NBA Trade Rumors: Philadelphia 76ers Exploring Jahlil Okafor Trade With New Orleans Pelicans

The latest NBA trade rumors have the Philadelphia 76ers engaged in trade talks to send Jahlil Okafor to the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers are engaged in talks centered around second-year big man Jahlil Okafor.

The report claimed two sources with knowledge of the situation described the ongoing negotiations as “serious” and that a deal may be struck sooner rather than later.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN is reporting the deal could involve Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca and a future first-round pick in exchange for Okafor.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is also reporting that the Pelicans are trying to find a way to unload Omer Asik and his five-year, $57 million contract; however, the Sixers are unlikely to be the team that takes on his deal.

The Sixers have a major logjam in the frontcourt with Okafor, Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric all battling for minutes.

The reported deal will help clear that logjam and spread the playing time among the remaining big men, with Noel set to be the biggest beneficiary.

If the Sixers are able to secure a first-round selection in the deal, it will be a huge accomplishment on their behalf.

Okafor was selected with the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft and it’s rare to get near-equal value for a draft choice when trading them so soon after being drafted.

Okafor was regarded as one of the best young big man prospects in years when he elected to attend Duke in 2014. However the emergence of Karl-Anthony Towns took some of the shine away from Okafor coming into the NBA.

Okafor averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game on 50.8 percent shooting during his first professional season and as a result, finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.

While his numbers were impressive, Okafor missed the final 22 games of the season due to tearing the meniscus in his right knee and had a number of off-court incidents.

The Pelicans have long coveted a skilled big man to play alongside young superstar Anthony Davis. In the potential Okafor deal, they get a talented offensive center who has superb footwork and a soft touch around the rim.

While he adds a legitimate option offensively, Okafor requires time to operate in the post, slowing the pace of the game.

This may contradict what the Pelicans want to do in terms of pace. Head coach Alvin Gentry likes to play an up-tempo brand of basketball and handing the ball to Okafor in the post may will slow things down.

However, having the option to alter the pace may come as an advantage if used correctly.

Okafor isn’t a great rebounder, despite his 6-foot-11 size. Per 36 minutes of action this season, he is averaging just 7.5 rebounds. He is also susceptible to defensive lapses.

Having Davis next to Okafor may make up for some of his downfalls defensively. Davis will be able to clean up behind Okafor, grabbing rebounds and altering shots of those that may blow by Okafor.

However, if the Pelicans are to make a move up the Western Conference standings, Okafor needs to improve in these areas. At just 21 years of age, he does have the potential to get better defensively.

The rumored deal may see Ajinca and his four-year, $20 million contract be moved to the Sixers. While it certainly isn’t ideal to be paying a player $5 million a season to not play, if the Sixers do indeed get a high first-round pick in return, it makes it easier to take the hit.

Ajinca’s contract will come off the books after the 2018-19 season.

The deal is not official, but with the trade deadline 16 days away, expect something to be completed soon.

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