The 76ers just cleared up their biggest roadblock with a surprise trade

The Philadelphia 76ers finally cleared up their center logjam.

On Thursday, three hours before the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the 76ers sent center Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and protected first-round draft pick.

The move comes as somewhat of a surprise, as most of the trade buzz had been around second-year center Jahlil Okafor, who had been behind Noel in the rotation.

However, rumoured deals with the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans for Okafor appeared to fall through in recent weeks. The 76ers were reportedly in talks with the Chicago Bulls on Thursday for a deal involving Okafor.

The 76ers had to clear up their logjam of big men. Okafor and Noel had both expressed displeasure with their limited roles as Joel Embiid became the future of the 76ers with surprisingly strong early-season play. Noel’s athleticism and ability to protect the rim could be a good fit for the Mavericks, who sorely need a defensive-minded center to pair with Dirk Nowitzki.

The 76ers remain half in “The Process” mode. The motivation for such a trade, besides clearing up the rotation, is to get back a draft pick. On Wednesday, the 76ers also traded for Tiago Splitter from the Atlanta Hawks, taking on two second-round picks in the meantime.

Slowly, but surely, the 76ers are being moulded into a real NBA team with clearer path.

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