The Sixers aren’t going to release Jahlil Okafor. At least that’s what every indication has hinted at. And so the former third overall pick continues to sit on the bench during Sixers games, wearing all black, giving half-hearted cheers as his team succeeds in his absense.
As far as we know, he isn’t injured. The Sixers just don’t want to play him.
Which makes things awkward. The team wants to recoop a first round pick for him, but after turning down his fourth-year rookie contract option the NBA knows he’ll be a free agent next summer. So why would anyone trade for him?
Several teams have the patience and interest in making him a potential project — he can score and needs a little help defensively. The Celtics and Bucks come to mind as good fits, and this week Bucks writer Gary Woelful put voice to speculation.
“There has also been ongoing chatter the Bucks are interested in Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, who is being shopped for a first-round draft choice, as well as Phoenix center Tyson Chandler, who has a good rapport with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and whom the Bucks had looked into trading for in the past.”
Would Milwaukee be willing to trade for Okafor before he hits the market? The team has one first round pick but it belongs to the Suns — with protections — after the Eric Bledsoe trade. Would a second-rounder do it? It was enough for Nerlens Noel last season, as Philly shipped another underachieving center drafted high away to the Mavericks.
Okafor has also been linked to the Celtics for parts of the last three seasons, but Danny Ainge has yet to pull the trigger on a player who could provide a great boost off the bench.
There is plenty of time, as the trade deadline is not until February.