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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on Jahlil Okafor, DeAndre Jordan-Tristan Thompson Swap

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2017

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 22:  DeAndre Jordan #6 of the LA Clippers reacts during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Everybody loves a trade, but the NBA has been a bit quiet in that regard since Eric Bledsoe was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks following the most notorious trip to the salon in NBA history. That doesn't mean potential trades aren't brewing in the offices of NBA executives, however.

Below, we'll break down two of the latest rumors making the rounds.

       

Jahlil Okafor Remains on the Block

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 21:  Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the first half of an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre on October 21, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers are trying to trade center Jahlil Okafora sentence that has been true for about two years. But the odds of the team receiving anything of value in exchange appear to be non-existent at this point.

As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported, Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo's "asking price has steadily dropped for Okafor, from two first-round picks to a first and a solid player to where it stands now, a second-round pick, league sources said."

Okafor, remember, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft. And now he may not even garner a second-round pick. To quote one of the internet's favorite memes, well, life comes at you fast.

Wojnarowski continued:

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"More than half of the NBA's teams suggested to ESPN that they would have an interest in acquiring Okafor as a long-term project. But none seem inclined to give up a draft asset to do so. All prefer to wait until he's a free agent—which is why [Okafor's agent Bill] Duffy and Okafor are pushing hard for a buyout, especially considering that the Sixers are flush with multiple first- and second-round draft picks over the next several years.

"So far, Colangelo has rejected discussions on a contract buyout that would allow Okafor to become a free agent. Colangelo is holding out the possibility that Okafor's $5 million salary could be packaged as part of a bigger deal before the Feb. 9 trade deadline, even if he can't find a singular move involving Okafor, league sources said."

Both parties are stuck in an unenviable position. The Sixers are trying to receive some sort of value for a former first-round pick, but in doing so, Okafor may be stuck on the bench for the majority of the 2017-18 season. No player wants to spend a season as the dreaded healthy scratch.

So, how did we get here?

Well, there's a number of factors in play. Okafor has never made a positive defensive impact or offered any rim protection, and his low-post game doesn't fit the modern trend of centers either extending their range to behind the arc or fitting the mold of above-the-rim finishers in the pick-and-roll, a la DeAndre Jordan and Clint Capela. 

Okafor can score the rock, no doubt, but he can also be a black hole in the offense. He isn't particularly adept at picking out the open man once the defense shrinks around him, and unlike Joel Embiid, he isn't a terribly reliable pick-and-pop threat either.

Simply put, he doesn't fit the offense Brett Brown has built around the skill set of players such as Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington and JJ Redick. 

It doesn't help that, in recent seasons, the Sixers have also had a glut of centers, from the potentially transcendent Embiid to Nerlens Noel last season and Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson this year. The Sixers simply don't have minutes for a player like Okafor, and the rest of the NBA knows it.

In other words, the Sixers have never had much leverage in Okafor talks. They didn't have much with Noel last year for similar reasons, either, before ultimately trading him to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut (who was waived) and two second-round picks.

The pressure will mount for the Sixers to offer Okafor a buyout, and they may eventually be forced into doing so if public perception grows more sour. The Sixers don't want to create a situation where players around the league don't want to play for them and agents don't want to deal with them based on how Okafor has been handled this season.

Okafor didn't earn playing time with the Sixers, and the organization isn't at fault for wanting to regain assets in exchange for their player. The NBA is a business.

However, the Okafor situation has taken on a life of its own, and at some point, even a buyout may become more beneficial for the Sixers than the current mess.

            

Could the Clippers and Cavs Swap DeAndre Jordan for Tristan Thompson?

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Put this one in the unlikely bin for now. Nonetheless, it isn't out of the question.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com was asked in a mailbag column if he felt the Cleveland Cavaliers would consider trading Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Brooklyn's first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Jordan.

Vardon responded, in part: "A league source believes this move, Jordan for Thompson, is one the Cavs would consider. How the Brooklyn pick figured in remains to be seen (Cleveland also has its own No. 1 pick), but if the Cavs felt Jordan was the only piece missing for them to take down the Golden State Warriors they'd have to consider this."

Indeed, Jordan would be a solid addition for the Cavaliers. His shot-blocking and rebounding would bolster the team's defense, while watching him work the pick-and-roll with LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas would be fun. 

He would also allow Kevin Love to transition back to his natural stretch-4 role, rather than the center position he's been asked to fill at times for the Cavaliers this season. And his presence would give them a variety of ways to attack teams offensively while giving them a solid foundation in the spine of their defense, which the team has improved in its eight-game winning streak. 

There is a downside for the Cavaliers, though. First, as Vardon noted, Jordan has a $24.1 million player option in his contract for next season, meaning he could easily opt out and leave the Cavaliers high and dry. 

In turn, if James decides to leave in free agency, the Cavaliers still have Brooklyn's pick to begin their rebuild. By giving it up in a trade for Jordan, however, they would be risking losing James, Jordan and Thomas in free agency this summer without much of a contingency plan. 

If they don't make the trade and James and Thomas bolt, trading Love and building around a young, top-10 talent would give the Cavaliers a better launchpoint for their rebuild this offseason.

So, essentially, the deal is a no-brainer if the Cavaliers are all in for a title this season, feel strongly they can keep James and if the Clippers oblige. If Cleveland has any doubts about keeping their core together after this season, however, giving up that Brooklyn pick won't come easy.

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