Isaiah Thomas: 76ers doing Jahlil Okafor wrong
When the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas to the Cavaliers after he played hurt and on a relatively low salary for Boston, many players felt he was done wrong.
Thomas is paying that support forward with Jahlil Okafor, who’s in the final year of his contract, out of the 76ers’ rotation and desperately wants them to trade him or buy him out.
But this is the peril of the NBA’s draft system. Except in rare circumstances, the team that drafts someone in the first round gains control of his salary and where he plays for four years. Philadelphia is exercising those rights for just three. Yet, even that feels like too much.
There’s not much Okafor can do except voice his discontent and hope that pressures the 76ers into a move. It helps to have a star make a rare interjection into an issue between another team and its player.
I doubt players will avoid Philadelphia as a result of Bryan Colangelo’s handling of this situation. They might want to hold a grudge, but whenever offered the best combination of money, playing time and winning, free agents usually come around.
Still, if the 76ers think their handling of Okafor reflects poorly among other players around the league, that could affect the team’s thinking. It’s easier for me to predict Philadelphia won’t feel a fallout from keeping Okafor too long than it is for Colangelo to withstand that threat. So, Thomas tweet nudges the 76ers ever closer toward freeing Okafor.