The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly may try to trade star rookie Jahlil Okafor this summer.
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Okafor's Future Could Hinge on Joel Embiid's Health
Sunday, March 27
Philly.com's Keith Pompey passed along the hot rumor Sunday, indicating the 76ers are anticipating the long-awaited debut of oft-injured big man Joel Embiid next season. If Embiid is deemed healthy enough, Pompey reported the 76ers may move Okafor.
Also mentioned in the report is the possibility of Embiid not checking out medically, at which point the Sixers would have to decide between keeping either Nerlens Noel or Okafor.
A controversial organizational strategy has led to a lot of losing in Philadelphia, along with scrutiny of some questionable lottery draft picks. The frontcourt mess the squad is currently dealing with is the front office's doing.
The stockpile of premium assets hasn't translated to on-court results for the Sixers. In the past three offseasons, they've spent or traded high selections to acquire Noel, Embiid and Okafor, respectively.
Noel missed his entire rookie year while recovering from a torn ACL. Foot surgeries have prevented Embiid from suiting up at all in two seasons with the team. So the only pick Philadelphia got an immediate impact from was Okafor; yet he's apparently the one bound for the trading block.
The 20-year-old is out for the rest of 2015-16 with a torn right meniscus. He finished his maiden pro campaign averaging 17.5 points and seven rebounds per contest.
Pompey reported the Sixers don't see Okafor and Embiid coexisting, because both players' strengths are on offense, and they'd struggle playing defense at the 4 spot.
Although Noel has been groomed as more of a power forward, he's recently had more success as a center, which has created a crisis of sorts in terms of what to do with personnel.
The uptempo style the Sixers have taken to, influenced by new associate coach Mike D'Antoni, seems to suit the pairing of Noel and Embiid better since Okafor is more of a plodding low-post player.
As has often been the case since he was drafted, though, Embiid is the crux upon which everything depends in terms of not only the future of the frontcourt, but also whether the yearslong rebuild in Philly has amounted to anything substantial.
Dario Saric is reportedly slated to join the 76ers in the offseason, per basketball scout Vedran Modric, citing Saric's father (h/t CBSSports.com's Matt Moore). He is more of a stretch 4 who can function as a point forward. His apparently imminent arrival, however, only figures to complicate the decisions Philadelphia is facing.