Eastern Notes: Okafor, Porzingis, Clifford

The Sixers weren’t aware of the second altercation that allegedly involved Jahlil Okafor on the night of November 25th, coach Brett Brown told reporters, but the team maintains its faith in the No. 3 overall pick even as it suspended him for two games beginning with Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks, as Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv details. Brown said Okafor is “ashamed” and “embarrassed,” but Mike Krzyzewski, the former Duke center’s college coach, maintains that Okafor is of high character even amid a tide of disturbing reports.

“Let’s make our point. There is hard luck,” Brown said. “There are mistakes that have been made, he does own it, and nobody’s proud of this right now. And so we will support him, he’s ours and we will move on.”

Okafor reportedly plans to give strong consideration to signing his qualifying offer at the end of his rookie scale contract, so time will tell how he’ll regard the way the Sixers organization is treating him now. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Knicks team president Phil Jackson sees a “magical element” to Kristaps Porzingis, but in Jackson’s first public comments of the regular season Wednesday on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Rick Fox (audio link), he deflected credit for having taken the 7’3″ Latvian sensation with the No. 4 pick in June. Marc Berman of the New York Post provides a partial transcription. “It’s not me, it’s all on him,’’ Jackson said. “This is the young man that’s done it. You sit in those spots [in the draft] and analyze what you can do and have control of. … We made a choice, a logical choice, and not having seen him but once in person, just in a shooting exhibition, I felt comfortable making the choice. I’m just happy the personality, drive and work ethic goes along with that talent level.’’
  • Hornets GM Rich Cho cited a desire for continuity and Steve Clifford‘s organization, work ethic and rapport with his players in a statement from the team that confirmed Clifford has put pen to paper on the extension they agreed to last week.
  • Hassan Whiteside appears to be a lock to sign a maximum-salary contract when he hits free agency in July, opines Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, who takes a look at the rapid ascent of the Heat big man who’s in the final season of a two-year, minimum-salary deal.
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