Pelicans Sign Jahlil Okafor

AUGUST 9: The Pelicans have officially signed Okafor, according to the NBA’s official transactions log.Jahlil Okafor of the Brooklyn Nets vertical

AUGUST 8: The Pelicans have agreed to sign free agent center Jahlil Okafor, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). A source tells Wojnarowski that Okafor will sign a two-year contract with a partial guarantee in the first year and a team option for year two.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate first reported on Tuesday that the Pelicans and Okafor were engaged in discussions about a possible deal. As we noted at the time, the 22-year-old could be a good fit on a Pelicans roster that is short on traditional centers. Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, and Julius Randle are expected to see the majority of the frontcourt minutes for the club, but none of those players is a natural five.

While Emeka Okafor, Alexis Ajinca, and Cheick Diallo are also options at center for the Pelicans, Okafor’s salary is still non-guaranteed, Ajinca missed the entire 2017/18 season with a knee injury, and Diallo has played primarily at the four since arriving in New Orleans.

The Pelicans currently have 12 players on fully guaranteed salaries for 2018/19, with Emeka Okafor, DeAndre Liggins, Troy Williams, and now Jahlil Okafor among the players with non-guaranteed deals or partial guarantees. That should open the door for the former Sixer to potentially earn a spot on New Orleans’ 15-man regular season roster.

Okafor, drafted by the 76ers with the third overall pick in 2015, averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG during his rookie year, but has seen his playing time and production decline since then. After being traded to Brooklyn this past season, he posted 6.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 26 contests (12.6 MPG) with the Nets.

Because Okafor isn’t a strong rim protector or outside shooter, he has had trouble carving out a consistent role over the course of his NBA career. However, there shouldn’t be much pressure on him to make an impact in New Orleans — the team has already used its mid-level exception on Randle and its bi-annual exception on Elfrid Payton, meaning Okafor’s new partially guaranteed contract will only be worth the minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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15 thoughts on “Pelicans Sign Jahlil Okafor

  1. acarneglia

    I hope Okafor will get to finally see some consistent minutes. Davis can help coverup for his defensive shortcoming and that may help Okafor to stay on the floor.

    • Jahlil Okafor is a poor man’s Greg Monroe.

      Not as good a scorer but decent, and the same kind of defensive effort and ability. Not a great rebounder either.

      • Billy Winters

        I know he has not fared well but he was one of the best back to the basket guys in the league his rookie year.

      • Freddy H

        My exact question, why does Greg Monroe get monster contracts and endless opportunities, but his clone who is like 24 cant stick for more than league min.
        Seems everyone can use an extra big until the name is Jhalil Okafor.

  2. I give no fox

    Until he commits to conditioning, rebounding, and defense he will continue to be a marginal rotation player at best. Back to the basket bigs need a secondary skill to see meaningful minutes and all he seems to care about is offense. His sixers numbers are a mirage coz he was a volume scorer. His efficiency was atrocious in that rookie year and once the minutes and 20 shots a game went away, so did his counting stats

  3. paladin

    Respect for the jersey, shows respect for the work ethic required to be able to wear the jersey. His level of respect equaled his effort level which is why he is begging for the league minimum after total failure as a high draft pick for Philly. He didn’t want to wear the sixers Jersey, now he is taking anything he can get. He should be playing in China for the Championship team Eggroll Equalizers in the Won Ton Warrior League.

    • Wtf do jersey gotta do with. Man these old heads on here don’t know what the f**k they’re talking about. Plus put some respect on the Chinese league. It is a legit competitive league

      • paladin

        Look at his draft day footage. Look at the way he treated his Seventy Sixer jersey and tell me as a fan of their team you would not be upset? As a fan of the NBA , it was very disrespectful. Sixers were dissed. NBA got dissed. Learn some respect my youngster friend. Poor Okie got to beg for bobbles. Boo Hoo I prefer pocket pizza to eggroll

  4. Why all the hate for Okafor, he is a very good player in need of a real chance.
    I hope they give it to him in NOLA, they aren’t that many talented centers in the league, people gets high on guys like Capela, DJ & so on… they are good at what they do but no talent, this guy is got talent, needs the right place to show it.

    • I give no fox

      He had plenty of chances and didnt do what was needed to be a starter in the NBA. His shortcomings are primarily effort based issues. You can work on defense and rebounding but he chooses to work on offense instead. He is a very talented offensive player within 10 feet of the basket. He has limited range and gives zero effort on the glass and on the defensive end. But hey, chicks dig the spin move

  5. Otogar

    If the Pelicans go and get one or two bigs more, they could play “big ball” with Anthony Davis at the point. Perhaps they should be thinking of getting some wing that can shoot instead…

  6. greg1

    There’s cesc making brilliant comments again!

    Well, if nothing more, the Pels will lead the league in guys with the last name Okafor. He still has a spot in the league (barely) and sorely needs to develop a mid range to outside shot to stick longer term. Don’t think he has the level of commitment to personal growth for that to happen.

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