October 31, 2017
Halloween is deadline day for teams to pick up rookie contract options, and the Sixers have finally made a decision on one of their most polarizing players. The team will not pick up the fourth-year option on the contract of center Jahlil Okafor, according to a team source who spoke with PhillyVoice.
For the Sixers, it's a move made with a clear eye toward the future. Multiple members of the organization insisted privately that cap flexibility next summer is a major priority for the team, and they are hopeful they can bring max-level players to the negotiation table. With Joel Embiid's big raise set to kick in next summer and Robert Covington likely on the verge of signing an extension, Bryan Colangelo and his staff need to find ways to free up money elsewhere.
Declining Okafor's option is part of that broader plan, per a team source. The organization will free up just under $6.5 million by declining Okafor's option, making him an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Okafor's fate has been a subject of great debate in Philadelphia, with many fans clamoring for him to get more playing time in recent weeks. But Brett Brown has left no doubt as to where he stands in the rotation, using Dario Saric as the team's third center during an injury layoff for Richaun Holmes. Brown was clear that Okafor is not a factor in his current rotation.
"I'm playing Amir ahead of him that's just the situation. He doesn't let people know, he comes in, his head's good, his spirit's good, and he and I talk all the time. But that is the bottom line, he is not in the rotation," said Brown last week. "It's happened over the preseason and that's been my decision of how I'm playing it now."
This would seem to signal the end of Okafor's tenure in Philadelphia, or at least his long-term future here. No trade involving Okafor is imminent, according to a team source, though they continue to actively explore deals that make sense for both parties.
In a separate bit of news, the club will pick up the respective options of Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, and Justin Anderson.