76ers Reportedly Sat Jahlil Okafor Due to Near Trade with Trail Blazers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 8: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the San Antonio Spurs at the Wells Fargo Center on February 8, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Spurs defeated the 76ers 111-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor nearly changed addresses ahead of the NBA's Feb. 23 trade deadline. 

Turner Sports analyst David Aldridge reported Saturday the 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers were close enough to a trade that Philadelphia removed Okafor from its lineup earlier in the week. The 21-year-old didn't feature in the 76ers' wins over the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets before returning to the court Wednesday in a losst to the Boston Celtics.

The Blazers also went in a different direction, acquiring Jusuf Nurkic from the Denver Nuggets.

HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy reported last Sunday the Blazers and Nuggets were two of the teams interested in adding Okafor, with the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans joining the fray.

Okafor commented on the rumors Friday ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend, per Sporting News' Sean Deveney: "There's a bunch of trade rumors. New Orleans. Chicago. Ten different teams. So, I said it before, I just have to do whatever I can control. The rumors are going to continue to come out. As far as I know, I am still a Sixer and happy to be a Sixer. I am going to keep working hard every day."

In a different era, the second-year big man would be a cornerstone of the 76ers' future. Okafor's inability to defend the rim makes him a liability, though.

He's averaging a healthy 17.9 points per 36 minutes and making 51.1 percent of his shots, per Basketball-Reference.com.

Philadelphia is also 6.9 points worse defensively per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, according to NBA.com. Opposing shooters are making 58.2 percent of their attempts inside six feet and 54.5 percent of their attempts inside 10 feet against Okafor as well, per NBA.com's player tracking data.

Joel Embiid's knee injury may give the Sixers a different perspective on trading Okafor—at least for the time being. Should they still want to move on from him, the only question is how much of a loss they're willing to take on a player they selected third overall in 2015.

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