Jahlil Okafor

Nets Notes: Okafor, Stauskas, Crabbe, Harris

Even after suffering a season worst 33 point loss to Toronto on Friday night, Nets center Jahlil Okafor and guard Nik Stauskas both appeared to be in high spirits after finally being able to get back on the court ten days removed from a trade that brought them to Brooklyn from Philadelphia in exchange for Trevor Booker, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

After playing only 25 minutes for Philadelphia all season, Okafor logged 23 minutes in his Nets debut, scoring ten points and grabbing four rebounds. Stauskas, meanwhile, scored a team high 22 points of 5-of-7 shooting from long range. “It just felt great to be back on the basketball court,” Stauskas said. “I hadn’t played that much in Philly, so it felt good to run up and down again.” Being from the Toronto area, Stauskas added, “maybe [being home helped] a little bit. But for me, it was more excitement to be back out there.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets have their own “process” for Okafor’s acclimation to the Nets’ style of play, Lewis reveals in a separate story. “With Jahlil, it’s going to be a process,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s shown a lot of potential and strength in the post. That’d be cool if we could throw it in there a little more, [have] a little more balance.” Notwithstanding Okafor’s post play acumen, he knows that the game has changed and he’s ready for the challenge. “I have to get comfortable shooting threes in the game. That’s the way coach wants the team to play. If you’re open for three in the corner, he wants guys to shoot it. I’m going to be in the gym constantly so I can knock that down.”
  • In yet another story for the New York Post, Lewis relays how the Nets believe that sharpshooter Allen Crabbe, who has been battling left knee soreness, will shoot his way out of a recent slump sooner rather than later. Crabbe, who has shot 4 for his last 21 from long distance, is expected back for tonight’s game against Indiana after missing Friday’s loss to Toronto. Said Atkinson, “right now he’s struggling a little. It’s just like a batter that has a two-game little slump. He’ll come back and he’ll make shots. I’m not worried about that.”
  • In an interesting piece for NBA.com, Tom Dowd chronicles how Joe Harris found his way onto the Nets’ roster. After being waived by Orlando in January, 2016, and unable to hook on with another team for the remainder of the season, Harris spent the summer of 2016 looking for another opportunity in the NBA. Upon meeting with Harris following a team workout, Atkinson was hooked. “What I loved, he took ownership,” said Atkinson. “That convinced me that this is a guy we want. Just his character to say that. (And) since he’s been with us, it’s amazing his commitment to what we’re doing.”

Atlantic Notes: Wright, Okafor, Whitehead

Nearly a month after dislocating his shoulder injury, Delon Wright will make his return to the Raptors lineup, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets. Wright last saw action on November 16.

Prior to the injury, Wright had been enjoying a solid season serving as a vital part of a Raptors second-unit that has yielded plenty of credit this season. While his absence was noticeable, third-string guard Fred VanVleet filled in admirably as the primary backup.

Wright, who had averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 assists in just over 20 minutes per game this season, is expected to be on somewhat of a minute restriction, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tonight is the night that recent Nets acquisitions Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas make their debut, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. The pair, he adds, are expected to get a “healthy dose of playing time” in their first Brooklyn appearance.
  • The Celtics will be without Marcus Morris for at least a week. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets that the forward who has missed four of the past five games with a lingering knee injury isn’t expected to be back until, perhaps, December 23 or Christmas Day.
  • Second-year Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead has changed his representation, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The point guard and former Andy Miller client will now be represented by Sam Permut of Roc Nation.
  • The Knicks have thrived without Carmelo Anthony on board but veteran guard Courtney Lee doesn’t think that his absence is why the team is winning. “If Melo was here, we would’ve made that adjustment with him,” he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “So you can’t just pinpoint it at him and say, ‘Well he left and we made these adjustments.’ The style of play was going to be different from last year regardless.

Atlantic Notes: Okafor, Kanter, Morris

There’s no timetable for Jahlil Okafor to make his Nets debut. Head coach Kenny Atkinson is hoping to ease the big man’s transition to his new club. Alex Labidou of the Nets’ official site writes that the center appreciates the team’s patient approach to his situation.

[The Nets] know my weaknesses and strengths and I’m working with them every day to get better,” Okafor said. “They already told me what they want me to work on and like I said, I’m all in.

Okafor was acquired by the Nets on December 7, having played the first two seasons of his NBA career in Philadelphia.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division this evening:

  • Despite the fact that he’s barely over “40-50%”, Enes Kanter isn’t about to sit out any games for the Knicks if he doesn’t have to. The big man, who’s posted 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in a widely acclaimed first few months in New York, told Fred Kerber of the New York Post that he knows all too well that every single game matters over the course of an NBA season.
  • The Raptors vowed to tweak their offense over the offseason and are already reaping the benefits. As James Herbert of CBS writes, the team has broken the bad habits that led to consistent playoff letdowns.
  • The Celtics have been without Marcus Morris for four of their past five contests, prompting president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to come up with a plan to help ease the offseason addition back into a consistent routine, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes.

Nets Notes: Culture, Carroll, Okafor

GM Sean Marks was worried that parting ways with locker room favorites Trevor Booker and Sean Kilpatrick would disrupt the Nets‘ chemistry, which is why he took a proactive approach, personally explaining to the team why the move was best for the organization. Coach Kenny Atkinson also sat down with several players to make sure the reason for the transactions was understood, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays.

“The plan going forward is to always inform these guys of important decisions like that, change of roster,” Atkinson said before adding that he feels the team will accept Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas.

“I think it’ll be a seamless transition,” the coach continued. “They’ll accept these two new guys and the plan for the future is to have a better Nets team going forward. That was the goal. I’m glad we explained it to the players. That’s the type of organization we want, with open communication with the players.”

Here’s more from Brooklyn:

  • DeMarre Carroll, who arrived in Brooklyn during the offseason, explained how the Nets‘ approach impacted his feelings on the transactions, Lewis adds in the same piece. “We were devastated,” Carroll said of losing the two veterans. “They were like one of our brothers, both of them, SK, Sean Kilpatrick and Trevor. But they came to talk to us and try to make us see the bigger picture, see why they did the trade.”
  • Carroll added (in the same piece) that he feels the two former lottery picks will be able to understand the culture and fit right in. “I feel like that’ll be easy, because if you don’t fit in you’ll stick out like a sore thumb in this [culture],” the small forward said.
  • Okafor is motivated to prove himself after two-plus uninspiring seasons in Philadelphia, Zach Braziller of the New York Post passes along. “I have a chip on my shoulder,” Okafor said. “This is the first time where people are against me in a sense because I’ve always been the hyped-up guy. It’s something new for me to experience, so I’m glad that I am experiencing it.”

Sixers/Nets Trade Notes: Reactions, Analysis, More

After spending the better part of 2017 on the trade block, Jahlil Okafor finally has a new NBA home, with the Sixers and Nets completing a trade on Thursday that sent Okafor, Nik Stauskas, and a 2019 second-round pick to Brooklyn in exchange for Trevor Booker. We’ve got several notes related to that deal to pass along this morning, so let’s dive right in…

Analysis:

  • Acquiring Okafor is another shrewd move for the Nets as they continue to rebuild their roster, writes Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. While Okafor didn’t generate a ton of interest on the trade market, one Western Conference exec tells Mannix that his team would have had “strong interest” in the third-year center as a free agent. “He’s a good player,” said that Western exec. “He’s probably never going to be a great player, but he will always be a very good scorer. You go get guys like that when you can.”
  • In the view of Derek Bodner of The Athletic, the Sixers essentially traded a future second-round pick for Booker, prompting Bodner to examine whether the veteran forward is worth it. Although the Athletic scribe isn’t quite sure about Booker’s fit, he notes that the deal improves Philadelphia’s bench and doesn’t put much of a dent into the team’s draft-pick stash.
  • Okafor has a chance to be a very good offensive player for the Nets, says Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype.
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) isn’t overly bullish on the trade for either team, giving the Nets a grade of B, and the Sixers a C. Even though Pelton likes Brooklyn’s side a little better, he notes that opening up a roster spot and adding some extra depth at power forward could pay off for Philadelphia.

Reactions:

  • Okafor is “extremely” excited to be a Net, a source close to the former third overall pick tells Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports.
  • Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Booker said that he wasn’t too surprised by the deal, since he felt like he might be moved at some point in 2017/18. More than anything, Booker says, he’s excited to go to an “up-and-coming team” like the Sixers, adding that he could picture himself in Philadelphia long-term if the team wants to keep him around beyond this season.
  • Joel Embiid engaged in some playful trash talk with his longtime teammate in the wake of the trade, as Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. “I made sure to let [Okafor] know that I was going to kick his ass,” Embiid said. “We play them four times a year.” The Sixers’ star center added – on a more serious note – that he’s “really happy” for Okafor, who is a good friend (Twitter link).

Other notes:

  • We typically like to break down the salary cap implications of each major NBA trade, including how the deal creates trade exceptions or impacts a club’s long-term cap outlook. However, there aren’t many cap-related items to pass along on the Sixers/Nets swap. The Nets remain under the cap, so they can’t create a trade exception, and the 76ers won’t get one either.
  • Booker, Okafor, and Stauskas all have expiring contracts, meaning neither team will create or give up any cap room for the summer of 2018. Booker will be an unrestricted free agent, while Stauskas will be eligible for restricted free agency, though he seems unlikely to get a qualifying offer. As for Okafor, he’ll be unrestricted, but the Nets won’t be able to offer him a starting salary worth more than about $6.3MM (the value of his declined 2018/19 option) if they want to re-sign him.
  • CBA rules prevent a team from acquiring a player with an exception and then aggregating his salary with another salary in a trade during the next two months. For instance, the Sixers couldn’t immediately combine Booker’s $9MM+ salary with Amir Johnson‘s $11MM salary to trade for a player earning $20MM+. However, that two-month restriction will lift just before the 2018 trade deadline, which falls on February 8.

Nets Acquire Jahlil Okafor From Sixers

5:22pm: The reported trade is now official, both teams have announced in press releases.Jahlil Okafor vertical

3:16pm: The Nets and Sixers are nearing a deal that will send Jahlil Okafor to Brooklyn, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. In the trade, Lowe adds, Philly will also send Nik Stauskas and a second-round pick to the Nets in exchange for Trevor Booker.

The second-round pick heading from the Sixers to the Nets will actually be the Knicks’ second-rounder in 2019, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. Charania also clarifies that the Nets will promptly release guard Sean Kilpatrick in order to create space for the two incoming players.

The move to Brooklyn serves as an excellent opportunity for 2015’s third overall pick. Having seen action in just two contests for the Sixers this season, Okafor was in desperate need of a change of scenery. His camp had been working directly with the franchise to find a suitable new destination since at least October.

Okafor will slot into the Nets’ depth chart as a potential starter. Given that Okafor averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a rookie back in 2015/16, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to eat into Timofey Mozgov‘s role at the five. Okafor, after all, showed up to training camp this fall in the best shape of his career.

Worth keeping an eye on is the fact that Okafor will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season thanks to Philadelphia’s decision to decline his 2018/19 fourth-year option. If the Nets want to re-sign him, they won’t be able to offer him a starting salary worth more than the value of that declined option (approximately $6.3MM).

The acquisition of Stauskas may not move the needle much for Brooklyn fans, but the former Michigan Wolverine will reunite with Caris LeVert and add depth on the perimeter. He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in 2018.

Finally, the Sixers will benefit from Booker’s veteran presence and his expiring $9.1MM contract isn’t going to impact the team’s financial future. Booker has averaged 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in just 21.9 minutes per game so far this season and will provide extra depth for a young team that is looking to turn the corner and seriously compete in the East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor is still in limbo in Philadelphia, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that Okafor’s camp continues to push the Sixers for a buyout, while president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo remains focused on finding a trade involving the former third overall pick.

According to Wojnarowski, Colangelo’s asking price for Okafor has “steadily dropped.” The Sixers had initially been seeking a pair of first-round picks when the young center first went on the block, but would likely settle for a second-round pick and an expiring deal at this point. As Wojnarowski details, Colangelo also hasn’t given up on the possibility of Okafor’s contract being rolled into a larger deal, so Philadelphia may be inclined to hang onto him until the February 8 trade deadline.

For his part, Okafor has been patient as the Sixers try to find him a more suitable NBA home, but he admitted to Wojnarowski that he hopes the team will make a move sooner rather than later.

“I would like for them to just send me somewhere where I can get an opportunity,” Okafor said. “I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me and I would just like to get an opportunity to play with a trade or a buyout. I just hope something happens quickly.

“This is my third year in the NBA, and I know it’s a business,” Okafor continued. “I don’t know if it’s fair or not, but in talking to other people in the NBA, talking to retired players, one thing I’ve heard them say is that what’s going on with me isn’t right and they’ve never seen anything like this before. … I know it’s business, but in my eyes, I don’t know if it’s good business.”

Per Wojnarowski, more than half of the NBA’s 30 teams indicated to ESPN that they’d have interest in rolling the dice on Okafor as a long-term project. None of those clubs seem inclined to give up a draft asset to do so though, preferring to wait until he becomes a free agent. That’s currently set to happen in the summer of 2018, since the Sixers declined Okafor’s fourth-year option. However, the soon-to-be 22-year-old and agent Bill Duffy would like to see it happen sooner.

“I’m hopeful that Bryan will do what has always brought him and the players in his organization success and be flexible as Jahlil has handled himself the right way,” Duffy said. “There’s been a focus on trading Jah for the past nine months, but nothing has come to fruition. At this point, it’s time to exercise that flexibility because I don’t think anything in the marketplace is going to change. His contract is still going to expire in June, and teams are still going to hold onto their assets.

“We are simply requesting the organization be willing to proceed reasonably and allow Jah to get on with his career,” Duffy added. “The Sixers are positioned well for the present and the future, and we only want the same for Jahlil.”

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Okafor, Embiid

The Raptors reinvented their offense after a memorable offseason press conference in which president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri suggested that change would be coming. As Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, the team’s plan to change it’s mindset without actually changing its roster has actually worked.

With a desire to adapt to the ever-changing NBA landscape, the Raptors charged assistant coach Nick Nurse with the task of modernizing the team’s offense, ushering them from an era of one-and-one play into a new one that rewards ball movement and three-point shooting.

Prior to joining the Raptors, Nurse served as the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a G League team that paced the league in three-point attempts during his time there. Already this season, he’s convinced every Raptor, with the exception of Jakob Poeltl, to hoist a three.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors are making the most out of second-year forward Pascal Siakam‘s rare motor, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “That’s something that’s kind of small but it’s huge, because a lot of guys can’t run like him and don’t want to run like him and don’t have the desire to run like him, and he does,” head coach Dwane Casey says. “And he focuses on it. He thinks about it. He knows that’s how he can score, is outrun people down the floor.
  • It wasn’t long ago when Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers in scoring. These days the 21-year-old center can’t even get on the court. The trend seems eerily similar to the Nerlens Noel situation from last season, Sarah Todd of The Inquirer writes.
  • Despite only operating at 81% capacity, Sixers center Joel Embiid believes he’s the NBA’s best defensive player, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes. “Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said. “I’m still getting better. My blocks are a little down [compared to last season]. I’m a better rebounder this year.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Okafor, Embiid

Markelle Fultzs NBA career has endured an inauspicious start as this year’s first overall pick has endured shooting difficulties stemming from a balky shoulder. The Washington product appeared in four games with the 76ers before he was sidelined indefinitely with a muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. As the Sixers are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-5 record, so rushing Fultz back is not a smart idea, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Murphy outlined three reasons why the Sixers are in a good position without their prized selection. The team is currently a projected playoff team, playing Fultz while he figures out his jumper is counterproductive, and Philadelphia is thriving with their current perimeter shooters, including J.J. Redick and Robert Covington.

“What it all boils down to is this: through 10 games, the Sixers look like a team that is more than capable of getting by without an additional role player,” Murphy writes. “They also look like a team that could reach a new level with Fultz playing the type of game they envisioned when drafting him. The obvious move is to focus not on getting him back on the court, but on getting his game back to where it was in college.”

Here are some other news tidbits surrounding the seventh-place Sixers:

  • Despite appearing in just two games this season, Jahlil Okafor has continued to put in hard work as he awaits a resolution on his future, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After shedding 20 pounds in the offseason, the former third overall pick is now an impending free agent in limbo, but a favorite of coach Brett Brown. “He knows at any moment somebody can say, ‘You’ve been traded to this team.’ You get on a plane and play 25 minutes,” Brown said. “There’s an appropriate fear that you need to have.”
  • In a separate piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pompey writes that Joel Embiid — who entered the year with a minutes restriction due to his decorated injury history — is dealing with knee soreness. However, the team is cautiously optimistic about how his body will hold up.

Cavs Notes: James’ Impact, James’ Ambitions, Monroe

The impact that LeBron James has on the basketball world goes beyond the court. The superstar has helped a number of teammates land significant paydays, as outlined by Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

[James] definitely puts you in position to be successful to showcase what you’re great at and he enhances it on the bigger stage,” teammate Tristan Thompson, one of the chief beneficiaries of James’ impact said. “Eight and eight on a championship team is worth more than eight and eight on a .500 team or a team that doesn’t make the playoffs. Of course, that’s definitely a huge factor.

Beyond Thompson, Lloyd lists players like J.R. Smith (who is represented by the same agency as James and Thompson) but also Matthew Dellavedova, whose scrappy play under the postseason spotlight landed him a $38MM contract.

If we didn’t go to the Finals, I don’t get that playoff experience,” Dellavedova said. “I think the effect he has on everybody — he impacts so much that people don’t even think of. I think he has a role in a lot of things. An impact on everything.”

There’s more from the Cavs:

  • In the same feature at The Athletic, James opens up to Lloyd about the idea of owning an NBA franchise in the future. There’s no guarantee that opportunity comes in Cleveland, however. “To be an owner of any team would be crazy. If this thing opened up and I’m in a position financially, and I’ve got the right team around me, obviously. But who’s to say Dan will [sell]?” James said.
  • It’ll take some time for Isaiah Thomas to get used to playing with LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers but he tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that he’s well-suited to make that transition quicker than most. “Me being older, me knowing the game a little bit more and being a student of the game, I’m going to be able to adjust quicker than somebody else could,” Thomas said.
  • The Cavs aren’t interested in making a move for Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor but their interest in Greg Monroe would be higher, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com says in a question-and-answer with readers.

 

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