The news can’t possibly be surprising.
The 76ers are continuing to try and find a suitable trade partner for Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick from Duke in the 2015 draft.
Okafor has completely fallen out of favor with the organization and thus out of the lineup. Yet there has been no real explanation as to why.
Okafor entered training camp in the best physical condition of his life, shedding about 20 pounds with a new diet clearly paying dividends.
Joel Embiid isn’t playing back-to-back games yet. Richaun Holmes is injured. Amir Johnson doesn’t seem to be worth $11 million and he’s already hearing boos careening down from the Wells Fargo Center seats.
And Okafor can’t get in the game.
Actually, he got in one game at Toronto and produced 10 points and nine rebounds. He looked pretty good, too.
Okafor’s brief career has been far from perfect. He had some trouble away from the arena and needed to grow up quickly. He hurt his knee. He struggled on the defensive end.
When healthy, he showed at times why he was selected so high in the draft. He can score. He can rebound when motivated. He can clog the lane.
Is Okafor a finished product? No. Is Okafor a bust: Heck no.
Go back to his one season at Duke when he carried the program to a national championship. He wasn’t fazed by big games. He wasn’t overwhelmed with the pressure to lead a storied program as a freshman.
Okafor shined in every way and played bigger when the games were bigger.
It hasn’t worked out that way in the NBA and that happens sometimes. Not every high draft pick works out.
Let’s rewind to 1984 when the Sixers took Hall of Fame forward Charles Barkley with the No. 5 overall pick. The Sixers also had a pick at No. 10 and they picked sharpshooting guard Leon Wood. The choice sounded great. Barkley and Wood would be a lethal combination.
Except when the games began, Wood couldn’t shoot. He went on to play for six teams in six seasons. He would hit 15-to-20 in a row from beyond the arc in practice. Not in the games. The dots just didn’t connect.
Wood is currently an NBA referee and doing an outstanding job.
Okafor’s future is so unclear right now. But the ability is evident. The talent is there. He needs to find a team that fits his skill set.
This much is clear: It’s not in Philadelphia.
There are two arguments here: Okafor should be playing because of his skills and the fact that the team needs help in the middle. But if the marriage is broken, forget it.
Then they to move him quickly. Don’t wait. Just do it.
Nerlens Noel seems to have found a new home in Dallas. Okafor can have the same success elsewhere.
Okafor is only 21 years old. He can play. The question is where.
Because it’s simply not going to happen here.