Jahlil Okafor is back in the lineup for Philadephia against Boston Wednesday night after the Sixers took the unusual step of sitting him out for two games due to trade rumors. Guys have sat before trades before, but it’s usually because something is imminent. Not in this case, Okafor sat two games — maybe as an attempt to drum up interest in a deal for him — and nothing happened.
But he thought he was going to be traded, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I thought it’s a good chance,” Okafor said Wednesday after going through shootaround. “While I’m not traveling with the team, I was expecting something to happen pretty fast. Nothing did, so I’m back and I’m playing tonight. I did think for a while that I probably wouldn’t be here in Boston right now.”
He added, “It was just a weird situation for me, something I’ve never had to deal with.”
I had heard that talks were somewhat serious with one team, not one on most people’s radar for a trade with Philly, but clearly it didn’t pan out. That could have been part of the smoke screen, or there could have been a little fire there. Sixers coach Brett Brown said there were serious talks, but they fell apart.
“I don’t believe they’re off,” Brett Brown said of trade talks. “I think this particular one has not happened. The trade deadline is whenever it is, it’s probably fluid. The one that was the reason for us reacting to us to Jahlil not being with the team, very advanced discussions, did not happen.”
Okafor could be moved before the Feb. 23 trade deadline, but the Sixers are not going to get much in return. Okafor has a valuable NBA skill — he can score the rock inside. He’s averaging 11.6 points a game this season shooting 51.3 percent, and 78 percent of his shots come within 10 feet of the rim. The problem is every other part of his game — he can’t space the floor, he doesn’t defend well, he’s not strong on the boards for a big, and he doesn’t fit the direction of the modern NBA with bigs. Teams are not going to give up much to get him. As the Sixers are finding.