It has been awhile since we have heard about the Philadelphia 76ers being involved in any substantial NBA rumors. The 76ers as a franchise are setting up to turn their terrible fortunes around. There is still some settling for the Philadelphia 76ers to do. The 76ers team we see now may have a couple of different looks by the time the NBA trade deadline has come and gone.
Throughout the early portion of the NBA offseason, several NBA rumors had the 76ers moving big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor to various destinations. Those teams included the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and a host of others.
Are the Philadelphia 76ers still looking to trade one of their young post players?
The question is on the minds of everyone who follows the 76ers, or the teams which the NBA rumors have had as potential landing spots.
One of the NBA rumors had the Philadelphia 76ers trading Jahlil Okafor to the Celtics for a veteran and future draft picks. Another rumor had suggested that the Celtics were getting Nerlens Noel from the 76ers instead.
If the Celtics were to acquire one of the 76ers’ big men, it would be Noel. Nerlens Noel has a skill set that the Celtics lack in an athletic rim protector.
Despite adding (courtesy of CSN New England) Al Horford in free agency, the Celtics do not view him as the shot-blocker who will fend off opposing teams in the paint. Nerlens Noel can play in that role seamlessly. Are the Celtics offer what the 76ers are asking for?
The Bulls are considered as a team in the hunt for Okafor. The Bulls have Taj Gibson and draft picks to offer the Sixers. They are right to target the 76ers’ center.
Interior scoring and rebounding are some of the Bulls weaknesses, and Jahlil Okafor can provide a lot of both. The Bulls have Robin Lopez, and that is it. At this stage, Lopez is a slight upgrade over Joakim Noah, given what the Bulls want to do. But what if Lopez gets injured? If that were to happen the Bulls are doomed. This is something the 76ers probably understand, which is why they have not accepted the Bulls’ best offer.
The Los Angeles Lakers want star power, simple and plain. According to one of the NBA rumors that are making the rounds, the Lakers are eyeing Okafor as well. CBS Sports is suggesting that the Lakers could offer guard Jordan Clarkson to the 76ers for Okafor.
Okafor to the Lakers is an interesting idea. The Lakers have center Timofey Mozgov signed to a four-year deal. Mozgov will be the Lakers’ defensive anchor. He is not known for his scoring prowess, which is why the Lakers attempt to entice the 76ers to trade them Okafor is sensible.
There is a problem the 76ers are faced with — which trade is best for the team and which trade nets the best return? Although the 76ers’ front office will not outwardly admit that either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor must go, dragging on with no resolution could damage the team.
Frontcourt minutes will be scarce. As 76ers’ head coach Brett Brown told CSN Philadelphia, both Noel and Okafor will have to earn their playing time this season.
“It’s going to be a competitive environment. It’s pro sport, it’s the way it should be. As a blanket rule, whether it’s with the bigs or otherwise, it’s my job to reward competitors. I need to reward the most competitive people because there is nothing that’s been anointed as we speak.”
As it stands, Jahlil Okafor might be the odd man out in Philadelphia when it comes to playing time.
There will be little time for Okafor to work out any growing pains. The 76ers have center Joel Embiid in place to take up playing time.
The Philadelphia 76ers took Embiid in the 2014 draft, and he has yet to play a game due to injuries. After investing two seasons in Embiid’s rehab, the 76ers owe it to their franchise to see what they have. Because of their investment in Embiid’s rehabilitation, the 76ers will likely push Okafor to the bench, unless they trade him.
That would create frustration. Okafor could be playing on a team such as the Bulls or Lakers, instead of languishing on the bench. If that disharmony is generated, it will spill over to the rest of the 76ers, also damaging any trade value Okafor were to have.
Okafor does not bring back as much in a trade as Nerlens Noel does. The 76ers know this, which is why many of the NBA rumors that have circulated have them asking for the moon.
A deal could have taken place between the 76ers and Celtics if each team was being reasonable. Noel is a good player, but not a star at this time. His offense will need to further develop for him to reach star status. That said, the demand to receive a trade offer as if he is a star is a letdown.
Noel has more value to teams like the Celtics, but also to the 76ers.
Philadelphia rookie Ben Simmons is listed as a power forward, but he will likely play a lot on the wing because of his skill set. Someone has to protect the basket and keep opponents from harassing Simmons. Noel is more that type of player.
So what will the Philadelphia 76ers do?
CBS Sports has reported that the 76ers will either trade Noel or Okafor. As the days draw closer to the start of training camp, it is looking less likely that anything will happen between now and when the 76ers report.
The prediction is that the Philadelphia 76ers will concede the notion that they must get the best return. They will settle on a trade with the Chicago Bulls, sending Jahlil Okafor out for Taj Gibson, Tony Snell, and a first-round draft pick.
This trade would push the 76ers closer to the salary cap floor, avoiding a fine. Also, they would receive a veteran power forward to help do the little things and a young shooter in Snell. Once the trade deadline draws closer, the Philadelphia 76ers will then ship Noel out to the Boston Celtics in a mild blockbuster trade.
[Featured Image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]