Sixers wise not to trade Okafor, Noel after all


We realize just because Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel weren't traded by the Sixers at the draft doesn't mean one of them won't be moved between now and opening night. We also realize giving away talented players generally isn't considered smart policy — especially when it might benefit a division rival.

The best possible outcome for the Sixers last night, aside from selecting Ben Simmons No. 1 of course, would've been a swap involving one of their plethora of centers in exchange for another early first-round pick. That means either Okafor or Noel, because they can't play together and are the only two that have established themselves in the NBA somehow.

Everybody had their preference. So did the NBA, it seems. Regardless of who was up for grabs though, it turns out they weren't highly valued around the league. Maybe that was the Sixers' fault, maybe it was the players'. Doesn't matter. The deals weren't there.

Whether it was Nerlens for Jeff Teague weeks ago, Okafor to a division rival for No. 3 yesterday morning or Noel-24-26-and-Robert Covington(!) for top-eight, anybody? during the draft, at no point does it appear the Sixers were ever actually that close on a trade.

And that's okay. Those trades all sucked.

I mean, if the concern was these kids' values will decrease unless the Sixers move somebody sooner or now or immediately, I've got news for you — nobody else is too keen on any of these guys apparently. It turns out you can't even get the third choice for Okafor, nor the fifth for Noel plus parts.

So then why trade them? If Okafor or Noel aren't worth today the picks that were invested in them one and three years ago respectively, then at this point the Sixers should probably just keep them.

Is it true the Sixers have too many big men, everybody can see it will never work and as a result the front office can't get any leverage in negotiations? Absolutely. Do Okafor and Noel have enough red flags themselves that would cause other organizations to tread lightly? No doubt. Will forcing Okafor, Noel, Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric to coexist only lead to more losing while stunting individual development? It's quite possible.

None of that means the Sixers should accept something that further weakens their already fragile state. The only thing more important now than moving one of these kids is getting the right package in return.

Maybe this all goes without saying, yet it's difficult not to feel a little disappointed the Sixers weren't able to put the cherry on top of a momentous draft night with a trade that further shaped the future of the franchise. It's necessary, and what's more, the possibility was definitely there with the Celtics and Timberwolves both willing to move out of the top five.

But for the time being at least, Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo showed he's no more willing to accept a bad deal just to create the illusion of jump-starting the team's rebuild than his predecessor. While sitting on Okafor and Noel does nothing to speed up the process, it's better than attempting to bargain from a position of weakness.

Since Colaneglo showed everybody he isn't in the business of giving talent away, maybe the NBA will come to its senses and make the Sixers better offers. Until that day comes however, just keep Okafor and Noel. Just keep them all.

Contact Us