Tuesday is the last day NBA teams have to excercise team options for rookie scale contracts. The Sixers picked up options on Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com, the Sixers will not pick-up Jahlil Okafor's option, meaning he'll become a free agent this coming summer.
Jahlil Okafor's fourth-year option will not be picked up by the #Sixers, according to a team source.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) October 31, 2017
In Neubeck's article about the Sixers declining to pick-up Okafor's option, a team source indicates that both sides are still working to find a trade that would be beneficial. Declining his option is part of "broader plan" for the Sixers organization moving forward, the team source says.
Although many fans have been hoping to see more minutes for Okafor, head coach Brett Brown made it clear last week that the third-year center out of Duke is not in the Sixers' rotation.
"I'm playing Amir ahead of him that's just the situation. He doesn't let people know, he comes in, his head's good, his spirit's good, and he and I talk all the time. But that is the bottom line, he is not in the rotation," Brown told reporters.
With Okafor not playing at all, it was hard to believe at any point that a team would be interested in acquiring him via trade. The next time Okafor could play would be during the Sixers' next back-to-back (Nov 29-30), a situation Joel Embiid hasn't been cleared for yet. At that point though, it's likely Richaun Holmes will have returned, making Okafor the Sixers' third option at center even with Embiid out.
By declining Okafor's option, the Sixers will save about $6.3 million in cap space heading into an offseason in 2018 that will include Joel Embiid's extension going into effect. At the moment, there's likely ongoing talks with Robert Covington about an extension, and in the coming years, they'll need flexibility to extend guys like Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz.
Jahlil Okafor's tenure in Philadelphia will come to an end after the season, or perhaps sooner if he's dealt or cut. Drafted third overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Okafor showed offensive dominance in the paint during his rookie year before suffering a meniscus injury that ailed him throughout the majority of the 2016-17 season. Jah cut meat out of his diet and lost 20 pounds this offseason, but has only appeared in one game all season.
The Sixers have been shopping Okafor for the better part of the last two seasons. Last year, it seemed like a trade to New Orleans was imminent, but it fell through even after the organization had Okafor take some time away from the team. Instead, the Sixers dealt Nerlens Noel to Dallas, a move that wasn't heavily favored by fans, and Okafor was back with the team a few days later. Okafor has handled the whole situation with the utmost professionalism and he should be given an opportunity to have a fresh start elsewhere. Hopefully he'll get that chance next season, or even sooner. It's something he's definitely thought about as he indicated in an interview with SB Nation earlier in October.
“Sometimes I do think it would be great to get a fresh start, be on a new team, new surroundings, new teammates. I think about that often and I think that's something that could benefit me.”
In 104 career games, Okafor is averaging 14.7 points and six rebounds, shooting 51.1 percent from the floor.