Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor has been tranquil and quiet about the trade buzz that's surrounded his short career thus far. However, he finally addressed the rumors, brushing them off as just chatter with no substance.
One second I'm reportedly upset to be in Philly, then the next I'm upset about trade rumors and having to leave Philly.— Jahlil Okafor (@JahlilOkafor) July 11, 2016
Which one is it? Source please confirm. Seems like writers are getting lazy, dropping a fraudulent story and try to make it credible by— Jahlil Okafor (@JahlilOkafor) July 11, 2016
Using that magic word.... Sources! Lol stop it.— Jahlil Okafor (@JahlilOkafor) July 11, 2016
Eventually, the timid 7-foot behemoth felt that acknowledging another report was the necessary route in order to provide himself solace with his role on the team. The report came from Calkins Media's Tom Moore, who said that the Sixers "tried like hell to trade Okafor."
With the increasing attention on first-round pick and passing wunderkind Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, who'll be joining the team by the end of the summer, Okafor was adamant that he's devoted towards playing in Philadelphia.
With all that being said. I love where I am, and I am excited about this upcoming season. Big season for us! #Philly— Jahlil Okafor (@JahlilOkafor) July 11, 2016
It's the type of response you'd hope for from a 20-year-old, distraught talent probably not on the ideal team to maximize his skill set and upside. Okafor, in addition to being pelted with rumors of an eventual trade, notably is still positively shaping his image after the Boston brawl fiasco and speeding incident on the Ben Franklin Bridge early last season. It's a positive that he's been absent from the national spotlight, but it's reasonable for the second-year big man to be opinionated on a matter that directly influences his NBA trajectory.
Okafor had a relatively successful rookie season, contributing 17.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG and exhibiting a blend of footwork, touch and dexterity on the offensive end that should be vital in his NBA future. Unable to mesh cohesively will Nerlens Noel on both ends of the floor, it's been a "what return can the Sixers get for Okafor in a deal" rather than "what can he provide next year when a possibly healthy Embiid returns."
The consistency in these rumors cements the validity of management's willingness to deal last year's No. 3 pick, as Okafor's bygone era approach has fell out of favor throughout the league. He showed the ability to evolve offensively and knock down jumpers last season -- which was devoid in his game at Duke -- but his two-way game might never shadow Embiid's, whose likelihood to return early next season has an impact on Okafor's future.
Okafor's far from aloof regarding his position on the Sixers, but there might not be anything he can do in terms of growth to supersede his role in a crowded and talented frontcourt.