Since Bryan Colangelo took over as Sixers general manager, it's become painfully obvious that the team was hoping to move either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor to clear up the front court logjam, and help make way for LSU forward Ben Simmons. Based off a report from NBA.com's David Aldridge that the team supported Noel, as well as the link between Okafor and the Boston Celtics, it originally seemed as though the soon to be second-year big man from Duke would be the one on the move. That may no longer be the case.
According to a report from The Vertical's Shams Charania, Philadelphia is discussing a trade with the Atlanta Hawks that would swap Nerlens Noel for Jeff Teague.
Atlanta and Philadelphia are discussing a deal centered on a Jeff Teague and Nerlens Noel package, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 2, 2016
Charania also went on to say that no deal is imminent.
On the surface, this trade would be a bit of a head scratcher. At the very least, the 27-year-old Teague does fill an obvious need for the Sixers, and he'd be a pretty solid fit with the current group of guys on the roster. Now two years removed from his All-Star season of 2014-15, Teague averaged 15.7 points and 5.7 assists per game, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc on 275 attempts last season. He's due $8 million in 2016-17 -- a more than reasonable cap figure -- but his contract is up at the end of next year. Trading for him would mean they're pretty invested in Teague long term, and I would feel uncomfortable giving an older player like him a near-max contract on a team that's not even close to competing yet. The timelines of Teague continuing to be a productive player and the Sixers being a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference don't really line up. That's something they need to consider when making a deal of this magnitude.
The report also says the Sixers would be giving up a "package" to get Teague, meaning Philadelphia would be moving more than just Noel in order to acquire him. That doesn't sound like a smart allocation of your assets.
Philadelphia would also be parting with their best rim protector in favor of keeping an offensive albatross in Okafor. Noel's production certainly dipped last year, but he spent a good portion of the season as part of a weird experiment to try and get him and Okafor to play well together, and it hurt his growth as a player. However, he's only 22 years old, and guys who have his skill set are extremely valuable commodities in this league. While moving him for Teague does fill a need, there's a gaping hole on defense that the team would be asking someone who definitively cannot play defense (Okafor) and a guy who hasn't stepped on the court yet (Joel Embiid) to pick up that slack. That sounds like a serious risk.
This team can survive without Jahlil Okafor on it. From a defensive standpoint, they may not be able to without Noel. Making that choice so the team can acquire Jeff Teague doesn't seem worth it in my eyes.