Trade season is tough on everyone – team management, fans, and especially players. Jahlil Okafor seems to be feeling the brunt of those NBA Trade rumors now, as well. The Philadelphi 76ers big man has been on the block for weeks, and has even missed a few games due to the anticipated move. But amidst rumors that he was already packing his bags, he still suited up for the game against the Boston Celtics Wednesday night.
After the team’s shootaround, he addressed the NBA Trade rumors by simply re-committing to winning games. “I’m just trying to focus on playin basketball,” he said, according to a story by ESPN, “It’s really difficult with all the rumors, not knowing if I’ll be here tomorrow. But I know I’m playing tonight and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Up Front Communication
Typically, team management doesn’t inform its players in advance if they’re trying to trade them. Of course, different teams will have different ways of approaching their players with the news. But the league is chock-full of stories of players being blindsided by trades. They’d wake up one morning, no expectations, then be told they’ll be wearing a different jersey by the day’s end.
Okafor has praised the Philadelphia 76ers for going a different route. “The organization has been up front with me and communicating with me that they were in advanced trades,” the power forward-center said, adding, “They didn’t tell me I was certainly out of the door, just that it was a possibility.”
He went on to thank Coach Brett Brown and team management: “I know it’s rare for teams to do that.”
Staying Or Leaving?
Coach Brett Brown also admitted that it’s not usual for teams to keep a player waiting for this kind of news for too long. Players have been held from games due to negotiations. But being held for this long is an anomaly. Before the Celtics game, Jahlil Okafor missed the Sixers’ two previous games, against the Heat and Hornets.
Perhaps, the Sixers will be glad to keep him around for a little while longer, given that sensational rookie Joel Embiid needs time off to nurse a minor knee injury. Okafor averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds last season. Once Embiid stepped up to the plate, however, his numbers dropped to 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds.
In a way, Embiid was simply an upgrade over Okafor. The team’s surplus of bigs has invited NBA trade rumors surrounding either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel all season long. For now, it looks like Jahlil Okafor is staying put. But for how much longer?