BOSTON -- Just when it seemed like Jahlil Okafor's time with the Sixers could be coming to a close, he rejoined the team in Boston for the final game before the All-Star break and trade deadline (see story).
The Sixers had been close to a deal for Okafor, which is why they decided to hold him out on Saturday against the Heat and Monday against the Hornets, according to a source.
Even though there is only one game left before the deadline, the Sixers had been keeping the possibility of Okafor joining the team on the road open if a trade didn't occur.
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Brett Brown previously noted the Sixers did not want to complicate things for Okafor while the second-year center was involved in discussions and emphasized the team's open communication with him (see story).
The Sixers had Okafor stay in Philadelphia on Sunday when they traveled to Charlotte for Monday's game in case a trade went down while they were on the road. They wanted to avoid a scenario where, if that had happened, Okafor would have had to return mid-trip. (The Sixers took a similar approach when they waived Hollis Thompson before his contract deadline in early January so he wouldn't be sent home during a road swing.)
The Feb. 23 trade deadline is a just over week away, and the Sixers still could find a partner for Okafor if one makes sense for both player and team.
On Monday, Brown said Okafor would be embraced by the Sixers if a trade does not transpire.
"He'll come back in and he will be welcomed with open arms with teammates that like him and respect him," Brown said. "They are friends. He'll come back into a coaching staff that likes him and respects him because we care for him. He still is ours until somebody tells us he isn't."
For now, he is.