Jahlil Okafor wanted a new home with more playing time, the Brooklyn Nets said come on down.
Okafor apparently got his wish on Thursday, when reports surfaced that the Philadelphia 76ers will trade Okafor, Nik Stauskas and a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets in exchange for forward Trevor Booker.
Brooklyn will also release guard Sean Kilpatrick to create additional roster space.
It’s a deal which makes all the sense in the world for both teams.
Okafor fell out of the rotation in Philadelphia, with the emergence of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. He became a nonfactor in the long-term plans of the team. But, the 2015 third overall pick in the NBA draft is still a talent with enough potential to warrant other teams at least taking a hard look at.
At 6’11”, Okafor fills a need for a young, athletic big in the frontcourt. It’ll be interesting to see how he fits in the lineup with Jarrett Allen, that’s if the rookie’s minutes continue to increase.
The Nets, meanwhile, continue their efforts to rebuild with general manager Sean Marks masterfully pushing the right buttons.
Brooklyn, under the guidance of Marks, has slowly transformed from a team with little to no options in the cupboard. They’re now a team with upside and youth. Yes, the Nets are now a team on the rise.
Okafor averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game as a rookie. Brooklyn has to be hoping they can tap into that talent and give him every opportunity to thrive again.
Earlier this summer the Nets were able to acquire former number two overall draft pick D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers for veteran Brook Lopez. Russell is currently rehabbing from knee surgery, but showed plenty of promise before he was sidelined. Brooklyn’s going to take their time with bringing him back, which is the right move.
Now, with the addition of Okafor, the Nets have two former top-three draft picks, both still only 21 years old. Let’s not forget Caris LeVert, the 23-year old first rounder in his second season. That cupboard doesn’t look bare anymore.
On the flipside of the coin, Brooklyn will miss Booker. He totally bought into the culture change implemented by Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson. He plays hard, has shown strong leadership skills, and was great in the locker room. He’ll be a nice fit for what the improved Sixers are doing.
But this is a trade which could not be passed up. Russell and Okafor, respectively taken two and three in the 2015 draft, are now in Brooklyn. This only strengthens the young core being assembled by Marks.
Okafor needed a fresh start, this trade presents a great opportunity for him to reestablish his value on the court. The Nets, just as with Russell, could be getting a great return on a low-risk investment.