PHILADELPHIA —Buried on the bench in Philly, Jahlil Okafor has a chance to prove in Brooklyn he’s not a bust.
Okafor got his wish when the 76ers finally traded the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft to the Nets. The deal ends the stalemate that had kept Okafor on the bench for all but two games this season.
Once a key part of The Process, Okafor, 21, fell out of favor with the rise of star center Joel Embiid.
"Love you. New beginnings," Embiid said he texted Okafor. "Good luck. And I made sure to let him know I was going to kick his (rear)."
Team president Bryan Colangelo said he reached a deal with a team he declined to name to trade Okafor last season until it fell apart at the last minute. That led to an awkward situation where Okafor didn’t even travel with the team during the trade deadline. Okafor led the Sixers in scoring as a rookie with Embiid out with injuries. Okafor played 55 games last season and never really meshed with the franchise center.
The Sixers also sent seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas, the No. 8 overall pick in 2014, and a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets for forward Trevor Booker. Booker, the 23rd overall pick in 2010 by Washington, averaged 10.1 points with the Nets.
Okafor gave the Sixers plenty of headaches in his rookie season out of Duke with his offcourt conduct, which included his role in a street fight that earned him a two-game suspension. He was widely mocked last year for a lackadaisical defensive effort where he stood still and failed to contest shots in a game against Miami.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: The NBA is considering putting a G League team in Mexico, a potential way to gauge the feasibility of an NBA franchise there. Commissioner Adam Silver also announced plans to launch an NBA Academy in Mexico’s capital. Both plans demonstrate the importance of the Mexico City market to the league’s desire to further grow in Latin America.