Sixers Drawing Heavy Interest Ahead of Trade Deadline
The Philadelphia 76ers and their stable of big men have been drawing some serious interest across the league’s landscape leading up to the NBA’s February 23rd 3:00 PM E.T. trade deadline.
According to a league source, the Sixers have been consistently contacted by multiple teams regarding the availability of several of their big men – Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Richaun Holmes, and Ersan Ilyasova.
Though the exact extent and details of the resulting discussions is not known, it is clear that – with young talent to move and ample cap space to absorb contracts - the Sixers will be at the center of trade talks heading into this year’s deadline.
Reports have surfaced regarding interest in Okafor on the end of the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, and Denver Nuggets, among others. The fact that Okafor, 21, will still be on a rookie-scale deal for two more seasons following 2016-17 is especially attractive to suitors.
Okafor was held out of the Sixers victory over the Miami Heat Saturday night in Philadelphia as trade talks continue to heat up, and at this point it would be a surprise if Okafor were on the Sixers roster past the trade deadline.
There is similar interest regarding Nerlens Noel; an athletic, mobile rim-protector who many view as a guy that can be seamlessly plugged into many rotations in today’s NBA. Noel’s status as a restricted free agent following the season has put a ceiling on how much teams are willing to give up for him however, which brings added difficulty to the Sixers’ decision regarding whether or not to move the Kentucky product.
Several teams have also reached out to the Sixers regarding power forward Ersan Ilyasova, who has been enjoying a career year in Philadelphia, according to a source with knowledge of the talks. Like Noel, many across the league view Ilyasova as an ideal fit in the preferred [floor-spacing] style of play prevalent today. The addition of a serviceable stretch-four in Ilyasova could provide a big boost to a team looking to make a final playoff push. However, like Noel, his upcoming [unrestricted] free agency limits what teams are willing to give up for him.
Holmes, who is perhaps the biggest on-court victim of the Sixers’ over-crowded frontcourt, has also garnered the attention of some teams, though his potential return is severely tempered by his lack of exposure.
Though which exact moves will be made remains up in the air, one thing seems certain: the Sixers will be at the center of trade talks leading up to deadline day, which has the potential to be a very busy one for the organization.