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February 15, 2017

Jahlil Okafor is back with the Sixers, which puts him in an uncomfortable spot

On Saturday night in South Philadelphia, Jahlil Okafor was held out of the Sixers’ win against the Miami Heat because the team was discussing a trade involving him.

“There were trade rumors that were happening before the game,” Brown said. “I was aware of those. In those situations, I felt that it was best to not complicate things and not play Jahlil. We talked about it together before the game and I explained to him that this was going to happen for this reason.”

Ditto for Monday’s game against Charlotte, which the Sixers also won.

Well, he’s baaaaaaackkkkkkk. Not only has Okafor returned to the Sixers for the final game before the all-star break in Boston, he’s also going to play against the Celtics on Wednesday night. Seriously:

“This isn’t uncommon as it relates to the topic,” Brown told reporters in Boston. “It is uncommon probably as it relates to the duration of time. If it weren’t for Jahlil Okafor being an A+ person, then none of this would have been comfortable.”

There is the Sixers coach again, trying to explain the unexplainable. The more things change, well, you know. 

The Sixers, who still have four young centers on the team, would likely strengthen the rest of the roster by moving a center before the trade deadline. And based strictly on his on-court play, Okafor is the logical odd-man out. So, it certainly made some sense when the Sixers held out Okafor on Saturday night against Miami.

Except, well, a trade never materialized. And now, four days after the trade discussions had apparently heated up, Okafor is back playing with the team:

Maybe the market dried up. There were a couple of trades involving big guys over the past few days, one involving Denver and Portland and the other with Orlando and Toronto. That said, if the Sixers weren’t 98 percent sure that a trade was going to be completed, what was the point of holding Okafor out and not having him travel with the team? Now, there are even more rumors about Okafor flying around.

The sympathetic figure here is Okafor, who has to return to an organization that publicly announced it was trying to trade him. Remember last year when he was channeling Dom Toretto driving over the Ben Franklin Bridge? How about when he was getting into fights in the wee hours of the morning in Boston? Those moments seem like distant memories.

Brown is correct about how professionally that Okafor has handled the situation, something that you can’t really say about the organization.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann