Despite working hard in the offseason to change his diet and show up to training camp in tremendous shape, Jahlil Okafor never really got a chance with the Philadelphia 76ers this season. He's played in just one of the Sixers' nine games, and that was only because Joel Embiid wasn't yet cleared to play in back-to-backs.
With the big man out of the rotation, the Sixers reportedly put him on the trade block over a week ago, and recently declined to pick up his option for next season. Most recently, Okafor has, but the Sixers are unwilling to part with him for nothing. Unfortunately, because Okafor has barely played this season, and will now be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, teams are uninterested in giving up anything of significant value to get him.
According to a report from Gary Washburn, the Boston Celtics are one of those teams. There have been plenty of rumors in the past few seasons linking the Celtics and Okafor, and with Okafor on the outs in Philly, and the Celtics holding a disabled player exception due to Gordon Hayward's season-ending injury, those rumors have swirled up again.
However, according to Washburn, the team has long held interest in the big man, but are not willing to give the Sixers a first-round pick in order to get him. Via the Boston Globe:
Philadelphia does not want to buy out his contract and then watch him sign with a conference rival with no compensation. The Celtics have long held interest in Okafor, but as more of a project than an immediate contributor. Boston is also not willing to part with a first-round pick for Okafor.
Even with the glut of extra first-round picks they still have, this makes plenty of sense from the Celtics point of view. The Sixers have absolutely no leverage in this situation considering they've basically made it clear he won't get on the floor for them this season. Plus, it doesn't make sense for the Celtics to give up a valuable first-round pick for a player they see as a long-term project, but who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. You don't give up firsts for a half-season or so rental on a player you think might be good.