The New Orleans Pelicans have long stemmed interest in Jahlil Okafor, the former Duke standout and number three overall pick from the 2015 NBA Draft, but now according to Scott Kushner of the Advocate, he may finally get his shot to play in the Big Easy.
Multiple sources have said the Pelicans are discussions with C Jahlil Okafor on a deal to bring him in for training camp.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) August 7, 2018
Between a brief stint in Brooklyn and a roller coaster ride in Philadelphia, Okafor, 22, appeared in 131 games, averaging 13 points and 5.3 rebounds. After averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds during his rookie season, he was on his way to carving out a promising career. Following numerous knee issues, Okafor stands on the precipice of life without the NBA four years later.
While Okafor reportedly worked out for four teams in Las Vegas, including the Pacers and Bulls, his landing spot was thought to lie in China, where Zhang Duo reported strong interest.
Okafor has spent the last few months training in Miami under the watchful eye of several trainers, David Alexander and Idan Ravin, and according to reports has lost near 20 pounds. Alexander is known for getting Victor Oladipo into fantastic playing shape last summer and spending time with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade over the years in preparation for regular seasons.
The fit with the Pelicans makes sense. While Nikola Mirotic, Anthony Davis, and Julius Randle all appear likely to split most of the reps at the four and five positions in Gentry’s fast paced offense, there are some regular season minutes to be had as well as covering for any injuries. The leading candidates for those minutes at the moment lie between Cheick Diallo, and soon-to-be 36 year old, Emeka Okafor. Diallo underwhelmed some in his third Summer League performance, Alexis Ajinca seems near certain to not be a part of future plans, and Emeka Okafor may not be a reliable option over an 82-game schedule. Also, do not forget that Emeka’s contract remains largely unguaranteed as he has been paid but just 100k of $2.45 million.
Could Jahlil build on his impressive offseason by usurping the elder Okafor and earning a look with the team who nearly nabbed him just 18 months ago?
Philadelphia and New Orleans are in advanced talks on Jahlil Okafor-to-the-Pels trade, league sources confirm. @Sam_Amick first to report.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 6, 2017
The rumors involving Okafor’s failed physical were never substantiated, but speculating on it sure is fun! Regardless, should the Pelicans pull the trigger on Jahlil Okafor, the training camp battle between he, Emeka Okafor, Cheick Diallo, and Alexis Ajinca will certainly merit watching.
One thing is for certain: If your last name is Okafor and you need to recoup value in the eyes of many across league, New Orleans may seriously be the place for you!