Chicago Bulls trade rumors indicate that the team is interested in acquiring Jahlil Okafor from the Philadelphia 76ers. Rather than head into a rebuilding phase by dealing away players like Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo, it appears that the front office in Chicago is trying to add pieces. This could be a huge deal for the Bulls if they can pull off acquiring Okafor before the NBA trade deadline.
If NBA sources are correct, this could serve as a huge push for the Bulls in the second half of the season. A report by NBA analyst Vincent Goodwill presents these latest Chicago Bulls rumors, with the team contacting the Philadelphia 76ers about dealing the prized young center. If the Bulls found a way to land Okafor without giving up any core players, it could provide a huge boost of momentum in the final months of the regular season.
The question many Bulls fans might have is why would Jahlil Okafor even be available? The answer is that the coaching staff of the 76ers has fallen into a good rhythm with Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel covering all the minutes at center. The tandem of Embiid and Noel also plays well on the floor together, leaving Okafor out of the equation. Earlier in the season, as Noel was recovering from injury, Okafor had received more minutes. Now he is on the outs.
For Okafor, this is his second season in the NBA after becoming the third overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft. During his rookie season, Okafor played in 53 games for the 76ers, averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He was also averaging 30.0 minutes a night. This year for the 76ers, Okafor is down to 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. His minutes have also decreased to just 23.0 a game as he competes with Embiid and Noel for playing time. With the new rotation, he is even getting nights off from the coaching staff.
After earning about $4.8 million this season, Okafor will make about $5 million next season and about $6.3 million in a team option for the 2018-19 NBA season. This shows that he has a lot of team control, raising his price tag on the trade market. If it becomes clear that the Philadelphia 76ers are really intent on parting ways with him before the February 23 NBA trade deadline, then he could yield a very nice return package. In that case, the 76ers might be looking for first-round picks to add a point guard high in the 2017 NBA Draft.
If these Chicago Bulls trade rumors really mean that the team is trying hard to not head into a rebuilding phase, then the team might be willing to give up future first-round picks to get a deal done. The Bulls still maintain control of their first-round selections in 2017 and 2018, possibly using them as trade bait to land Okafor. It is unclear if the 76ers would have any interest in young players on the Bulls current roster, especially since they haven’t panned out in any discernable fashion. Could Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, or Bobby Portis work as part of a deal?
It has become very clear that the Philadelphia 76ers want to do something about their logjam of centers and it is only a matter of time until a team extends the right trade offer. If the Bulls can offer some combination of picks and players, maybe it would get the 76ers to seriously consider giving up Jahlil Okafor. It might also take a third team entering the equation for a deal to be completed. What these Chicago Bulls trade rumors could do, if nothing else, is give fans of the team hope that the front office isn’t ready to start a “fire sale” just yet.
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