He might not have been the only prospect attempting to avoid Philadelphia.
Jahlil Okafor, whom the 76ers picked No. 3, also might fit the bill.
Sources say that Okafor’s camp wasn’t in favor of him playing for the Sixers during the draft process.
According to multiple sources, Hinkie wasn’t permitted to interview Kristaps Porzingis during his predraft workout in Las Vegas in June.
Not being able to interview Porzingis, whom the Knicks selected No. 4, certainly made it more difficult for Philadelphia to draft him. Porzingis has acclimated more quickly to the NBA than nearly anyone projected, but we didn’t know at the time he would. Any business would certainly want to speak first-hand with a potential employee who’d be relocating from another continent. That brings a major adjustment.
Plus, Porzingis was more of a dark horse to crack the top range of draft prospects with Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell and Okafor. At No. 3, Okafor was a safe pick. Frequently, a player who doesn’t want to be drafted by a certain team gets over it once it happens. What other choice does he have?
But Okafor’s off-court issues since being drafted will only compound the 76ers’ problem. To some, Okafor has showed the toxicity of Philadelphia – and confirmed any desire to keep Okafor from it.
How many future draft prospects and their agents will try to avoid Philly?
76ers general manager Sam Hinkie’s poor relationship with agents makes his job more difficult. See Okafor and Porzingis. This is one of the reasons hiring Jerry Colangelo was a good idea.
There are plenty of “what ifs?” here. Would Okafor have gotten into trouble if another team drafted him? Would the 76ers have drafted Porzingis if they spoke to him?
But reality is clear: Okafor is in Philadelphia, and Porzingis is in New York.
And the 76ers need to do a better job of developing the interpersonal connections necessary to draft the right players and develop them.