The Pelicans are in discussions with free agent center Jahlil Okafor on a possible deal that would see him come to training camp with the club, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link). New Orleans has used its mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, but could offer Okafor a minimum-salary contract.
Okafor, drafted by the Sixers with the third overall pick in 2015, averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG during his rookie season, 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.
While Okafor hasn’t generated a ton of interest this offseason, he reportedly worked out for four teams in Las Vegas in July. At the time, the 22-year-old was said to be “hopeful” about finding an NBA deal before training camps opened in September. The former lottery pick has also allegedly received interest from teams in China.
Okafor would be an interesting addition for a Pelicans roster that is short on traditional centers. With Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle expected to serve as New Orleans’ primary power forwards, Anthony Davis figures to see plenty of time at the five, even if it’s not necessarily his natural position.
Emeka Okafor, Alexis Ajinca, and Cheick Diallo are also options at center for the Pelicans, but 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.