Chicago Bulls’ Rumors: Jahlil Okafor Should Be On The Bulls’ Radar

Now that the results of the NBA draft lottery are known, the Chicago Bulls should look to acquire some young talent through a trade to pair with their No. 14 draft pick. A trade would be an ideal way for the Bulls to retool the roster without sacrificing much of the winning ways they want to return to. After a particular head coach failed to mention a player on his team during an interview, something became abundantly clear.

One of the NBA’s young up-and-coming post players can be had with a trade, and the Bulls should strike while the iron is hot.

The Chicago Bulls need to inquire about the availability of the Philadelphia 76ers’ center Jahlil Okafor.

When it was announced that the 76ers’ were the winners (courtesy of Philly.com) of the NBA draft lottery, there was no surprises. Three years of bad basketball finally paid off.

Their head coach, Brett Brown, was interviewed (courtesy of NBA.com) by Heather Cox.

While discussing his elation for winning the right to draft first, Brown mentioned how he is looking forward to coaching some of the players. Center Joel Embiid and forward Dario Saric were mentioned by name. The glaring omission was Jahlil Okafor. Hopefully, the Bulls were listening closely.

Anyone who heard Brett Brown’s interview had to wonder if Okafor is indeed on the trade block. After all, Brown was there as the team representative for the draft lottery festivities. It is likely that he was speaking for the Philadelphia 76ers as a franchise. Jahlil Okafor’s performance on the court was solid as he averaged 17.5 points, seven rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots a game. What most people spoke of when thinking about Okafor were his off-the-court troubles that included a run-in with fans after a game in Boston.

It is clear that Jahlil Okafor’s adjustment to the NBA life was rough. Constantly losing basketball games did not make things better for him. As the losses piled on, so did the growing pains. Jahlil Okafor went from winning the NCAA Championship to the worst team in the NBA in a matter of months.

Welcome to the NBA, rookie!

This is not the first time that Okafor’s name has been mentioned with the Bulls. CSN Chicago’s Mark Schanowski touched on the topic of Jahlil Okafor possibly being on the Chicago Bulls’ radar a few weeks ago. The former Duke star can return home if the Bulls can get creative enough to trade for him.

No one expected the ping-pong balls to work in the favor of the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Draft Lottery. Going into the lottery, the Bulls had the worst odds of winning the right to choose the No. 1 pick of the draft. A record of 42-40 is the blame for that. That record was not good enough to make the playoffs, but not terrible enough to garner better lottery odds. The Bulls are officially in basketball hell. It is a place which they must escape fast or risk alienating a fan base that began to tune the team out near the end of the season.

There were possible trade offers on the table for the Bulls at the trade deadline, all of which could have shaken them from a midseason malaise. Instead of wheeling and dealing, the Bulls rested on their laurels, only to find out what most of their fans already knew — the team was closer to the draft lottery than contention. Interesting enough, once it was clear that the playoffs were not in the cards, the Bulls played how they were supposed to the entire year, which effectively eliminated chances at favorable lottery odds.

In not having the lottery the way that they had hoped, the Bulls will miss out on two players who are projected to be stars: Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. They should now look at the trade market for a young player who is on the verge of having a strong career without giving up the No. 14 pick. Acquiring Jahlil Okafor could accomplish that.

A trade of Nikola Mirotic and next year’s first round pick for Jahlil Okafor works.

In Okafor, the Bulls get a post player whom they can pair with power forward Bobby Portis. As a tandem, they would be a solid inside-outside combination. Both of them will be entering their second NBA seasons. Essentially, they could grow together. Okafor’s post-up game complements Portis’ ability to stretch a defense. The Bulls would suffer a little bit on the defensive end, but given the lack of effort in that area last season, anything is an improvement.

As far as his growing pains are concerned, Jahlil Okafor is based in Chicago. Being close to home could help stay on good footing.

Jahlil Okafor
Philadelphia 76ers' center Jahlil Okafor tries to attack the post. He should be on the Chicago Bulls' radar if his is on the trade market, in wake of the NBA draft lottery. [Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]

Nikola Mirotic going to the Philadelphia 76ers provides a solid scoring punch for a team that needs it. Mirotic could turn into a borderline all-star if he is in the right circumstances. As the go-to guy, he could flourish. Averages of 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds over 36 minutes looks great for the 76ers.

Mirotic’s win shares of 3.9 are higher than every 76ers’ player. That could turn into a nice building block for Philadelphia. Getting Nikola Mirotic is the equivalent of receiving a late lottery pick in this draft. Because there is a need to get younger, the Bulls need to hold on to the No. 14 pick and dangle Mirotic and a future selection. Philadelphia has to bring in veterans on the cusp. The trade would be a win for both teams.

Keeping the pick may still give the Chicago Bulls an opportunity to select a solid prospect. Hanging on to the hopes of drafting Simmons or Ingram were a falsehood from the beginning. It does not mean they cannot be active in adding young players.

There is a young center who seems to be on the outs in Jahlil Okafor. The Bulls should make it a priority to go after him.

[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]