The Philadelphia 76ers have the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and all signs point to the struggling franchise selecting Ben Simmons out of LSU. Although it appears Simmons is bound for Philadelphia, the 76ers are rumored to be interested in making some moves with arguably the team’s two best players, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, potentially being on the trading block.
In an interview on 97.3 ESPN South Jersey, ESPN’s Chad Ford claims Philadelphia seems to be leaning toward shaking things up. There may be a preference within the 76ers organization to stick with Noel meaning Okafor, who possibly has the higher trade value, may be the player sent elsewhere in a deal this summer:
“I think that there’s a very high likelihood, that whether it’s to move up in the draft or use them to grab a free agent in a sign and trade or just to a trade, that you will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season,” said Ford. “I think that they’ll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn’t necessarily work.”
John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com speculates that the Los Angeles Lakers are one of four teams that could pursue a trade for Okafor this summer.
Los Angeles will be looking to bolster the frontcourt before next season, and Okafor is an intriguing piece that might draw the attention of the Lakers brass along with two other struggling teams in the Western Conference and a Boston Celtics team on the rise:
That leaves four teams that might be the best bets: Boston, Lakers, Phoenix and Denver.
At this point, general manager Mitch Kupchak and company are keeping their options open with the 2016 NBA Draft only a few weeks away on June 23. The team’s sole focus is evaluating talent as they prepare for draft day and the moment they are officially on the clock with the second overall pick.
Okafor’s apparent availability will likely be something the Lakers brass keeps an eye on in the coming weeks. Although Okafor is an intriguing option at the right price, the storied franchise may be determined to make a major splash with a blockbuster trade involving a superstar like DeMarcus Cousins or Paul George.