Storyline: Jahlil Okafor Free Agency

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With the Brooklyn Nets signing Ed Davis and acquiring Kenneth Faried in a trade, and with Sean Marks giving the impression Tuesday that they’re closing in on their final 2018-19 roster, the short-lived Jahlil Okafor era in Brooklyn looks dead. “I won’t comment on Jahlil, because he’s not here right now,” Marks said bluntly. “But again, I will always bet on our coaching staff. Our coaching staff have done a heck of a job, our performance team, in terms of how they develop guys.” Marks then noted the need for a “floor spacer,” which Okafor is not. Hours later, of course, the Nets signed Treveon Graham, who is a floor space and despite his size, can play the 4.

According to sources, Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, worked out for four teams last Wednesday in Las Vegas, and remains hopeful of signing with a team ahead of training camp next fall. Okafor averaged 17.5 points per game as a rookie in Philadelphia in 2015-16. He has spent the last few months working out in Miami with trainers David Alexander and Idan Ravin, fueling speculation that he could land with the Heat, especially if Miami finds a trading partner for Hassan Whiteside.

The career track so far for Jahlil Okafor, the third pick in the Draft overall just three flipping years ago, continues to astound. He is an unrestricted free agent after having been an afterthought in Brooklyn, which won exactly 28 games last season. Okafor is working this summer with player development yoda Idan Ravin, trying to show prospective teams he’s aware he must show improvement on the perimeter. Ravin has been reconstructing Okafor’s jump shot and improving his ability to score on face-ups and off the dribble. No one’s saying Okafor hasn’t been a disappointment so far as a pro. But in a league where there are so many bad teams, it’s astonishing no one has yet to give the still just 22-year-old Okafor a real look.

And while Okafor has professed to be happy with the Nets, how will he weigh court time, money, playing style, an opportunity to win and other factors in where he signs? “All that goes into it,” said Okafor, who did not play in Sunday’s 108-96 loss to the Pistons. “But honestly I have no experience with this whatsoever, so I’m just trying to finish the season strong. [I’ll have] guidance from people who’ve dealt with what I’m going to deal with, and lean on them. I really don’t know what to expect. But, at the end of the day, I want to play basketball.”
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August 22, 2019 | 7:53 am EDT Update
Burton’s star shined bright; he was named the league’s MVP after averaging 23.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. The performance piqued the interest of the Thunder, who have scouts all over the globe mining for gems like Burton. In addition to NBA interest, the year abroad also reinforced his need for a true connection in the locker room, like the one he created among his teammates back in high school. “When I play basketball, the team I’m on becomes my family,” he said firmly. “If I don’t feel it’s a family, I can’t play there. “That’s the main reason I came to OKC, because everybody was welcoming and family-oriented.”
Burton has survived a gnashing, tempestuous sea of instability as a player over the last six years, not to mention the emotional battle he waged in losing his mother. It’s a testament to the 25-year-old’s gentle heart and soul that he’s managed to navigate through it all and still maintain humility, grace and composure as a human being. “I honor my mom daily just by how I act,” he said. “I feel that she would be proud of me daily by how I interact with people.”
CM: And then we don’t talk anymore about his injury history, either. I mean, right before you took the job that was a significant concern, like would his legs be able to hold up. It doesn’t seem to be a variable with him anymore. Scott Brooks: When I took the job, you hear all the rumblings. ‘Brad’s not tough enough. He’s had injuries, you’re going to have him for 50 to 60 games. John and Brad don’t get along.’ Those things that you hear about all the time. One of the things that I saw with Brad from the day one, he practices every day and he basically played every game for the last three years. I think he missed two games since my first year.
And yet, with an MVP trophy and a signature sneaker, Antetokounmpo won’t stop working. “I’m really, really happy about everything, but at the end of the day I can’t stay in the moment that much because I try to stay as humble as I can and hungry, and usually when you stick around the moment, that makes you feel comfortable and I don’t want to be comfortable,” he says. “Feeling uncomfortable is a good thing. When you’re out of your comfort zone, then you get better. You improve, you learn.
2 hours ago via SLAM