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Why Celtics should trade for 76ers C Nerlens Noel 05.27.16 at 11:35 pm ET
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Apr 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) takes a pass during shooting drills prior to playing Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Nerlens Noel could soon be on the move from the 76ers. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

As Danny Ainge and co. head toward next month’s NBA draft, there’s a potential move available that the Celtics may want to explore.

In an interview with ESPN South Jersey 97.3, ESPN’s Chad Ford said he believes there’s a very good chance the 76ers will trade either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel. 

“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 a trade, that you will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season,” Chad Ford said. “I think that they’ll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of these two players doesn’t necessarily work.”

With the No. 1 pick, the Sixers have two forwards to choose from in Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, leaving them with room to add a guard. According to Ford, the 76ers would jump at a chance to acquire the Celtics’ No. 3 pick, where they’d be able to add a rising star to their backcourt.

“If I was Philadelphia, it would be done tomorrow,” Chad Ford said. “I don’t know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100 percent. That would allow them to actually I think bring in another guard, an elite guard, whether that’s Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly now you’ve got a very, very bright future. I think that’s an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it.”

Out of the two young studs, the Celtics should focus on pursing Noel. 

The Everett native is a young rim protector — the kind of big man the Celtics lack — who also can rebound and score around the rim. This past season Noel averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Tied with the Warriors and Clippers, the Celtics finished fourth in the NBA in defensive rating. Adding a player like Noel into the fold would turn the C’s into a defensive juggernaut without having to break the bank in trying to sign a free agent big man like Hassan Whiteside or Bismack Biyombo. 

Compared to Okafor, the asking price for Noel isn’t as steep, but of course he still will cost the Celtics their No. 3 pick in this year’s draft. However, if the Celtics were to package their No. 3 pick along with second-round picks and a prospect like Terry Rozier or James Young, that could be enough for them to acquire Noel, whereas a proposed deal for Okafor most likely would have to include one of their rotation guys like Marcus Smart or Kelly Olynyk.

Out of the two, Okafor certainly is a better scorer, but in Brad Stevens’ system, Noel would flourish. In a fast-break offense he can run the floor, set the pick-and-roll, and create second-chance opportunities for the Celtics on the glass.

At age 22, Noel still has plenty of room to grow and has the potential to become one of the best defending big men in the league. Sure, a move like this wouldn’t turn the Celtics into an instant championship-contending team, but it’s a great place to start. 

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Impromptu Irish Coffee: The Next Bill Russell? 07.28.11 at 1:58 pm ET
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When someone compares a player to Bill Russell, my usual reaction is a rolling of the eyes, followed by an audible sigh and capped by a sarcastic, “And Harold Miner is the next Michael Jordan.” However, when a member of the Celtics‘ front office makes the analogy, that’s an entirely different story.

Celtics senior director of basketball operations Leo Papile — also the Boston Amateur Basketball Club’s director — told Louisville’s Courier-Journal that the current star of his AAU program, Nerlens Noel (great name, by the way), could indeed be the next William Felton Russell:

“No one has ever been compared to Bill Russell, but I said that about this kid when he was in the eighth grade. He has a basketball brain like no other player that I have ever coached. He’€™s a special kid. …

‘€œHe has great timing. Everything he does is just perfect. He passes, his team defense … it’€™s all just perfect. And now he has an offensive game.”

ESPNU’s No. 3 ranked recruit and top-ranked center in the Class of 2013, Noel led Papile’s BABC team to the Peach Jam title earlier this month and the AAU Super Showcase championship game this past week. This winter, the 6-foot-10, 215-pound Everett native enters his junior season at New Hampshire’s Tilton School.

To put Papile’s statement in perspective, he has worked for the Celtics since 1997 and currently serves as one of the team’s chief talent evaluators at the NBA, D-League, international and collegiate levels. Founding the BABC in 1977, he has helped develop NBA talents like Patrick Ewing and Dana Barros.

So, the real question is: Does the 17-year-old Noel even know who is the greatest winner in professional sports? Read the rest of this entry »

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