With the center dilemma looming over the Philadelphia 76ers, GM Bryan Colangelo’s “don’t sell low” approach may work in favor of the organization.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been shopping the centers on this roster for the entirety of the Bryan Colangelo regime. That has been one of the biggest driving movements within the team. It has been centered, pun intended, around trying to get the best value for one of their bigs not named Joel Embiid.
“If they all are, so be it. I will not make a bad deal for this organization.”
Now, this might come off initially as bold and brash. However, it could work in the benefit of the Sixers. Simply put, the Sixers need to capitalize on the potential demand for a center in this league. Colangelo is looking to maximize the hand that he’s been dealt, and it could work in favor of the front office.
This sort of approach to the center situation could help in the short run. By short run I mean up until the trade deadline. So far this season, we have seen big men go down due to injury. Guys like Festus Ezeli, Jared Sullinger, Ian Mahinmi, and Nikola Pekovic are all out for extended periods of time. These injuries could become major bargaining chips.
Thus, Colangelo is less prone to taking on less-than-equal value for one of his bigs. This is a great sign for the organization, as it has invested a heavy amount of resources into them. Ideally, this would give teams more cause to try and make the fairest deal possible. However, this could also bite Colangelo in the butt.
In contrasting, the one real flaw to this logic is that teams don’t necessarily have to adhere to Colangelo’s demands. It is still very possible that teams could look elsewhere to solve this issue. Free agents can help substantially, especially in cheaper deals. In a less drastic approach, teams could even call up D-League prospects or trade for lower-tier bigs. Options are available. In such a case, Colangelo ends up as the sitting duck with 3 big men.
Also, Colangelo needs to remember that he has two very different centers on his roster. In Nerlens Noel, you have a defensive rim-protector whose offense is limited to say the least. In Jahlil Okafor, you have an offensively savvy big who has phenomenal post moves, but lacks the defensive awareness to play anywhere other than the five. Teams are going to be turned off by these shortcomings.
The First Noel
In the case of Nerlens Noel, it is also possible teams don’t want to offer him a max contract on such a small sample size. He’s only played 147 games in his 4 year NBA career. Teams could be turned off by this and simply decide to pass on him. Thus, this warrants the need for the the Sixers to play Noel more and show the rest of the league that he can hang. But, if the team has a primary scoring option already, Noel can be used as a complimentary piece.
In the case of Jahlil Okafor, it makes sense that teams might but turned away by his lack of defensive prowess. But, there is still room to improve. Ideally, Okafor should be kept in the post. Anywhere else is a complete misuse of his talents. Okafor is a wizard in the post. Just watch him go to work and you’ll see why fans fawn over him on offense. There is always potential in a guy like that.
In closing, if teams can look past these deficiencies, Colangelo gets best value for his bigs. He definitely shouldn’t be afraid to hold onto his bargaining chips if the market doesn’t dictate that he should sell.
The last thing he wants is to be remembered as the guy who gave up Noel/Okafor for a 2034 second round pick. Ideally, these pieces show their value from now until the trade deadline in February. Only then can Bryan make a serious move at center.