February 13, 2017
With about 4:27 left in the second quarter last Thursday, February 9th, Jahlil Okafor corralled a basketball near the right corner of the floor at the Amway Center. As he has done plenty of times, the 21-year-old big man faced up against the Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic, crossed over a couple of times, dribbled into a post-up and muscled in a contested jump hook:
And as things are looking at the moment right now, that will be the last field goal that Okafor scores in a Sixers uniform. And if it isn’t, either:
1. Okafor will be acquired by the Sixers at some point later in his career.
2. Things are going to be incredibly awkward after the all-star break.
After Okafor was held out on Saturday night against Miami because of “trade rumors,” he did not board the plane to Charlotte, where the Sixers will play the Hornets tonight. Here is what Brett Brown told the Daily News’ Bob Cooney:
"Jahlil Okafor’s situation is transparent. He’s in the middle of being discussed in trade scenarios and so I felt that it complicates things to play him and now this is continuing on and that’s the reason he isn’t here and we all know that sometimes things don’t happen. To talk to him, selfishly, is comfortable because it is all true.”
There has been a lot of talk about the Sixers and “transparency” over the past few days, and at least in this case, they are being extremely up front about Okafor’s trade status. And again, according to Cooney, Brown said the team would welcome Okafor back if a trade doesn’t happen:
“Absolutely,” Brown said, “and I’m able to do that mostly because of Jahlil. He’ll come back in and be welcomed with open arms by teammates that like him and respect him and they are friends. He’ll come back in to a coaching staff that likes him and respects him because we care for him. He still is ours until somebody tells us he isn’t.”
Okafor has handled his benching and the trade rumors incredibly well (in one observer’s opinion, anyway), but it sort of feels like we have reached the point of no return, no?
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann