Jahlil Okafor had one foot out the Philadelphia 76ers’ exit door, but he’s now back inside.
The 76ers center has rejoined the team ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics. The Sixers left Okafor at home for their last two games because there were trade rumors swirling, but whatever talks Philadelphia had with other teams never produced a deal.
Upon returning to the Sixers’ squad, Okafor told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday he’s again devoted to helping Philadelphia win games, starting with the contest in Boston.
“I’m just trying to focus on playing basketball,” Okafor said. “It’s really difficult with all the rumors, not knowing if I’ll be here tomorrow. But I know I’m playing tonight and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Okafor has been the subject of intense speculation as the NBA’s Feb. 23 trade deadline nears. Philadelphia still might send him to the New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers or another suitor by then, but no trade talks apparently are advanced enough at this point to warrant him packing his bags again before Wednesday’s game against the Celtics.
So, the Sixers are informing Okafor of the latest developments while continuing to make him play hokey-pokey.
“The organization has been up front with me and communicating with me that they were in advanced trades,” Okafor reportedly said. “They didn’t tell me I was certainly out of the door, just that it was a possibility. I’m grateful of Coach (Brett Brown) and (the) organization that was up front with me. I know it’s rare for teams to do that.”
The life of a marketable NBA player must be tough this time of year. Sometimes all one can do is play through it.
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images