We’re now just two days away from the NBA Trade Deadline, and there’s still no resolution to the Sixers front court problems. Trade options for Jahlil Okafor are dwindling, and questions still loom about both Nerlens Noel and Ersan Ilyasova’s future in Philadelphia. Members of the Liberty Ballers staff take a stab at whether any of the three big men will have a new home come 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Xylon Dimoff: I'm growing more and more worried about Ersan's trade prospects -- no real contenders need him, and nobody would bat an eye if the team didn't move on from one of its most productive offensive players this season. If the emphasis on "no bad deals" persists (although it shouldn't in Ersan's case, who brings little to the Sixers' future), I expect him to make it to free agency.
About ten teams still feasibly loom as buyers for Nerlens, and he works on some fringe contenders (Boston, San Antonio) as well as rebuilders (Los Angeles, Portland). Jahlil Okafor will somehow retire a Sixer.
Shamus Clancy: If Ilyasova is starting over Dario Saric on February 24 because he wasn't dealt at the deadline, I'm going to handcuff myself to the Sixers' office in Camden in protest.
Brandon Gowton: Fav’d.
Marc Whittington: I think Bryan knows that Jah needs to be dealt and, even though he did his best to bungle it, he’ll wind up moving Jah to the Pelicans* for future picks and a bad contract at the deadline.
*Editor’s Note: Whoops! That ship has probably sailed.
Ersan will be a litmus test for Bryan (who still hasn’t managed to make any moves of import). His value has likely never been higher, and he’s the perfect type of player to flip for a contender for some future assets or a young wing. I have no real bones to pick with Ersan, but if he’s still here after next Thursday, I’ll be pretty disappointed about the FO’s plans for him.
The lack of rumors around Noel suggest he has found a second life in Philadelphia. He seems happy, and he’s a killer backup center. I think he’ll stay past the deadline.
Sean O’Connor: Sitting Okafor out, stunt or not (I'm inclined to believe, 10+ days before the trade deadline, that Colangelo really thought a trade was happening), only hurt Okafor's trade value. I wouldn't be surprised if Bryan keeps the same asking price and holds onto Okafor for the time being. The center position is over-saturated right now, and the market won't be close to favorable until at least the summer as contracts begin to expire and a ton of draftees take up guard and wing positions.
The reported New Orleans offer (a top-20 protected pick and an expiring Tyreke Evans contract) shows how little appetite there is for a team to take a chance on Jah. Now that there's one fewer team in the running, I can't imagine the offers improve. The same buyer's market syndrome would apply to Noel, who unlike Okafor could help a team now, but still won't return equal value. And given Noel's restricted free agency status, the Sixers should be serious about retaining Noel long-term because they might be able to do it at a discount.
As for Ersan, I don't think he moves the needle enough for any team in contention that it's worth trading him for a second round pick or a flyer. Lineups containing Joel Embiid and Ilyasova have been excellent this year. I'm under no illusion that Ilyasova is a long-term solution next to Embiid, especially with Ben Simmons on the roster, but I'm interested enough in the success to-date to keep Ersan here at least through the rest of this year and consider a short-term deal over the summer.
Sohil Doshi: Colangelo obviously wants to move Okafor, but I think he's reaching the point where he may end up keeping him until the draft to save face. With how saturated the market is with centers and how depressed Okafor's value appears to be, I don't think he trades him at the deadline.
I don't think he moves Noel either, unless he gets a ridiculous offer. It'd be nice to keep him around as a highly paid back up or Embiid insurance. However, I still don't think it's plausible. I will say that it's possible that Colangelo matches any contract over the summer and looks to trade him next deadline or draft. I don't believe Noel is traded barring a crazy trade like Boston throwing a Nets pick and more.
Ersan Ilyasova has been steadily declining over the course of the year. After coming out guns blazing, shooting 40 percent in November and December, he came down to earth in January to 35 percent and is in a cold funk of sub 30 percent in nine games in February. He's a streaky stretch 4 gunner, the same guy he's been his whole career. He's not a long-term piece but I'm fine with a 1-2 year deal if a better/younger replacement isn't found. I'm not sure what the market is for a $8 million a year expiring journeyman on his fifth team in two years, so I don't expect a trade for him straight up. Maybe in a package with Okafor to match salaries?
Kyle Neubeck: I think the Cousins deal is great for the Sixers in a lot of ways but it's a nightmare for both the big man trade market and Okafor's movement potential specifically. Barring a deal with Chicago or something unforeseen, I don't really see a whole lot of options, as I laid out in the Cousins piece previously.
I have waffled on the stance that it would be Noel who ends up getting moved, but the signs seem to be pointing to the Sixers setting a pretty high price on Okafor, which suggests they value him way more than I do and we do as a collective. That’s not to say Colangelo should have just taken a crappy offer — the reported Pelicans deal was a joke — but they appear to be holding firm in their valuation.
Even with the discrepancy between how the team plays with Noel vs. Okafor, I think they want an excuse to keep the latter because of the contract situations at the very least. I don't think it would be crazy for Boston to dangle something for Noel (again) in the hours before the deadline, and I imagine Danny Ainge feels a bit of urgency to move the needle with movable stars actually getting dealt.
Trading Ilyasova doesn't strike me as the type of move Colangelo is going to make, despite it being the obvious play. Even if it is, what's the market? I don't think he's quite good enough offensively to offset his defense in the playoffs, so I don't see how you're baiting a contending team into sacrificing a future asset. My hope is simply that they A) continue to give Saric more of his minutes and B) don't sign him to another deal this summer. He is fine as a stopgap to help Embiid and the other bigs, but that's it.
Max Rappaport: Before Sunday, I would have put the likelihood of an Okafor trade somewhere around 90 percent. But with the Pelicans now eliminated as a potential trading partner, I'd put it closer to 50 percent. I think long-term, there's no way he stays, but if the offered return is worse than the rumored Asik + New Orleans' top-20 protected 2017 1st deal then I wouldn't mind them waiting things out until draft night. Hopefully, once teams are on the clock and faced with a tangible choice between the available options at their late-lottery draft position and Okafor, they'll be more willing to make something work.
I think Ersan Ilyasova probably stays through the deadline, but my guess is BC will at least try to unload him to a contender. I just doubt that he has much value, given his limitations defensively and his expiring contract. Maybe the Cavs see him as a reasonable stopgap while Kevin Love recovers from his injury, but what does a team like Cleveland have to offer up in a deal, and is whatever that is worth it? I think the market will be small for Ilyasova. And with the potentially interested teams being mostly asset depleted and probably unwilling to spend the final crumpled up dollar bills in their pocket on a mediocre three-month rental, I doubt there will be a ton of interest.
Nerlens Noel isn't going anywhere at the deadline, unless someone like Boston decides they need to have him and blows you away with an offer.
Matt Carey: There's so much noise out there about what the hypothetical Okafor trade would have been that I've kinda softened on Colangelo a bit after really hammering him hard for what I perceived to be playing hardball. I also can't necessarily blame Demps for changing the terms once he found out that he could give up that pile of garbage for Cousins.
I think Okafor's gonna stay here now unless somebody is really committed to get him in their system now and figure out how to play with him. With so many potential suitors that wanted centers getting them elsewhere, I can't imagine the asking price on Okafor is any closer to being met. And I'm kind of OK with Colangelo holding firm at that asking price. Anything less, and you're basically giving him away for free anyway, so just ride it out. The logjam kinda sucks, but at least Okafor isn't playing all that much with Embiid in the lineup, which was my biggest problem with Okafor. If he's just going to ride the bench, you can afford to stick it out right now.
I don't think Nerlens is getting dealt; it would actively surprise me. I don't think the market is there for him with the glut of available bigs and uncertainty over what his next deal is going to look like, and I think Embiid's injury might be something of a wakeup call for the team that they do still need some insurance for him. Okafor is not that.
Ersan, if he gets dealt, almost certainly wouldn't return much, maybe a second rounder from a contender looking for some bench depth. After a hot start, he's come crashing back to earth in 2017, so I don't think you're getting career year value for him. If he gets dealt, great. If not, whatever.
The Sixers have trades to make. Who's likely to be out the door?Posted by Liberty Ballers on Thursday, January 12, 2017