Jahlil Okafor Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding 76ers Center

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2017

The Thursday NBA trade deadline is fast approaching, so the Philadelphia 76ers are running out of time to deal big man Jahlil Okafor before he's committed to the team for the remainder of the 2016-17 campaign.

Continue for updates. 


Pacers Reportedly Chasing Potential Okafor Deal

Tuesday, Feb. 21

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported the Indiana Pacers are "one of the more active teams" in the trade market and are pursuing Okafor in an effort to get Paul George help on the roster. 


Benching of Okafor Was Reportedly Ploy in Trade Talks

Wednesday, Feb. 15

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported that "the shelving of Okafor was likely meant to flush out the best offers around the league." O'Connor added that "no one is buying what [76ers general manager] Bryan Colangelo is selling: a one-dimensional center who can't defend, rebound or pass on a roster loaded with big men."

On Feb. 12, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Okafor was not on the team plane to Charlotte for Philadelphia's matchup with the Hornets.

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown said on Feb. 11 that Okafor did not play against the Miami Heat because of a potential trade, per Marc Stein of ESPN. While trade talks kept Philadelphia from playing Okafor, Stein said, "No deal appeared imminent as of Saturday night."


Pelicans in Talks for Okafor

Monday, Feb. 6

Sam Amick of USA Today reported the Pelicans are discussing a deal for Okafor, with the 76ers "pushing" for the Pelicans' first-round draft pick. Keith Smith of RealGM reported that pick protection is the holdup with the talks and that New Orleans wants to protect the pick in the lottery, but the 76ers want top-five or top-10 protection.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported the 76ers could also get center Alexis Ajinca in addition to the draft pick. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical added that the Pelicans tried to include Omer Asik in the deal, but the 76ers passed.

Despite the talks, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reported "multiple teams" have interest in Okafor and that the 76ers won't rush into a trade.


Okafor Discusses Trade Rumors

Saturday, Feb. 4

Okafor told reporters trade rumors will be "a part of my life probably for as long as I'm in the NBA" and added the rumors don't really give him any kind of extra incentive in practice or games.


76ers, Bulls Reportedly Discussing Okafor Trade

Friday, Feb. 3

CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill reported Feb. 2 that the Chicago Bulls are in talks with the 76ers about a potential Okafor trade. Goodwill clarified that any deal is far from imminent, but a line of communication between the two teams remains open.

In another era, Okafor would be a franchise cornerstone for Philadelphia. The center is averaging 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23.2 minutes a night, and he only turned 21 in December.

Okafor's inability to defend the paint makes him a major liability in today's NBA, though. The Sixers are allowing 16.3 more points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, according to NBA.com.

Especially with Joel Embiid's emergence, it's looking increasingly like Okafor has little to no future in Philadelphia. He has two more years remaining on his rookie deal before the possibility of his hitting restricted free agency, though, so the Sixers still have plenty of leverage in any trade.

Because of that leverage, it's doubtful the Bulls have the pieces to acquire Okafor. Philadelphia wouldn't want to take on one of Chicago's expensive veterans such as Taj Gibson, Rajon Rondo or Robin Lopez, and the team has few young stars who could offer fair value for Okafor.

Bobby Portis has taken a slight step back in his second season, but trading him would be shortsighted. Aside from Portis, Cristiano Felicio, Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine would be the likeliest candidates to move.

Since he still has time to mull any offers, Colangelo may be hesitant about flipping Okafor—the No. 3 pick in 2015—for 50 cents on the dollar.

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