CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Brett Brown is taking what could be an uncomfortable situation and trying to make it easier for Jahlil Okafor by keeping lines of communication open.
Okafor is not with the Sixers in Charlotte and did not play Saturday night because of trade talks.
“Jahlil Okafor’s situation is transparent,” Brown said after shootaround Monday. “He’s in the middle of being discussed in trade scenarios. So I felt that it complicates things to play him the last game, and now clearly this is continuing on. That’s the reason he isn’t here.”
The Sixers are acknowledging the limbo Okafor is in right now. They are not requiring him to follow a regimented training schedule at their practice complex while they are on the road.
“It isn’t completely structured,” Brown said. “His life is right now up in the air a little bit. We’re mindful of that, we’re respectful of that. We’ll progress as it unfolds.”
Of course there is always a chance a trade doesn’t happen. It is not uncommon for talks to heat up and then fall through. If that is the case, Brown is prepared to bring Okafor back into the mix.
“He’ll come back in and he will be welcomed with open arms with teammates that like him and respect him,” Brown said. “They are friends. He’ll come back into a coaching staff that likes him and respects him because we care for him. He still is ours until somebody tells us he isn’t.”
Okafor was not the only member of the Sixers missing from Charlotte. Joel Embiid, who has missed the last nine games (knee), did not travel. Brown does not expect Embiid to be in Boston for Wednesday’s game against the Celtics either as he works his way back from the injury.