With trade rumors swirling, the Sixers held Jahlil Okafor out of action on Saturday night, and didn’t bring him on their trip to Charlotte for Monday’s game. However, Okafor has rejoined the Sixers in Boston and will play in tonight’s game against the Celtics, as Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com writes. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter), Nerlens Noel will remain in the starting lineup, with Okafor coming off the bench.
When Okafor was initially kept out of action over the weekend, it appeared that the Sixers were moving toward finalizing a trade involving the former No. 3 overall pick. Indeed, a source tells Camerato that the team had been close to a deal involving Okafor. Now that the club is ready to re-insert him into the lineup, it seems no trade is imminent.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, people around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers were ever all that close to moving Okafor. O’Connor’s sources speculate that Okafor’s absence was a failed attempt to “stir interest” and “flush out” teams’ best offers.
The Pelicans, Bulls, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers have been linked to Okafor in recent reports, but O’Connor suggests Denver and Portland don’t appear to be serious suitors, and he’s not sure Chicago is either. New Orleans seemed to be gaining momentum on a possible Okafor deal earlier this month, but that was nine days ago, and nothing has come of it yet.
The Sixers’ game tonight is the team’s last one before February 24, a day after the trade deadline, so it’s possible that it will be Okafor’s last contest with the franchise. We’ll have to wait to see if the offers for Okafor improve by next Thursday, or if Philadelphia eventually settles for an offer currently on the table.