Last week, Jahlil Okafor seemed to be well on his way to being traded. He was benched for Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat, which according to head coach Brett Brown was because of trade rumors surrounding the second-year center.
A source also told Liberty Ballers that Okafor had informed teammates he expected to be traded within the coming days, and the team opted to leave him home for their game against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday as many waited for a deal to be finalized.
In the words of our 45th President of the United States, any deal close to completion involving Okafor was apparently “fake news”.
It’s not even trade scenarios. It’s a trade scenario that involves the Pelicans. Nothing has really changed since nine days ago when The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Pelicans were “engaged on several fronts to land a center,” including Okafor. Woj reported the Pelicans want to include a large salary (likely Alexis Ajinca), but the Sixers don’t want to take that on, which a source confirmed to me. Those negotiations are stuck in gridlock. The shelving of Okafor was likely meant to flush out the best offers around the league, sources speculate.
No one is buying what Bryan Colangelo is selling: a one-dimensional center who can’t defend, rebound, or pass on a roster loaded with big men.
So let’s recap what Bryan Colangelo has done over the past few weeks:
- He attempted to cover up Joel Embiid’s meniscus tear by citing HIPAA laws, then rushed into action to inform the media 15 minutes after Derek Bodner had already revealed to the public that Embiid was dealing with more than just a bone bruise. In an article written by The Ringer’s John Gonzalez, a source with knowledge of the situation admitted it was “doubtful” Colangelo would’ve ever revealed the nature of Embiid’s injury if not for Bodner’s report.
- He may have pump faked an Okafor trade by leaving him in Philadelphia expecting to get a deal done over the weekend, nobody bit, and now the Sixers are forced to welcome him back to the team in what has become a very awkward situation that continues to exacerbate the team’s front court issues.
For someone who was brought in to repair relationships with the fans, media, and fellow NBA front offices, his tactics are making him look more like a used car salesman than a general manager.
And as our own Matt Carey pointed out on Twitter, re-installing Okafor back into the rotation lends credence to the suggestion Colangelo didn’t have any real suitors outside of New Orleans.
The fact that Okafor is not only rejoining the team, but is expected to play lends serious credence to the "he's bluffing" theory.— Matt Carey (@RealMattCarey) February 15, 2017
This whole situation is asinine, but if the real hold up on a potential deal is taking on Alexis Ajinca’s contract, which is worth just over $10 million total in the next two seasons, then Colangelo is being unreasonably stubborn. That deal is pennies compared to the deals that are going to be thrown around over the next few seasons, and the Sixers have the most cap space in the NBA; they can afford to eat a contract like that if it means still recouping a first-round pick and parting with a player who clearly doesn’t fit in their system.
The irony of the situation is that Colangelo may just have to give in anyway. O’Connor says that the Pelicans are the only team interested, and it might just stay that way. Colangelo threw all his chips on this table over the weekend, and not a single team budged. Hell, the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers, two teams reportedly in on Okafor (although O’Connor says they weren’t), decided to swap big men amongst each other instead.
Colangelo has repeatedly said he won’t make a bad trade just to do it, but at this point he may just have to. He’s backed himself into a corner, and considering how much this team believes in optics, Colangelo will look even more foolish if he keeps Okafor past the deadline rather than dealing him.
What a banner month it’s been for the supposed man of action.
The Sixers have trades to make. Who's likely to be out the door?Posted by Liberty Ballers on Thursday, January 12, 2017