It's not NBA fact until The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski weighs in, so consider it official: Philly's Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor are legitimately on the block.
Buried in an Elton Brand - Sixers piece this week, Wojnarowski shared this information:
"The Sixers have had periodic trade talks this summer involving Noel and Okafor and plan to eventually move one of them, league sources said. Philadelphia doesn't believe the two players' talents are complementary."
While the first part of that is not exactly a tale told out of school, it's the specificity of this that makes you wonder if a swap is coming sooner rather than later. The Sixers "don't believe the two players' talents are complementary." OK, so why go into a regular season when you know this thing is going to be a complete train wreck from the get-go?
It's easy to say, 'Oh, the Sixers don't care about winning this season anyway because they're not going to win the championship.'" But no, no no. That's the way Sam Hinkie thinkie.
Remember that there's new leadership in Philly that does not think that way. The Sixers have tanked harder than any team in league history the past few seasons and this year finally seems like the season in which Philly might actually, ya know, try. The Sixers are a point guard away from fielding a very strong starting five, and - as has been discussed countless times before - the Celtics are guard-heavy. Boston also has a boatload of draft picks to package, but now that Hinkie is out, those picks probably don't mean all that much to the Sixers. If a Celtics - Sixers swap for either Noel or Okafor finally does go down (why couldn't it have just happened at the draft for Kris Dunn to make everyone's life easier?), it's now a strong possibility that it could be a three-way deal with the Celtics shipping a high pick to a team that wants to go south immediately. The Sixers would obviously want a talented young guard (like Marcus Smart) and another quality player from Team X.
As for whether the Celtics would want Noel or Okafor, that remains the million dollar question. Wojnarowski spoke of how Noel and Okafor's talents were not complementary. Well, who would complement Al Horford better for the Celtics? You've gotta think that would be Okafor, who is the traditional center to Horford's new school style.