“After a comprehensive series of tests and additional evaluation by our medical team, it was revealed that he has a small tear of the meniscus,” a statement from 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie read.
“Jahlil will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure to address the injury. Timing and details of the procedure will be finalized in the coming days. Our medical team will continually monitor and evaluate Jahlil’s progress, and we anticipate he will resume full basketball activities in approximately six weeks,” the release continued.
Okafor has missed the past handful of games, and now he is obviously out for the year. As always, the team will be cautious and careful in bringing their injured big back to the court; in other words, they’re in no rush. The organization has slow-played Nerlens Noel’s and Joel Embiid’s recent recoveries- albeit they were more serious injury issues – and they will likely approach Okafor’s in the same manner.
The Sixers are in the midst of a 13-game losing streak at the tail end of a *rough* season, and at this point it might not even make much sense to subject Okafor to any more on-court action this season, other than for experience’s sake. The team isn’t competing for anything – except for the most ping-pong balls, which it has all but wrapped up already – and the Rookie of the Year race has long lapped Okafor. He could potentially play to develop future chemistry, but it is difficult for Okafor to build chemistry with his future teammates, considering no one is quite sure who is going to be on the Sixers next season.There is little that Okafor can do in the remainder of the season to alter anything, for himself or for his team. He has already made his rookie impression, for better or worse. Whether the Sixers view Okafor as a legitimate building block going forward or as a valuable trade asset, it makes little sense to trot him back out and risk injury for the home stretch of a lost season. Thus, it is very possible that Okafor will stay sidelined for the remainder of the season.
This brings us to the question: Has Jahlil Okafor played his last game for the Sixers?
The Answer: probably not, but possibly. The potential future fit (or lack thereof) of the Sixers’ frontcourt has been well-documented, and it is no secret that the roster is extremely unbalanced as currently constructed. A move involving at least one of Noel, Okafor, or Embiid seems inevitable, and with the recent positive press and overall potential of Joel Embiid, it seems unlikely that he will be the one moved. Though Okafor is a gifted scorer and a natural offensive option, concerns persist regarding his game as a whole, and the ability to build around him in the league’s current climate.
Reports surfaced around the trade deadline that said that the Sixers were receiving calls regarding Okafor’s availability, and that offers were considered. Although nothing materialized, that doesn’t mean that such negotiations can’t be revisited – on draft night for instance. Making such a move would be easier knowing that there is another top-tier talent coming down the pipeline, or that a healthy Joel Embiid is ready to be inserted into the lineup.
It is likely that the organization was just getting a feel for the market for Okafor with the intention of revisiting the situation after some more dominos – i.e. draft lottery, Embiid, Dario Saric – have fallen. There is a market for Okafor, and as a 20-year old with high upside, the return would be significant. He could potentially net needed quality perimeter players and the Sixers may want to strike while the iron is hot, as they say. Sam Hinkie has already demonstrated that he is not afraid to move a popular young piece if he doesn’t like future fit, or thinks he can get a better return, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t do such a thing again.
The Sixers, spearheaded by Jerry Colangelo, figure to be players in free agency this summer, and they have the goods – cap space, draft picks, young players – to make major moves. This summer should be an interesting one for the Sixers, and just as Brett Brown said, everything is on the table.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikeKB.
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