NBA trade rumors: Bulls showing interest in Jahlil Okafor

The Chicago Bulls have reportedly inquired about the availability of Philadelphia 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor.

By now, it’s no secret that the Sixers have a major logjam in the frontcourt and are looking to move at least one piece. Sam Hinkie’s decision to draft the best available player rather than the best fit for his roster left the team with three centers — Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor. Minutes have been hard to come by this season for Noel and Okafor as Embiid blossoms into a true NBA superstar.

As the NBA trade deadline approaches at the end of the month, the Sixers may get a bailout. According to Bulls insider Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago, the Bulls have inquired about the availability of Okafor, a Chicago native.

So far, there’s more interest on the Bulls’ side than the 76ers’ side, according to sources, but the Bulls are interested in Okafor’s services. Because salaries have to match and Okafor is on a rookie-scale deal, one wonders how it can work if the 76ers aren’t enamored with some of the Bulls’ young players who’ve yet to fully blossom. The Bulls could conceivably open up talks to a third team if need be, considering it isn’t likely they’d want to part with any future first-round picks as they’re still deciding how they are to proceed with franchise direction in the next couple seasons.

Before a knee injury cut his rookie season short, Okafor averaged 17.5 points per game with 7.0 boards. He has dealt with nagging injuries again this year, and is scoring only 11.5 points per game in 23 minutes. In January, Okafor played in only five of the Sixers 16 games. When he was able to get on the court, he looked passive and disinterested.

For the Sixers, finding a way to unload Okafor should be the number-one goal as the trade deadline approaches. Noel is the better fit going forward with Embiid and rookie forward Dario Saric due to his athleticism and length. Okafor’s plodding, back-to-the-basket game does not mesh well with Embiid’s, nor will it work when Ben Simmons begins running the show. Okafor still has the potential to grow into a quality big man on the offensive end, but it is unlikely that will occur in Philadelphia.

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