Jahlil Okafor

NBA Trade Rumors: Chicago Bulls Closing In On Philadelphia 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor?

Jahlil Okafor’s time with the Philadelphia 76ers seems to be coming to an end, with the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans serving as arguably the teams most interested. Several NBA trade rumors mention the Bulls and Pelicans as having reportedly reached out to the 76ers regarding a trade for the backup center. With the latest rumblings, business has picked up quickly.

CSN Chicago cited a couple of weeks ago that NBA sources had informed them of the Bulls making calls to the 76ers. The apple of the Bulls’ eye is reportedly the 6-foot-11 center Jahlil Okafor.

Okafor, who is coincidentally a Chicago native, has been on the NBA trading block since late May 2016, according to CBS Sports. The Philadelphia 76ers had been shopping both Jahlil Okafor and power forward Nerlens Noel, looking for the best deal. It seems like the former will be the first to go and the NBA trade rumors are suggesting that the Bulls are one of the teams aggressively engaged.

A recent string of wins, coupled with the prospects of the NBA debut for top overall draft pick Ben Simmons, may have the Sixers quietly in the running for a playoff spot. Starting center Joel Embiid was gaining confidence as his minutes restrictions were slowly diminishing before he suffered a minor injury (courtesy of CSN Philly).

Embiid and Noel have meshed fairly. It all has led to Jahlil Okafor becoming expendable. Now the Chicago Bulls, along with the New Orleans Pelicans, and Portland Trailblazers are looking to strike.

The Philadelphia 76ers sat Okafor for Saturday night’s win against the Miami Heat. According to ESPN‘s Marc Stein, Okafor was benched due to the belief that a deal is near for the center. Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown did not confirm that a trade was imminent. But he did acknowledge that something could take place around the NBA All-Star break.

“As the All-Star break gets closer, possible deals have more of a chance. Although speculation is rampant all throughout stuff, you learn as the deadline gets closer, the reality that something could happen goes to a higher level.”

Jahlil Okafor is as good as gone from the 76ers. The center was seen shaking hands with people from the Sixers’ organization. Twitter has been ablaze regarding what could be taking place. The question now becomes where Okafor’s next destination is?

Could he be bound for the New Orleans Pelican, the Chicago Bulls, or elsewhere?

There was a report just days ago that the Pelicans and Sixers were ironing out terms of a trade (courtesy of USA Today) involving Okafor. In the majority of the NBA trade rumors, center Alexis Aijinca and a first-round pick could be part of the deal if it were to happen.

If Jahlil Okafor were to land with the Portland Trailblazers, it is unclear what the Philadelphia 76ers would get in return. The Trailblazers have a few players they can offer the 76ers in a deal, including shooting guard Allen Crabbe.

As for the Chicago Bulls, they are looking to ship both Nikola Mirotic and Rajon Rondo out in a trade. Because Jahlil Okafor is on his rookie salary, he can be dealt to the Bulls for Mirotic in a player-for-player swap. Mirotic’s shooting ability makes him a solid contributor, though not in terms of actual trade value. If he were to be moved by the Bulls, a draft pick would have to be added as well.

The 76ers have a serious need for a point guard and the Bulls have one in Rajon Rondo. Rondo is the type of guard the Sixers could use in terms of a pure passer. Unfortunately, with his $14 million contract, he cannot be traded to Philadelphia outright. Like Mirotic, trading Rondo would require the Bulls to send back a first-round pick.

If the Bulls wind up being Okafor’s new team, they may have to relinquish one of their prized young players. Bobby Portis and Jerian Grant are among the list of players whom the Bulls could dangle in trade talks.

Jahlil Okafor could have a new team within the next couple of days. There are few signs as to where he will play basketball next. It could be the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, or Portland Trailblazers. Perhaps Okafor’s Twitter handle may have provided a clue.

[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]

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