Trade rumors surrounding Jahlil Okafor are nothing new, but the Philadelphia 76ers are shopping him again.
Since being taken No. 2 overall in the 2015 draft, injuries and off the court issues have limited Jahlil Okafor to 103 games. He was productive as a rookie, averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, but his numbers fell last season (11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game) line with a drop in playing time (22.7 minutes per game).
Joel Embiid’s availability surely played a role in limiting his minutes last season. But 76ers’ head coach Brett Brown has suggested Okafor will have “every chance to earn playing time” this coming season, as he competes with Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson for minutes behind a hopefully fully healthy Embiid.
But Brown added another thought, as he surely speaks on behalf of general manager Bryan Colangelo.
Okafor has been on the trade block for awhile, so the idea the 76ers are actively shopping him is not new or surprising. Multiple teams had rumored interest in him at last year’s trade deadline, but Nerlens Noel was the big man that the 76ers ultimately traded. The 76ers have a $6.3 million team option on Okafor for the 2018-19 season, which may create some urgency to trade him at some point soon or certainly during the season.
Okafor is an old school, flat-footed, back-to the-basket big man offensively, with six three-point attempts (zero last season) and an average of 1.2 assists per game for his career. He also doesn’t offer much defensively, by traditional measures like blocked shots (1.1 per game for his career) or an advanced metrics.
Embiid is not certain to be ready for the start of the season after knee surgery, so the 76ers may need Okafor to be their starting center out of the gate. But it’s also an opportunity to showcase him for a trade, and Okafor should be motivated to perform with an eye on a change of scenery.