Sixers sign Emeka Okafor; Media Day Thoughts

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

For the better part of two years now, it’s been an open secret that the Sixers would like to move on from 2015 third-overall pick Jahlil Okafor. Yet, another training camp is here, and not only is Jahlil still in a Sixers uniform, but the team has decided to double down on its number of Okafors. In a surprise move that absolutely no one could have seen coming, the Sixers announced Monday that their 20th and final training camp roster spot was reserved for former second overall pick Emeka Okafor.

https://twitter.com/sixers/status/912301438738604033

Emeka, a distant cousin of Jahlil, hasn’t played in the NBA or any other league since 2013 due to a herniated disc in his neck. He was medically cleared last spring and reportedly had a handful of other training camp invites aside from the Sixers. Bryan Colangelo said he wanted to bring in Okafor and Kris Humphries to have the most competitive camp possible. I would make the argument that bringing in a young 20-something fighting to scratch and claw his way into his first big break would bring as much competition, with the added bonus of possibly uncovering a hidden gem. But I don’t have the same fetish for veterans as the high-collared Colangelo.

Ultimately, these last few training camp roster spots don’t matter; Emeka Okafor won’t be around once the roster is trimmed down for opening night of the regular season. Here were some of the notable items on media days from the guys who will still be here into the winter.

Contracts

Joel Embiid mentioned there have been talks about an extension, but acknowledged he doesn’t really have any leverage as he would just become a restricted free agent if an extension isn’t reached. He also shot down any notion that he wasn’t playing because he wanted a new contract; notch another L for Howard Eskin.

Robert Covington also confirmed he and the team have been discussing a contract extension. This item of business is probably the most important for the Sixers heading into the season. Unlike Embiid, who Philadelphia can retain via restricted free agency regardless, Covington would be a unrestricted free agent next summer if the two sides cannot come to terms. With the cat out of the bag on what a valuable player Covington has become, it would behoove the Sixers to make sure RoCo doesn’t hit the open market.

Quick Injury Notes

Joel Embiid said his goal is to be ready for the first game of the regular season and the team is not going to put him out there during the preseason if he’s not ready. On a more positive note, Embiid mentioned he had 2 or 3 scans since his surgery and everything has looked perfect.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has only just begun running again after sitting out EuroBasket with knee tendonitis. Don’t expect to see TLC out there anytime soon, which could cause him to fall behind in what’s become a crowded field for rotational minutes.

Jahlil Okafor has yet to play 5-on-5, only recently participating 3-on-3. He does expect to be able to progress to 5-on-5 during training camp. Okafor revealed he went (mostly) vegan, in part, because he read how dairy causes inflammation and he’d been having trouble with swelling in the knee. Hopefully, the reduced inflammation and the weight loss helps keep him healthy, for both his own sake and his prospects as a trade asset.

There were a few Sixers who had positive health reports. Ben Simmons is 100% with no restrictions. Markelle Fultz is fully healthy; the ankle injured during summer league is not bothering him. Jerryd Bayless said his wrist feels great.

Quote of the day went to Amir Johnson, who revealed Rasheed Wallace is a big proponent of the college freshman workout plan.

We are a few weeks away from (hopefully) seeing these three out on the court together. Get hyped!


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