Bryan Colangelo: Sixers Still Open to Trading Jahlil Okafor

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The season has ended, but the questions surrounding Jahlil Okafor's future with the Sixers remain.

There still is a possibility the Sixers could move Okafor to find a better fit for the center, who has found himself as the odd man out among bigs.

"If a deal comes along that makes sense for both of us, then we'll go ahead and make the deal," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday. "But we're not in a race to make any decisions. We're taking a very measured toward path success and building an organization."

The Sixers had looked to trade Okafor at the deadline. They came close to the point where they held him out of games. Okafor became the starting center when the Sixers traded Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks and Joel Embiid was sidelined for the season, although that never cleared up the long-term logjam.

"I don't know that I'll ever be able to sit here and say that it's been resolved when you've got a young a talent like Jahlil Okafor who sees himself, and probably deservedly so, as a starter in this league or a future starter in this league," Colangelo said. "Everyone's got an agenda and everyone's got a forecast for themselves. But he finds himself in a situation where there's a pretty big roadblock ahead."

The Sixers hope to have Embiid healthy for next season after undergoing knee surgery last month. Brett Brown described the thought of Embiid playing all 82 regular season games as "wildly ambitious." Even when Embiid requires rest, the Sixers have found a reliable backup center in Richaun Holmes. He developed from a backup-to-the-backup to the starter by the end of his second season.

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"The dynamic has changed with the trade of Nerlens," Colangelo said. "The emergence of Richaun has continued to impress all of us. … You would argue we haven't missed a beat since that move. Richaun has shown us great promise and probably without that confidence in Richaun, maybe we don't make that move."

Okafor missed the final 11 games of the season because of right knee soreness. Between injuries and falling out of the rotation, he played just 50 games. Okafor said on Thursday he has not discussed another surgery (he had one to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee last March). He has been following a plan of rest and knee strengthening without on-court activity. Healing his knee is a top priority for Okafor and the Sixers.

"He has an appropriate fear where he recognizes this is a hell of an important summer," Brown said. "If you want to point it to one thing, it's his health. How do we get him as strong and healthy to build the type of player and grow the type of player that we want to fit into this system? I think to just dismiss him this early at 21 given the abundance of unluck that he has had with his injury, would be far too unfair. We're not there. I'm not there."

When asked if he would be open to a backup role, Okafor said Thursday he would embrace whatever role he is assigned but it was too early to think about that for next season. What Okafor did stamp off on was his feeling toward the team. 

"I love being here," he said (see story). "Great things are happening here in Philadelphia and I'd love to be a part of it."

The Sixers have always credited Okafor for the way he handled this up-and-down year. There is a chance, though, it may have been his last one with the Sixers. 

"Openly, we've discussed scenarios with his agent that we could find something mutually beneficial," Colangelo said. "But if not, we're happy to have Jahlil as part of this organization. He's a great kid."

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