Jahlil Okafor Trade Rumors: Bulls, Hawks 'Most Likely' Landing Spots for Center

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2017

Philadelphia 76ers' Jahlil Okafor dribbles the ball during prior to an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Philadelphia. Okafor, the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft, wants out after the Sixers declined to pick up his fourth-year contract option for next season. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Michael Perez/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are emerging as the favorites to land Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, Turner Sports analyst David Aldridge reported Monday.

According to Aldridge, the Sixers hope to acquire a draft pick for Okafor and may decide to wait until closer to the Feb. 8 trade deadline to deal the third-year veteran.

It's clear Okafor has no long-term future in Philadelphia after the team decided against exercising his option for the 2018-19 season. Okafor also confirmed he's looking for a way out, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey:

"I didn't expect Nov. 1 to hit [and] I would be here. That's why these past few weeks when [reporters] ask me questions about the rotation and stuff like that, I've been calm because I didn't think I would still be here today. I didn't think that [general manager Bryan Colangelo] would keep me, honestly. But here I am Nov. 1. I'm still here and looking to play somewhere. I'm 21, I'm healthy, and I'm trying to get on the court."

Both the Hawks and Bulls are in a rebuilding phase, so taking a chance on Okafor makes sense. If he carved out a place in Atlanta or Chicago's rotation, then Okafor could be a building block for either team on the road back to contention.

Chicago's Robin Lopez is signed for two more years. At 29 years old, he's unlikely to be part of the Bulls' plans as the front office looks forward. In addition, Okafor would represent a significant offensive upgrade over Cristiano Felicio.

The Hawks would probably need to make another move or two in the event they acquired Okafor. Dewayne Dedmon has a player option for 2018-19, and Miles Plumlee makes $12.5 million annually until 2020.

The fact Okafor will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year adds some risk to any trade for the third overall pick from 2015. His new team wouldn't be able to match any contract offer from another franchise in free agency, which is often the case when a player is coming off his rookie contract.

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