Hard to believe, but a full month has already passed since the 2016 NBA Draft.
The Celtics were in every conceivable trade rumor in the days leading up to the draft, during the draft, and after the draft. No doubt, they have a better roster than the one they had on June 22 as Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Gerald Green are key additions, but there is still a widely held feeling that something bigger and better is on the horizon this summer. A look at the latest on the three most rumored players that Danny Ainge has his eyes on:
Russell Westbrook: The big news in the early portion of this week regards Westbrook and the Thunder. With Dion Waiters set to jump to South Beach, the Thunder will now have the cap room to offer Westbrook a max extension. It's seemingly bad news for the Celtics, as Westbrook could make more money on this potential extension than if he waits it out for next summer. The issue for OKC, however, is being able to convince Westbrook that they can remain in title contention. There's no guarantee that they can lure a prime free agent (say, Blake Griffin next summer) as OKC is one of the smaller markets in the league. Hard to believe Griffin would willingly bolt the No. 2 market in U.S. for dusty Oklahoma, despite his ties to the state.
At the tail end of ESPN.com Royce Young's piece on the potential of a Westbrook extension this week, there's this line which should give Celtics fans some hope: "Should Westbrook reject the Thunder's extension offer, the team will likely then explore trading their All-Star point guard."
Blake Griffin: Cricket city. This must be the week Doc Rivers (and Ainge, for that matter) picked for summer vacation because there has not been a peep coming from Southern California. The best Celtics fans can hope for on this front is a calm-before-the-storm scenario. Many major deals do not happen until late in the summer as Kevin Garnett was not traded to the Celtics in 2007 until July 31. If you remember, that entire month of July was filled with fluid Garnett rumors, but it took awhile for the pieces to fall into place. A more recent example was the Kevin Love - Andrew Wiggins blockbuster from two years ago. That swap wasn't finalized until Aug. 23, 2014 (though most of the issues there centered around a 30-day rule regarding Wiggins signing his rookie contract).
Jahlil Okafor: "Celtics" was trending on Twitter Saturday morning and social media active Bostonians surely had brief heart palpitations. But ... it was just Gerald Green. Green brings some strange nostalgia for that dark period B.G. (Before Garnett), but not much more than that.
As for Okafor - after days of heavy "Okafor to Celtics" rumors once again, the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett threw a wet blanket on the matter.
"It's possible the Celtics and Philadelphia could revisit talks for Jahlil Okafor," Bulpett wrote. "But according to sources, those talks appear to have grown 'stale.'"
Philly.com's Keith Pompey also wrote late last week that the Celtics are low-balling the Sixers for Okafor in a story simply titled, "Okafor to Boston not a good deal for Sixers." From Pompey:
"It doesn’t make sense to trade Jahlil Okafor to the Boston Celtics unless the 76ers' only goal is to dump one of their bigs at any cost.
That’s basically all they would be doing by trading him to their Eastern Conference foe.
Word out of Boston is that the Celtics will not give up much for the 6-foot-11, 257-pounder.
They have concerns about his playing in the city after being involved in two street fights there in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning. Nor do they like the fact that the center saw a gun pointed at his head in Old City and that he was stopped for going 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The Celtics have a practice of minimizing the risk when acquiring guys who have had what they view as a character flaw.
Former St. Joseph’s standout Delonte West is a prime example. A source said that general manager Danny Ainge loved West. However, Ainge only gave him a minimum deal even though talent-wise West was deserving of mid-level exception money."