Should the 76ers swap Jahlil Okafor for Nikola Mirotic?

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 18: Nikola Mirotic
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 18: Nikola Mirotic /

As the Philadelphia 76ers desperately look for a trade partner for Jahlil Okafor, could a return to Chicago be in the cards for the young center?

The Jahlil Okafor situation just keeps getting worse and worse for the Philadelphia 76ers.

After drafting the former Duke Blue Devil as essentially an insurance policy for franchise cornerstone Joel Embiid, it has become increasingly obvious that Okafor is not a part of the 76ers’ plans going forward. After playing in over 100 games over the past two seasons, Okafor has been held out of all but one of the team’s games so far this season, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.

With head coach Brett Brown publicly confirming that Okafor is out of the team’s center rotation, the relationship between the two camps has grown increasingly hostile, with Okafor’s people all but demanding a trade away for Philly.

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But is there even a market for the team’s fourth-string center?

Even though Okafor’s throwback playing style is a tough fit for most team’s small ball roster construction, there will always be a market for a player who can score 20-points in his sleep, and one of the teams who’s shown interest in the young center is his hometown Chicago Bulls.

And much like Philadelphia, Chicago is also currently dealing a disgruntled player on their roster, but unlike Okafor’s situation, the Bulls’ situation is built around a much more violent affair.

During the preseason, Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic got into a physical altercation at practice that resulted in Portis breaking two of Mirotic’s bones with a swift punch to the face. This punch resulted in an eight-game suspension for Portis, and Mirotic being out for the foreseeable future and highlights the issues Chicago is currently dealing with in their rebuilding process.

With that level of dysfunction on the Bulls’ squad, it’s no wonder why Mirotic has stated that he would prefer to be traded away from the team as opposed to having to line up next to Portis going forward.

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But why does this matter for the 76ers?

Well, unlike Okafor, Mirotic is actually a pretty good scheme fit for the 76ers current roster. A stretch four from Spain, Mirotic has averaged 37-percent from three-point range over the last two seasons in the NBA and could give the 76ers’ frontcourt a sharpshooter off of the wing the likes of which they haven’t had since Ersan Ilyasova.

And the best part of acquiring Mirotic may actually be his contract.

Over the offseason, Mirotic signed a 2-year $27 million deal to remain with the Bulls, and this deal would fit nicely with the way the 76ers’ roster is currently composed. Over the offseason, the team made it a point to bring in hard working veterans on short-term deals in order to keep their long-term financial flexibility for max deals down the line, and Mirotic’s acquisition would fit nicely into that plan.

The only thing preventing this deal from going down immediately is the NBA’s current rule regarding newly signed players. If the Bulls do decide to trade Mirotic, they will have to wait until January 15th to do so, an incredibly unfortunate situation for all parties involved.

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However, if the 76ers do decide to swap Mirotic for Okafor, it could lead to greener pastures for all parties involved.