Over the past few days, the Philadelphia 76ers have seen multiple suitors for their young center drop out of the bidding war for multiple reasons. But could they still move him?
This past week has been a tough one for Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo. First, he was used as a bargaining chip in a deal that saw the Portland Trailblazers acquired Jusuf Nurkic and a 2018 second-round pick from the Nuggets in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a first rounder. Yesterday, another suitor was lost in the New Orleans Pelicans who acquired DeMarcus Cousins from the Kings for pennies on the dollar.
It emerged that the Philadelphia 76ers rejected a deal from the Pelicans for Okafor that resembled what they sent to acquire Cousins, sans Buddy Hield. During the Nurkic trade, Okafor was held out of the lineup due to the possibility that he may end up with the Blazers. This could be a combination of Colangelo standing pat to see if other options emerge since Okafor does have another year left on his contract or it could also be a case of him overvaluing his assets. We likely won’t have a clear answer on that one until the trade deadline passes on February 23rd.
As we know, neither deal happened but where does that leave the Sixers in the Okafor sweepstakes? Currently, the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls are the top suitors. The issue there is that both teams are waiting to see how the market plays out before actually giving the Philadelphia 76ers a call.
The Bulls need to figure out what they’d like to do with Jimmy Butler. If they’re keeping him, it opens the door for an Okafor deal but if Butler is shipped out it doesn’t make much sense for the Bulls to trade for Okafor because their picks just became that much more important. The Celtics have a different issue because they have the assets available to acquire a star but Danny Ainge and Co. need to decide what direction they would like to move in.
If the Celtics want to realistically catch Clevland this year, they’ll go the route of trading for a star while the long term move would end with them calling the Sixers for Okafor to ensure that they’re set for the future.
In an appearance on Mike & Mike this morning, ESPN Insider Marc Stein said,
“Okafor is kind of still there. I mean he’s been so out there you tend to think that Philadelphia will find something in the next three days where they move him. I’ve heard that Boston has still give that some consideration. Chicago is another team that’s said to have shown some Okafor interest. You can rest assured Philly’s gonna spend the next three-plus days trying to find a trade home for Jahlil Okafor.”
Basically, the Philadelphia 76ers will do everything in their power to work out an Okafor trade even with the issues that have arisen so far while trying to move it. It has already created an awkward situation with him being held out of a game due to rumors and then not being traded and credit should be given to him and Brett Brown on how they’ve handled the situation. It’s not one that they’ve created but it’s one that they were tasked with dealing with.
For the sake of Okafor, hopefully, the team will be able to pull off a move in the next few days but there will be a lot of moving parts. It has reached the point where Okafor needs a change of scenery and hopefully he’ll find it before the deadline.