With the Sixers frontcourt logjam gaining traction as a reason for Philadelphia to trade a big in the offseason, ESPN's Marc Stein and Chad Ford are reporting that a deal could be made leading up to the 2016 NBA draft.
Sources told ESPN that the Sixers are determined to gauge the trade market for both Okafor and Noel and are increasingly likely to move at least one of them in conjunction with the draft, in which Philadelphia holds the No. 1 overall selection for the first time since selecting Allen Iverson in 1996.
Stein and Ford also note that rival executives have predicted Philadelphia to be diligent in moving parts, tying Bryan Colangelo's aggressive history as a GM as part of the reasoning.
Okafor, per Stein and Ford, is more likely of the two to be dealt, due to his tumultuous campaign off the court. Okafor also is only in his second year of his rookie contract, while Noel will have a team option on his rookie contract after next season.
The two bigs were a mess on the court together on both sides of the ball, which led to speculation that one of the tandem would eventually be dealt to provide additional versatility on the roster. Okafor averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG in his rookie season, but his defense and rebounding traits were questioned throughout his debut year.
However, with immense offensive upside in the post and giving teams roster flexibility just on his second year of his rookie scale deal, he could hold more value in trades-which resonates with Ford's belief of the Duke product slightly being more desirable to trade for.
The team reportedly is seeking a Top 6 pick for Okafor, with a preference for a guard. With Okafor-to-Boston rumors creeping up following the lottery, acquiring the Celtics No. 3 overall pick, Ford's report below has validity.
Providence's Kris Dunn or Kentucky's Jamal Murray would be ideal candidates if the Sixers shop Okafor for another high draft pick. Dunn would be a bulletproof fit as a starting point guard, easing either Simmons or Ingram's transition into the league, and Murray has upside as a combo guard who predominately plays off-ball.
Philadelphia is also expected to work out Dunn, so the reported eagerness to select among the first six picks in the draft ties into the Sixers possibly having previous plans to gauge Dunn's ability on the court.
Philadelphia looks to be expediting the rebuilding process and are trying to extract as much value in a trade for one of their bigs before their value decreases insurmountably. With Joel Embiid amped to return, the need for Noel and Okafor diminishes on a team poised to add the talented center plus possibly another talented frontcourt option in the draft.