The former No. 3 pick – whose option for next season was declined and remains out of the rotation – wants to leave the 76ers
“It could be a buyout, it could be a trade,” he said Wednesday. “I just want something to happen rather quickly.”
Okafor said that after the Sixers declined his option, he told president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo he would like a buyout.
“He said that he felt that if he bought me out, another team would be getting me for free,” Okafor said. “But that’s where we stand today because you waited so long to trade me. There’s nothing else to do. I’m not playing here and at the end of the season, I’m an unrestricted free agent. So I want to get on the court and play and produce.”
“Honestly, I didn’t want them to pick up my option. I’ve been going through a lot since I’ve been here. So the fact that I know that at the end of the season I would at least have an opportunity to play elsewhere, that’s great. Now I’m just in a position to where, how can I get on the court? That’s not happening here. I want to play. I want to play.”
Okafor will likely be fined by the NBA, which frowns upon public trade requests. He’ll get no backlash from me.
Okafor has minimal place in Philadelphia’s present or future. He wants to play, and he’s understandably frustrated with his situation. He’s just being honest about his desires.
But the 76ers are being sensible by not buying him out. He might have value to some team before the trade deadline. Until then, and maybe even after, he provides depth behind injury-prone Joel Embiid at a reasonable cost with no long-term outlay.
A trade is tough, because any team that trades for Okafor would be limited to paying him $6,313,832 next season. Any other team could offer more. In most cases, it’s easier just to sign him next summer rather than trading for him no.
So, Okafor is trying to guilt Philadelphia into a buyout, presenting the case that organization is doing him wrong. Maybe the 76ers, already in a weird public tiff with No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, decide they can’t afford another perception hit and buy out Okafor.
Or maybe a team that’s stumbling over itself to escalate problems with Fultz won’t mind or even notice another public-relations issue.
Okafor is backed into a corner, taking wild swings to escape. We’ll see whether it works.