Jahlil Okafor: I just wanted to play basketball — that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. But I didn’t fit into Philly’s plans. And I totally understood why Coach couldn’t play me. They’re trying to build those guys into a playoff contender — and I wasn’t going to be there when that happened. So it didn’t make sense for them to have me in the rotation. But, man, it’s still tough. And you still want to play.
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Jahlil Okafor: My instinct was to not be a distraction. To just handle the situation quietly, in the most graceful way possible. But then you hear what they’re saying about you — Jahlil is passive, or Jahlil looks checked out, or whatever — and you get into this weird position. Because now, suddenly, you’re wondering, “Hang on. Am I being too quiet?”
Okafor contended that he was relegated to independent conditioning work during his time in Philadelphia, suggesting that the Sixers’ coaching staff did not commit time to his development. Sixers coach Brett Brown took umbrage with that statement. “Jahlil knows what we did here,” Brown said. “It’s a young person who gave a quote. I have read that. I think everybody understands how we treat people here and the attention he received while he was here. That’s my reaction.”
Molly French: Brett Brown on the trade: “I’m happy for Jahlil and Nik. They’re going into a good situation to get more of an opportunity to get on the court.”
Tom Moore: Brown says there’s ‘Human disappointment’ it didn’t work out with Okafor. #Sixers
Brian Seltzer: Brown says Okafor starting to feel more comfortable, empowered w/ chance to start, get regular minutes. Has had “excellent” trip, per Brown.
76ers coach Brett Brown has much respect for Jahlil Okafor. Brown is especially impressed by the center’s attitude amid the uncertainty that hovers over his 6-foot-11, 265-pound frame. Barring a sudden change of plans, it appears that Okafor’s days as a Sixer could be about to expire.
“He has been a star,” Brown said of Okafor following Monday’s 113-96 setback to the Detroit Pistons. Brown’s level of respect has a lot to do with how well Okafor has handled his situation. Okafor has remained a good teammate and continued to work hard on his game despite the trade talk. And he continues to hold his head high. “We remind him, ‘Go read your resume,’ ” Brown said. ” ‘You go have a look at who you are.’ And he’s got a lot to be proud of on the court.”
Tom Moore: #Sixers Brown: ‘It’s just part of the fluid part of NBA basketball.’ Okafor starting
Kyle Neubeck: Brett Brown’s explanation for Okafor not playing tonight was basically that he wasn’t in game shape, which is, uh
Charles F. Gardner: 76ers say Nerlens Noel is out with a left ankle sprain, so Jahlil Okafor should get minutes off bench. Okafor played well Sat. vs. Wash.
Tom Moore: #Sixers Brown: ‘Jahlil Okafor is going to be just fine.’
“It’s not ideal to put anybody in it,” Okafor said of not playing. “Obviously, it’s a funky situation. Funky for all of us. Right now, I’m the person who’s sitting out.”
“Obviously, it’s not what I want to be in a position,” Okafor said. “I know I’m not the type of player that’s DNP. But that’s what it is right now. Coach Brown has been phenomenal with communicating with me. I know in the long run, I’ll be fine.”
Tom Moore: Okafor calls his situation ‘funky.’ #Sixers
Tom Moore: #Sixers Brown says Okafor came in late last night to shoot.
Brian Mahoney: Sergio Rodriguez back but McConnell remains starter at PG for 76ers. Brett Brown vague when asked if Okafor would play.
Meanwhile, Okafor didn’t play at all vs. the Celtics, as Brown inserted Noel into the rotation and moved Okafor out, at least temporarily. That marked the first time in Okafor’s 1½-year pro career he was a “DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision).” Okafor needs to be a starter, but that won’t happen with Embiid here. Noel is better than Okafor in a reserve role because of his defensive work. “We are learning,” Brown told reporters afterward. “It’s difficult to play three ‘bigs’ in a 48-minute window.”
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May 22, 2018 | 10:49 am EDT Update
But D’Antoni dismissed the criticism as “noise,” wondering whether those whining about isos had watched the top-seeded Rockets all season. “We are who we are, and we had to be who we are,” D’Antoni said after the Rockets’ victory in Game 2, in which Houston ran 46 isos. “We just did it better, longer. Guys believe it, and we’re not going to change anything up. That would be silly on my part to panic. ... “We can beat anybody anywhere at any time playing the way we play. Some people might not like it, you know? Hey, sorry. You know, it might not look good to some people. But it’s effective. It’s efficient.”
The most 3s the Suns attempted during D’Antoni’s tenure was 25.6 per game in 2005-06, an unheard of number at the time. That would have ranked 25th in the NBA this season, when D’Antoni’s Rockets shot 42.3 3s per night, breaking the league record they set last season. “If we’d shoot 30-something 3s back then, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh!'” D’Antoni said. “That was like stepping out of the box back then. But that was like putting our toes in the water. I should have dove in, and I really regret that.”
As the deadline approaches for college basketball players entered in the NBA Draft to decide whether to turn pro or remain in college, Kentucky’s Wenyen Gabriel is a busy man. The sophomore from Sudan was not invited to last week’s pre-draft Combine in Chicago like five of his UK teammates, but that doesn’t mean Gabriel hasn’t been seen by NBA teams. During a pre-draft workout at Sacramento’s facility on Monday, Gabriel said the Kings were his fifth NBA visit. The 6-foot-9 forward said he previously stopped in Oklahoma City, Utah, Milwaukee and Brooklyn.
The Hawks have reached an agreement with Melvin Hunt to join head coach Lloyd Pierce’s staff as an assistant, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The hiring is expected to become official later Tuesday. Hunt will be the first assistant coach to be hired for Pierce’s staff since he was named Hawks head coach on May 11.
You’ve said you’d like to own an NBA team. Kevin Durant: I wish I had the money. It’s crazy. Obviously, the financial part is definitely going to be the hardest part. I’ve been part of two great organizations. I know the game inside and out and I know the players. And I feel like these NBA franchises just change lives. They change cities. I would love to do that. All the aspects of owning a team, I would love to be involved in — from the financial and marketing side to the team-building to the camaraderie to the coaching.
Clearly, Durant has been dropping dimes of the literal kind. So we sat down with him to discuss his presence in Silicon Valley, his growing empire and whether his ultimate investment might come in the form of an owner’s suite. ESPN: How much smarter of a businessman are you than you were, say, two years ago? Kevin Durant: I have mentors like Ron Conway [early-stage Google and PayPal investor] and Ben Horowitz [co-founder of Silicon Valley venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz] and good friendships with guys like Chris Lyons [chief of staff for Andreessen Horowitz]. I mean, you just go to dinner with these guys, hang out with them. You start to meet these types of people at games. It’s a little easier being here than saying, “Let’s meet up when I come in from Oklahoma.”