The Sixers have chosen not to pick up the $6.3 million option for the last year of Jahlil Okafor’s rookie contract. Drafted third overall in 2015, Okafor was an interesting offensive prospect but an immediate defensive liability, and often seemed sad and adrift on a Sixers roster clogged with young bigs. There wasn’t much of a market for Okafor at the trade deadline last year, and he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2018 unless he’s dealt before then.
ESPN notes that it’s the first time in NBA history that a third overall pick has had his fourth year declined. (2013 first overall pick Anthony Bennett and 2009 second overall pick Hasheem Thabeet have met similar fates.) Clearing the cap space brings the Sixers closer—but not quite there—to being able to offer someone a max deal next summer.
Meanwhile, just one pick below in Okafor’s draft class, Kristaps Porzingis is looking an awful lot like an MVP candidate. Perhaps there’s something to be said for Phil Jackson after all.