Though many might aspire to the title, the Philadelphia 76ers remain the NBA’s most unpredictable team—so it isn’t much of a shock to hear Jahlil Okafor’s name at the NBA trade deadline.
The 8-win 76ers haven’t been too loud on the NBA rumor mill just yet, but when the rest of the league sees a team that hasn’t even reached double-digit win output by the All-Star break, sharks tend to surround the sinking ship.
Those sharks have picked up the phones and called the 76ers about Okafor, according to Michael K-B of The Sixer Sense:
The #sixers have received several calls inquiring about the availability of Jahlil Okafor, per source.
— Michael K-B (@therealmikekb) February 17, 2016
Though the report doesn’t go on to mention whether the 76ers considered the offers, it’s not too outlandish to think they might.
Okafor, 20, would bring quite the return on the market after posting a 17.1/7.4/1.2 slash line. Though the front office might want to wait and see what Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid can do before dumping Okafor, another line of thinking suggests the team might want to own up to its mistake and get the most it can in exchange for help at another position or future assets.
This isn’t the only report detailing Okafor, either. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Miami Heat had previously shown some interest in Okafor:
An official who has spoken to the Heat said two players of interest to Miami earlier this season were Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, but neither obviously went anywhere.
It’s hard to imagine the Heat, let alone most teams, have enough to pry away this year’s No. 3 pick from the 76ers. Okafor is simply too valuable for the 76ers to give up on now, especially with the other two players beneath the basket either hurt or still developing. A more likely scenario, if the team lets the Duke product go at all, is a deal over the summer or around the draft.
But this is how it goes at the deadline. Teams make calls, especially to a team that can’t win games, has had an exceptionally odd rebuilding strategy and looks like it might be ready to start over and take a more traditional route. A contender like Miami having an interest makes sense, given the unknown status of Chris Bosh and the issues with Hassan Whiteside. But rebuilders should have a strong interest as well for obvious reasons.
While highly unlikely Okafor leaves Philadelphia, keep an ear out just in case. It took odd decisions to get the 76ers to this point. It might take a few more to get them back out.