After a Jahlil Okafor fight made national headlines, the Philadelphia 76ers are concerned about their rookie center, according to ESPN.
On Wednesday night, the 76ers traveled up to Massachusetts to take on the Boston Celtics. It ended up being the 16th straight loss for Philadelphia, who has yet to record a victory thus far this season. Going up against another young big man in Jared Sullinger, Okafor had a solid showing yet again. The 6’11”, 275 pound center scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked four shots.
Afterwards, Okafor, an unnamed teammate, and some friends went out for a night on the town. Everyone involved now wishes that it never happened. TMZ was on hand to record an incident involving the former Duke University star. Some random person started yelling at the NBA players and berated the Sixers for being an awful team. Okafor lost his cool and provided the gossip website with plenty of material by getting involved in a fight with the group of guys.
The situation has drawn in even more negative attention from the mainstream media and has caused the 76ers to question the future of Okafor.
There hasn’t been a lot of things to smile about with the Sixers this season. They are breaking all sorts of records for futility. Philadelphia has lost their first 16 games this season. They are easily the worst team in the NBA and will be headed to another high spot in the Draft Lottery. Despite being a rookie, Okafor has been one of the few good things about the 76ers. The 19-year-old center has averaged 18.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game, making him one of the top rookies.
Philadelphia has long been searching for a franchise player. Michael Carter-Williams is now with the Milwaukee Bucks. Nerlen Noels, drafted in 2013, has shown improvements, but very few see him as capable of carrying an NBA team right now. Former Kansas University star Joel Embiid was drafted with the third overall pick in 2014, but he has yet to make it on the floor. Okafor has shown more potential than those other three high picks.
Even before this Boston incident took place, there were already speculations that Okafor might not be with the Sixers for much longer. Since he has increased his trade value, the belief was that Philadelphia was going to see what they could get for the Arkansas native. The demand for a big, young man who can produce is high in the NBA, so the Sixers could have gotten a nice ransom in return. If there are concerns about his maturity off the court, then Philadelphia executives could be enticed to make a deal sooner.
Since this is just his first incident, there should be plenty of NBA general managers who are willing to roll the dice on Okafor. The Miami Heat might show some interest because they know that superstar center Hassan Whitesite will be leaving via free agency next summer. Now that Emmanuel Mudiay has shown some promise, pairing the guard with a center like Okafor could provide the Denver Nuggets with a foundation for the next decade.
Hopefully for the Sixers and Okafor, though, this is just an isolated incident that will be in the rear view mirrow soon.
[Featured Photo by Mitchell Leff / Getty Images]