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February 22, 2017

2017 NBA Trade Deadline: Latest Jahlil Okafor, Sixers rumors

Now just one day away from the NBA Trade Deadline, you can expect the rumors to start coming in fast and furious from all different angles. In terms of the Sixers, that means one name primarily: Jahlil Okafor.

Respected scribe and former Inquirer writer David Aldridge seems to have his finger on the pulse of Okafor trade talks. He was first to report that the Sixers were close to trading the No. 3-overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft to the Portland Trailblazers, which has been backed by multiple other credible sources.

On Tuesday, Okafor was linked with the Indiana Pacers in an ESPN trade rumor. And later that night on NBA TV, Aldridge said that the 21-year-old big man will get moved by Thursday. CSN Philly transcribed Aldridge’s latest intel:

Aldridge, who said the Sixers have “a lot of offers to sift through,” mentioned the Pacers and Kings as potential landing spots. Following the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Sacramento is left with Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein, who aren't offensive bigs. Koufos is averaging 6.1 points in 57 games this season, while Cauley-Stein is scoring 5.8 per game in his second NBA season.

“[The Kings] can offer more minutes and more opportunities for [Okafor] now,” Aldridge said.

Can you imagine the Kings turning around and trading for Okafor? The problem is that, because of the Sixers pick swap/Chicago trade this year and the unprotected pick coming back to Philly in 2019, Vlade and Co. actually can’t trade their first-round pick until 2021.

As always, here are some more trades and rumors from around the NBA that impact the Sixers.

Lakers trade Lou Williams to Houston

Hey, I actually got one right in yesterday’s trade rumors post! Anyway, in a deal that is pretty reasonable for both teams, the Rockets acquired Williams for a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. I made a lot of Magic Johnson jokes yesterday when the Lakers hired him (seriously, look at those tweets), but he’s batting 1.000 so far in my book:

How it affects the Sixers: Well, that first-round pick did come at a price for Williams. Corey Brewer is a decent upgrade from the former Sixer, but man, the gulf in offensive skill level between those two players is massive. As an example, Williams has a 24.1 PER this year while Brewer’s is 7.6.

For the Lakers, desperate to land a Top-3 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, it’s now full tank ahead. The Sixers are either going to get the fourth or fifth pick, or they’re going to have to wait until 2018 for Los Angeles to finally pay up for the Steve Nash trade made so many years ago.

Jrue sticking in New Orleans

In the NBA, roster building can change on a dime. Make a blockbuster trade, and then everything suddenly looks differently than it did before. When it comes to former Sixer Jrue Holiday, the DeMarcus Cousins trade might mean that the Pelicans are more locked into their current roster.

That means Holiday, injury history and all, could get paid by the Pelicans in free agency. As Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler writes, they do have the most money:

Several teams were hoping to pry Holiday out of New Orleans, however, with Sunday’s DeMarcus Cousins deal, the Pelicans have gone all in on this roster and are comfortable with where they stand with Holiday, mainly because they can give him the largest deal in free agency. The Pelicans are prepared to do a max or near max deal for Holiday (according to sources) and that salary value may be too rich for other suitors, especially given Holiday’s injury history.

How it affects the Sixers: It was rumored that the Sixers viewed Holiday as a nice fit as an off-ball point guard next to Ben Simmons and that they would make a run at him in free agency. If my math is right, a max contract for Holiday would be slightly over $30 million (or 30 percent of $102 million). I know the new TV money artificially inflates dollar amounts, but that is still a huge risk for Holiday.

Quick hitters

     • Okafor isn’t the only big man who has found his name in trade rumors, but you do have to wonder if the modest Cousins return is a sign of low trade value for other more traditional centers:

     • Since this trade deadline already had quite a bit of action and I got the Lou Williams trade right, let’s make another (bolder) prediction: The Celtics and Bulls will have a moment of realization and come to an agreement on a Jimmy Butler trade. Here’s what Woj said on his podcast:

Boston at some point this week will reach back out, I’m fairly certain, and maybe come back with another offer. They’ve talked in the past. Chicago is in a position where they want someone to blow them away with an offer. Boston has the opportunity because of having Brooklyn’s pick.

The Sixers have the assets to swing a Butler trade, but they haven’t been linked in any rumors. This makes sense, as their roster really isn’t ready to win yet in the way that Butler is.

On the other hand, Boston has a bunch of players close to their primes. The appeal of landing the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is understandable, but Jimmy Butler is a Top-10 player in the NBA. If Danny Ainge is ever going to push his chips in, he should do it now. Ditto for Chicago, whose roster simply isn’t good enough. Landing that Brooklyn pick to jumpstart a rebuild should be their main focus.

     • Aldridge is also reporting that Tom Thibodeau is looking to reunite with New York Knicks point guard (and impending free agent) Derrick Rose. As far as the Sixers are concerned, I don’t think trading Rose (or Carmelo Anthony, even) will have a drastic effect on the Knicks tanking for NBA Draft position:

     • We wrote about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s potential fit with the Sixers last week, and KCP came up in the Detroit News’ Vince Ellis' most recent trade rumors column. It sounds like he’s staying in Detroit this summer, though, max offer from the Sixers or not:

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the player drawing the most interest as the trade deadline approaches, but he still appears to be a major part of the Pistons’ future, a source told the Free Press.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann