Report: Jahlil Okafor sat Saturday’s Sixers game due to ramping up trade talks with Bulls, Pelicans

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Trade rumors have been swirling around Jahlil Okafor since last summer, the presence of them is nothing new.

However, the talks got serious enough that Okafor was held out of the Sixers’ 117-109 win over Miami that snapped the Heat’s 13-game winning streak. Players are often held out of games right before they are traded — so they don’t get injured and ruin the plan — and that was the case with Okafor, reports Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

No deal is imminent, according to league sources, but trade talks have been progressing and are more advanced than previous discussions with the Bulls and Pelicans.

“There were trade rumors that were happening before the game,” Brown said after the Sixers’ 117-109 win over the Heat. “I was aware of those. In those situations, I felt that it was best to not complicate things and not play Jahlil. We talked about it together before the game and I explained to him that this was going to happen for this reason. That’s why I made the decision.”

Other reports after the game had Okafor shaking hands and hugging locker room staff in Philadelphia as if it would be the last time he was in the building. That’s often the sign of a trade coming down, and this is the Sixers final home game before the trade deadline.

The Bulls and Pelicans are in similar spots — teams fighting to make the playoffs with a sense of urgency from management — and both could use more scoring inside. The Pelicans are looking for the right big man to fit next to Anthony Davis, the Bulls want more scoring inside to balance out the slashing of Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. Both the Pelicans and Bulls also need better perimeter shooting to space the floor more than they need a big man, but here we are.

The Sixers have games Monday in Charlotte and Wednesday in Boston, then are off for the All-Star break, which runs the week after that game and through the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Brown said Okafor could sit those games as well, depending on the situation, but there has been no decision.