76ers

On the move or here to stay? Okafor rejoins Sixers with future still unclear

On the move or here to stay? Okafor rejoins Sixers with future still unclear

BOSTON — Just when it seemed like Jahlil Okafor’s time with the Sixers could be coming to a close, he rejoined the team in Boston for the final game before the All-Star break and trade deadline.

The Sixers had been close to a deal for Okafor, which is why they decided to hold him out on Saturday against the Heat and Monday against the Hornets, according to a source. 

The Metro first reported Okafor's presence at Logan Airport, and Sixers spokesman Michael Preston confirmed that Okafor had rejoined the team.

Even though there is only one game left before the deadline, the Sixers had been keeping open the possibility that Okafor would rejoin the team on the road if a trade didn’t occur. Brett Brown previously noted the Sixers did not want to complicate things for Okafor while the second-year center was involved in discussions and emphasized the team's open communication with him (see story)

The Sixers had Okafor stay in Philadelphia on Sunday when they traveled to Charlotte for Monday’s game in case a trade went down while they were on the road. They wanted to avoid a scenario where, if that had happened, Okafor would have had to return mid-trip. (The Sixers took a similar approach when they waived Hollis Thompson before his contract deadline in early January so he wouldn’t be sent home during a road swing.)

The Feb. 23 trade deadline is a just over week away, and the Sixers still could find a partner for Okafor if one makes sense for both player and team. 

On Monday, Brown said Okafor would be embraced by the Sixers if a trade does not transpire.

“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.”

For now, he is.

NBA free agency rumors: Don’t count out Sixers? Examining Al Horford’s possible fit

NBA free agency rumors: Don’t count out Sixers? Examining Al Horford’s possible fit

Al Horford reportedly opting out of his deal and leaving the Celtics is outstanding news for the Sixers.

But what if it meant that Horford would be on his way to Philadelphia?

With Horford set to hit the open market, one GM told NBC Sports national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh, a guest on 97.5 the Fanatic’s morning show, “not to count out” the Sixers as a landing spot.

While the stats don’t bear it out, Horford has been an integral part to what Boston has done over the years. He’s versatile and tough defensively. He’s an excellent passer for a big and has expanded his game out to the three-point line. He’s likely the only player in the entire league capable of guarding both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Speaking of Embiid, Horford is a rare player in that he could possibly play with and also backup the All-Star center.

But would he fit here and does it make sense with how it would affect the whole roster? Horford is 33 so he doesn’t necessarily fit from that perspective. He is reportedly looking for a four-year deal so whatever team signs him could be paying him around $20 million at age 37. While he theoretically could play with Embiid, that’s not a sure thing.

If you make this move, you’re also not re-signing Tobias Harris. Sixers fans really soured on Harris after a poor performance in Game 4 against the Raptors. He became a scapegoat of sorts when the team’s problems were much bigger. Harris is 26, a borderline All-Star and has improved every season. It seems like people forget that Harris had an excellent regular season and was playing in the postseason for just the second time in his career. He was also excellent in the Brooklyn series, playing off way more effective versions Embiid and Simmons.

So what it boils down to is this: Sign Horford or re-sign Harris. Harris is younger, ascending and already has a relationship with players inside the locker room. Horford is an attractive option if Harris chooses to sign elsewhere in hopes of having a bigger offensive role, but the Sixers’ priority should still be to #RunItBack with Harris and Jimmy Butler.

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2019 NBA Draft Preview Show: How to watch on MyTeams app

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

2019 NBA Draft Preview Show: How to watch on MyTeams app

With the draft a few hours away, our basketball analysts all around the country are breaking down the key storylines, expectations and predictions for the team they cover.

You can watch the 2019 NBA Draft Preview Show live on the MyTeams app at 3 p.m. ET. You can also stream the show right here on NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com by clicking here

Download the MyTeams app here

Here are the essentials:

Date: Thursday, June 20
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Where: MyTeams App and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

Who:
Ian Begley — Knicks
Sherrod Blakely — Celtics
James Ham — Kings
Paul Hudrick — Sixers
Dwight Jaynes — Blazers
Chris Miller — Wizards
Monte Poole — Warriors
Mark Schanowski — Bulls
Chris Forsberg — Celtics
Jamie Hudson — Blazers
Serena Winters — Sixers

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers