The Sixers did not pick up center Jahlil Okafor’s fourth-year rookie option. Contract options for Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot were exercised, according to a team press release that went out shortly after 4 p.m.
A Sixers source earlier confirmed the news to Crossing Broad.
Okafor was not specifically mentioned in the press release, though teams announce all of their contract moves at once, which is standard NBA operating procedure.
Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo announced today that the team has exercised the third-year options on the contracts of guard-forward Ben Simmons, forward Dario Šarić and guard-forward Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, as well as the fourth-year option on the contract of guard-forward Justin Anderson. By exercising their options, these players will be under contract with the Sixers for the 2018-19 season.
The Jah news seemed invitable, even before Brett Brown told reporters last Friday that the third-year center would not be in the Sixers’ rotation moving forward. Amir Johnson has been the first big off the bench while Richaun Holmes continues to recover from a wrist injury.
Okafor’s 2018-19 option would have paid him a hefty $6.3 million, eating up a decent amount of cap space for a guy who just isn’t part of the future. He was the third-overall selection in the 2015 draft and averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds as a rookie, but his numbers declined last season before a knee injury cut his sophomore campaign short. He came into camp 20 pounds lighter after converting to a vegan diet.
It’s understood that the relationship between club and player remains amicable despite the decision to move in a different direction.
Said Brown on Friday:
“I’m playing Amir (Johnson) ahead of him and that’s just the situation. Jahlil doesn’t let people know. He comes in and his head’s good and his spirit’s good. And he and I talk all the time, but that is the bottom line. He is not in the rotation.”
On one hand, Okafor not having his option picked up could make it harder for him to be traded, as there’s no guarantee he’ll stick around with his new club next year. On the other hand, there are likely some teams that would prefer the flexibility of not having his option, allowing a low-risk trial run with the big man. Either way, there doesn’t appear to be a big market for Okafor, who has been on the trade block for more than a year now.
Okafor is expected to continue to travel and train with the Sixers until a suitable trade partner is found. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll become a free agent next summer.