The Chicago Bulls have started engaging with Philadelphia 76ers on a possible trade for center Jahlil Okafor, according to several league sources.
Jahlil Okafor gone from Philly?
Okafor, a native of Chicago, is expected to be traded this offseason since the Sixers have a surplous of big men which includes Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric. According to an ESPN report, the Sixers have already begun exploratory talks with several teams about the former Duke standout.
“Sources told ESPN that the Sixers are determined to gauge the trade market for both Okafor and Noel and are increasingly likely to move at least one of them in conjunction with the draft (on June 23),” reported Marc Stein.
Last week, draft expert Chad Ford told 97.3 ESPN South Jersey that Sixers would prefer trading Okafor due to his higher market value. “I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn’t necessarily work.”
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According to John Gonzalez of CSN Philly, the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are possible destinations for Okafor. However, since that report, the Bulls have emerged as a likely destination seeing as they are set to lose both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah this offseason. The Bulls need a quality big man and Okafor would be a sound investment.
What can Bulls offer?
It’s no secret that Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose are at an impasse. It’s highly unlikely that Rose returns to play with the Bulls after entering free agency next offseason. Since the Sixers are desperate for an established point guard, a direct swap between Okafor and Rose sounds like a trade worth considering.
Rose, with his history of injuries, is a gamble for Sixers. But that’s a gamble worth taking when you consider that the former MVP has only one year left on his contract. Since Sixers are loaded with cap space, and unlikely to attract any marquee free agents, they won’t be taking a backward step by acquiring Rose who will bring veteran leadership to a young locker room.
Jahlil Okafor averaged 17.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in his rookie season.