In what was an extreme letdown of a trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers made some moves that shocked Philadelphia and national fans alike.
Their moves began Wednesday night. Out of nowhere, Ersan Ilyasova was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in which the 76ers received Tiago Splitter, a 2017 second round draft pick and the ability to swap another second round draft pick in this upcoming draft. Ersan has averaged just over 15 points per game this season, but has struggled with his shooting over the last month. Ilyasova’s contract was expiring after this season, and they got a relatively good return for a player that the 76ers weren’t going to bring back.
And then at about 12:30PM on Thursday, the major bomb dropped. After the 76ers put Jahlil Okafor on an island, they inexplicably traded their other big man Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks. In return, the 76ers received Justin Anderson, a third year wing player from UVA, and a top 18 protected 1st round pick. Since that pick probably won’t convey this year, it will now be two second round picks in this upcoming draft.
Nerlens Noel is a restricted free agent this coming season. In turn, the 76ers would have the ability to match any offer that the 6-11 big man received. There was definitely a chance of him being a part of the future plans for this team, but GM Bryan Colangelo had a press conference today and, in fewer words, said that Noel would not be brought back due to having Embiid and Okafor in the center position.
Speaking of Okafor, after being held out of two games due to intensive trade talks, Jah made it past the deadline and is still a member of the 76ers. Surprising reporters, rival GMs and fans alike, Jahlil will be in the starting center spot for the 76ers when Joel Embiid doesn’t play, and will be the 6th man when Embiid takes the floor.
Despite the runaround given by the organization, Jahlil has handled this situation quite well. He said, “I never felt disconnected from the team,” on Friday after the deadline. Jah, we appreciate your positivity but you were not treated fairly by the management above.
So how to grade the 76ers? They started off on the right foot, getting a decent haul for Ersan, but made a bad deal for Nerlens Noel and Okafor is still on the team after numerous discussions broke down. They didn’t get better, realistically, they probably got worse. Only time will tell if these trades pay off, but to give up on a guy like Nerlens, where “the process” began, and to hold out Okafor intentionally in order to not trade him, just rubs Philadelphia fans the wrong way.