Jahlil Okafor

Hawks Sign Jahlil Okafor To Non-Guaranteed Contract

SEPTEMBER 22: The deal became official on Tuesday, per RealGM’s transactions log.


SEPTEMBER 16: Former No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor is signing with the Hawks, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (via twitter). The contract will be non-guaranteed.

In a follow-up tweet, Hawks beat reporter Chris Kirschner of The Athletic notes that Okafor and recently-signed Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who is also on a non-guaranteed deal, are the most likely candidates to claim the 15th and final spot on the team’s regular season roster.

The team currently has 14 players on guaranteed contracts and 19 players signed to its training camp roster, so Okafor will be their 20th man on the roster, with no corresponding moves necessary to add him.

It’s worth noting that the Hawks could have claimed Okafor off waivers when he was released by the Nets last week, but doing so would have meant taking on a guaranteed minimum contract for the upcoming season. Waiting until he cleared waivers gave them the opportunity to sign him to a non-guaranteed deal, granting the team more flexibility with their roster.

Okafor has bounced around the league in recent years and struggled to break Detroit’s big man rotation last season before being traded to Brooklyn in the offseason. However, he does hold career averages of 10.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG in just 19.5 MPG, so he’s capable of packing an offensive punch when given the opportunity.

Nets Waive Jahlil Okafor

The Nets have waived veteran center Jahlil Okafor, the team announced today in a press release. Brooklyn acquired Okafor from the Pistons last week along with Sekou Doumbouya in the DeAndre Jordan trade.

A former third overall pick, Okafor spent last season in Detroit, averaging 5.4 PPG and 2.4 RPG in a very limited role (12.9 MPG) across 27 games. The big man has also spent time with the Sixers, Nets, and Pelicans since entering the NBA out of Duke in 2015.

Okafor’s release had been expected, since the Nets were carrying more than 15 players on guaranteed contracts and were overloaded in the frontcourt, having recently added LaMarcus Aldridge and agreed to terms with Paul Millsap.

Once they officially sign Millsap, the Nets will have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, plus DeAndre’ Bembry on a partially guaranteed deal. If the club wants to keep Bembry on its regular season roster, at least one more player will have to be traded or waived before opening night.

Okafor, meanwhile, could be claimed off waivers by any team using the minimum salary exception, but that’s unlikely, since his $2.13MM salary for 2021/22 is fully guaranteed. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll clear waivers and become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, and the Nets will be on the hook for his salary.

Nets Trade Jordan, Draft Picks To Pistons For Okafor, Doumbouya

SEPTEMBER 4: The trade is official, according to a Brooklyn press release.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Nets GM Sean Marks said in a statement.


SEPTEMBER 3: The Nets and Pistons have reached an agreement on a trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who reports that Detroit will acquire center DeAndre Jordan, four second-round picks, and $5.78MM in cash. Brooklyn will receive Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya in return.

The draft picks headed to Detroit in the deal are the Nets’ own 2022 and 2027 second-round picks, plus the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-rounder (whichever is more favorable) and the Warriors’ or Wizards’ 2025 second-rounder (whichever is more favorable), sources tell ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the plan is for the Pistons to work out a buyout agreement with Jordan, who has about $20MM left on his contract over the next two years.

The Nets had been trying for much of the offseason to find a taker for Jordan, a three-time All-NBA center who joined the team as a free agent in 2019 along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but fell out of the rotation in 2020/21. A report earlier this week indicated Jordan and the Nets were exploring a possible buyout — now it’ll be up to the Pistons to complete those talks.

Although the Nets had to give up four second-round picks to dump Jordan’s salary, the financial benefits will be significant. Jordan is making more than Okafor and Doumbouya combined this year and has multiple years left on his contract, while Okafor and Doumbouya are on expiring deals. Wojnarowski estimates (via Twitter) that the club will save $47MM in the deal after accounting for salaries and projected tax penalties.

That money could be reinvested in buying back second-round picks down the road. However, as Woj points out, Brooklyn is confident in its ability to acquire minimum-salary talent to complement its Durant/Irving/James Harden core, as the team did this week by reaching an agreement with Paul Millsap.

The Nets will also acquire a pair of players in the deal, though it’s unclear if either Okafor or Doumbouya is in their plans. The team will have 14 players on guaranteed contracts and one (DeAndre’ Bembry) on a partial guarantee even before accounting for the incoming Pistons. Perhaps the Nets will give Doumbouya – 2019’s No. 15 pick – a shot, but I’d be surprised if they retain Okafor.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), Brooklyn will create a $6.27MM trade exception in the swap, which is the difference between Jordan’s $9.88MM salary and Doumbouya’s $3.61MM figure. Okafor can be acquired using the minimum salary exception, so the Nets don’t need to match his salary.

As for the Pistons, they’ll take on some dead money as a result of this transaction, but the pros outweigh the cons. Detroit had traded away its own second-round picks from 2022 through 2026 in previous deals, so this gives general manager Troy Weaver a chance to restock his cache of draft assets. Additionally, the $5.78MM in cash the Pistons are getting in the deal – which is the max the Nets could offer – will help cover some of Jordan’s salary.

On top of that, the Pistons had been facing a roster crunch, with 16 players on guaranteed contracts. A two-for-one trade, followed by a Jordan buyout, will reduce that number to 14, giving Detroit an open roster spot to work with. The club could give a camp invitee such as Jamorko Pickett the opportunity to earn that spot this fall or could simply carry 14 players to start the regular season.

Once Jordan is bought out, he’ll be officially placed on waivers and will become an unrestricted free agent two days later. Multiple recent reports have suggested the Lakers are a suitor to keep an eye on, and Wojnarowski reiterates that point today (via Twitter), calling Los Angeles a “serious contender” to sign the veteran center.

Central Notes: J. Jackson, George, White, Markkanen

Josh Jackson may be the most expendable player in the Pistons‘ training camp battle for roster spots, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. When Hamidou Diallo re-signed last month, it gave Detroit 16 guaranteed contracts. Sources tell Edwards it took longer than expected to reach a new deal with Diallo, but he was always in the team’s plans.

Jackson is set to make $5MM in the final year of a deal he signed last offseason. The former No. 4 overall pick was productive in his first season with the Pistons, averaging 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 62 games, but Edwards notes that he’s just an average defender and an unreliable three-point shooter (30% last season). There may also not be enough minutes for Jackson, Diallo and Frank Jackson, who all play similar roles.

Edwards names Jahlil OkaforRodney McGruder and Sekou Doumbouya as other candidates to be traded or waived to reach the regular season roster limit of 15. Okafor will make $2.13MM in the final year of his contract, while McGruder has a $1.67MM expiring deal and isn’t expected to play much. Doumbouya is still on his rookie contract, but Edwards points out that he remains a raw prospect and is left over from the previous front office.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have officially announced the return of George David as assistant general manager. He held the same position from 2012-14 before leaving for the Wasserman Media Group. “I’m excited to return to the Detroit Pistons and help Tom Gores, Arn Tellem and Troy Weaver in the restoring effort of the franchise,” David said. “Detroit has always been home for me and I know how passionate the city and region is about their sports teams.  Troy’s vision for building the roster aligns with the core values of Detroit Basketball and I look forward to playing a role in the continued rise of the organization.”
  • Even though the Bulls stocked up on guards this summer, there should be playing time available for Coby White once he returns from surgery on his left shoulder, states Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Collier sees White as a back-up to Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, and he may be on the court with Alex Caruso in three-guard lineups.
  • The Cavaliers will pay Lauri Markkanen $15,690,909 for the upcoming season with slight raises throughout his new four-year deal, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Markkanen will make $16,475,454 in 2022/23, $17,259,999 in 2023/24 and $18,044,544 in 2024/25, giving the contract a total value of more than $67MM, although only $6MM of the final season is guaranteed.

Central Notes: Markkanen, Diallo, Mobley, Stevens

The NBA’s investigation of the Bulls for possible tampering involving Lonzo Ball could complicate efforts to find a new team for Lauri Markkanen, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Because Markkanen is a restricted free agent, he will need cooperation from Chicago to go elsewhere, either by not matching his offer or working out a sign-and-trade, but Johnson doesn’t believe the league will permit sign-and-trade negotiations until the probe of the early agreement with Ball is wrapped up.

The Pelicans and Mavericks both have large trade exceptions, so they remain potential destinations for Markkanen, Johnson adds. The Bulls are asking for a first-round pick in any sign-and-trade deal, and they’re not willing to take on a large, lengthy contract in return. Another possibility is for Markkanen to accept his one-year, $9MM qualifying offer and remain in Chicago, but he has indicated that he prefers to play somewhere else next season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will face a roster crunch if they keep restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, observes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit already has 15 guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, and while Diallo is searching for a better deal than his $2.1MM qualifying offer, he will likely sign it if he can’t get more money elsewhere. Edwards expects Josh Jackson, Jahlil Okafor or Sekou Doumbouya to be traded or released if Diallo stays in Detroit.
  • Jordan Brink and Austin Dufault have been promoted to player development coaches with the Pistons, Edwards tweets. Brink has been with the team since 2016 and is the only remaining member of Stan Van Gundy’s staff. Dufault played collegiately at Colorado and spent six seasons as a player in Europe.
  • The Cavaliers were satisfied with their Summer League showing, which included the first on-court experience for No. 3 pick Evan Mobley, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In three games, Mobley showed off the skills that made him one of the top prospects in the draft, but also displayed areas where he needs work, as he shot just 1 of 8 from three-point range and didn’t have reliable moves in the post. Summer League also provided a showcase for Lamar Stevens, Fedor adds, who could end up fighting for the final roster spot with Mfiondu Kabengele and Damyean Dotson if the team makes more roster additions.

Eight Current NBA Players On Nigeria’s 12-Man Olympic Roster

After making some noise in the exhibition schedule by upsetting Team USA, Nigeria will be looking to become the first African men’s basketball team to win an Olympic medal. And they’ll be doing so with a roster that features eight current NBA players, along with one former NBA player.

Here’s the 12-man squad that will represent Nigeria at the Tokyo games, per the Nigeria Basketball Federation (Twitter link):

Achiuwa, Nwora, Okafor, Okogie, and Okpala are all on guaranteed contracts for next season with their respective teams. Metu and Oni are on non-guaranteed deals, while Vincent will be eligible for restricted free agency after finishing the season on a two-way pact. Udoh, a former sixth overall pick who just finalized a two-year deal with Italian club Virtus Bologna, has appeared in a total of 400 NBA games (regular season and postseason)

While the Nigerian squad isn’t exactly loaded with star power, it’s worth highlighting since it’s rare for any country besides Team USA to send so many current NBA players to the Olympics.

Australia’s team will have seven players who finished the season on NBA rosters, while Spain’s roster features 10 players with at least some NBA experience. But the U.S. team is the only other one in Tokyo that will feature at least eight current NBAers.

Olympic Notes: Nigeria, Morris, Nnaji, Team USA

The Nigerian national team, having originally invited more than 40 players to its training camp, has trimmed its roster to 15 players, according to an announcement earlier in the week (Twitter link).

Three more cuts will be required to set the official roster for the Tokyo Olympics, but it appears there will be no shortage of NBA players on the 12-man squad. Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, Miye Oni, Josh Okogie, Jordan Nwora, Chimezie Metu, Jahlil Okafor, and Gabe Vincent remain in the mix for the final roster.

One notable player missing from that list is Monte Morris. According to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link), the Nuggets guard has been bothered by a nagging knee injury and wants to focus on getting fully healthy for the 2021/22 season. He’s sitting out of the Olympics for precautionary reasons.

Nuggets forward Zeke Nnaji received consideration for Team Nigeria as well, according to Singer (Twitter link), but the 2020 first-rounder decided to focus on individual development this season. Nnaji has interest in representing Nigeria in future international competitions, Singer notes.

Here’s more on the Tokyo games:

  • Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said on Wednesday that he has yet to decide on a captain for the U.S. squad (Twitter link via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press). Given his résumé, his veteran status, and his previous international experience, Kevin Durant seems like the most obvious choice, though Draymond Green and Damian Lillard could also be candidates.
  • Asked how likely it is that members of the U.S. Olympic squad will talk during the next month about teaming up in the NBA, Bradley Beal acknowledged that “probably a lot” of those conversations will take place. “Depends on who’s a free agent or not,” Beal said (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic). “But for the most part, we can’t mix that in right now. We’re focused on one goal at hand, and that’s bringing back a gold medal. Granted, we all have our respective, individual goals and talents once this is done. We can address those issues then.”
  • Organizers confirmed on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators due to a recent increase in coronavirus cases in the area. Ayano Shimizu of Kyodo News has the full story.

Olympic Notes: Spain, Simmons, Nigeria, Turkey, Garland

Veteran center Pau Gasol, who has represented Spain in four Olympic tournaments so far, remains on track to be part of the team in Tokyo, per an Associated Press report. Gasol was one of 18 players included on Spain’s preliminary roster for the Tokyo games, joining his brother – Lakers center Marc Gasol – and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, Pelicans big man Willy Hernangomez, and projected first-round pick Usman Garuba are among the other notable names on Spain’s preliminary roster, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s more on the Tokyo Olympics:

Okafor Practices With Pistons, Return Imminent

After undergoing surgery on his left lateral meniscus in February, Pistons reserve center Jahlil Okafor practiced with Detroit yesterday, per James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Pistons head coach Dwane Casey noted that he expects Okafor to be suited up and back on the court for Detroit within the next few days. Okafor’s recovery was expected to take six-to-eight weeks following the procedure, reported on February 10, so an imminent return fits with that projected timeline. Okafor has not played for the Pistons since January 30.

The No. 3 pick by the Sixers in the 2015 NBA draft, the 25-year-old Okafor has become a journeyman reserve as the league has moved away from score-first centers without a long-range shooting stroke. 2020/21 marks his first season with Detroit, on a two-year veteran’s minimal deal.

The 6’10” center has appeared in 12 games for the club, averaging 10.0 minutes per night, as rookie big man Isaiah Stewart has replaced Okafor in the rotational slot backing up starter Mason Plumlee.

Central Notes: Forbes, Holiday, Nwora, Stewart, Plumlee

Shooting guard Bryn Forbes has moved into the Bucks’ starting lineup in place of Jrue Holiday, who has been sidelined by the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Holiday will miss his third consecutive game on Friday and it’s unknown how long he’ll be out.

In the Bucks’ first two games without Holiday, Forbes averaged 16 PPG. Forbes holds a $2.45MM option on his contract for next season. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin has remained in that role.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks have recalled rookie Jordan Nwora from the G League’s Salt Lake City Stars, according to a team press release. Nwora appeared in one game with Salt Lake City and scored a game-high 26 points against the Erie BayHawks. The second-round pick has appeared in 10 NBA games, averaging 5.1 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 8.2 MPG.
  • Rookie center Isaiah Stewart made his first start for the Pistons on Thursday in place of injured Mason Plumlee and scored a season-high 17 points. Stewart, one of three first-rounders from the 2020 draft on Detroit’s roster, has to learn the nuances of the game but coach Dwane Casey loves Stewart’s energy, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “I wouldn’t trade his intensity, his disposition, his earnest approach for anything in the world,” Casey said. “That kid, he’s going to be OK.”
  • The Pistons were severely shorthanded up front against the Celtics on Friday, Langlois tweets. Plumlee missed his second straight game with right elbow bursitis and Sekou Doumbouya was sidelined by a concussion. Another backup big man, Jahlil Okafor, is out 6-8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery.