NBA trade rumors involving 76ers center Jahlil Okafor won’t die down despite the fact that no deal has been consummated. The Chicago Bulls are the latest team to enter the picture as they try to move up the Eastern Conference ladder to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yibada reports that the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers may be considering a trade that would send Okafor to Chicago in exchange for Bulls forward Taj Gibson. Both Okafor and Gibson have been previously mentioned in the off-season rumor mill, and now it appears they could be traded for each other.
The Chicago Bulls thought they might be looking at a rebuilding year after Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah exited the Windy City, but after acquiring Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, the focus shifted toward a “win now” mentality. Adding Jahlil Okafor would give Chicago a young, talented, and offensively-skilled center who would allow them to move Robin Lopez to the bench. Lopez is an ideal second-unit center who provides energy and defense when he’s on the floor.
Taj Gibson has been a valuable contributor since joining the Bulls in 2009, but if Okafor is the prize for shipping Gibson to Philly, it does make sense — not only because of Okafor’s value but also due to Chicago’s depth at Gibson’s position (power forward). The Bulls have Nikola Mirotic and youngster Bobby Portis to man the power forward spot if Gibson is dealt, and it could be argued that the team will be just as good at that position if Gibson is traded.
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After a historically-poor 2015-16 season, the Sixers need help just about everywhere (except at center, where they are loaded). Philadelphia is trying to move one of their centers in an effort to better balance their roster, and Taj Gibson would likely be the team’s starter at power forward if this deal goes through. Gibson has never played more than 28 minutes per game during his seven NBA seasons, and going to the 76ers would give him an opportunity to blossom in a larger role, which most observers feel he is fully capable of (per SB Nation).
Philadelphia would technically lose some talent by unloading Jahlil Okafor, but the team will not get much better as long as they have three quality centers that they don’t have enough minutes for and a dearth of talent around those big men. Taj Gibson is a solid, productive player who has played on winning teams during his years in Chicago, and his presence would make the Sixers a better team.
Jahlil Okafor overcame a difficult upbringing and eventually attended Duke University, starring for Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils during his only season in Durham, North Carolina (2014-15). Okafor was taken No. 3 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by Philadelphia and had a strong rookie season in terms of production. Okafor posted per-game averages of 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds as a rookie, and he should continue to improve as he gains more NBA experience.
Taj Gibson was not as heralded as Okafor coming out of college, but he has carved out a niche and played well during his time in the NBA. Gibson has spent most of his career as a key reserve but started most of Chicago’s regular season games in 2015-16. In only 26 minutes per contest, Gibson averaged 8.6 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Bulls last season. He’s a very efficient player who shoots well (53 percent from the field in 2015-16) and rarely turns the ball over.
Current NBA trade rumors are pointing toward a deal between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls. Do you agree that swapping Jahlil Okafor for Taj Gibson would help both teams?
[Photo by Chris Szagola/AP Images]