Chicago Bulls: Amid frontcourt troubles, does trading for Jahlil Okafor make more sense now?

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Could the Chicago Bulls be kicking the tires on an old trade rumor involving the Philadelphia 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor?

According to reports, this might be something worth keeping an eye on.

Via David Aldridge of Turner Sports, the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks may be potential landing spots for the third-year center should the Sixers decide to deal him.

Though much depends on Joel Embiid’s health, Okafor doesn’t appear to be in the Sixers’ long-term plans. They recently declined to pick up his fourth-year option for 2018-2019, making him an unrestricted free agent next year. As such, he looks like prime trade bait.

However, Philadelphia is rumored to want at least one draft pick in return, which the Bulls might be loath to give up in their rebuilding phase. We will see.

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Still, if the Bulls decided to pull the trigger on that deal, it could make them more interesting while also not damaging their future ambitions.

More useful than we think?

For one thing, Okafor could provide immediate insurance for Robin Lopez, who has two years left on his current deal. He’s unlikely to stay a Bull much longer than that and could perhaps play his way into a trade out of Chicago himself sooner rather than later.

Okafor certainly doesn’t do the kind of dirty work Lopez does as far as defense and rebounding, but his offensive ability remains intriguing. For starters, at least he has more than just a turnaround hook shot in his arsenal.

And let’s face it: Cristiano Felicio has regressed this year.

He’s committing way too many fouls (2.4 fouls per 16 minutes) and has contributed next to nothing offensively. Then again, the Bulls just re-upped with him for four years, so he’s probably not going anywhere. Okafor represents a big upgrade in offensive talent over Felicio on that second-unit, depending on how they’d be used.

Plus, how much longer are either Bobby Portis or Nikola Mirotic going to be here at this point?

Their drama has created a ridiculous situation in which they, understandably, can’t co-exist. Mirotic is already angling for a way out of Chicago if Portis isn’t traded while the Bulls apparently rally around Portis. But given what he did to his teammate, who’s to say the Chicago Bulls really want to keep him around?

Okafor, meanwhile, is still young at just 21 years old with a lot of growth potentially ahead of him. Plus, his interiorly oriented offensive style could help offset the more perimeter-based Lauri Markkanen even as Lopez currently does.

Also, he may be more willing to stay here rather than walk in free agency next year because Chicago is his home. That and the Chicago Bulls will probably still be bad for a few years, which means he could play a lot.

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All of this remains purely speculative. We have no idea how much the Sixers want for him, how interested the Bulls even are or how Okafor would fit on this roster. Maybe the Bulls don’t think his play merits giving up a draft pick for (which isn’t totally unreasonable). Who knows?

All we know is that Okafor is being tied to the Bulls again and that, as a young piece, he could still fit in this rebuilding plan while possibly providing useful skills.

We’ll see if it comes to anything.