Sixers deal Noel to Mavericks, keep Okafor

Nerlens Noel is on his way to the Mavericks.

The Philadelphia 76ers were expected to trade a big man, but perhaps not the one they actually traded.

Shortly before Thursday’s trade deadline, the Sixers sent Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for swingman Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut and a protected first-round draft pick.

Noel was expected to stay with the team as the majority of trade rumors swirled around center Jahlil Okafor. And according to multiple reports, Okafor was indeed close to getting traded — even after the Noel move.

But it was not to be, as the Sixers will move forward with Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric as their primary and bigs (Bogut will reportedly be waived).

There is always a chance, however, Okafor trade talks will be revisted over the summer. Much depends on how things play out from here.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks landed a nice young center/power forward in Noel to play alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and the rest. Suddenly, the Mavericks are expected to turn into real playoff contenders.

As for the Sixers, a run to the postseason is still likely a season away. But with No. 1 overall draft Ben Simmons likely joining soon, this could be a fun team during the post-All-Star break portion of the season.