With the deadline for deals just a few months away, the NBA trade rumors continue to heat up around the internet. In particular, the Philadelphia 76ers is a team that has been heavily mentioned amongst the speculated deals. That hasn’t stopped and just recently, there have been some new developments regarding which of their big men they may be planning to move soon. Thanks to more minutes for one of them, and a recent statement regarding another, it seems that leaves a third player to be dealt by this Philadelphia team. Could the Sixers send Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor to the Chicago Bulls? A recent rumor mentions Nikola Mirotic as a possible trade target.
It seems two players are not getting dealt right now. Recent good news has come for big man Joel Embiid. After several seasons of frustration with no time playing for the team due to injuries and surgery, he’s slowly gaining their trust. Embiid was a former top pick by the team that was set back by injury issues. Just recently, Philly.com reported that the team bumped up his playing time to 28 minutes per game. That increase in minutes seems to show that the Philadelphia 76ers organization has the confidence in his particular talent.
Embiid, formerly a top pick out of Kansas, was out the past two seasons due to surgeries to fix a navicular in his right foot. While the minutes are slowly increasing, Philadelphia is still using caution regarding his overall time on the court. However, it’s hard to argue against what he’s been doing so far in this first full season in limited minutes.
Embiid was scheduled to start in last night’s game against the Sacramento Kings, but that contest was postponed after condensation from the previous night’s NHL game was found on the court at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers will take on the Orlando Magic at Wells Fargo on Friday, with Embiid likely to start in that game. So far this season, the big man is putting up 18.2 points while grabbing 7.8 boards, and blocking 2.4 shots a game, and that’s been in his 22.8 minutes per game.
That leaves Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Both were highly-touted upon their entrance to the league, but apparently, Philadelphia isn’t high on both of them being a part of their roster. While some may believe the Sixers could package these two guys together or trade each to a different team in some major deals, not so fast. The 76ers will likely move just one of them before February’s deadline.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders responded to a Twitter question regarding Philly potentially moving Noel or Okafor.
So as far as the future is concerned, based on Kyler’s inside information, it looks like both Embiid and Okafor are going to be part of the Sixers’ plan moving forward. That plan will eventually include another top pick, Ben Simmons, who in unlucky 76ers’ tradition is sidelined due to injury this season.
Okafor has been having a decent season with 10.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and the team’s third-best field goal percentage overall with 49.4 percent of his shots made each game. On the flipside, Noel has been spending time in the NBA Development League but was just recalled by the team today. It’s quite possible that recall is to give him some minutes on the floor to show his talents, and field trade offers from potential suitors.
Noel was originally drafted at the No. 6 by the New Orleans Pelicans, but Philadelphia swung a deal to trade their pick, guard Jhrue Holiday in exchange for him. Holiday is still playing for the Pelicans, another team that may be rebuilding for the future. He’s been getting a fair share of minutes and also was an All-Star selection in 2013.
The 6-foot-11 forward/center combo out of Kentucky has averaged 10.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in his young career. Those numbers could certainly improve with a move to a team more apt to use his services. With just two years experience in the league and Noel being just 22-years-old, it provides a lot of potential talent for whoever makes the right deal.
According to a Forbes report, the right deal could be with Chicago. In the proposed NBA trade, Philadelphia would send Noel over to the Bulls in exchange for Nikola Mirotic. Forbes writer Brian Mazique notes in his report that a straight-up deal could take place as both players are headed for restricted free agency and have salaries close enough to make things work. The rub against Mirotic is that his scoring production off the bench hasn’t quite been what the Bulls need from him, so moving him to exchange for another talent could make sense.
Of course, with these latest NBA trade rumors, there’s some risk involved as Noel is another young big man who has shown injury issues. Even though he has shown potential, he elected to have arthroscopic knee surgery just last month. That means if any team decides to take him they will hope that his health holds out and he’s able to contribute. Otherwise, they will be giving away value in exchange for a player unable to improve their roster.
Sixers fans, which team do you think could use Noel the most? Also, what player should Philadelphia be attempting to trade for to help the current Philadelphia roster?
[Featured Image via Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]