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Jahlil Okafor says he’s happy in Brooklyn with “actual NBA coaching staff” helping him


Jahlil Okafor is, understandably, bitter.

He was frustrated in Philadelphia this season — he had worked hard to get healthy, only to find he was on the outside looking in at coach Brett Brown’s rotation. The Sixers had moved on, they have their big man of the future in Joel Embiid and the forwards they wanted around him in Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and now Trevor Booker. Philly likes its current rotations. Okafor was not part of the future plan, and nobody likes to sit around and wait, especially in a contract year.

Now Okafor is in Brooklyn, trying to get his legs under him and prove he and his old-school game have a place in the NBA. Okafor needed a change of scenery, and he got it. Not surprisingly, he took a shot at Philly and the coaching staff there during an interview with the New York Post.

“A lot of the guys are in midseason form, where I feel like I’m at the start of the season because I haven’t really played. … I have to catch up to a lot of guys.

“That’s why I’m happy I’m here with the actual NBA coaching staff that’s taking care of me every day. When I was in Philly I was figuring it out on my own. I had my own trainer [Rick Lewis] that I’ve been working with since eighth grade working me out. But it’s a different level when you’re actually working with an NBA staff.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown shrugged off the comment.

What the Sixers did is what all teams do — play the guys that can help them win games and who they see as the future. Okafor wasn’t that. It’s a cold business. But part of it also was Okafor was not that good — he’s not a good defender, and he doesn’t space the floor. If you’re just going to be an old-school scoring big in today’s NBA you need to be crazy efficient (think Enes Kanter or Zach Randolph of a few years ago). Okafor was not.

Okafor looked okay in the one game he played for the Nets so far, shooting 5-of-11 (missing both threes he tried) and scoring 10 points in 23 minutes. It’s far too early and far too small a sample size to make any judgments. What matters is he is going to get a chance in Brooklyn he was never going to get in Philly.

Okafor talked about that, too, about wanting to help his team but not being there yet (which shouldn’t be a surprise, missing most of last season and the start of this one).

“I don’t know how far I am away, but I know I’m not there yet to where I can play 25, 30 minutes and help the team win,” Okafor said. “So I’m doing myself a disservice and the team if I’m out there. I’m not really contributing as much as I think I can. I don’t have a timetable, but hopefully I’m not too far away because I do want to be out there. I do want to play with my teammates.”

He’s going to get his chance this season at some point. We’ll see what he does with it.

It may be moot, but Kawhi Leonard now eligible for super-max contract with Spurs

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Early on in the Kawhi Leonard saga with the Spurs, there was a sense in some (even many) quarters of the NBA world that the two sides would work things out. Why? Because the Spurs can offer Leonard way more money than anybody else — $221 million. That’s thanks to the “Kevin Durant rule” added to the most recent CBA that allows the team that drafted a player who meets the criteria (twice All-NBA, MVP, etc.) to get 35 percent of the salary cap at a younger age.

Money did not solve this problem — Leonard and the Spurs are farther apart than ever.

That said, Leonard did just become eligible on Sunday for that massive payday. From Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Kawhi Leonard is now super max eligible (third year anniversary of the contract signed on July 16, 2015) to receive a five-year $221 million extension from the Spurs. If Leonard is traded, the most he could receive in an extension (six months after the trade) would be $108 million over four-years (starting in 2019-20). Leonard would be eligible to sign a five-year $190 million contract as a free agent with the team acquiring him or four-years $141 million with a team that has cap space. Leonard would not be super max eligible as a free agent with the new team acquiring him even if he earned All-NBA honors in 2018-19.

Leonard is still trying to force a trade, and that remains at a standstill.

Where do things stand? Everyone involved is waiting for someone else to blink

San Antonio is waiting for the L.A. Lakers or Philadelphia (or anyone else, such as Toronto) to make what they see as an acceptable offer. Those other teams are holding out their best trade pieces — the Lakers with both Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, the Sixers with Markelle Fultz, etc. — waiting for the Spurs to accept less, closer to what recent big name player trades (DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George) went for. Complicating it all is Leonard’s inexperienced management team, which does not have long-standing relationships with teams, has communicated different things at times, and teams just do not know if they can trust them.

There are conflicting reports and I’ve heard conflicting things from sources, down to the most fundamental issues: Does Leonard want to be a Laker, or does he not want to play with LeBron? Whatever the answer, every day this drags out the Spurs lose leverage.

Even so, this could drag out into training camp. Or longer.

Grizzlies sign second-round pick Jevon Carter to multiyear contract

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have signed second-round pick Jevon Carter to a multiyear deal.

Terms of the contract announced Sunday were not disclosed, but Carter himself confirmed the deal.

Carter has impressed at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and in Utah. His dogged, aggressive defense has slowed players — Trae Young had some of his worst games against Carter — and on offense his game has improved, including him dropping 26 points on the Jazz recently.

Carter was taken with the No. 32 pick after winning the Naismith defensive player of the year last season at West Virginia. The point guard was second in the nation with 3.03 steals per game and is the Mountaineers’ career leader in that category.

“Ray Allen from long distance” with chip shot to save par at American Century Classic

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“Ray Allen from long distance, how many times have we said that?”

Ray Allen had a good weekend at the American Century Championships, the former NBA sharpshooter and future Hall of Famer finished third in the celebrity golf event. One of the reasons he was there, this chip shot on 13 Sunday.

Former Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo won the event, with former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder was second.

LeBron James sits courtside for Lakers’ Summer League win

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There are two, maybe three guys playing for the Lakers in Summer League likely to be sharing a locker room with LeBron James next season — Isaac Bonga and Josh Hart, with maybe Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and/or Alex Caruso. Only Hart could see the court much.

LeBron was still courtside on Sunday for a quarterfinal game at Summer League, showing his support and being a good teammate. He gave Hart a hug on the court. Brandon Ingram stopped by and talked with LeBron for a bit.

LeBron watched the Lakers continue their strong run through the Summer League, racking up a 101-78 win. LeBron was into it, when Mykhailiuk took a shot midway through the first quarter LeBron yelled, ‘cash only!”  The shot was nothing but net.

The Lakers are on to the Summer League semifinals. Los Angeles won the Vegas Summer League last year.