It was only a matter of time before trade buzz kicked up surrounding the Sixers. Remember all the talks of moving Jahlil Okafor at the deadline? Expect that and more this offseason.
The Sixers have a logjam in the frontcourt with Nerlens Noel and Okafor. That's no secret. In fact, it was one of the biggest storylines of the team this season. Both are natural centers and one had to play out of position in order for them to share the floor.
Looking ahead, the frontcourt will become even more crowded next season if Joel Embiid is cleared to play and Dario Saric comes over from Europe. Oh yeah, and there's that No. 1 draft pick in which both projected top picks, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, are forwards. There simply isn't going to be enough space on the court.
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Which brings us to this: the Sixers shopping Noel and Okafor and searching for backcourt help in return, league sources tell CSNPhilly.com's John Gonzalez on Friday. This stems from the report Thursday that the Sixers are in talks with the Hawks regarding a package deal revolving around Noel and Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague.
The Sixers' most glaring need is at the one spot. Brett Brown considers the point guard to be the most important position on the court. After circling through the roster, this season they traded to reacquire Ish Smith (a free agent this offseason) and handed him the keys to the floor. Teague would be an upgrade at the position, able to provide the Sixers with All-Star talent they have lacked in the backcourt.
The Hawks, on the other hand, face uncertainty with their frontcourt as Al Horford becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. If Horford doesn’t return, the Hawks could fill that spot through a trade.
Before these recent reported conversations, talks of the Hawks' interest in changing up their foundation of Teague, Horford and Paul Millsap had taken place this past season. The team has had no problem winning in the regular season, but falls short in the playoffs. Atlanta was swept by the Cavs this season and could view changing up the core as a solution.
If the Hawks move Teague, budding Dennis Schroder could step into the starting role. The feisty point guard could be a good pairing for an uptempo duo with Noel.
Before a big is moved, the Sixers will have to determine which center is going to be the better fit for their system of the future. If they view Okafor as their more ideal center, they could gain a much-needed point guard in Teague. The Sixers can’t hold onto both of them all season just because each has potential.
There will be other teams around the NBA that will have interest in Noel or Okafor. A deal wouldn’t have to be straight up, either. The Sixers have other contracts or draft picks (think 24 and 26) they could package to get more than one player in return.
A swap between the Sixers and Hawks for Noel and Teague would make sense for both teams, but it is only early June and the Sixers don’t have to rush into a deal right now.