Sixers, Pelicans discussing Jahlil Okafor trade?

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Updated: Monday, February 6, 2017 05:03 PM

The Sixers and Pelicans are in discussions that would send second-year center Jahlil Okafor to New Orleans, according to multiple reports.

The news was first reported by Sam Amick of USA Today.

The rumor was then backed up by Adrian Wojnarowski (Yahoo Sports), Keith Smith (RealGM), Marc Spears (ESPN), and Marc Stein (ESPN).

Okafor has been in and out of the Sixers’ rotation over the last six weeks, making just 7 appearances in the 19 games. He is averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game, competing in a crowded center rotation featuring franchise centerpiece Joel Embiid, along with Nerlens Noel and Richaun Holmes.

What’s being reported: 



* The trade is being held up over a disagreement on the protection of the draft pick New Orleans would be sending Philadelphia, according to Keith Smith. Smith says the Pelicans want the pick to be lottery protected, whereas the Sixers want that protection decreased. The Pelicans currently have the 5th worst record in the NBA.

* In addition to the 1st round pick from the Pelicans the Sixers would also acquire backup center Alexis Ajinca in the deal, according to Spears. Ajinca has two seasons remaining on his contract, as he’s owed $4.96 million in 2017-18 and $5.28 million in 2018-19. Ajinca is averaging just 14.1 minutes per game in 21 appearances, including 10 starts, this season with New Orleans. The inclusion of Ajinca would be a salary dump for the Pelicans.

* According to Sam Amico (Fox Sports), the Sixers are trying to get Jrue Holiday as part of the package. Keith Smith says this is unlikely.

* Keith Smith says the deal is unlikely to be finalized today because of the Sixers’ desire to expand the deal to include Holiday.

* According to Michael Scotto (Basketball Insiders), the pick the Sixers would be getting in the trade, if it’s agreed upon, is a protected 2018 1st round pick, not one that could convey in this year’s draft.

* According to Jeff Zillgitt (USA Today), multiple teams are interested in Okafor.

* It appears as if nothing is close enough to warrant sitting players, as head coach Brett Brown announced that he plans on starting Jahlil Okafor tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

The Asik vs Ajinca angle

There have been multiple reports that the Pelicans are trying to dump Omer Asik instead of Ajinca, and that the Sixers have (rightfully) fought back against that.

Asik has a much more difficult contract to stomach, as he has three years and over $33 million remaining on his deal after this season. The Sixers have more than enough cap space to absorb either contract without including more than Okafor in the deal but Asik, at 30 years old and playing just 15.9 minutes per game, has incredible negative value. The Sixers would be wise to refuse to take on that contract.

Player2016-172017-182018-192019-20
Omer Asik$9,904,494$10,595,505$11,286,516$11,977,527
Alexis Ajinca$4,638,203$4,961,798$5,285,394

Jrue Holiday’s return?

Any expanded deal to include Jrue Holiday would obviously have to include significantly more from the Sixers, as the Pelicans still view Holiday as a potential piece to their future.

What makes that situation dicey (besides Holiday’s injury history) is that Holiday will be an unrestricted free agent in July. With the cap jumping once again, many teams will be able to bid for Holiday’s services on the open market, providing no guarantee Holiday would remain here long term and increasing the likelihood that you would have to overpay if you were able to convince him to stay.

What exactly the asking price would be if the Sixers are able to get the Pelicans to part ways with Holiday would obviously influence whether it’s wise to target him or not but, while I like Holiday (and his potential fit with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid), that has the chance to be a very risky angle to this potential trade.

(This story has been updated multiple times. At 5:21 to include the report that the Sixers were trying to get Jrue Holiday included in the deal.  At 5:25 to note that the trade is unlikely to be finalized today. At 5:26 to include Aldridge’s note that nothing is imminent. At 5:57 to include report that the pick would be a 2018 1st round pick. And at 6:13 to note that Okafor is starting tonight). 

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Derek Bodner

Derek Bodner covers the NBA draft for USA Today and DraftExpress.com. He was previously the 76ers Insider for Philadelphia magazine. Contact Information: derek.bodner@draftexpress.com / @DerekBodnerNBA

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  • Bruce Vogenitz

    Nice to see that Colangelo is working, but I really don’t want to see Okafor get traded for a 2018 1st. Because of his injury Okafor didn’t get a chance to work on his weaknesses in the off-season; unless Sixers medical staff is worried his knee will be an ongoing issue, I’d like to see how he looks next season. A late 2017 1st and a role player could change my mind, however.

    • Drew

      The Pels don’t have a late first. They have the 5th worst record in the NBA right now. They won’t give that up for sure, not in a loaded draft.

      • Bruce Vogenitz

        Didn’t mean from Pelicans, I meant from any other team that may have interest. I’m hoping the Pelicans talk is just to see if it causes other GMs to start calling.

        • You’d rather a late 2017 1st than a much better 2018 1st?

          • Bruce Vogenitz

            along with a solid role player, definitely, especially vs. a protected 2018. Barring injury, not sure how Pelicans don’t make playoffs next year with Okafor and a high 2017 draft pick in the fold. Very deep draft this year or the pick could be used to move up a few spots if needed.

            • I mean, there’s dozens upon dozens of recent examples of why youth doesn’t translate to winning. I think we overstate that big time.

              I get the desire for a role player, but I wouldn’t presume automatic improvement, especially from a franchise that has made so many mistakes (and in an Okafor/Davis fit I don’t think is all that good).

              • Bruce Vogenitz

                I don’t think youth translates into winning at all, but they are a borderline playoff team this year. Do you think they will be worse next year with Okafor and whoever they get with their 2017 1st rounder (whether used or traded for a player)? I don’t, and I just don’t place high value on mid/late first rounders, so giving up Okafor for another team’s trash and a mid/late pick doesn’t move the needle.

                • I think they have a lot of players who have had very real injury concerns and a GM that has never shown the ability to surround Davis with pieces that fit. I would have no problem delaying that return if it meant decreased protections.

                  • Bruce Vogenitz

                    Fair enough. Personally I hope another team makes a better offer or Colangelo just sits tight, but my hopes won’t have any impact one way or the other.

              • no cosign

                to put it nicely. Playing next to Jah is gonna make AD so much less effective. Then again he’s been playing with Asik so who knows

          • Anders

            If the Sixers some how can get a top 10 protected pick in 2018 that falls to maybe top 3 protected in 2019 for Okafor, I would do it.

  • Austin Benton

    ahhh! What is with Okafor’s unwillingness to close out on shooters in the paint. His man goes up for the shot, and he barely puts his hand up. Sometimes he ignores the shooter and goes and pretends to box out someone else. it’s. so. frustrating. my prediction is, 2018 1st round pick, 1-13 protected – sign me up bryan.

  • no cosign

    I’m just discovering ur site Bodner, ur my favorite Sixers writer and beat writer so I’ll be back. Just wanted to say thanks. For everything. You really helped me understand these past few years of Sixers basketball

    • I had previously just used it to link to content and appearances I made elsewhere. yesterday was the first day I really started using it again. Appreciate the kind words.

  • philllyfanatic

    Yep, I’d be thrilled with the Pels 2018 unprotected first round pick and whatever dreck they send our way. Pels gonna stink next year, especially if the Brow has to play a lot with Jah on the court.

  • Area Man

    Wonder if New Orleans would do the deal, or for that matter if the Sixers would, if it were for the right to swap picks with New Orleans in this draft, similar to the Sacramento deal. That way New Orleans wouldn’t be putting themselves out of a loaded lottery, and the Sixers in effect would get the best pick of 3 lottery teams.

    • joof

      I thought the same thing. The 76ers would have super odds to end up with the number 1 or at least top 5 pick. And New Orleans would still get a top 10 pick and maybe even same exact pick they would get anyways.

    • no cosign

      Not sure if you can put two different swaps on a pick but I’d be intrigued for sure

      • Area Man

        one would think since it’s their option to swap, they could do so. It’s not like they may potentially owe their own pick to someone. They would just choose which team they wanted to swap with. But yeah that’s all speculation.
        The downside obviously would be if they didn’t use the swap, they’d have effectively given Okafor away. Including other players going/coming would help camouflage that.. not that it would change the basic idea.

  • joof

    If i read this right the salary dump doubles or even triples the return. I say they take both salaries. They still have a ton of cap space and can let go a number of players making around 5 million on expiring deals

  • joof

    Anyone know why new orleans wants oakafor? They already have a great center, and they are a lottery team. And why do the 76ers want holliday. I don’t understand this from the viewpoint of both sides

    • Cricket

      They have a great power forward

      • joof

        Davis is a power forward and not a center?

  • Chuck McCarthy

    Hey Derek, Okafor wants to play. Noel looking pretty good. Embiid had a big statistical year, but he also looks awful fragile to me. Why not trade Embiid?

    • You don’t trade Embiid because he could be a top 5 player in this league. He’s only had one real injury this year, and it’s been minor.