76ers

Jahlil Okafor makes clear he wants out of Philly

Jahlil Okafor makes clear he wants out of Philly

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor wants out of Philadelphia.

A day after the team declined to pick up his fourth-year player option for next season, Okafor was clear on what he would like to happen.

"It could be a buyout, it could be a trade," he said Wednesday. "I just want something to happen rather quickly."

Okafor said that after the Sixers declined his option, he told president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo he would like a buyout. The Sixers had looked to trade Okafor several times throughout his career.

"He said that he felt that if he bought me out, another team would be getting me for free," Okafor said. "But that's where we stand today because you waited so long to trade me. There's nothing else to do. I'm not playing here and at the end of the season, I'm an unrestricted free agent. So I want to get on the court and play and produce." 

Okafor said he was surprised the Sixers even reached the point where they would need to make a decision on his option. He thought he would have been moved by the Oct. 31 deadline, which was why he hadn't been riled up about being out of the rotation and appearing in only one game. So when the Sixers didn't exercise the option, he was ready to move on.

"I was fine with that," Okafor said. "Honestly, I didn't want them to pick up my option. I've been going through a lot since I've been here. So the fact that I know that at the end of the season I would at least have an opportunity to play elsewhere, that's great. Now I'm just in a position to where, how can I get on the court? That's not happening here. I want to play. I want to play."

The Sixers were in a similar situation last season when Nerlens Noel candidly spoke out about his displeasure with his playing time. The team ultimately traded Noel to the Mavericks at the deadline. Okafor, also involved in trade talks at that time, remained more tight-lipped about his uncertainty. But on Wednesday, he didn't hold back.

"I've tried to be professional," Okafor said. "I'm going to continue to be professional. But at some point, I have to defend myself and this is my career. I'm not sure he (Colangelo) cares about that. I think that's kind of evident at this point. I understand it's a business and you're going to do what's best for the organization, but as people, from a personal level, you would hope, OK, let's get Jah out of here, let him go play somewhere because I'm 21, I'm healthy, I'm trying to get on the right path in my career."

Okafor believes of the two scenarios, a buyout or a trade, a buyout is more likely given the fact the Sixers have yet to reach a deal and his value now is lower because of his contract status.

"Talking to my agent, there were definitely deals on the table," Okafor said. "Bryan just didn't deem they were fair, which I understand, I'm a No. 3 pick. But at the same time, that's what teams were offering. Me and my agent started getting the hint they weren't going to offer more so it was whether you were going to make a move on it or not, and you waited too long and now I'm here today. I'm not saying a trade isn't possible, but I just know it's going to be really difficult knowing that I'm an unrestricted free agent at this point after the season."

Okafor has never had a clearly-defined role on the Sixers. He was drafted out of Duke one year after Joel Embiid and came into a system with three starting-caliber centers. He was a starter. He was a backup. He was a DNP. He was a center. He was unsuccessfully paired with Embiid in a twin towers scenario. He was … well, that was never really straightened out.

"When I first got here, we weren't the best team," Okafor said. "It was just Nerlens and I. Joel wasn't healthy so I was on the court, I was playing, so I really didn't have any complaints. That's all I wanted to do was just play. That's why I made such drastic changes this summer, just to get healthy and where I am today. But I'm not getting that opportunity to play. When I first got here, I wasn't really tripping because I was still playing.

"This is my life. This is my career. I'm not getting the opportunity here, which is fine. The team looks great. I'm not a part of that. I want the team to do great things, but at the same time, I want to play."

Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

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Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

For those sharing the conspiracy theory that Ben Simmons should be shooting with his right hand, prepare to be disappointed.

The Rookie of the Year appeared to shoot down the notion on Twitter, commenting on a story suggesting the Sixers’ point guard is shooting with the wrong hand.

This story stemmed from a piece by The New York Times basketball writer Marc Stein, but questions of the 22-year-old’s handedness were first posted by Kevin O’Connor — formerly of SB Nation, now with The Ringer. O’Connor has been charting Simmons’ shots since LSU. In a feature for SB Nation back in 2016, O’Connor noted that Simmons used his right hand on 81.5 percent of his shots. That’s pretty much reverse for any lefty currently in the NBA.

Since O’Connor first presented this theory, it’s picked up some steam.

Below is a video of Simmons taking free throws right-handed during warm-ups last season.

You have to admit, it looks pretty smooth. It’s a tough angle, but his elbow looks more tucked in than when he shoots with his left. His wrist action and follow through look smoother as well. 

Let’s also not forget when Simmons was given the chance to throw the first pitch at a Phillies game earlier this season.

That’s a pretty nice right-handed strike.

His free throw shooting was an issue last season. As dominant as Simmons was at times, he shot just 56 percent from the line. In a game against the Wizards on Nov. 11, the Sixers held a big lead. Sensing the game was slipping away, Washington head coach Scott Brooks went to the hack-a-Ben strategy. Simmons took 29 free throws, hitting just 15. It allowed the Wizards to make the game a little too close for comfort.

With all that said, there have been instances where Simmons has showed promise with his left-handed shot. In the playoffs, Simmons shot 70 percent from the line.

He’s also flashed the ability to shoot in practice …

… and in games …

Would Simmons be better if he shot with his right hand? If Simmons’ reaction to that notion is any indication, we may never know.

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

These are truly the dog days of summer when it comes to the NBA.

Players are likely either putting in work with daily workouts or enjoying some vacation time before things get cranked back up in the fall.

However, those aren’t the only activities that are presented with that extra free time. There is also more opportunity for guys to do some boasting about what is to come. After all, they’re probably feeling good about the progress made during the offseason and the recent 2018-19 schedule release has put a jolt in their system.

Unless you’re a Sixer. They’ve remained relatively silent as members of one team after another have stated their case for the Eastern Conference crown now that LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood.

Boston swingman Jaylen Brown openly laid claim to the East during an appearance last week on Portland guard C.J. McCollum’s Pull Up podcast.

“Oh, we're getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Brown said.

And Brown made it clear that he didn’t feel that way about his Celtics just because James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, he said the C’s were going win next season regardless of whether James stayed in the Eastern Conference or not.

“I hate how everybody is like, ‘Oh, LeBron's gone in the East,’” Brown said. “I know he did have a strong hold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got us out of there this year. And our mindset was like, ‘Man, he’s not beating us again.’”

That’s pretty bold, but the Celtics have a right to feel good about themselves. They were on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals a year ago and are getting All-Star reinforcements back in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

New Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez was a bit more diplomatic with his expectations for next season. Still, he presented the case for his squad to become the new big dogs in the East.

“We definitely think the East is wide open,” Lopez said to Hoopshype a week ago. “It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly — you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.”

Even Washington Wizards guard John Wall explained why his group could be the one to rise to the top of the conference.

“I feel like we’re all equal,” Wall told Yahoo! Sports. “None of them won a championship. This is no knock on no other team. Don’t get me wrong. Boston is a hell of a team. Philly has great young talent with those guys (Joel) Embiid, (Ben) Simmons. And Toronto, losing DeMar (DeRozan), they still get Kawhi (Leonard). Y’all might have been to the Eastern Conference finals, where we haven’t been to, but none of y’all were going to the Finals. It was one guy going to the Finals. Ain’t nobody separated from nothing. I know one guy that separated himself from the Eastern Conference every year and that was LeBron James and the Cavs. Other than that … if you lose in the second round or the conference finals, you still didn’t get to your ultimate goal.”

Throughout all of the chest-puffing discussions, the Sixers haven’t made a peep. Not even the 7-foot-2 All-Star known for trash-talking anyone in sight. Embiid barely gave a response to No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton when the rookie recently decided to draw himself dunking on the Sixers’ center.

It’s a stark departure from Embiid’s normal back-and-forth nature, but it’s safe to assume that the big man and his team will wait until they step on the court to let their game do the talking.

With a healthy offseason under his belt for the first time as a professional, you can bet that Embiid — and in turn the Sixers — will have plenty to say at that time.

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