Jahlil Okafor and Jimmy Butler

NBA Trade Rumors: Chicago Bulls’ Trade For Jahlil Okafor Almost Finalized?

A deal where the Philadelphia Sixers would send Jahlil Okafor to the Chicago Bulls may have hit a bit of a snag. The Bulls and Sixers are in trade talks according to one of the NBA trade rumors circulating. And some official word is expected at some point. Unless a secret team emerges, the Sixers will either send Jahlil Okafor to the Bulls or New Orleans Pelicans.

After a day with a ton of trade speculation swirling around the status of Okafor, many people on the outside looking in expected an announcement. Nothing has happened thus far, but the trade negotiations between the Bulls and Sixers have continued to build steam. There are expectations that something will happen soon with Okafor playing elsewhere.

NBA trade rumors started to fly once it was reported that the Sixers kept Okafor glued to the bench for Saturday night’s game against the Miami Heat. Keeping the second-year center on the bench (courtesy of CSN Philly) was a risky proposition given the fact that starting center Joel Embiid was out due to an injury. Okafor was giving the dreaded “did not play, coach’s decision” on Saturday because trade talks have heated up for the Sixers.

Initially, the Sixers were negotiating with the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Portland Trail Blazers. A trade between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers took place a day after. The deal with the Nuggets and Trail Blazers was a swap of Jusef Nurkic and Mason Plumlee was reported by ESPN. It may have eliminated the each team from the Jahlil Okafor sweepstakes.

That would leave the Bulls and Pelicans negotiating against each other. Neither of which have offered the Sixers a deal worth doing it seems. If so, a trade would have been announced.

According to the latest NBA trade rumors, the Chicago Bulls had emerged as the front-runners for Okafor. Before anything becomes official, a hurdle may have landed in the Bulls’ way.

Again, if the Chicago Bulls had given the Philadelphia Sixers an offer that was a cannot miss, a trade would have already taken place.

It takes at least two willing teams to make a trade happen in the NBA. Both the Bulls and Sixers appear willing to get something done. But both appear to be overvaluing what they are will to sell.

For as good as Jahlil Okafor can be on offense, he has a long way to go on defense. The Sixers originally sought out a king’s ransom for him. Given Okafor’s limitations, coupled with the fact that his trade value diminished after the start of the season, the Sixers have to think realistically.

The same must be said about the Bulls. The Bulls are not in trade negotiations to get an all-star in Okafor, but he does have some value. If the Bulls truly want him, it may require them to have to relinquish a player such as Denzel Valentine, along with the player they actually had in mind. If the Sixers are asking for at least two draft picks the Bulls have to figure out a way to make that possible.

According to Basketball Insiders, the Chicago Bulls are looking at doing the latter. Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto is reporting that the Bulls are exploring the possibilities of acquiring first round picks for center Robin Lopez or shooter Doug McDermott. If an NBA team takes the Bulls up on their offer, that draft pick could be sent to the Sixers for Jahlil Okafor. It could also simply just be the Bulls keeping things conservative.

Moving Robin Lopez would be much easier for the Chicago Bulls to do than it would to trade Doug McDermott. Lopez is a solid starting center, who does the dirty work. Also, he has a thifty contract for a top-12 ranking NBA center. It is realistic that a team in need of a starter at the five would offer the Bulls a first round draft pick.

Robin Lopez and Dirk Nowitzki
Trading Robin Lopez could be the key to the Chicago Bulls acquiring Jahlil Okafor. The Bulls’ usual conservative approach approach may help them achieve both feats. [Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]

One of those realistic possibilities are the New Orleans Pelicans. A three-team trade with Lopez going to the Pelicans to help Anthony Davis makes sense. As does the Pelicans shipping a first round pick to the Philadelphia Sixers, who would send Okafor to the Bulls. What the Bulls could give the Sixers is a draft pick and Nikola Mirotic. Such a deal would help each team get something they want.

Dealing Lopez would allow the Bulls to insert Okafor as the starter immediately. But there is a risk involved. If the Bulls traded Lopez and lose out on Jahlil Okafor they will have a hole at the center position. That means if the Bulls do look to trade Lopez, it must be part of the deal for Okafor or in a trade which would happen simultaneously.

As for the Bulls getting a first-rounder for McDermott, things get a little dicey.

The majority of NBA fans who are following the Jahlil Okafor sweepstakes are getting exhausted. Okafor should have been traded by now. All of the signs are pointing to the Chicago Bulls being his destination. Will the Philadelphia Sixers finally pull the trigger on a deal, or will they continue to wait out process as Okafor’s trade vlaue continues to sink?

Expect the Chicago Bulls to act quickly.

[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]

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