The 2016-2017 NBA trade deadline is on February 23 at 3 p.m. ET, and rumors are swirling around the Boston Celtics and the potential moves that they could make. With a record of 28-18, the Celtics are currently the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they do have their faults. One of their needs is a big man who excels at scoring and rebounding.
As Comcast SportsNet New England reports, the Celtics have contacted the Orlando Magic regarding a trade for center Nikola Vucevic.
“While no deal is imminent, the addition of Vucevic would be a significant boost to the Celtics roster on multiple fronts. Rebounding, defense and scoring are the Big Three areas the Celtics are looking to upgrade between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline. The addition of Vucevic would address at least two of those areas for the Celtics – scoring and rebounding. He’s averaging a near double-double this season with 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game along with 2.8 assists. For the season, he has 19 double-doubles compared to a Celtics team which collectively have just 21.”
While he is not a superstar, Vucevic is as solid as they come in a league that lacks talent at the center position. Even though his scoring and rebounding averages are slightly down this year, the 26-year-old is also playing fewer minutes with the Magic, which may mean that he is expendable. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Celtics would really benefit from his talent on the offensive end of the court.
— CSN New England (@CSNNE) January 28, 2017
With a record of 18-30, the Magic are unlikely to make the playoffs this year, so trading Vucevic may be in their best interest. In a league with bloated and unfriendly contracts, Vucevic’s current deal makes him a bargain. This would allow the Celtics to make the deal without having to dedicate a large percentage of their salary cap to him.
As ESPN reports, the Magic are looking to acquire a wing scorer, which means they are going to have to move one of their big men. Vucevic remains the most likely candidate, but talks with the Celtics have not yet moved past the exploratory stage. This does not mean there is not mutual interest in a deal, but nothing is imminent.
In addition to Vucevic, the Celtics have been linked to Philadelphia 76ers’ centers Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel at different points over the past year. With a record of 17-28, the 76ers are better this season, but they still have too many big men. Joel Embiid is the face of the franchise, so he is not going anywhere, but it is thought that either Okafor or Noel could be dealt before the deadline.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) January 28, 2017
While the 76ers drafted Okafor No. 3 overall in the 2015 draft, he has already fallen out of favor with the organization and coaching staff. Despite averaging 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie season, Okafor has been regularly listed as DNP (coach’s decision) in January. The 76ers have improved since benching him, but this is not doing the organization any favors if they have any hopes of dealing him before the deadline.
As CBS Sports reported last July, the Celtics were not willing to give up much for Okafor even last year. Okafor’s stock has only fallen since, so it is likely that they would be willing to give up even less now. Like Okafor, Noel has been linked to the Celtics on numerous occasions, but he may cost more in a potential deal. Since complaining about a lack of playing time, he has once again become a big part of the 76ers’ rotation of big men.
Noel is set to become a restricted free agent after this season, so that could pose problems for any team that wishes to trade for him.
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