Jahlil Okafor hoping for resolution of his future with Philadelphia 76ers
From NBA media reports
The waiting game between the Philadelphia 76ers and big man Jahlil Okafor has been going on for a while now. Ideally, Okafor would like a buyout from his contract so that he can sign with a team in free agency and re-start his career. He’d also, of course, welcome a trade to another team.
For now, either move seems less and less probable because the Sixers would likely have to part with some of their prized future Draft picks.
In short, the Sixers and Okafor remain in limbo. ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski caught up with Okafor and Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo to gauge their thoughts on the state of affairs. He reports that Colangelo has dropped his asking price for Okafor from two first-round picks to a first-round pick and a solid player to a second-round pick. Still, the Sixers haven’t been able to work out a trade for Okafor, which is frustrating the big man:
“This is my third year in the NBA, and I know it’s a business. I don’t know if it’s fair or not, but in talking to other people in the NBA, talking to retired players, one thing I’ve heard them say is that what’s going on with me isn’t right and they’ve never seen anything like this before.
“I know it’s business, but in my eyes, I don’t know if it’s good business.”
“We appreciate the effort that [Okafor] has put forth, and other than a little frustration expressed recently, he’s been patient waiting for an opportunity to play,” Colangelo told ESPN. “I continue to explore opportunities with both Jahlil and [agent] Bill Duffy to find a more suitable spot for him.”
More than half of the NBA’s teams suggested to ESPN that they would have an interest in acquiring Okafor as a long-term project. But none seem inclined to give up a draft asset to do so. All prefer to wait until he’s a free agent — which is why Duffy and Okafor are pushing hard for a buyout, especially considering that the Sixers are flush with multiple first- and second-round draft picks over the next several years.
As for the buyout talks, that seems to be of no interest to Colangelo, Wojnarowski reports. There remains hope, Wojnarowski writes, in the Sixers’ front office that Okafor’s $5 million contract could be packaged as part of a deal before the Feb. 9 trade deadline. What’s also important is how Okafor’s treatment by the Sixers is viewed in league circles as Bill Duffy, Okafor’s agent, is one of the most prominent in the league.
“I’m hopeful that Bryan will do what has always brought him and the players in his organization success and be flexible as Jahlil has handled himself the right way,” Duffy told ESPN. “There’s been a focus on trading Jah for the past nine months, but nothing has come to fruition. At this point, it’s time to exercise that flexibility because I don’t think anything in the marketplace is going to change. His contract is still going to expire in June, and teams are still going to hold onto their assets.
“We are simply requesting the organization be willing to proceed reasonably and allow Jah to get on with his career,” Duffy said. “The Sixers are positioned well for the present and the future, and we only want the same for Jahlil.”
“This really sucks,” Okafor told ESPN. “I want to play ball.”