Neither Nerlens Noel’s departure nor Joel Embiid’s latest battle with injuries has changed the Philadelphia 76ers’ plan: They still want to trade Jahlil Okafor.
Team president Bryan Colangelo recently said as much, per Philly.com’s Keith Pompey:
“If a deal comes along that makes sense for both of us, then we will go ahead and make the deal,” Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said Friday of trading Okafor.
The Sixers had trade discussions about Okafor with several teams _ including the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets — leading up to the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
Even if the Sixers are worried about the long-term livelihood of Embiid, they have Richaun Holmes to soak up an abundance of minutes at the center. Dario Saric and a healthy Ben Simmons can also get by at the 5 in small-ball units.
But the market for Okafor isn’t suddenly teeming with better options. It’s worse if anything. The New Orleans Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins, the Portland Trail Blazers have Jusuf Nurkic, the Denver Nuggets picked up Mason Plumlee, a restricted free agent this summer, and the Dallas Mavericks, thanks to the Sixers, now have Nerlens Noel, another restricted free agent. With the way Robin Lopez has been playing in the postseason, it’s unlikely the Bulls take a flyer on Okafor either—unless he comes super cheap and they have no desire to keep around Cristiano Felicio and Joffrey Lauvergne, both of whom are also restricted free agents.
And so, the Sixers find themselves in the same position they were in for all of 2016-17: They can sell low on Okafor and move on from this perpetual rumor mill, or they can hold onto him leading into next season and hope that something, anything, happens to increase his value around the league.