Alexis Ajinca has taken his problems public. Recently, he has stated that he would be okay with a trade if it meant he gets more playing time. The 7’1″, 28 year old center/power forward is a former first round pick (2008), and he is also playing tied for the fewest minutes since he’s been on the team, at 14.1 minutes per game. He averaged the same amount of minutes in the 2014-2015 season as well. Alexis has had a four-year stint in New Orleans. It is surprising that he’s the one mentioning a trade before the team, as he is posting team tenured lows in shooting percentage, points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game.
— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) February 7, 2017
It appears the New Orleans Pelicans are willing to grant his wish. They have already been in some trade talks with the Philadelphia 76ers. Originally, the word was that they were looking to exchange Jrue Holiday for Jahlil Okafor. The problem with that trade, is that if they do get Jahlil Okafor, and don’t trade away Ajinca, Okafor would be in yet another logjam of big men in New Orleans.
A trade that I do like though is one that has been rumored by the very credible Marc Stein.
The teams have NOT yet signed off on the trade but the latest talks have NOLA shipping Alexis Ajinca and a future first for Jahlil Okafor.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 6, 2017
This trade makes more sense to me for a few reasons.
- Ajinca could play a more defined “back-up” role for the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly has had their hands tied with Joel Embiid playing well and Nerlens Noel needing playing time.
- Okafor makes for a great one-two punch with NBA pure big man Anthony Davis. They would create the best “Twin-Tower” impersonation since Duncan and David Robinson.
- This trade evenly resolves both team’s disgruntled employee situations. Noel would have more playing time, and Jahlil would be the designed second option big-man for the Pelicans.
This is one of the few situations where a guy averaging a measly 4 points per game can bring in high ceiling talent. I am quite frankly surprised by Philadelphia’s willingness to move away from Okafor for such little return, but it may be addition by subtraction.
Although not yet guaranteed, a deal definitely seems to be on the horizon.
Source: PHI/NOP trade is close. Deal is expected to include Ajinca & a protected 1st to PHI and Okafor to NOP. Could be done today.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 6, 2017