The New Orleans Pelicans continue to be linked to plenty of trade rumors for Jahlil Okafor this morning, but there is one important aspect of the potential deal with the Philadelphia 76ers that has not received near the publicity it deserves.
Okafor’s rookie campaign was cut short due to a meniscus tear in his right knee last March. At the time, the 76ers announced he would be able to resume basketball activities in approximately six weeks.
That six-week timetable turned out to be a complete illusion according to those who follow the team closely. Although Okafor should have been able to step back onto the court before the start of the summer, he remained limited well into the 2016 preseason schedule.
Continuing to rehab his right knee, Jahlil Okafor participated in Friday’s practice on a limited basis. His activities were restricted to individual load management, and some scripted on-court work.
According to a must-read article from Liberty Ballers this past October, there were multiple instances recorded where Okafor claimed he was on the verge of getting back to basketball activity or was indeed good to go. Despite both the team and Okafor at points claiming the center was fully healed, he was kept out of scrimmages during training camp. That trend continued into the preseason where he wound up appearing in just one exhibition game.
If Okafor was healthy, why was he so limited many times thereafter?
A number of logical theories made sense this past October: Okafor’s surgeons discovered a larger issue at the time of surgery, the injury wasn’t as successful as it could have been, or a setback occurred in rehab.
Considering the regime change — from Sam Hinkie to Bryan Colangelo — many including Kyle Neubeck, the Liberty Ballers author who put together the linked October piece, dismissed the idea that the 76ers would intentionally try to deceive the media to keep Okafor’s trade value intact. After all, we were not too far removed from the Jrue Holiday lie that resulted in a stiff $3 million dollar penalty — certainly a new regime wouldn’t dare go back down that road so soon!
Alas, according to another article on Liberty Ballers, that inconceivable black-eye of a notion should be on the table. Earlier this morning, Jake Pavorsky made the claim that the 76ers general manger has been as misleading on the injury front as his predecessor about Joel Embiid. I urge you to read this article as well because it details the plausibility of the current 76ers front office attempting to be just as deceitful.
Although it’s saddening and maddening at the same time that several people in the 76ers organization may be screwing around with a generational talent like Embiid, our immediate concern is Okafor. Guess what, his situation looks far from promising and demands the highest level of scrutiny.
Jahlil Okafor had surgery to repair his meniscus in March (another thing to keep in mind when the team describes Embiid’s injury as inconsequential), and was expected to miss just 4-6 weeks. Seven months later, Okafor wasn’t healthy enough to participate in preseason action, and as of a week ago was still dealing with soreness in that same knee. The situation was never addressed, and with Okafor likely being traded in the coming days, it never will be.
Okafor was still dealing with soreness in the same knee as late as last week that was supposed to be as good as new initially no later than last May.
Please, let this fact sink in for a moment.
Dell Demps, I cannot urge you enough to do your due diligence and then some before agreeing to any trade for Jahlil Okafor, ahem, another Philadelphia 76er. That last one very nearly toppled Anthony Davis’ house of cards in one fell swoop and you most certainly don’t want to traverse down that path again.