This just in: Eric Bledsoe and Jahlil Okafor are still prime candidates to be traded.
Now that you've recovered from such a dramatic revelation, let's talk rumors. The two players may intercede in any trades that occur, but on Thursday Bledsoe's fate seemed tied to the Detroit Pistons, if only temporarily.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the following:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN added:
And a three-team deal was reportedly in the works that involved the Phoenix Suns, Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans. According to Jake Fischer of SI.com, the three teams were discussing a trade that would have sent Bledsoe to Detroit, Reggie Jackson to New Orleans and the Pelicans' 2018 first-round pick, the Pistons' 2019 first-rounder, Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik to Phoenix.
Fischer noted that the proposed deal was "dead," however.
But Bledsoe may ultimately need to be moved in a three-team deal, and that could end up involving a player like Okafor, as Wojnarowski reported:
"Several teams have shown interest in Okafor as a reclamation project, and league sources said that the aftermath of a possible Suns guard Bledsoe trade could trigger the freeing of a roster spot or salary cap space for a team to absorb Okafor. The Suns have been monitoring Okafor's circumstance with the 76ers, and a Bledsoe deal could create the moving parts around the league necessary for Okafor to be relocated."
And so we enter the Okafor portion of the rumors. Wojnarowski added that "[Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo] has remained determined to find an Okafor trade that will bring the Sixers back an asset, but the Sixers' ultimate deal point could be centered on future second-round draft picks."
Not much of a return for the 2015 No. 3 overall pick. But a number of factors—such as the entire NBA knowing the Sixers wanted to move him for the past two years amidst their logjam at center, combined with his inability to make even the tiniest impact on the defensive side of the floor—have likely killed Okafor's trade value.
It's not for a lack of trying, as Keith Pompey of Philly.com wrote:
"The Sixers and Okafor's agent, Billy Duffy, have been in constant contact with each other and with potential trade partners, trying to work out a deal. According to sources, the Boston Celtics have expressed the most interest in Okafor. Knowing the Sixers don't have long-term plans for him, the Celtics aren't willing to give up much, though."
That would appear to be the case in general.
And so Bledsoe and Okafor are stuck and can't be happy, though they've gone about expressing that discontent in drastically different ways.
Bledsoe famously took to Twitter from the "hair salon":
Bledsoe's tweet was building for some time. The Suns benched him down the stretch last season in the sort of blatant tanking maneuver that only draws the NBA's full ire if Sam Hinkie is pulling the strings. And Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade during the preseason behind closed doors, per Chris Haynes of ESPN.com, only to be told the team was worse while he started.
Meanwhile, Okafor—who found himself completely out of the rotation this year after being stuck behind Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson at various points over the past two seasons—has generally suffered in silence and gone about his business professionally, biding his time on the bench. He finally publicly requested a trade or buyout this week after the Sixers declined to pick up his fourth-year option.
Okafor's career has stalled in Philly, and even Cleveland Cavaliers star Isaiah Thomas stumped for the young center:
Bledsoe likely has more trade value around the league as a playmaker and scorer, though Phoenix's handling of the situation basically dissolved much of the leverage they might have had in trade talks. Okafor, meanwhile, is a talented low-post scorer but his non-existent rim protection, limited ability to facilitate for teammates and lack of range make him an old-fashioned commodity in the modern NBA.
Bledsoe and Okafor will eventually be moved. It's inevitable. But given the current circumstances, it's hard to imagine the Suns or Sixers receiving market value for either player.
Which isn't shocking to anyone.