Report: Philadelphia would prefer to trade Jahlil Okafor, not Nerlens Noel

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It’s probably the worst-kept secret in the run-up to the NBA Draft and this summer that the Philadelphia 76ers are looking to trade either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel.

The Sixers know that those two can’t play together — the Sixers were -20 per 100 possessions when they were paired last season — and they have a lot of other bigs coming in such as Joel Embiid (knock on wood), Dario Saric, and they will draft Ben Simmons. Add in the fact the Sixers want to add some veterans and get into more of a win-now (or lose less, at least) place under the Colangelos, and you have an obvious trade situation.

While Noel’s name has come up in trade rumors already, the Sixers would prefer to move Okafor, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (hat tip Liberty Ballers). 

Sources have said that the team would prefer to trade Okafor. The Sixers expect to get equal value in return, but it could be hard to do that when every team knows they are looking to unload the big man.

Okafor brings a distinct and valuable NBA skill — he can score inside. Okafor averaged 17.5 points a game on 50.8 percent shooting. He also pulled down seven rebounds a game. The problem is Okafor also has a glaring weakness — defense. It may not help that he is coming off knee surgery (although it was minor and he should be good to go by training camp).

Okafor is still on his rookie contract, making just $4.8 million next season, meaning you can expect the Sixers to get a few lowball offers. But he has real value, especially if paired next to a more defensive-minded center who covers some of his deficiencies.

It’s just that other teams may look at Noel’s defense and potential, and like the Sixers decide they would prefer that.