NBA trade rumors don’t usually involve people who are 6’11”, 20-years-old and potentially franchise centers, but that appears to be the case with the Philadelphia 76ers. According to Hoops Rumors, Jahlil Okafor is being shopped around to other teams in the National Basketball Association. This is potentially a sign that the Sixers might not be all that trusting of their rookie star.
Jahlil Okafor is good. That’s not a question. The former Duke Blue Devils star is averaging 17.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a game. Those numbers are good enough to get you considerations for the NBA All Star team. Okafor is supposed to improve even more, so those numbers should see an increase over the coming years. Talent is not the reason why Philadelphia 76ers president Jerry Colangelo is shopping Jahlil before the trade deadline on Thursday.
The reason why the Philadelphia 76ers are shopping Jahlil Okafor is because they don’t trust that can he can stay out of trouble. The 275-pound center made the headlines several times during the beginning part of his rookie season by being involved in fights and dangerous automotive situations. For a franchise that has desperately been trying to clime out of the basement, a distraction like that could prove to be damning.
It also helps that the Philadelphia 76ers already have a lot of talented young big men under contract already. Nerlens Noel can become a defensive force in the NBA, but it’s really hard for him to do that because he has to chase quicker forwards on the perimeter. Joel Embiid might actually supplant both Noel and Jahlil Okafor at the center position if he can fully recover from a severely broken foot.
Jerry Colangelo is an excellent executive, so he can normally get people in the NBA to pay attention. However, when he’s dangling someone as talented as Jahlil Okafor, every team in the league would be wise to pick up the phone. It’s not very often that a player who can some day develop into an All Star becomes available, so there should be plenty of options for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Los Angeles Lakers currently start the underwhelming Roy Hibbert at center. They know that he’s not a part of their future plans. In fact, the Lakers are trying to trade Hibbert to a playoffs team. Los Angeles would make an interesting trade partner for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers also have a lot of young talented players (D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr and Julius Randle) that they could send to the City of Brother Love.
If the Los Angeles Lakers were to acquire Jahlil Okafor, then they can kick start that rebuilding period that is surely to follow after Kobe Bryant retires. The Lakers can offer a package of Larry Nance Jr and Julius Randle to the Philadelphia 76ers. That would give the Sixers a lot of depth on the front court. Los Angeles can then build around D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Okafor, with the team only needing to acquire two veteran forwards to fill out the starting lineup.
Another team that might be interested in Jahlil Okafor is the Boston Celtics, who have a ton of draft picks that they can send to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Charlotte Hornets wouldn’t mind an upgrade over Cody Zeller. The Chicago Bulls might lose both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah to free agency, so Okafor can be their starting center. Zaza Pachulia has done a tremendous job for the Dallas Mavericks, but the team wouldn’t be opposed to grooming Okafor to replace Dirk Nowitzki as the franchise player.
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