Chicago Bulls Rumors: Philadelphia 76ers Jahilil Okafor Still Being Pursued

Dec 14, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) works against Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Recent Chicago Bulls rumors revolve around their continued pursuit of Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor.

Chicago Bulls rumors have hit a fever pitch. With only hours until the NBA Trade Deadline, there will be plenty of news and rumors swirling. The Bulls have been shopping players for weeks, as Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic hit the trade block the last week in January.

While the Bulls could decide to make smaller moves with players such as Rondo and Mirotic, the biggest decision the Bulls will have to make is whether or not to trade Jimmy Butler. Do they want to blow things up and start over by trading Butler, or keep their best player and continue building around him?

Looking at some of the other rumors that have been floating around you may find the answer. While there is plenty of interest in Butler, he wants to stay with the team. It may disappoint teams such as the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, as Butler would instantly improve both teams.

But, the Bulls would be hard-pressed to receive equal value in return for him. Instead, Chicago could look to add talent to the roster, not trade it away.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Bulls have continued pushing and pursuing a deal for Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor.

Okafor has been on the trade block for a long time now. The 76ers have a glut of centers, and that is before they acquired Tiago Splitter from the Atlanta Hawks in a trade on Wednesday.

With Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel already in the fold, Okafor looks to be the odd man out.

While both Noel and Okafor have been dangled as trade bait, Okafor looked like the player the 76ers wanted to keep. Back in November, it was reported that Philadelphia had little desire to move Okafor and wanted to move Noel instead. They must have had a change of heart since then, as Okafor has been the player discussed in rumors recently.

In addition to the Bulls, the Indiana Pacers have expressed interest in Okafor. The Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans were also in the running to acquire Okafor, as both teams came close to doing so. But, they went in different directions. The Trail Blazers ended up acquiring Jusuf Nurkic and a first round pick from the Denver Nuggets, while the Pelicans landed DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings.

With the center market being so saturated currently, this could be the time for the Bulls to strike in acquiring Okafor. In addition to Okafor, New York Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn has been made available as well as Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. The Nets have already dropped their asking price for Lopez, a more established player than Okafor, so it is fair to guess that the Bulls could get Okafor for less than the 76ers value him at.

The question still remains in what would the Bulls have to surrender for him? Based on the history of the 76ers, they will be aiming for draft pick compensation and are not afraid to take on poor contracts if it means getting better picks.

Two players to keep an eye on, according to Mike Ortiz Jr. of DYST Now, are Mirotic and Doug McDermott.

With the trade of Ersan Ilyasova, the 76ers could use some help on the wings. While they will go forward with Robert Covington and Dario Saric as the starters, getting some depth in Mirotic and McDermott would make sense. They would also help improve the 76ers’ three-point shooting, which is currently tied for 22nd in the NBA at 35 percent.

Three-point shooting is also what the Bulls are lacking. They are the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA, making only 31.6 percent of their three-pointers this season. Trading away both McDermott and Mirotic would take away most of the floor spacing that the Bulls, and add to the logjam up front.

The Bulls do not technically have a backup center for Robin Lopez but have a ton of power forwards. Even if they move Mirotic, they still have Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio. Would moving some of them to get a center to backup Lopez make sense?

Okafor is a weird target for the Bulls. Does he really improve their outlook much? With Lopez entrenched at center, there isn’t much of a path to playing time outside of the bench. If the Bulls feel Okafor is a worthwhile addition, they need to try their best to not include McDermott. While he has his flaws, his strength is three-point shooting — something the Bulls desperately need.

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