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O’Connor: “Nuggets and Blazers Weren’t Pursuing Okafor”

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Reports that lumped the Blazers into teams interested in Okafor may have been leaked to stir the pot.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype reported that the Portland Trail Blazers were involved in trade conversations for Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, as were the New Orleans Pelicans, the Chicago Bulls, and the Denver Nuggets. However, Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer suggests that these rumors served only to drum up interest for Okafor, and that the only team legitimately interested is New Orleans. Okafor’s subsequent game absence was likely meant to make a trade appear imminent, coaxing buyers to up the ante:

Nothing has really changed since nine days ago when The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Pelicans were “engaged on several fronts to land a center,” including Okafor. Woj reported the Pelicans want to include a large salary (likely Alexis Ajinca), but the Sixers don’t want to take that on, which a source confirmed to me. Those negotiations are stuck in gridlock. The shelving of Okafor was likely meant to flush out the best offers around the league, sources speculate. It’s not uncommon for teams to use leaks to stir interest. The Nuggets and Blazers weren’t pursuing Okafor. The Bulls likely aren’t either. No one is buying what Bryan Colangelo is selling: a one-dimensional center who can’t defend, rebound, or pass on a roster loaded with big men.

Rumors of Portland’s interest in trading for Okafor can probably be put to rest at this point. They traded starting center Mason Plumlee for a young center with defensive upside, Jusuf Nurkic, on Sunday and, although they will continue to explore the trade market, a move for Okafor appears unlikely.

Nurkic is expected to make his Trail Blazers debut tonight against the Utah Jazz, coming off the bench behind Meyers Leonard. He will have the opportunity to earn a starting role as the season progresses.

Trade deadline on the horizon? Here are some options worth noting.

Posted by Blazer's Edge on Thursday, January 12, 2017