What’s the rush?
Despite rampant speculation, the 76ers don’t need to be in any particular hurry to trade any of their big men — Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel or Richaun Holmes.
Joel Embiid isn’t going anywhere. Except future All-Star Games if he stays healthy.
ESPN.com reported that Alexis Ajinca and a potential future first-round draft pick was in the mix for Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Okafor has clearly been a trade chip all season with the emergence of Embiid, Noel, Holmes and even rookie Dario Saric.
It basically comes down to one thing: Which big men can coexist better with Embiid?
The Embiid-Okafor experiment of playing together hasn’t worked well. Okafor is a low post player who needs the ball. Noel doesn’t need the ball to score, plus he’s a rim protector. The same goes for Holmes, who is active on both ends of the court and provides a boost of energy.
Okafor tends to go through long stretches without rebounding. He struggles against bigger and quicker players on defense.
Okafor, who won a state championship in high school and a national title as a freshman at Duke, has the ability to be a solid player in the league for many years to come. If he’s upset, the visible anger isn’t there. Not that long ago, Noel voiced his displeasure with his lack of playing time.
When Bryan Colangelo took over for Sam Hinkie, he inherited a glut of big men. Finding playing time and building chemistry for all of them was bound to be difficult.
Considering the circumstances, the Sixers have done quite well.
“I really just am very proud of our team,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “It’s a very close team. They coexist just fine. You have an incredible real-time, real-life situation that our bigs are going through and trying to navigate all that. They do it with class and they do it with maturity and they do it with tremendous friendship. I really enjoy and respect this team that I’m coaching."
The trade deadline is inching closer. There’s no need to move swiftly with any trade. It has to be the right move.
Okafor? Noel? Holmes? If the deal helps the Sixers, Colangelo will surely push for it.
At 18-33, and just completing a four-game road losing streak on the most recent trip, the Sixers aren’t going to be competing in the finals this season. Or next season. The program, as Brown likes to call it, is being built. It takes time.
As the trade rumors continue to swirl, fans will clamor for the team to do something. Dangling Okafor to the Pelicans sounds appealing. There should be no rush.
The deal must be perfect.