NBA Rumors: Jahlil Okafor Could Join Heat If They Trade Hassan Whiteside, ‘Sporting News’ Suggests
Things haven’t gone as well as expected for Jahlil Okafor, the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, who posted good numbers in his rookie year but has struggled with injuries in the two seasons since then. With reports suggesting that Okafor won’t be returning to the Brooklyn Nets for the 2018-19 season, it would now seem that the young big man is rumored to be headed to the Miami Heat, a team whose star center, Hassan Whiteside, is believed to be unhappy with his role on the team.
According to a report from the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney that cited the publication’s own sources, Okafor has worked out for four NBA teams, with the Miami Heat as the top candidate to land his services. The 22-year-old center spent the last few months working out with trainers in Miami, and with Whiteside supposedly wanting out of the Heat, the Sporting News wrote that there’s been some speculation that the team could try to sign Okafor to a contract.
Aside from the Heat, the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls have also shown interest in Jahlil Okafor, the Sporting News added. Should Okafor join either team, he might be in line for more backup duty, as the Pacers have youngster Myles Turner starting in the middle, while the Bulls have veteran Robin Lopez at center and second-year man Lauri Markkanen at power forward.
Likewise, there’s a good chance Okafor might come off the bench for the Miami Heat, assuming he signs with the team and they aren’t able to find any interested takers for Whiteside. According to the Miami Herald, the Heat are currently searching for teams that they could send the 29-year-old center to, but have yet to generate much interest.
Whiteside, who is due to make $24.4 million in 2018-19 and $27.1 million next season, averaged 14 points and 11.4 rebounds in an injury-riddled 2017-18 and, as observed by Give Me Sport, seemed to fall out of favor due to his traditional skill set and the Heat’s acquisition of Kelly Olynyk, a more modern-style big man with good passing skills and shooting range.
While Jahlil Okafor averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie year for the Philadelphia 76ers, he only played 53 games that season, and was again out for more than 30 games in his second year, as his numbers dropped to 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Last season, Okafor split 26 games with the Sixers and Nets, and came off the bench, averaging just 6.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game. Previously listed at 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, Okafor has lost a bit of weight, and is currently at 258 pounds, according to the Sporting News.