It’s nearly been half a year since 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo said he’s “absolutely not” comfortable with centers Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the same roster. Since, Embiid has solidified himself as a franchise player, and Noel has repeatedly complained about his fit on the team.
Maybe Philadelphia will finally clear the logjam?
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Marc Stein of ESPN:
The biggest unknown of this deal would be protections on the first-rounder. New Orleans is tied for the NBA’s fifth-worst record. The Pelicans’ unprotected 2017 first-round pick is far more valuable than Okafor.
Every Pelicans move must be evaluated in relation to Anthony Davis. Would Okafor fit with Davis? Davis and New Orleans work best offensively with him at center and a stretch four next to him. That’s not Okafor in the least. But Davis has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries, and Okafor could allow Davis to take less of a pounding by playing more power forward. Davis has the defensive tools to complement Okafor’s lack of rim protection defensively, though that’d put a heavy burden on Davis to cover so much ground.
At least Okafor (21, in the second year of his rookie-scale contract) and Davis (23, in the first year of a five-year contract extension) would have time to develop together. On one level, this again looks like general manager Dell Demps trying to fast-track the Pelicans’ rebuild (and maybe keep his job). But it’s not accelerating the process at long-term expense nearly as much as other moves.
For the 76ers, this would be addition by subtraction in the short term. It’s just too difficult to keep so many talented young centers happy. In the long term, a first-round pick — again, depending on the protections — could be nice return for Okafor.