Much has changed over the course of the first two and a half months of the season, writes John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Sixers are now faced with different circumstances than what they began the year with. Part-way through January, it appears as though Jahlil Okafor — and not Nerlens Noel — is the most likely to be traded.
Okafor, Smallwood writes, is an impressive big man and goes on to cite the 21-year-old’s All-Rookie team performance last year as one of the reasons why. Even in some recent performances, the center has shown that he’s a solid young player, perhaps capable of averaging 20 and 10 eventually. The emergence of Embiid as a reliable option at the five for the Sixers, has rendered Okafor’s services less necessary than they would be otherwise.
In order to take advantage of Okafor’s value, the Sixers should look to trade the big man in order to reconfigure the balance of their roster and Smallwood gives several examples of players that could theoretically come back to Philadelphia in a trade. Smallwood offers Jaylen Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Doug McDermott as three perimeters threats that could potentially be had in exchange for Okafor.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- It’s too early to think about free agency, Kyle Lowry tells ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, but for whatever it’s worth, the guard considers Toronto “home”. Currently under contract for $12MM with a player option for $12MM in 2017/18, Lowry could net a significant pay raise over the summer if he opts out. “When the time comes, then I will worry about [free agency],” says Lowry. “[The Raptors] will definitely will be an option.“
- The Nets have a decision on Brook Lopez to make prior to the trade deadline, but an injury to Jeremy Lin has made things more complicated, writes Seth Berkman of the New York Times. The franchise would ideally like to see how Lopez and Lin fare together before making a significant change but the tandem has been limited to just a handful of games healthy at the same time.
- Desperate for a positive development, the Knicks have considered playing Kristaps Porzingis at the five, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. “Sometimes it’s a chance you have to take, but we continue to look over that,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We just need to mix it up maybe a little more.” Moving Porzingis to the center position would push Joakim Noah to the bench.
- We discussed the meeting between Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony earlier, but it’s worth adding here that Jackson specifically told the veteran forward he did not subscribe to the criticisms in the now infamous Charley Rosen article, says Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.