Is the painfully uncomfortable Jahlil Okafor saga nearing a conclusion?
Keep an eye on two rebuilding Eastern Conference teams sure to be at the bottom of the standings. The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks "are the most likely destinations for Okafor," according to NBA.com's David Aldridge.
Aldridge, along with others, has reported the Sixers are holding out to obtain at least a draft pick in return for Okafor. It obviously won't be a future first-round pick; the Sixers would be looking more at a second-rounder.
The Bulls pursued Okafor last season (as did the Blazers) but no deal materialized. It would be as good a fit as any for him — he went to high school in Chicago, and the Bulls have available playing time. Their starting center is Robin Lopez, a rim protector, but they're not getting much out of backup center Cristian Felicio. Felicio has played 16 minutes per game and those minutes could be reallocated to a player with more upside like Okafor.
The Hawks could also fit Okafor into their system, mostly because they need some sort of scoring from a big man. Dennis Schroder leads the Hawks with 22.6 points but nobody else is at 14.0, and rookie power forward John Collins leads their bigs with 10.5 points per game.
Both of these situations make sense for Okafor because the Bulls and Hawks have little to lose. They'd be trading away an insignificant asset for a player with offensive upside. If Okafor doesn't pan out in either city, no big deal, he'll be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Updated: 11:58 p.m.
The Sixers opened up their crop of second-round picks by opting for another trade.
The Sixers drafted Creighton guard Khyri Thomas and traded him to the Detroit Pistons for two future second-round picks.
They followed that up by selecting Isaac Bonga, a small forward from Germany, with the No. 39 choice. However, that pick had already agreed to be dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday in a transaction that netted the Sixers a 2019 second-round pick and cash, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski (see story).
According to a report by Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania, the Sixers also traded picks Nos. 56 and 60 to the Mavericks for the 54th selection, which ended up being SMU guard Shake Milton (6-6/207).
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After a bit of a bang with their initial pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the Sixers followed up with a shocker.
The Sixers selected Wichita State point guard Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.
Shamet had a stellar career for the Shockers, capped off by a 2017-18 season in which he averaged 14.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 boards a game. His main asset is his three-point shot. Shamet (6-5, 189) shot 43.7 percent from long range during his collegiate career, including 44.2 percent last season.
Shamet was part of the Sixers’ final workout group this week, which also featured earlier acquisition Zhaire Smith.
The Shamet pick came after the Sixers caused a bit of a frenzy with their lottery pick. They selected Villanova standout Mikal Bridges only to send him to the Phoenix Suns a short time later for No. 16 pick Smith and a 2021 first-rounder (see story).
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