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Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor said Wednesday that he would like either to be bought out or traded, according to Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
His comments don’t come as much of a surprise, as Okafor doesn’t appear to have a future with the Sixers. On Tuesday, the team declined to pick up his fourth-year option, per ESPN.com, which will make him an unrestricted free agent after the season ends.
Last week, head coach Brett Brown confirmed Okafor wasn’t in the team’s rotation, as he’s been relegated to third-string center behind Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson. He’ll be bumped back even further once Richaun Holmes—who was the presumed backup to Embiid coming into the season—returns from his fractured wrist Friday.
“Honestly, I didn’t want them to pick up my option,” Okafor said, per Camerato. “I’ve been going through a lot since I’ve been here.”
Jessica Camerato @JCameratoNBCS
Okafor didn’t think he still would be on the Sixers at the contract extension deadline. “I didn’t think that Bryan would keep me, honestly.”
Okafor’s time in Philadelphia has been tumultuous since the team selected him third overall in the 2015 NBA draft. A promising rookie season in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game was soured by off-court issues and a meniscus injury that ended his season prematurely.
Last season, he found himself in a logjam at center, with the emergence of Embiid as a burgeoning superstar and both Holmes and Nerlens Noel on the roster (though Noel would eventually be traded). While Okafor has always offered an advanced offensive game in the post, his lack of defense and rim protection made him a tough fit in Brown’s defensive-minded scheme.
In many ways, Okafor feels like a relic of the past. In an age when NBA centers are extending their range to the three-point line, Okafor prefers to operate in isolation down on the block. And with the Sixers surrounding young phenom Ben Simmons with shooters to capitalize on his unique playmaking ability, Okafor no longer fit with the Sixers on offense, either.
Not surprisingly, Philadelphia has had Okafor on the trade block for the past two seasons. More surprisingly, interest around the league has either been nearly nonexistent or the Sixers have dramatically overestimated his value.
Regardless, the team has been unable to swing a trade to date. But Okafor has been reading the writing on the wall for some time now.
“I’m unsure if I’m still on the team,” he told Jordan Brenner of SB Nation earlier in October. “Am I really a part of this process? Am I really a part of this culture? That’s why the guys have been out there on social media, but I’ve just kind of been in the dark. I’ll go to a Sixers event, smile, take pictures with the kids and stuff like that, but I’m still thinking, ‘Am I a part of this team?'”
Not for much longer, it would appear.