The NBA trade rumors are continuing to arrive with regards to Philadelphia 76ers Jahlil Okafor ahead of next week’s deadline. Most recently a report has surfaced which indicates that the team has been looking to continue their rebuild by shipping away the former draft No. 3 pick in exchange for another team’s first-round pick this coming summer. However, based on Okafor’s lack of recent time on the court and the fact there could be a lot of good future talent available in the NBA Draft, it may be tough for Philly to make a deal happen.
On Tuesday, per NJ‘s Matt Lombardo it was reported that Chris Mannix of The Vertical and CSN New England said Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo is attempting to shop Okafor for another team’s first-round pick. There have been a handful of teams involved in trade speculation over the past week or so, with Okafor being rested for the time being. However, the team has not been able to find any teams willing to make this deal happen and probably for good reasons.
As Mannix said on the 97.5 The Fanatic show, the fact that the upcoming draft is going to be deep with talent could make teams hesitant on making this deal.
“I think Philadelphia right now is trying to extract the best possible first-round pick they can get in the 2017 NBA Draft. The problem with that is that this draft is highly perceived to be a very healthy, deep and talented draft. Teams aren’t looking to move picks out of that draft.”
Okafor has been amongst the most talked about players in trade rumors along with his teammate Nerlens Noel, as Joel Embiid clearly has shown he can be a dominant force for the Sixers. That means they can look to grab some other talented players to complement Ben Simmons and Embiid for the future. As of right now, Okafor has participated in 37 games this season and is averaging just over 23 minutes a night. His season averages include 11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, an assist and a block per game. His numbers are down a bit from his career averages, but he has shown that he is a talented player capable of achieving more in the right system.
At 21-34, Philadelphia is still within reach of the NBA postseason, if they happen to go on a nice winning streak and catch a low seed in the Eastern Conference. The belief is that this team is still building for the future seasons, though. Big man Joel Embiid looked like a potential All-Star once he finally got on the court this recent season. However, a meniscus tear injury has taken him off the court again, with the team cautiously allowing him to recover. He’ll certainly be a guy they want to keep in town, but he may need to tone down his off-court activities when on the mend.
EJ, Shaq, Kenny & Chuck talk Joel Embiid… pic.twitter.com/cYowDzcu7h
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Nerlens Noel has also been a bit injury-plagued and part of the trade rumors for Philadelphia, making for another asset they have to offer. As for Jahlil Okafor, he has not played in the team’s last two games and is currently listed as “day-to-day” by Rotowire services, due to the fact the team is trying to shop him and doesn’t want to risk injury. According to CSN Philly, the team may sit him until the trade deadline as they attempt to make a deal.
The forward/center will still reportedly travel with the team for their game on Wednesday against Boston. However, interested teams could also be wondering if Okafor will be much help for their situations right now when they could simply wait for the draft spots to reveal themselves. That’s especially true for other teams in rebuild mode who may just want to gamble on a future star out of college.
Some of the teams who are among those that may still be considering Okafor are the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets, and Portland Trail Blazers. The latter two teams recently pulled off a trade on Sunday involving big men so that may leave Chicago and New Orleans the interested trade partners at the moment. Of those two teams, Chicago might opt to make a deal as they are currently considered playoff contenders and could possibly use some more depth.
The 76ers are also continuing to wait for their most recent draft pick Ben Simmons to return to the court, which may be costing them some wins. A recent report via ESPN indicates the team is being cautious with regards to their young star’s recovery from his foot injury. Basically, they don’t want any setbacks in his progress, which has been slow but steady. It’s even mentioned that Simmons’ first appearance in any basketball game might come as he plays for the team’s developmental franchise, the Philadelphia 87ers.
A major consideration for the Sixers is that they could very well fail to make the playoffs yet again, which would give them a decent draft pick of their own this summer. In addition to that, if the Los Angeles Lakers fail to get a draft pick within the top three spots, it automatically goes to Philadelphia. Right now, a mock draft at NBADraft.net shows Philadelphia having the No. 4 pick and selecting shooting guard Josh Jackson from Kansas.
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) February 13, 2017
There’s some contention with regards to their selection spot, as Draft Express currently lists the 76ers at the No. 6 spot. Their mock draft shows the team drafting freshman small forward Jonathan Isaac from Florida State, while the Lakers take Josh Jackson as the No. 3 pick. It all depends on how the teams finish and how the ping pong balls end up when the NBA Draft lottery selection show arrives.
Even if Los Angeles still comes away with a top-three pick in the upcoming draft, it means the Sixers will receive the Lakers’ unprotected first round pick in the 2018 draft. So that means the Sixers are already loaded with potential young stars and trade assets for the future. With all of those possibilities, the future still looks pretty bright for this team heading forward even if they don’t happen to trade away Okafor before Thursday’s deadline.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]