February 23, 2017
Welcome to the last day of NBA trade rumors for a few months, as the silly season comes to an end at 3:00 p.m. After that, the NBA and its fans will have to return to focusing on, you know, actual basketball. Imagine that.
Until then, though, we still have our precious rumors for a few more hours. The Sixers made what we felt was a smart deal a day before the deadline, trading Ersan Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks for a couple of second-round picks.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and the front office are done dealing ahead of today’s deadline, though. As we head down the home stretch, the Sixers probably find themselves in as many trade rumors as any other team. Here's the latest:
Everything Sixers on deadline day still primarily points to Jahlil Okafor. And nobody knows that better than Jah himself. The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey is reporting that Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers (man, it feels great to type that) are a rumored suitor for Okafor in NBA circles:
A league source agreed with an NBA.com report that the Los Angeles Lakers could be a possible destination for the second-year player. The website also reported that the Sacramento Kings are another possibility. So are the Indiana Pacers, according to ESPN.
We also know that the Chicago Bulls, Okafor’s hometown team, are very much in the trade conversation for the second-year center. Both Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson are reporting that the Bulls are looking to include one player in particular in a trade package: Mr. Nikola Mirotic.
Chicago has continued to push on a trade for 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, league sources tell @TheVertical. Discussions continue.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 23, 2017
In lieu of Butler developments, the Bulls focused on other discussions. Nikola Mirotic, who has been available for weeks, continues to be offered to teams such as the Clippers and 76ers, sources said. The 76ers have been shopping Whitney Young product and 2015 No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor for weeks but haven't shown much interest in Mirotic.
What it means for the Sixers: Throughout this process, close to one-third of the league has been linked to Okafor at one time or another. Let’s stick with the Lakers and the Bulls this morning, though.
If you’ll recall, Los Angeles passed on Okafor and went with D’Angelo Russell at the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. It was reported that Okafor had a poor second workout in Los Angeles. Then again, that was Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak’s show. Now it’s The Magic Man:
I love Okafor because he's won a state championship in HS, NCAA Title at Duke and he can bring that championship pedigree to the Lakers.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
With Johnson declaring the Lakers core “untouchable” and the Lakers already owing the Sixers a very valuable first-round pick this or next year, it’s hard to see how the Lakers could swing a deal for Okafor.
As for Mirotic, he has fallen off quite a bit from when I gave him my rookie of the year vote over Nerlens Noel on this very website. Mirotic’s shooting efficiency has taken quite a hit this season (.299 3P%), which is bad news considering that is supposed to be his strength. A restricted free agent next summer, Mirotic presents similar problems in the long run as Ersan Ilyasova did. Even if he were to regain his form as a valuable stretch-4, the Sixers already have Ben Simmons and Dario Saric at the position.
In my opinion, biggest story at the deadline is if Boston and Chicago can come together on an agreement for a Jimmy Butler trade. That said, Johnson’s story also indicated that the Sixers asked about Butler’s availability:
If the Celtics plan to make a major push for either Butler or Pacers star Paul George, they will do so on deadline day. The Bulls have told teams that have inquired about Butler — including, according to a source, the 76ers — that they have no plans to trade him.
What it means for the Sixers: Likely nothing more than they are just doing due diligence. With how valuable the unprotected Brooklyn pick is (the best odds in the draft lottery) and Celtics’ motivation to also compete in 2017, I still feel like Boston is a much better match with Chicago. Still, it needs to be acknowledged that the Sixers probably have the second-best trade assets in the NBA. You bet they should at least find themselves in Jimmy Butler rumors.
Another guy you can look at is Philadelphia’s Sergio Rodriguez. He’s a playmaker, can shoot the ball, and I think Philadelphia would help accommodate into a new home because he’s fallen out of favor there.
What it means for the Sixers: A month ago, I mentioned the possibility of moving a few vets on the Sixers roster: Ilyasova and Rodriguez. Well, I’m already 1-for-2. Chacho’s name hasn’t been in many rumors, but Ilyasova also really hadn’t either before the trade with Atlanta actually went down. With T.J. McConnell taking over the starting PG job and Rodriguez on a one-year contract, a trade could make sense if another NBA team wants the Spanish point guard.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann