Jahlil Okafor trade rumors may finally have a resolution for Philadelphia 76ers fans. It’s not a secret that many NBA teams have made overtures to acquire Okafor from the 76ers and it appears that the team is on the cusp of dealing the second-year center. Completing a deal before the NBA trade deadline also suggests that Okafor is about to play for a contending team.
A report by The Intelligencer from late Monday (Feb. 13) stated that 76ers coach Brett Brown benched Okafor for the second straight game as the front office continued to negotiate a deal. Quite a few teams have been linked to the situation, including the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic. Which team currently has the ear of the 76ers’ front office hasn’t been mentioned in the latest NBA trade rumors.
Before the team took the court against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night, coach Brett Brown made a statement to the media about how the team was currently handling the Jahlil Okafor “situation.”
“Jahlil Okafor’s situation is transparent. He’s in the middle of being discussed in trade scenarios and so I felt that it complicates things to play him. Now this is continuing on and that’s the reason he isn’t here.”
In 37 games this season, Okafor is averaging 11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game. He has started just 22 of those games, splitting time with Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel for most of the season. Embiid has a left knee bone bruise and partially torn meniscus that has kept him out of the lineup. Now the team is in the unenviable position of also sitting out Okafor until the trade negotiations are completed.
Okafor was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft after playing one year for Duke. He played 53 games in his rookie season, averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. The team then added Ben Simmons with another lottery selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, but Simmons hasn’t played a game yet this year (due to injury).
The Philadelphia 76ers were supposed to turn a corner during the 2016-17 NBA season, but the team quickly moved to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The team has improved a bit recently, with three straight victories despite suffering quite a few injuries, but it still has the team at just 21-34 for the year. This means the team will be in the NBA Draft Lottery once again. This winning streak could land them with a less impressive draft selection, though.
It should not surprise fans of the team if the Jahlil Okafor trade rumors come to a conclusion on Tuesday (Feb. 14). It appeared that the 76ers and a mystery team were working on a deal into the late hours of Monday. This will lead to one of three results. The team could be ready to announce a deal on Tuesday, the 76ers could realize that no teams are offering a good enough package for Okafor, or the negotiations could drag on even further. Some gamesmanship could also take place, as the 76ers’ front office tries to play one team against another.
The Chicago Bulls might make the most sense as a trading partner, as the team might be willing to overpay to acquire a young center like Okafor in time to use him in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. The New Orleans Pelicans could also be an interesting destination, as the team would give up a first-round selection to put him on the court with Anthony Davis. As for the Portland Trail Blazers, the team may be in full “tank” mode and that would dissuade a deal from taking place. With just nine days before the deadline, the Jahlil Okafor trade rumors might finally yield a result soon.
[Featured Image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]