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Jahlil Okafor wants buyout or trade from Philadelphia 76ers

A little more than two years ago, Jahlil Okafor was the No. 3 pick in a 2015 Draft stocked with some tantalizing big man prospects. Today, he remains on the Philadelphia 76ers roster, but his long-term future with the team seems to be done for after the team decided against picking up his fourth-year contract option yesterday.

At this morning’s practice, Jahlil Okafor confirmed the news (which was first broken by Marc Stein of The New York Times) that he has asked the Sixers for a contract buyout or trade. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer has more from Okafor at today’s practice:

Jahlil Okafor wants a speedy divorce from the 76ers and isn’t getting it.

The reserve center told team president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo on Tuesday that he wanted to be bought out of his contract. That came after the Sixers declined to pick up Okafor’s contract for the 2018-19 season. The Sixers, however, appear unwilling to let the 21-year-old center, who has played only one game this season, just walk out the door.

“Bryan didn’t think [a buyout] would be a great idea,” Okafor said, “because he said he would be giving me away to a team for free. But that’s pretty much where we stand right now.”

Colangelo declined comment. Stymied on the buyout, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft wants to be traded as soon as possible.

Okafor said Colangelo is the only front-office person he spoke to about a buyout.

“That’s where we stand today because you waited so long to trade me,” Okafor said. “There’s nothing else to do. I’m not playing here. At the end of this season, I’m an unrestricted free agent.

“So I want to get on the court and play after this.”

Okafor is frustrated partly because, unlike Nerlens Noel, he remained a team player despite the squad’s being overcrowded at center. He repeatedly told the media how happy he was to be a Sixer even though he was frustrated inside. Okafor thought the Sixers would reward him for being a good trooper by trading him.

Noel took a completely different approach, publicly criticizing the organization.

“It worked out for him,” Okafor said.

“I tried to do everything the right way,” Okafor said. “I tried to be professional; I will continue to be professional. But at some point, I have to defend myself, and this is my career. I’m not sure if [Colangelo] cares about that. I think that’s evident at this point.”

Okafor said he understands that this a business and that Colangelo has to do what’s best for the organization.

“But at some point, as people, on a personal level, you would hope, let’s get Jah out of here,” Okafor said. “Let him go play somewhere because I’m 21. I’m healthy. I’m trying to get on the right path of my career.”

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Okafor was pushing for the buyout since he will now be an unrestricted free agent next summer. As well, Stein reported that Okafor is convinced workable trades for him have been on the table with the 76ers.

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