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NBA Free Agency: Amir Johnson joins Sixers, but Celtics reportedly discussed Jahlil Okafor trade first

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that before Amir Johnson agreed to a one-year deal with the Sixers, the Celtics discussed a sign-and-trade with the Sixers for Jahlil Okafor.

NBA: Preseason-Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Amir Johnson has agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers on a one year, $11 million deal per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, continuing his short-term eight-figure tour of the Atlantic Division.

But according to Woj, his path to the Sixers nearly took a different route. When he appeared on ESPN Saturday evening, he elaborated on a trade that was discussed, but never came to fruition.

Adam Himmelsbach first reported that sign-and-trade discussions were being held over Johnson. The trade would have been a surprising one, as it could have added Okafor’s $5 million contract at a time where the Celtics are trying to send out salary to open space to sign Gordon Hayward.

Johnson joins Philly the same day as J.J. Redick, who agreed to a one-year, $23 million deal Saturday. As the Sixers use their cap space to bring in well-regarded veterans on short-term deals, they inch closer to playoff contention in a depleted Eastern Conference.

The Big Dog leaves Boston after two solid seasons, starting 77 games last season as Al Horford’s frontcourt partner while carefully managing his health with low minutes and occasional rest. Johnson was the team’s most reliable interior defender, adept at verticality shot contests and reading the pivot.

Although he ended on a down note, falling out of the rotation for the playoffs after starting most of the season, he was a continuously positive and hard-working presence. Beloved by his teammates and coaches, the Big Dog leaves a hole in the Celtics’ big man rotation, which is currently filled by just Al Horford and Ante Zizic.