The Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls may have a nearly perfect trade opportunity to swap big men: Jahlil Okafor for Bobby Portis.
David Aldridge, a league insider, wrote about the current market for Okafor and the Bulls were among the favorites (via NBA.com):
“League sources indicate the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are the most likely destinations for Okafor. But the Sixers are still holding out for at least a Draft pick, and could still opt to keep Okafor either as insurance against further injury to Embiid, or as a potential expiring contract to aggregate as the trade deadline nears.”
Even though a second-round draft pick could be an acceptable offer to land Okafor, Chicago does not have much to provide in that department. Their first-rounders will be far too valuable to offer for Okafor though a trade is still possible (via The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry):
“But the Bulls do own New Orleans’ 2018 second-round selection, and depending on how much the two teams are ready to move on from their current chaos, a Portis-Okafor swap could be worth remembering if the Bulls are inclined to throw in that Pelicans pick.”
Adrian Wojnarowski reported in February 2017 that the Bulls were trying to convince the 76ers to take Nikola Mirotic. After his recent altercation with teammate Bobby Portis, the 26-year-old big man may be willing to waive his no-trade clause to leave Chicago.
In addition to his no-trade clause, his contract is large – which means he could eat up more cap space than the Sixers would be willing to offer. Plus, he cannot be moved until mid-January. By then, Okafor could already be off of the trade block.
Portis, now back from suspension, could be another option for Philadelphia if they want to act quickly. Vincent Goodwill recently wrote that the front office was at least listening to potential deals for Portis (via NBC Sports):
“The Bulls have talked to at least one team about Portis … That activity promises to continue over the next few days.”
Since then, there have been little to no rumors about a trade involving Portis. In fact, they even picked up the team option for next season.
While this means they will not release the 6-foot-11 power forward, they will not bring him back as a starter either. Lauri Markannen, who is their first-round pick, will stay in that role even now that Portis is back.
Portis rarely turns the ball over; the only sophomores who played as many games as Portis did in 2016-17 with a better turnover ratio were Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Terry Rozier.
He is also one of the most accurate midrange shooters at his position in the game.
The only second-year player who took as many midrange attempts as him that was more accurate last season was Nikola Jokic. Portis also finished Top 10 among players in his draft class for total midrange field goals made.
If he is indeed on the market, this could be the best possible deal for both parties. Philadelphia would receive a serviceable rotation player who can provide valuable minutes for their rebuilding effort.
Meanwhile, Chicago can rid Mirotic of the player who punched him in the face, avoiding potential chemistry concerns. In the process, they would also land a player returning to his hometown who was selected at No. 3 overall in the draft just two seasons ago.