The latest NBA news has Jahlil Okafor being suspended for two games by the Philadelphia 76ers for conduct detriment to the team, according to CBS Philly.
Jahlil Okafor Suspended
Today was supposed to be a day of celebration for the Philadelphia 76ers. After losing 18 straight games to the start the season, the team finally won their first game by defeating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers last night. NBA teams don’t generally celebrate a single victory that much, but since it is a rarity in Philadelphia, it is understandable for the Sixers to do so. Instead of celebrating, though, the franchise is forced to deal with someone that is supposed to be the centerpiece of their organization.
Earlier today, the Sixers announced that they have suspended rookie center Jahlil Okafor for two games. The cause of the suspension has been his behavior over the past month. Several incidents have taken place over the past couple of weeks. Okafor has yet to be arrested but he has been involved in a couple of fights outside of bars. The 19-year-old was also cited for driving recklessly over a bridge, endangering his own lives and the lives of others. When footage of a second fight that took place in Boston surfaced, the 76ers decided to pull the trigger on the suspension.
Since the suspension is effective immediately, Jahlil Okafor is going to miss the game against the New York Knicks tonight. That robs fans of the chance to see the former Duke star going up against fellow Rookie of the Year candidate in Kristaps Porzingis, the unheralded draft choice that has brought hope back to the Knicks. Without Okafor and his 6’11”, 275 pound frame in the middle of the paint, 7’3″, 240 pound Porzingis should be able to snag about a dozen rebounds and score in the paint much easier.
When the Philadelphia 76ers host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Okafor will not be available for that game, either. Kenneth Faried and JJ Hickson are a good interior combo for the Nuggets. They will have a much easier time operating in the paint without Okafor around. Philadelphia will be forced to rely on backup center Nerlens Noel to provide the much needed defense and rebounding to counteract Faried and Hickson. It would have been easier for Nerlens to win the interior battle if Jahlil was around.
If Jahlil Okafor was not 19-years-old, then the Philadelphia 76ers would have a much easier time giving up on him. The fact that he is already one of the best centers in the NBA despite being a rookie means that he might some day blossom into a superstar. The Sixers definitely do not want to be known as the franchise that discarded a great player. Management is going to do everything in their power to make sure that he is under control. Philadelphia has even decided to provide Okafor with a security guard whenever he goes out at night.
Philadelphia would not have much of a choice if the pattern of behavior does not change for Jahlil. A outright release is a possibility if he ends up in jail as there is usually verbiage in NBA contracts that protects the team in that situation. The 76ers can also look into trading third overall pick since there may be some franchises that think that they can rehabilitate Okafor. Pat Riley is one of the more respected executives in the NBA, and his Miami Heat could use a replacement when star center Hassan Whiteside leaves in free agency after this season.
Will this suspension help Jahlil Okafor realize that he needs to grow up?
[Featured Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]