NEW ORLEANS — Jahlil Okafor was out of the Sixers lineup, a lineup already without Joel Embiid, because he was close to being traded. Or the Sixers were trying to drum up trade interest. Either way, he is a guy who very well may be playing in a different city and in a different uniform after the All-Star break.
He will be on the court for the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night, playing for Team USA against The World, but he said the trade rumors and the possibility of a new home are on his mind.
“I’ve thought about it, it’s hard not to, you hear all the rumors, some are absurd, but the organization has been really straight with me,” Okafor said Friday morning.
He added he is just trying to not think about it for a few days, and being in New Orleans can help with that.
“Everybody’s here enjoying themselves, I’m just trying to enjoy myself this weekend without having to worry about what’s going to happen,” Okafor said. “I got some gumbo last night.”
The question becomes what are the Sixers willing to accept for the No. 3 pick. Okafor has one valuable skill — he can score the rock inside. He’s averaging 11.6 points a game this season in Philly, shooting 51.3 percent, and 78 percent of his shots come within 10 feet of the rim. The problem is he doesn’t fit the modern NBA — he can’t space the floor, he doesn’t defend well, and he’s not strong on the boards for a big. Which means teams are not going to give up much to get him.
Will the Sixers find a deal they will take? Okafor’s just trying not to think about it for a few days.