Okafor certainly offered a glimpse at why expectations for him are so sky high in his first NBA action on Monday night. He opened up the three-day Utah Jazz Summer League with 20 points on 10 of 22 shooting and nine rebounds in a 74-71 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (see Instant Replay). After a rough first half in which he had just six points and shot just 27 percent, Okafor got his internal engine running smoothly in the second half. He showed flashes of dominance around the basket during key stretches. “I just got more comfortable,” Okafor said. “I haven’t played 5-on-5 since the national championship game. I am just getting adjusted and getting some of the rust out. Just talking to my teammates and figuring it out. It’s a process. I hope I can play better the next game.”
After a while, though, he set up closer to the rim, and there, even tired and moving as if he were underwater, Okafor showed what the Sixers and everyone else around basketball saw from him at Duke and could see coming from him in the NBA: the balletic footwork in the lane, his touch returning, all 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds of him a smooth, synchronous machine. “My goal is to be the best,” Okafor said in an interview after he’d finished. “That’s my thing I want to achieve – the best that I can be, and hopefully that’s the best player in the NBA. I know it’s a long way to get to that point, but that’s what I want to get to.”
Jordan McRae was asked Friday where he expects to play in the fall. The swingman knows the 76ers could stash him overseas for the second consecutive season. They could also put him on their 15-man NBA roster. “I would say I would be here,” McRae said after the Sixers’ morning minicamp session for the summer league. “Me just being here with the guys in the summer, and the relationships with the coaches and players and stuff, I think it will help me out a lot.”
Jahlil Okafor drew praise from one of his new coaches after his first minicamp workout for summer league play. The 76ers’ new cornerstone on Thursday displayed the characteristics of someone destined to be a fan favorite. “He did excellent today,” said Sixers assistant Billy Lange, who will coach the team’s Utah Jazz Summer League squad. “His energy was great. He looks you in the eye. He’s coachable. He’s engaged with his teammates. He asks the right questions. He’s humble. “And he’s exactly what you would want him to be on the first day.”
The Sacramento Kings cleared about $16 million in salary-cap space on Wednesday night, unloading two significant contracts onto the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Kings traded forwards Carl Landry and Jason Thompson and 2014 No. 8 overall draft pick Nik Stauskas to the 76ers for the rights to overseas players and a future second-round draft pick, sources said. The Kings will send the Sixers a protected future first-round draft pick as part of the deal, league sources told Yahoo Sports.