The rumors won’t be squashed — even with the Sixers’ general manager, and Jahlil Okafor himself saying the former No. 3 overall pick will stay in Philadelphia.
Last offseason a day didn’t pass without the center’s name being linked to a team like the Celtics, the Suns and more.
How did Okafor handle it all?
“Just trying to be a professional,” he said. “It has been a lot. I hear all the trade rumors. I control what I can. It’s hard not to indulge in it. I hear all the noise but luckily I have great teammates. When I look back to this point in the coming years I want to look at myself as a man and know I handled myself in the right way.”
With Joel Embiid’s health a question mark, Okafor could find his way onto the floor more. Which is why general manager Bryan Colangelo says that the big man will be practicing just like he always does — now at a lean 253 pounds.
“Jahlil, as far as I know, will be participating in everything that’s tolerated as he gets himself back and ready,” Colangelo said. “It’s been some time since he’s played competitive basketball.”
After an injury-riddled first two NBA seasons, the future is murky for Okafor who will assuredly become expendable if Embiid does prove to be healthy. But if he can contribute on the floor this season he will help everyone — potentially improving his trade stock.
Embiid himself knows that finding a way for everyone to play alongside one another will be a challenge, with so much talent consolidated at the point guard and center spots. But that’s not a bad problem to have.
“I think it looks really good as long as we stay healthy,” Embiid said of the outlook for the upcoming season with the competitive roster they Sixers are taking to training camp. “We have been working a lot in the past couple years, it’s been tough. The future looks bright. We have a lot of pieces. We have to find a way to play together.”
For now, expect Okafor to remain in Philly.
“I am not actively shopping Jahlil Okafor,” Colangelo said in clear terms Monday.