Brett Brown: Jahlil Okafor Not Playing Due to “Defensive Reasons and Veteran Reasons”

Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jahil Okafor is stuck in purgatory.

Less than 12 hours after the Sixers decided not to pick up his fourth-year rookie option, the 21-year-old center told reporters that he’d like to move on with his career via buyout or trade.

Brett Brown spoke about the Okafor topic before tip-off against the Hawks, explaining that the 2015 draft pick was simply down on the depth chart for various reasons.

“I think when I look at Joel Embiid, we can end the conversation there,” Brown said pregame. “Joel is going to play the lion’s share of the minutes. The conversation really is Amir (Johnson), I suppose. Right now I’ve decided that, for defensive reasons and veteran reasons, to go with Amir. At times, there is a small ball game where we play Dario Saric as a 5. Richaun Holmes is going to be in the conversation in a few days or a week or whatever that is. There’s a whole other thing coming. So for me, that’s how I see it. It’s my job as the coach to make those decisions. That’s the decision I made. Those aren’t easy decisions, but it’s the decision we made. And I think Jahlil has greater aspirations obviously, rather than being Joel’s backup. It’s a little bit like Nerlens (Noel). So we try to help him and help the club as time unfolds.”

It was sort of a catch-22 for Okafor. Exercising his option would have left his new team with a $6.3 million dollar cap hit next season. Passing on the option, then trading him, would mean that Jahlil could simply walk at the end of the year.

For now, he’ll just sit on the bench until a resolution is reached.

“There’s a part of it from a human side that I understand,” Brown explained. “I look at it with a few sort of vision lines. When I look at Jahlil, trying to help him move forward, whether that’s here or somewhere else, trying to make sure that we give him our best effort coaching him and getting him lifting and getting him shots and playing basketball – although I’m not playing him – still taking in this environment and keeping him positive and moving forward and developing. I look at that responsibility. And he and I talk freely. Then I look at Bryan (Colangelo); he’s inherited a situation and he’s looking to do the right thing by the organization. Jahlil’s done nothing wrong since he’s been here. He’s handled himself with class. And he’s been tremendous as a teammate. So you’ve got this sort of slippery slope of Bryan trying to do the best for the organization in a situation he inherited, and Jahlil wanting to play basketball. Somewhere out there, I’m always reminded with my young guys, what is the high road? What’s the right thing to do? What would you want somebody to tell your son? All I know is to come in with your head high and do your job and things will work out. I truly believe that. And so the frustration Jahlil has, I get. I understand that. I don’t begrudge him at all. I’m gonna continue to coach him. Bryan is going to continue to do his job. And at 21 years old he’s got a hell of a future.”

“He’s experienced a lot since he’s been here. He’s a good person. He is a talent. I’m going to continue to coach him until someone says I’m not.”

Okafor could return home to Chicago and play for the Bulls next year. Releasing him does nothing for the Sixers, but if they haven’t traded him by now, it’s probably not going to happen. Might be time to just move on instead of holding the guy hostage.

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12 Responses

  1. Jah is facing a similar fate as a guy named Carlos “Bud” Ogden, who played for Sixers many moons ago. Back iin the day, Ogden was the 12th man on the roster, therefore, he was the most popular player on the team. Fans chanted his name, and were disappointed when coach Dr. Jack Ramsay didn’t use him. Everyone hoped for a blowout so he could play. As things went, he disappeared after 2 NBA seasons (’69-’71), and was never heard from again.

  2. Its time to buy him out, plain and simple. Negotiate a buyout clause and move on. Brett Brown or the Sixers organization should not spend any more time talking about Okafor. All focus should be on the two SUPER STARS currently playing at a high level, and not some lazy defender who will literally not play another minute with the team. Please, bite the bullet BC, let him move on, so that we the TEAM can move forward!!!!! What are we talking about, $ 6million hit??

    1. The GM said they don’t want to give him away for nothing so no buyout. Doesn’t seem like a well thought out strategy. Also, I wish Brett Brown would just STFU.

      1. I know thats what he “said”, but that doesn’t mean shit. They “say” a lot of things and do the other more times than not. There is not a “well thought out strategy” here. There is literally nothing for J.O to do on this team. It is now a Major distraction on a team that you already have the pieces for. I get what you’re saying, but we must use second level thinking here. Brett Brown nor B.C want to keep talking about Jah. My bet, gone in week. I’ll come back and say told ya so then.

  3. Epic failure on the team’s part. Not only did they wait too long on this issue, but their greediness for a solid deal is coming back and biting them. They told Jahlil to drop weight and he did, not sure why you can’t at least try playing him especially considering Richaun is out?

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