The 76ers declined Jahlil Okafor‘s team option for 2018-19, but that doesn’t end this saga. He’s still under contract for $4,995,120 this season.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Okafor clearly welcomes a trade from Philadelphia. He’s stuck behind Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson (and maybe Richaun Holmes once Holmes gets healthy) at center. There’s no future for Okafor there, as his declined option illustrates.
So, why would the 76ers reject a trade that brings any value for Okafor? They’ll probably lose him for nothing in unrestricted free agency this summer.
Maybe they value the depth he provides behind the injury-prone Embiid for now – even at the expense of sitting Okafor and delaying his move to a team that can actually use him. I’d see why that’d irk him.
It’s also possible the 76ers are burning an asset out of a grudge. Even if it’s just Okafor’s perception, something is amiss.
More likely, Okafor and Philadelphia have differing ideas of a reasonable trade for him. If he just wants out, why would he care if the 76ers would have to take back a costly negative contract? They obviously would, and that might be all they can get.
Any team that trades for Okafor would be able to offer him a salary up to $6,313,832 next season. Other teams could offer any salary up to the league-wide max. So, unless a team wants Okafor for the stretch run, why trade for him now? It’d be easier just to sign him in free agency without surrendering an asset to Philadelphia.
By declining Okafor’s option, the 76ers killed his trade value – and made it more likely this uneasy status quo continues.