The trade deadline is just days away and the Philadelphia 76ers look to have a move or two in store for us. If you missed my column from last month about what Philadelphia could do at the deadline check it out here. Today we will examine how the market has changed and what the 76ers could have in store for us.
What Already Happened
The Philadelphia 76ers have yet to execute a trade, but a trade that was made could help the team. The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield and draft picks. I know you are like what do I care this is about the 6ers, well in a great trade by Sam Hinkie, the 6ers earned the right to swap 1st round picks with the Kings this year. After selling off their best player and trade rumors rampant about many of their veterans, the Kings look in full tank mode. The 76ers by hook or by crook should get a very high pick in this loaded 2017 NBA Draft. The Cousins trade seems to be yet another win for “The Process”
Nerlens Noel- PF/C
Nerlens Noel has played a superb brand of basketball since my last writing. In his last 11 games, Noel has averaged 10.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.0 block per game in just 23.4 minutes a night. He is putting his money where on the defensive end and shooting 62.7% from the field.
Noel could be a hugely valuable starting center for a team if he can sustain that per minute production over 30 minutes a game. Obviously, the steals numbers would regress to some degree, but to have a center playing fantastic defense and shooting over 60% is a big boost to any team.
In some ways, I think Nerlens Noel has played his way off the trade block. He has a skill set that is valuable and the 76ers are just not receiving equal value from another team. The DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans trade shows that it is difficult to get a big haul for a traditional big these days. Noel’s play will be more valuable to Philadelphia than what they receive from another team.
Potential Landing Spots
Expect to see Noel in red, white, and blue after the February 23rd trade deadline. I will be monitoring his role once Joel Embiid returns from his knee injury. If Noel plays limited minutes, he could push for a trade this offseason. Stay tuned to see the chemistry and how Nerlens Noel plays with the return of The Process, Joel Embiid.
Jahlil Okafor - C
I think Jahlil Okafor’s bags are as good as packed at this point. The team held out the 21-year-old big man two games before the All-Star break because of trade talks. Philadelphia appears to have their efforts to trade Okafor ramped up to warp speed and it has been affecting the big man both on and off the court.
It will be interesting to see what the 76ers get for Okafor. He was the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and many experts thought he would go 2nd overall. Okafor is a unique and exceptional offensive talent who struggles on the defensive end. He may be best suited for an Enes Kanter type role where he comes in and abuses the opposing 2nd unit on the offensive end. That allows his defense to be hidden a little bit in limited minutes.
Potential Landing Spots
I am sure you all heard the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers rumors. Both of those teams have already made moves for big men, so those can be put to rest.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Celtics are still interested in Okafor. The Celtics have a roster full of young talent and draft picks, so if Philly plays their cards right that could be the best move the team could make.
The Chicago Bulls have been rumored to be in the running for Mister Okafor. Okafor is from Chicago and the Bulls appear to be looking to acquire young talent. I do not love the fit for Philly as the Bulls are light on young talented players and are perpetually in playoff contention meaning lower draft picks.
A team I had not heard rumored to be in the sweepstakes until just today is the Dallas Mavericks. That is usually how these trades work, you do not hear about a potential match until just before the trade is done, so whether it be Boston, Chicago, Dallas, or a mystery team, I expect Okafor to be wearing a different uniform by the end of the week. Hopefully, the 76ers get a worthwhile package in return for Jah.
Richaun Holmes - PF/C
I stand by everything I wrote about Richaun Holmes in my previous article. He is sneaky good in the minutes he has been afforded in the last two seasons and is the ideal reserve big for any team.
Richaun Holmes is another player that is probably more valuable to the 76ers than what they would receive in return for him in a trade. Other clubs know that Philadelphia has a glut of big men and they are looking to poach one at well below market value.
Potential Landing Spots
Despite plenty of rumored interest, I think Holmes remains with the 6ers through the deadline. He is under team control for the next two seasons at just over $2 million combined. That is a great contract in the current cap climate and he is the type of player the 6ers should be looking to find reserve minutes for to expand his game.
Nik Stauskas - SG
I believe I made a mistake in even including Nik Stauskas in the first trade rumor piece. I have not heard or read any rumors of Stauskas being moved. He looks grounded with Philadelphia and has been playing a good brand of basketball this season. Here is to hoping that continues and he expands his game even more in the offseason as he proves to be another shrewd move by Sam Hinkie.
Robert Covington - SF
Robert Covington is another player that the rumor mill is not exactly percolating on, but he or even T.J. McConnell could be the value added piece in a larger deal. I could see Philly using one or both of those players in a deal with Boston to gain a higher draft pick or an additional pick. Bob Cov is a valuable player on his current contract and is proving to be an asset to the 76ers.
I would not at all be surprised to see Bob Cov in Philadelphia after the All-Star break and if he is, I expect his good season to continue. He is proving to be a diamond in the rough, the 76ers uncovered.
General Manager, Bryan Colangelo, is probably on the phone as you read this talking to a colleague about one of these players. I think Philadelphia knows they need to make a move to improve this ascending club and they will get the job done before Thursday’s deadline.