And-Ones: Okafor, Ferrell, Rookies, Player Empowerment

Signing with Zaragoza in Spain hasn’t gone exactly according to plan for former No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor, with the team stumbling out to a 3-7 record after he signed this summer. According to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia, Okafor is now departing Zaragoza to sign with a Chinese club, the Zhejiang Lions, who will pay for his buyout.

It sounds like the magnitude of the offer received from Zhejiang was the biggest sticking point for Okafor, and that it was more than he could’ve received from Zaragoza, as detailed in a piece from

Zaragoza head coach Porfirio Fisac openly discussed his thought process on the matter before Okafor left, as relayed by

If he leaves, for me right now in his career, it’s a mistake,” Fisac said. “I think he’d be mistaken. He’s played 15 or 20 games and is in good physical condition. It is true that he still has a lot to improve, but we cannot put more pressure on him in terms of changes of pace and efforts.

We are taking care of him. If he stays here, his career will be extended by 10 years. If he goes somewhere else, he will play five more years. It all depends on where the money is or whether you want to earn it today or later. Everyone has their own way of thinking.

Okafor, 27, holds six seasons of NBA experience across stints with the Sixers, Nets, Pelicans and Pistons. His last NBA appearance came in 2020/21 with Detroit. He averages 10.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 247 games (116 starts) for his career.

We have more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Yogi Ferrell is receiving overseas interest, with Serbian club Partizan reaching out to the 30-year-old guard, according to Partizan is currently dealing with injury issues in the backcourt, leading to their interest in Ferrell. Ferrell appeared in 259 games (53 starts) across five seasons in the NBA with the Nets, Mavericks, Kings, Cavaliers and Clippers. His last NBA appearance came in 2020/21 and he holds career averages of 7.7 points and 2.3 assists.
  • While Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama have seemingly made the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award a two-man race early in the season, the entire crop of first-year players has been impressive. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie took stock of rookies across the league, ranking Dereck Lively, Brandon Miller, Ausar Thompson, Jordan Hawkins and Cason Wallace as the next five (in order) behind Holmgren and Wembanyama on the league’s rookie ladder. It’s a different take on the rookie class than what ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton offered last week — ESPN’s duo was a touch higher on Detroit’s Marcus Sasser and lower on Lively, though all of Marks, Pelton and Vecenie agreed Holmgren was the overall most impressive rookie so far.
  • This summer’s trade requests from Damian Lillard and James Harden added another chapter to the NBA’s player empowerment saga. According to Heavy Sports’ Steve Bulpett, NBA owners are seeking ways to prevent or minimize the practice of players demanding trades in the fashion we’ve been accustomed to. “I think the whole player empowerment piece that has been running in the league for last couple of years? I think it’s about run its course, because so many just haven’t worked out,” Bulpett’s Eastern Conference source said.
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