Can you blame him?
Less than 24 hours after his fourth-year option was declined by the Sixers, Jahlil Okafor told reporters that he’d like to move on sooner rather than later, instead of riding the bench for the rest of the season.
The approach was always tricky. Picking up that option would lock a potential trade partner into a 6.3 million dollar salary next year. Declining the option would leave suitors with the threat of their new acquisition walking at the end of the year.
Okafor says he spoke to GM Bryan Colangelo about that issue:
“He said that he felt that if he bought me out, another team would be getting me for free,” Okafor said. “But that’s where we stand today because you waited so long to trade me. There’s nothing else to do. I’m not playing here and at the end of the season, I’m an unrestricted free agent. So I want to get on the court and play and produce.”
I wasn’t at Wednesday’s shootaround, but Okafor’s words seem very genuine and reasonable on paper. He’s handled the situation extremely well, considering the fact that he’s been essentially frozen out by the franchise that selected him third overall in the 2015 draft:
Here were Jahlil Okafor's initial comments on the Sixers not picking up his option. pic.twitter.com/rOoJeWWmDO
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) November 1, 2017
.@JahlilOkafor "Bryan didn't think [a buyout] would be a good idea, because he said 'He would be giving me away to a team for free …
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) November 1, 2017
I’m not sure what else he can say beyond that. The situation appears to be amicable, but it makes you wonder what exactly the Sixers were asking for if they couldn’t get a trade done after more than a year of alleged shopping.
The worst case scenario for Okafor is that he sits on the bench all year, becomes an unrestricted free agent, and goes home to the Chicago Bulls. The best case scenario is that someone throws the Sixers a bone for a Jahlil trial run. I don’t know what value he has left, since most of it was already wiped out when he was left on the bench to begin the season. He played one game this year, the Toronto loss, in which the Sixers did not have Joel Embiid or Richaun Holmes available.