Sixers make a trade before the NBA deadline. Who you think it was?
The 76ers agreed to trade away their starting power forward, Ersan Ilyasova, on Wednesday. Will they do the same to one of their prized reserve centers in Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel on Thursday?
That's one of the biggest questions heading into the 3 p.m. deadline.
However, the Sixers' message has been the same since Bryan Colangelo was hired on April 10: They will only make a trade if they get something and/or someone in return of equal value.
The events leading up to the deadline will show whether they actually do stand pat, and it could be a suspenseful wait.
However, they've already agreed to one deal.
League sources confirmed that the Sixers are sending Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks for Tiago Splitter and a protected second-round pick. The Sixers will also have the right to swap another second-round pick in June's NBA draft.
The second-rounder they'll receive is the Miami Heat's protected 31-to-40 pick. The pick becomes unprotected in 2018 if it is not used this year. The Sixers will have the right to swap the least favorable of the four second-rounders the Utah Jazz have the rights to. It will most likely be Golden State's pick at No. 60.
The Sixers have not decided publicly if they will keep Splitter, who has an $8.25 million contract that expires at the end of the season. However, one can only assume that they probably will part ways with the 6-foot-11 center/power forward.
The 32-year-old has been hampered by injuries the last two years and has not played this season because of hamstring and calf injuries.
This marks the second time that Ilyasova has been traded this season. The Hawks will be the sixth team he has played for since June 2015. The Sixers acquired him in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jerami Grant on
The power forward will provide a frontcourt need for the Hawks. Ilyasova, 29, averaged a career-best 14.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 53 games for the Sixers. He has an $8.4 million contract that expires at the end of the season.
With this move, Dario Saric, who has been playing well of late, should assume the Sixers' starting power-forward position.
The Sixers are also in the market for a prized guard. They have been in contact with teams for the second consecutive season about Okafor.
He's still on the roster because the Sixers haven't received the offers they deemed good enough to move the big man.
Okafor's trade value isn't as high as expected of someone who was selected with the third overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Duke. A lot of that has to do with defensive shortcomings, lingering left-knee soreness and/or questions about last season's well-documented off-the-court incidents.
He was ticketed for speeding over the Ben Franklin Bridge and was involved in street fights in Old City and in Boston.
The Sixers could opt to move Noel, whose rookie contract expires at the end of the season. But like Okafor, Noel's trade value also suffers. In his case, a lot of it has to do with becoming a free agent this summer. He'll become a restricted one if the team he finishes the season with grants him a qualifying offer. In that scenario, that squad will have the ability to match any offer he receives.
If the team does not give him a qualifying deal, Noel will become an unrestricted free agent and have the ability to sign with any team.
But for now, it's a wait-and-see situation on what the Sixers do by Thursday's deadline. They could opt to part ways with Noel and/or Okafor. They could also decide to package one of the centers with another player to make a deal work.
"I'm just waiting to see what happens," Okafor said Wednesday after practice. "I'm keeping my phone on, waiting to see what happens."
The thing we do know is that the Sixers have had advanced talks regarding Okafor.
A league source agreed with an NBA.com report that the Los Angeles Lakers could be a possible destination for the second-year player. The website reported that the Sacramento Kings are another possibility. So are the Indiana Pacers, according to ESPN.
The New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Chicago Bulls were teams that had expressed some interest. However, sources have said the Nuggets are no longer interested.
There's a Sports Illustrated report about the Sixers pitching Okafor in a package to the Detroit Pistons for shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It said the Sixers offered to bring in a third team, but the Pistons declined the trade offer.
Okafor, however, said the Sixers had discussions with 10 or 11 teams.
"Whether it's here or somewhere else, I'm just waiting for 3 o'clock to happen," he said of learning his destination after the trade deadline, "so I can continue with my career. I can start doing what I love to do, and that's continue to play basketball."
Ben Simmons participated in five-on-zero scripting on Wednesday. The first overall pick of June's NBA draft will have his surgically repaired right foot scanned Thursday to see if it's fully healed. After getting the results, the Sixers will consult with their team doctor to see when or if Simmons will be able to play this season. He has yet to play. . . .. Joel Embiid was a full participant Wednesday in practice. However, the center is listed as doubtful for this weekend's games. The Sixers host the Washington Wizards on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center and face the Knicks on Saturday in New York. Embiid has missed 11 straight games and 14 of the last 15 with a left knee bone bruise. An MRI exam also revealed a slightly torn meniscus.
(Story by: Keith Pompey of Philly.com)