Duke Blue Devils alum Jahlil Okafor nearly changed addresses during the NBA Trade Deadline.
While the Duke Blue Devils had largely gotten used to life without him, Jahlil Okafor has had an interesting rookie season. He got into a couple of off court incidents and had to play for a team that did not seem to have any interest in winning.
Some of those things have gotten better. The NBA forced Jerry Colangelo on the 76ers franchise to change its direction and the team signed Elton Brand to help mentor Okafor.
Still though, Okafor plays for a team that has a terrible record and no other proven commodities on its roster. Aside from Okafor there is shot blocker Nerlens Noel and the not yet healthy Joel Embiid. No one on the roster makes more than Okafor does. It is still a mess.
However someone almost came to Okafor’s rescue. That man was Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics. Ainge has been piling up a pot of gold in draft picks and young players, but could not find a way to use it to make the Celtics better. He nearly gave a lot of it up on draft day for Justise Winslow, but the Charlotte Hornets declined the deal. Coming into this trade deadline, Ainge once again looked to see what was available.
Throughout the shopping process, Ainge consistently said one thing. He kept saying that the first round pick in 2017 from the Brooklyn Nets was off the table. The reason why is obvious, Brooklyn has crashed and that pick will likely be a top 5 pick. Yet Ainge did dangle that pick behind the scenes to one team.
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That team was the Philadelphia 76ers and the player he wanted was Jahlil Okafor. Imagine the change for Okafor. Overnight he would have gone from the NBA’s AAA ball franchise to a team with playoff aspirations and good players to put around him.
It didn’t happen though. The 76ers value Okafor a bit more than the unknown value of next year’s top five pick. It helps that Philadelphia will already be in that top five pick discussion anyway.
So we tried to free you, Jahlil. Keep playing and maybe the 76ers will finally cash in this long term strategy that have been holding on to for so long.