role,” he said. “I’ll do anything that I can as far as meeting with guys, calling guys, whatever I can after the July 1 time frame when we’re given the go-ahead to meet with those guys. I think the best selling point, I would say that I’m probably not near that. I think that the tradition, the history, the way that the city embraces the Celtics, the way that our players feel about being Celtics, the amount of pride that they’ve taken in that, and this group in particular, how thankful they’ve been to get a chance to play in front of these fans and in this place where those banners hang above you — to me, that’s the top of the list.
“I’m a basketball guy; I love the game and I love the tradition and the history and the tradition of the game. Maybe that just means to me, but I think it means a lot to a lot of people. Certainly there are other factors involved, when ultimately free agents have to choose a place to play, but for me, those were a lot of the things that obviously flattered me about being asked to be the coach here.”
The Celtics had an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas this season, but the feeling around the team is that it needs to have a true superstar in order to contend with teams like Cleveland in the East. Stevens acknowledged as much, but noted it’s how a team shapes its roster around stars that allows the team to thrive.
“A lot of the NBA is really focused on whoever your one, two or three guys that draw the most attention are, but then who can space the floor for those guys and how effective is that all working together,” he said.
Added Stevens: “Let’s say that you end up drafting a person that is a great rim-protector but may have limited offensively ability, for example. You’ve got to come up with a plan to manage and maximize that. I think that generally speaking, I think that versatility — and when I say versatility, I’m talking about guys that can guard really 2 through 4 — because at times those guys can switch everything and make it as difficult as possible on a number of different positions while at the same time shooting are two of the big things that we just have to continue to focus on.”
|Follow Celtics-Hawks Game 6 live||04.28.16 at 7:26 pm ET|
|Follow Celtics-Hawks Game 5 live||04.26.16 at 7:14 pm ET|
|Celtics coach Brad Stevens finishes sixth in NBA Coach of the Year voting||04.26.16 at 3:35 pm ET|
Celtics fans believe they have the best coach in the NBA prowling their sidelines. The Coach of the Year voters strongly disagree.
Fresh off a season that saw him take the Celtics to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, as well as a seven-win improvement over last year, C’s coach Brad Stevens finished a surprising sixth in the NBA Coach of the Year voting on Tuesday.
Golden State’s Steve Kerr won the award despite missing the first 43 games of the season with a back injury (Luke Walton, the fill-in who went 39-4 in his absence, earned five points). Kerr’s win was no surprise, given Golden State’s record-breaking 73-win season.
Kerr earned 64 first-place votes and 381 points, outdistancing second-place finisher Terry Stotts of the Blazers, who overcame the loss of free agent big man LaMarcus Aldridge to lead Portland to 44 wins and the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
Stevens earned five first-place votes and 74 points, finishing behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (166), Charlotte’s Steve Clifford (98), and Toronto’s Dwane Casey (83) as well in the balloting of 130 broadcasters and journalists.
|Join Mike Petraglia for Celtics-Hawks Game 5 preview live chat at noon||04.26.16 at 11:17 am ET|
WEEI’s Celtics writer and columnist Mike Petraglia will field your questions and comments and help break down everything Celtics-Hawks related for Game 5 Tuesday night in Atlanta. Join him on the WEEI Green Street live chat at noon.
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