Should The Philadelphia 76ers Revisit the Okafor-to-Celtics Deal?

Dec 11, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (R) and center Jahlil Okafor (M) greet Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson (L) prior to game action at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (R) and center Jahlil Okafor (M) greet Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson (L) prior to game action at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

We did it. The Philadelphia 76ers landed the number one pick of the 2016 NBA Draft.

This evening was both glorious and vindicating from a variety of perspectives. Tonight on May 17th, 2016 the Philadelphia 76ers basketball franchise finally got to see the fruits of their labor. And by labor I mean losing nearly 200 games in three years.

Regardless of how we got here, or how you feel about process vs. progress and all that jazz, this night was one that all 76ers fans could rejoice in perfect harmony. Just seeing that #1 pick next to their logo is enough to bring a tear to your eye.

But let’s get down to business. The lottery is over, they missed out on the Los Angeles Lakers pick, and we now have over a month to figure out what the best maneuvers should be going forward. The most obvious topic of discussion over the next 37 days will be the everlasting debates of whether Philly should take LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram at number one.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care which player ends up in red white & blue because I’m of the belief that both Simmons and Ingram are franchise cornerstones. It will simply come down to the kind of direction Bryan Colangelo and company want to take with this team.

The thought that is circling my mind the most has nothing to do with the first and second pick. No, instead I’ve got my eye on the third pick that belongs to the Boston Celtics via the Brooklyn Nets. The reason being is that the pick was reportedly almost the property of Philadelphia before the NBA trade deadline.

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In case you need a refresher, the deal that was being discussed was Jahlil Okafor to the Celtics for that highly coveted Brooklyn pick. When the rumors first emerged via Steve Bulpritt of the Boston Herald, the thought of Okafor going to Boston sounded kind of odd because he had just gotten into a fight outside a club in that very same city. However, when you took a closer look at each teams current roster situation, the trade makes all the sense in the world.

Okafor, while playing impressively in his rookie campaign, was and still is part of a major front court logjam in Philadelphia that needs immediate clearing. In Boston, they lack a post-scorer and have a depth chart contrary to the Sixers with gaping holes up front, and a plethora of talented guards.

So what exactly kept this deal from going down? Celtics GM Danny Ainge told WBZ NewsRadio’s Adam Kauffman that it was indeed the other team involved (not them) who backed out last minute. That means the Sixers must have had their reasons to hold off on the trade at the time. For one, the Sixers at that particular time in the season were coming off a good month of January where they won four of the ten games they’d win all season, and Okafor was a huge part of that.

Perhaps they didn’t see the benefit in rushing as well. You have to remember that although the Nets pick was bound to garnish some solid lottery odds, no one knew exactly where that pick would fall. In essence, the Sixers would have been trading a guy who at the time was looking like a ROY candidate for something totally unknown. Considering the risks they had taken with Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric, my guess is that the organization wasn’t comfortable taking another without truly knowing what they’d get in return.

Well now that the NBA lottery is finished, the trade has never made more sense for both teams. The Celtics own the number three pick, and Jahlil Okafor himself was the number three pick of the 2015 draft. From a value standpoint it’s a perfectly even swap. Both teams will get exactly what they need, and everyone (except that dude who got iced by big Jah) can be happy.

Moving Jahlil isn’t something every Sixers fan will be on board with because he’s such a tremendous offensive talent, but the fact of the matter is one of the three pillars in Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and Joel Embiid needs to go, and it’s certainly not going to be Embiid. The Sixers have made it very clear that they want to build around the 7-foot Cameroonian.

The number three pick would give the Sixers their shot at either their point guard of the future in Kris Dunn, or another impact guard in Jamal Murray. Leading up to the lottery I played out the scenarios where the Sixers landed numbers one and four over and over again, and I came to the conclusion that the best combinations would be Simmons-Murray, and Ingram-Dunn. The reason behind this is because the Sixers will get a scorer and a facilitator in both situations. It’s really a win-win, and with picks one and three Philly would be able to choose which duo they like the most without any interference from other teams.

Before I go any further, I want to mention that this trade rumor happened during the Sam Hinkie era, so I’m not sure whether or not Bryan Colangelo would approach this with the same mindset. He and the Sixers front office have both stated they want to be competitive ASAP, so one would think trading one of your three good centers for an immediate starting guard would go along with that plan. The depth chart would immediately be relieved of the Big-man deadlock, and we’d be looking at a very promising starting lineup in 2016. Something along the lines of this…

Kris Dunn-TBD-Brandon Ingram-Dario Saric-Joel Embiid-Nerlens Noel

Ish Smith/TBD-Jamal Murray-Robert Covington-Dario Saric-Joel Embiid-Nerlens Noel

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Sounds good to me, how ’bout you?  We know Ike Reese is onboard:

Let us know in the comments section whether you would or would not take the trade. We’re eager to hear from you too.