Jahlil Okafor is getting another chance — but he’s going to have to prove he still has a fit in the NBA to make it work.
The New Orleans Pelicans are bringing the 2015 No. 3 pick in for training camp, but on a partially guaranteed deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Free-agent center Jahlil Okafor has agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources told ESPN.
A source told ESPN that Okafor’s deal includes a partial guarantee for the 2018-19 season and a team option for the following season.
Okafor played for both the Sixers and Nets last season, was not healthy much of the time, and was on the court for just 353 minutes total all season (across 26 games).
It’s a good roll of the dice by the Pelcians, with little downside for them.
There is a rotation spot available in New Orleans if Okafor can show he’s healthy and earn it. Anthony Davis is going to start at center (with Nikola Mirotic at the four), then when he goes to the bench Julius Randle may get some small-ball minutes at the five, plus Cheick Diallo and Alexis Ajinca are on the roster, but there are minutes available. Okafor needs to show he can run the floor and play the up-tempo style the Pelicans employ.
The game has quickly evolved away from Okafor’s below the rim, back-to-the-basket offensive game, plus he has been a liability on defense. However, he can set picks and roll to the rim and find ways to contribute.
If he can find enough, he will play next season in New Orleans, but it’s on him now to prove he has real NBA value.
LOS ANGELES — It was a great night for Ali Sabbouri.
The 26-year-old was selected to take the half-court shot at the end of the third quarter of the Laker game Monday night, and the Anaheim resident walked up and drained it. He was instantly $30,000 richer.
Then he ran around and celebrated as the crowd goes nuts, he gets a high-5 from the Laker girls — but watch security waive him off when he wants to get high-5s from the Lakers’ players.
That is hysterical. I’d feel sorry for Ali not getting a dap from LeBron James… but $30,000 will more than make up for that.
The Lakers are 0-3 with LeBron James, and pressure is mounting.
One way to release it: Venting about officiating.
Lakers coach Walton via Kurt Helin:
“Let me start here. … I wasn’t going to say anything, because I was going to save my money. But I just can’t anymore.”
“It’s 70-something points in the paint to 50-something (74 to 50), again they outshoot us from the free throw line, 38 free throws (the Lakers had 26),” Walton ranted after the game. “Watch the play — watch the play where I got a technical, watch what happens to LeBron James’ arm. It’s the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul shot 30 free throws on us the night before. Then LeBron pulls up on a screen and somebody’s trying to fight over it, same thing they shot free throws on. Same thing.
“We are scoring 70 points a night in the paint. We’re putting pressure on. Josh Hart, watch how plays the game, played 40 minutes tonight, all he does is attack the rim — zero free throws tonight. Zero. I know they’re young, but if we’re going to play a certain way then let’s not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They’re just flopping to see if they can get a foul call. And then not reward players who are physically going to the basket and getting hit. That’s not right.”
I’m not certain Walton will get fined. These comments are borderline. But he asked for it, and the league might abide.
The numbers Walton cites are not convincing. Sometimes, one team deserves more free throws than the other. Maybe the Lakers outscored the Spurs by so much in the paint because the Spurs kept ceding baskets inside rather than fouling and the Lakers kept sending San Antonio to the line for free throws, which don’t count as points in the paint. Also keep in mind: Los Angeles outscored the Spurs 41-7 in transition. Many of the Lakers’ paint points came against a defense not positioned to contest shots, with or without contact.
But Walton is fighting bigger battles – taking heat off his team for losing, showing his players he has their back, making referees think twice on foul calls. If Walton achieves those objectives, a fine will be well worth it.
David Blatt infamously tried to call a timeout while the Cavaliers were out of them. Though he was stopped before receiving a technical foul, that was seen as evidence Blatt didn’t have the basketball intelligence to coach LeBron James.
Somewhere, Blatt is quietly smiling. (Or let’s be real, loudly telling everyone how smart he is.)
LeBron had his biggest moment as a Laker, making a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime in Los Angeles’ eventual loss to the Spurs last night. But LeBron probably shouldn’t have had the opportunity to take the shot.
Once the Lakers secured possession, LeBron appeared to call for a timeout despite the Lakers having none remaining. If referees granted the timeout, it also would have come with a technical foul that gave the Spurs a chance to put the game out of reach in regulation.
Instead, Josh Hart incidentally made a big play by passing to LeBron. LeBron had to drop his T-signaling hands to catch the pass. Then, he brought the ball up court and drilled a 3-pointer.
LeBron said he wasn’t trying to call timeout, but his smiling denial isn’t exactly convincing. Laker coach Luke Walton was more honest.
“When I saw LeBron calling for the timeout I was yelling and I think [Kyle Kuzma] was too, I’ve got to watch the tape,” Walton said after the game. “But once he realized that we didn’t have any there wasn’t an action we ran, LeBron just dribbled up and made a three, which is what makes him special.”
This isn’t the first time LeBron lost track of timeouts at the end of a game, anyway.
Markieff Morris (28 points and nine rebounds) came up big in the Wizards’ overtime win over the Trail Blazers last night.
He didn’t even need to be in the game to help Washington stop Portland on the final possession of regulation.
There should be no place for that. None. Games should be decided by the 10 players on the court. Anyone not in the game should do nothing to encroach on the space of players in the game. Stepping over the sideline is an egregious violation. Touching a player or his uniform is beyond outrageous.
The NBA has occasionally fined coaches (including former Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe) and players, but the league hasn’t gone far enough. This type of conduct, though usually not this flagrant, occurs far too often. It’s past time to crack down. Fines, suspensions, whatever it takes to ensure this stops.
After years of neglecting to deter these antics, the NBA shouldn’t put all the weight of the problem on Morris. Fine him what has been the standard amount, but make clear to everyone this was the last straw before more severe penalties.
Morris’ shorts tug might have decided the game. We’ll never know whether that would have been the difference between the Trail Blazers scoring on the possession or not. Probably not. Damian Lillard missed on a drive, but maybe he would kicked to Seth Curry if Curry weren’t flailing his arms, exasperated by Morris contact. Or maybe Otto Porter would have stuck just a little closer to Curry without “help” defense from Morris, leaving more room for Lillard.
But it’s only a matter of time until the NBA has a more controversial ending involving someone on the bench getting involved in the play.