Facts is facts.
Sunday, for the seventh straight game, Jahlil Okafor’s role on the Nets was reduced to cheerleading, not shedding his warm-ups for an even a cameo appearance. In fact, he’s played a total of 25 minutes in the past month. His situation is only marginally better than it was in Philadelphia who traded him to Brooklyn back in early December.
Now, with the season (mercifully) winding down, the question is will he be back. The Nets have hinted that they’d like to see what he can do after a full summer working with the coaching and performance staffs, but Okafor is unsure of how that’s going to improve things.
“I don’t really know what that means. I’ve been here for three or four months,” Okafor said of the Nets desire to keep him around HSS. “Saying a full offseason would help me, I’ve been with these guys for three or four months now, done everything they’ve asked of me. I’m not sure what they want. But everybody’s treated me really well.”
Okafor’s status is somewhat unique. He does not any Bird Rights and the Nets are limited to paying him $6.2 million over one year. Not happening. They could either sign him out to a veteran’s minimum deal, maybe even non-guaranteed, or use cap space to give him something more.
He told beat writers Brian Lewis and Mike Scotto that a number of things will factor into his decision.
“All that goes into it,” said Okafor. “But honestly I have no experience with this whatsoever, so I’m just trying to finish the season strong. [I’ll have] guidance from people who’ve dealt with what I’m going to deal with, and lean on them. I really don’t know what to expect. But, at the end of the day, I want to play basketball.”
Indeed. Okafor who was the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft hasn’t played much since last season when he filled in for the injured Joel Embiid in Philly. He has a couple of promising (offensive) games not long after his was traded, but his back-to-the-basket game doesn’t fit with the new NBA and particularly with the fast-paced, 3-point game the Nets play. And his defense hasn’t passed either the eye test or the analytics test. Moreover, his conditioning needed an upgrade on arrival.
A lot of people in the organization are rooting for him and Atkinson has praised his work ethic, but it seems increasingly likely the Nets and the barely 22-year-old 6’11” big will soon have to decide whether to part ways.
Of course, the Nets didn’t come away empty-handed in the trade. They have the Knicks 2019 second rounder. But the hopes were a lot greater back in December.
- Jahlil Okafor’s rotation exile could spell his end with Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post