Finally. The Sixers finally traded Jahlil Okafor. Our long, local, basketball nightmare is over. #FreeJah and all that. The biggest mistake of The Process era is gone.
And, look, that’s not a knock on Okafor as a person or as a player. He’s done everything the Sixers have asked of him over the last three seasons, including sitting on the bench for all but two games this year and barely saying a negative word about the franchise while they looked for somewhere to dump him. It’s just that his skill set was a bad fit for a team with a healthy Joel Embiid, and Okafor’s notorious lack of ability and/or determination on the defensive end made him utterly useless as a backup for Brett Brown. He had to go, and it’s remarkable that it took this long.
Kyle Neubeck at Philly Voice reported that a similar deal was on the table last season, but wasn’t finalized. It’s fair to speculate Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo was hoping to get more in return for the former No. 3 overall pick, which is why he didn’t pull the trigger on the deal then. Alas, just getting the deal done at all is something, as there was speculation the team would end up flat-out cutting Okafor if something wasn’t done soon.
In most cases when a big NBA trade is made there are instant columns about winners and losers, debates raging about who got the better end the trade. But with Okafor, his tenure with the Sixers had become so toxic that getting a dusty old pile of books would have been a win, let alone a role player like Booker.
Booker is a 6-8 power forward who, like Ben Simmons, shoots lefty. That’s all he has in common with Simmons. He’s been in the NBA for eight seasons after being selected 23rd overall in the 2010 draft by Minnesota, but was traded on draft night to the Washington Wizards.
Ironically enough, the pick the T’Wolves ended up using on Booker was once the property of the Sixers, who got it in 2007 in a deal involving Kyle Korver and Utah, then dumped the pick a year later to the T’Wolves for nothing.
Booker has been in Brooklyn for two season, starting about half the games he’s played, while averaging 10 points and 6.6 rebounds in 22 minutes this season. He’s making more than $9 million this season but, most importantly, is in the final year of his deal.
Meanwhile, the Sixers also gave up Stauskas who became superfluous with the addition of J.J. Redick, the return of Jerryd Bayless and the increased playing time for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. The Sixers also have Furkan Korkmaz on a two-way deal with the Delaware 87ers that has made Stauskas even more expendable.
For Okafor, his fall in Philly was precipitous. He averaged 17.5 points and 7 rebounds as a rookie for one of the worst teams in NBA history. Last year, as Joel Embiid finally got on the court, the future for Okafor looked bleak in Philly. Still, in limited minutes he averaged 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. But he was a -9.4 as a rookie, -6.4 last year and couldn’t even get on the court this season, playing a total of 25 minutes. He was a -21 in those minutes.
There are still some people — including some in Philly — who think Okafor can be a productive NBA player. It was just never going to happen in Philly. Besides, what does it say about his value around the NBA that Okafor had to be packaged with another player and a second-round pick in exchange for a journeyman power forward with no range? Even after the Sixers lost all their leverage with a deal for Okafor by never playing him, if there was any interest around the league to sign him longterm, some team would have stepped up to drop a second-round pick on him. Alas…
And yet still, with a pretty lopsided deal on paper in giving up a former No. 3 pick, a solid (and young) shooter and a second-round pick, how do Philly fans feel about this trade?