It’s no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers need to break up their logjam of centres and Jahlil Okafor is the odd-man out.
Earlier in the season, as Joel Embiid established himself as a future star, it seemed that Nerlens Noel might be the center to be on the move.
However, as Noel has earned a role on the court, Okafor’s minutes and role have dwindled.
As the NBA trade deadline approaches on February 23, the 76ers have made no secret that they were shopping Okafor in trades, even keeping him home during two road games.
Head coach Brett Brown acknowledged the situation, saying, “Jahlil Okafor’s situation is transparent. He’s in the middle of being discussed in trade scenarios.”
However, those trade rumours appeared to come to an abrupt halt. Okafor re-joined the team Wednesday, as it appears any prospective trades fell apart.
After playing 17 minutes against the Boston Celtics Wedneday, Okafor said of the situation (via Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey), “It was just a weird situation. I was just waiting to hear a phone call to say I was going to end up [in a certain] city. I just didn’t know what to expect. … Now, I’m back here.”
Okafor was rumoured to be involved in trades with the New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Portland Trail Blazers.
Brown didn’t mince his words about the situation, saying Okafor is still likely on the block, but this particular trade didn’t go through.
“I don’t believe they are off. This particular one has not happened. The trade deadline is whenever it is. It’s probably fluid.”
Noel, who seems likely to stay with the team, said, “You know no one really knows what’s going on. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this in my years in the league.”
It’s certainly an awkward situation for Okafor, who knows his team is shopping him, but as of now, is stuck between playing and waiting for a phone call to tell him he’ll be going somewhere else. While a trade falling apart may not be the 76ers’ fault, it seems as though there may be better ways to handle this than making Okafor wait in limbo.
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