NBA Trade Rumors: Nerlens Noel To Celtics, Ricky Rubio To Sixers, And Amir Johnson To Timberwolves In Blockbuster Three-Way Trade

NBA trade rumors involving Philadelphia 76ers centers have been one of the most-discussed topics among NBA fans this summer. The Boston Celtics have been looking to make a move for a big man to pair with prized free agent acquisition Al Horford. It now appears the two teams are working on a deal, but one that may require the addition of a third team to the mix.

According to YIBADA, the Minnesota Timberwolves are now being included in trade talks between the Sixers and Celtics. Reports indicate that the proposed three-way trade would send Philadelphia center Nerlens Noel to Boston, Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio would head to the 76ers, and power forward Amir Johnson would be shipped from Beantown to the Timberwolves.

The Sixers likely nixed any notion of a Noel-for-Johnson swap, since Philadelphia now has No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons in the frontcourt. If this trade is going to work with Boston including Amir Johnson as part of the package, a third team had to be found.

This trade would be a solid move for the Celtics; it would allow them to upgrade their center position with a player who is similar to Amir Johnson in playing style, but younger and more talented. Nerlens Noel and Al Horford would form a nice tandem on Boston’s front line, since Horford is more polished offensively, but Noel is a defensive force in the middle.


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The Sixers would benefit from this deal as well, since they are currently weak at the point guard spot. Philadelphia has three centers who are all high draft picks (Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, and Noel), and they are looking to unload at least one of them to strengthen the team in other areas, per SB Nation. Ricky Rubio would be a significant upgrade at the lead guard position for the 76ers, and bringing him in for Noel would help break up their current logjam at the center spot.

There have been previous rumors this off-season that Minnesota is looking to trade Ricky Rubio, in part because they believe that rookie Kris Dunn from Providence College should be handed the keys to the Timberwolves’ offense. Everything adds up until we get to the original reason Boston and Philadelphia needed a third trade partner: Amir Johnson.

Amir Johnson isn’t a fit in Philly, but he’s also not a fit in Minnesota. Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to man the power forward position for the T-Wolves after playing mostly center as a rookie. Towns was the first overall choice in the 2016 NBA Draft, and is the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year. Center Gorgui Dieng has proven himself worthy of starter’s minutes going forward, so Amir Johnson would seem to be a spare part among that group.

It would seem more likely that Minnesota would be interested in shooting guard Avery Bradley, who had also been mentioned in the NBA trade rumor mill earlier this summer. Zach LaVine has been coming on for the Timberwolves, but Bradley is a more accomplished player and could also act as a mentor to LaVine.

If the T-Wolves are indeed interested in Amir Johnson, it would probably be due to his expiring contract. Johnson has one year left on his current deal that will pay him $12 million in 2016-17. Perhaps Minnesota is looking toward the future and pondering what they can do with $12 million in additional cap space after next season?

The latest NBA trade rumors reveal that a three-team transaction between the Celtics, Sixers, and Timberwolves is being discussed. Do you think there is enough value in this proposal for everyone involved to make this a reality?

[Photo by Reinhold Matay/AP Images]