Sixers round out training camp roster with Emeka Okafor

Sixers round out training camp roster with Emeka Okafor

Before the Sixers tip off the 2018-19 season with practice Saturday, the team made one more addition to the roster.

It brought back Okafor.

Sorry, not that one. The Sixers signed Emeka Okafor, who spent the 2017-18 training camp and preseason with the squad. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Okafor rounds out the Sixers’ training camp roster to 20 players.

After being waived last preseason, Okafor latched on with the Sixers’ Gatorade League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats (then the 87ers). The No. 2 pick of the 2004 draft played 26 games for Delaware before making the leap back to regular-season NBA action with the New Orleans Pelicans. Okafor also played 26 games for the Pelicans (19 starts) and averaged 4.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 block in 13.6 minutes per game.

The 35-year-old had previously been out of the league for four years while recovering from a severe neck injury.

Coincidentally, Okafor, who was cut by the Pelicans earlier this week, will likely his minutes in New Orleans taken over by former Sixer Jahlil Okafor.

The Sixers’ full training camp roster is below:

Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10/220
Anthony Brown, G/F, 6-7/225
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200 
Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190
Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205 
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240
Emeka Okafor, C, 6-10/255
Norvel Pelle, C, 6-11/215
JJ Redick, G, 6-4/195
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200

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The fan responsible for JJ Redick's big night

The fan responsible for JJ Redick's big night

When JJ Redick told me in our postgame walkoff interview (after the Sixers beat the Magic) that he told this “guy courtside” before the game that he was going to hit eight three-pointers, I had to find out: Who is this “courtside guy” and did this actually happen?

Turns out, it most definitely did. 

Before you see the video (oh, yes, there is video proof!), you’ve got to understand the backstory.

It all started when Jared Satkoff, a 32-year-old courtside seat holder, read the NY Times article in May last season about JJ’s “meticulous routines” which included eating the same meals, taking the same two-hour naps, and of course having the same pregame routine before every game. 

You see, Satkoff could relate -- he too eats the same food every day and plans out his clothes for the week and subscribes to the notion of “decision fatigue” but that’s a story for another day.

So before the next game, Jared made sure to tell JJ how much he appreciated him sharing his story, and Redick gave him a “hand pound.”

That “hand pound” was the first of what has now become an additional part of Redick’s routine. 

At first, Satkoff wasn’t sure if JJ would remember him this season, but when the first preseason game rolled around, the pregame hand pound was back in action.

Until the second preseason game, when Satkoff was about eight feet from his normal spot, and Redick was taken aback.

“Dude you threw me off, you’re not in your normal spot.” 

So Jared laughs and says: “True or false: Am I part of your pregame routine?”

From one meticulous man to another, Redick’s smirk said all Satkoff needed to know.

“I sound like such a 32-year-old groupie,” Jared laughs over the phone. “But I’m a grown man, and I just think it’s so cool because I respect his routine.”

It didn’t end after Redick delivered eight threes either (one of which turned out to be the game-winner). Before the postgame shoutout, Redick bolted over to Jared after the game.

“I told you!”

“The fact that he ran over to me…I’m like A. That’s cool as s--- and B. It just shows he’s a class act, it really is. I don’t know many other players that would actually do that.” 

And now for the video evidence.

By the way, Satkoff is going on vacation Nov. 9, when the Sixers play the Hornets.

He plans to tell Redick. Since he’s a part of it now, he doesn’t want to mess with his routine.

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Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Joel Embiid unlocks 'unguardable' level

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Joel Embiid unlocks 'unguardable' level

Much like the rest of the Sixers, Joel Embiid got off to a slow start Saturday night. He had four points on 2 of 6 shooting and was a minus-13 in the first quarter.

“We started off the game pretty bad,” Embiid said after the Sixers’ 116-115 win over the Orlando Magic. “At one point, I think we were down 16.”

That’s right, but you knew the big fella wouldn’t be held down for long. Whether it was just finding a rhythm or getting amped up by going against his protege Mo Bamba, Embiid started rolling after the opening period.

He torched the Magic in just about every way imaginable. There were the bully ball post moves, the sweet midrange jumpers, one highlight-reel Euro step and even a few threes.

“That was good because I wouldn’t have shot any threes for the rest of the season if I didn’t make one today, but I’m glad I did,” said Embiid, who finished with 32 points, 10 boards and three assists. “It opened up my game and I feel like that’s where I always talk about being unguardable, unstoppable, but making threes just takes you to another level. It is something that I have to focus on. I’ve been focusing on it for the past few days. It is something that I have to keep focusing on because it makes me really unguardable.”

However, Embiid put up a zero in one category that truly makes him dominant: turnovers. The All-Star has struggled with giveaways throughout his young career, but he became the first Sixer since GM Elton Brand in 2011 to have at least 30 points and 10 boards without a turnover.

“A lot of people just think I’m a big man, but I’m a basketball player,” Embiid said. “I am able to do everything that a basketball player can do. From playmaking and scoring to just passing the ball and just being a leader and post presence.”

Closing time for McConnell
With the game hanging in the balance and primary ball-handler Ben Simmons sidelined by back tightness, Brett Brown had a decision to make. Would the head coach put the ball in Markelle Fultz’s hands and give the 20-year-old a critical learning experience? Or would Brown go for the comfort and energy of handing T.J. McConnell the keys?

Brown chose the latter as McConnell finished off the game at point guard for the Sixers.

“Just T.J’s experience,” Brown said of why he picked McConnell. “You get to a stage going into the fourth like, ‘How are you going to sub that? How are you going to play that out? So immediately I probably shrunk it down to that type of rotation. You saw you try to manipulate it where you can get Joel a good rest and JJ (Redick) a rest but then end back with that group. Markelle was a part of that. Then T.J. coming back in, that was my plan for that reason.”

“I thought, ‘Oh my god. I hope that won’t go in.’”

-Dario Saric on Terrence Ross’ 42-foot rainbow to give Orlando the lead with 1:24 remaining in the game

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