MARCH 22ND, 1:25pm: Okafor underwent surgery today, the Sixers announced via press release.
MARCH 11TH, 3:29pm: Jahlil Okafor will miss the rest of the season because of a torn meniscus in his right knee, according to a timetable the team announced via press release. The Sixers anticipate the center will return to basketball activities in about six weeks, but the regular season has less than five weeks remaining. The news is no shock, as Sixers coach Brett Brown wouldn’t rule out the possibility earlier this week that Okafor was done for the season.
“Jahlil recently started to experience discomfort in his right knee, which we immediately investigated,” GM Sam Hinkie said in the team’s statement. “After a comprehensive series of tests and additional evaluation by our medical team, it was revealed that he has a small tear of the meniscus. Jahlil will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure to address the injury. Timing and details of the procedure will be finalized in the coming days.”
Thus ends a season of strong production but lingering questions for last year’s No. 3 overall pick. The 20-year-old averaged a team-leading 17.5 points per game, but the several off–court incidents in which Okafor was involved became a major story early this season, and the NBA’s reported displeasure with how the Sixers handled the situation contributed to the team’s hiring of Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations. The teaming of Okafor and fellow former lottery pick Nerlens Noel, both natural centers, also presents a long-term challenge for the team.
Okafor hasn’t played since February 28th, when he suffered a right shin contusion in a game against the Magic, though that injury isn’t necessarily related to his knee, as Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly and Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted. He’d been dealing with soreness in his knee since at least December, when he missed two games because of it, and it became a greater concern this week while he was trying to make his way back from the shin injury, according to Camerato.
The surgery won’t do much to affect his contract status, since he’s in year one of a four-year rookie scale contract. A decision on his third-year team option is due in the fall, but it’s almost certain the Sixers will pick it up.
How would you rate Okafor’s rookie season? Did he perform up to your expectations? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.