It can't be easy being Sixers' head coach Brett Brown, or their GM Bryan Colangelo. The two have been juggling the usage of their three big men, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel, and have received stark criticsm all season.
With Embiid turning into the 76ers' superstar of the future, there is lively debate as to the fates for Okafor and Noel — gifted offensive and defensive centers respectively — and who will be moved prior to the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
After sitting on the bench to start the season, Noel seems to be more in the front office's favor of late as Okafor sat as a coaches decision for four games straight before playing 35 minutes Saturday and posting 26 points, nine rebounds and one block.
According sources close to the Sixers, expect that a lot more. The team is looking to allow Okafor to play his way into a trade.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompei described it this way:
How else can you explain coach Brett Brown's stressing that Okafor is an "NBA starter," saying after the game that he could have scored "30 [points] in a heartbeat?"
Yep, the Sixers (12-26) were in an obvious, all-out showcase mode in a loss that snapped their three-game winning streak.
As a result, the team looked nothing like the squad that won five of its previous six games. Get used to it. The trade deadline is a little over a month away, on Feb. 23.
The Sixers will have to make a decision over the next four weeks, and the evidence is mounting that Philly is comfortable sticking with Embiid and Noel. What kind of return they could get for Okafor, particularly when the league knows everything the media does, will be a true test for Colangelo in his first full season as the head of Philly's front office.