In one of the biggest botches of a professional organization, the 76ers deliberately held out center Jahlil Okafor from a game against the Miami Heat due to trade talks. Having a deal on the table with the Portland Trail Blazers, they were showing Okafor giving handshakes on the sidelines, signaling his time in Philadelphia had come to and end.
Then, when that deal didn’t come to fruition, they continued to hold out Okafor, where he didn’t travel with the team to Charlotte. No deal progressed, and then in their next game against the Celtics, Jahlil rejoined the team. Despite having some character issues in the past, Okafor has handled this situation rather well.
“There’s a bunch of trade rumors. New Orleans. Chicago. Ten different teams. So, I said it before, I just have to do whatever I can control. The rumors are going to continue to come out. As far as I know, I am still a Sixer and happy to be a Sixer. I am going to keep working hard every day,” Okafor said on Friday.
Those “ten different teams” that have been reported, are slowly dwindling as the trade deadline looms on Thursday. With the Raptors acquiring Serge Ibaka, the Blazers acquiring Jusuf Nurkic, and the monstrosity of a deal that took place last night with Demarcus Cousins headed to New Orleans, those are three teams that are off the list.
So what is left? The 76ers front office has basically put Jahlil Okafor on an island, and are now trying to scrape to get something in return for 65 cents on the dollar. After seeing what the Kings got in return for Demarcus Cousins, the 76ers have to realize that they are not going to get as much in return as they are expecting.
There are only two teams in the past couple days that have reportedly expressed interest in Okafor: the Chicago Bulls, and most recently the Boston Celtics. The Celtics seems like a strange fit for Jahlil. After signing Al Horford to a huge deal this past offseason, Okafor would have to be in an “off the bench” role, and the assets that the Celtics have, other than their picks, wouldn’t intrigue the 76ers. Maybe if Avery Bradley was involved, but that doesn’t seem realistic.
The Bulls on the other hand, seem like a viable destination. They showed major interest towards the beginning of the saga, but talks have slowed down. Jahlil could come home to Chicago, and potentially start, pushing Robin Lopez to coming off of the bench. The 76ers have a couple options they could go after. The Bull could package a couple of young players (Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, Doug Mcdermott) or potentially trade Rajon Rondo, with the 76ers needing a point guard.
Remember, GM Bryan Colangelo said, “I will not make a bad deal for this organization”. Well, Bryan, you have until 3:00PM on February 23rd to make a good one.