NBA Trade Rumors: 76ers Center Jahlil Okafor To The Chicago Bulls
As we approach the midway point in this NBA season, the Chicago Bulls are currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 25-26 record. If the playoffs were to start today, they would be in, but they definitely wouldn’t go too far. Would adding Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor be the fix that the Bulls need to change their season?
The team signed long-time Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade in the offseason along with veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. The two were supposed to pair with franchise player Jimmy Butler to form a “Big 3.” So far, that experiment has been a complete disaster and Rondo has even been benched recently for his poor performance on the court. Butler and Wade have come under fire recently for calling out their teammates for a lack of effort.
There has been a complete disconnect between the players and the coaching staff and the mess continues to get uglier as each day passes. There are trade rumors surrounding Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo along with Wade publicly stating that he will not pick up his player option for next year if the team doesn’t turn things around. He also said that the reason he came to Chicago is,” because of Jimmy.” Meaning if Butler gets traded then Wade will be packing his bags looking for a new home. The Bulls have been completely dysfunctional and in total disarray to say the least. They need to make some changes fast which is why they will probably be active on the trade market before the deadline passes.
The Bulls are interested in second-year big man Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers according to Sporting News. Okafor is a very talented young player who is unfortunately stuck in a logjam in the Philly frontcourt and may have to be traded if he is to ever see sufficient playing time. He is behind budding star Joel Embiid and defensive specialist Nerlens Noel on the current depth chart for the center position. Embiid is quickly becoming the Sixers franchise player so he is definitely not going anywhere. Noel on the other hand still could be moved but the consensus is that he is more valuable to the team right now. Since he is the odd man out, Okafor may be moved before the deadline so that Philadelphia can get some valuable assets from him in return.
The Bulls having interest in Okafor does not really make sense at first glance because he is a low post scorer who doesn’t really rebound or defend well. Chicago is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league and adding a big man with his skill set seems counterproductive. Okafor is the type of player that needs to be in a system surrounded by shooters for him to have the most success. The Bulls trio of Rondo, Wade, and Butler are slashers and not really spot up shooters so having Okafor clog up the middle with his post game could make the situation in Chicago even worse. It makes you wonder why the front office even wanted to pair three non-shooters in the backcourt together to begin with.
Despite Jahlil Okafor’s defensive shortcomings, he is still a young, capable scorer down low and can help a team offensively right away. If the Bulls are looking to get younger than acquiring Okafor from Philadelphia would allow them to do that. He is just 21 years old and it should also be mentioned that Okafor is from Chicago, so being able to play for the hometown team might give him some added motivation to expand his game and continue to grow as a player.
The Bulls could possibly be in the beginning stages of a complete rebuild if they decided to trade away Jimmy Butler and Wade walks in the offseason. If that happens, adding a player like Okafor could be just what the doctor ordered in starting fresh and building anew. They could add some shooters to surround him with and see if can play up to his full potential that had him drafted as a lottery pick in 2015. Philadelphia is seeking a first round pick in exchange for Okafor and although the price may seem a little steep, the Bulls may need to make a move now to ensure the future of the franchise is headed in the right direction.
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