In the end, Sixers’ boss Bryan Colangelo was stuck. The thought of waking up Friday the 24th with both Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor was just too heavy a burden. Who would face the fanbase and explain how this all went astray (again)? What message would it send to the players whom you’ve openly and very publicly shopped and showcased for the past month 76ers’ games?
That scenario, as horrific as it sounds to you and I, is exactly what Colangelo saw, and that’s the number one reason Nerlens Noel now plays for the Dallas Mavericks, Okafor remains a 76er, and this team STILL has a bagful of unanswered questions.
Let’s start with. That’s the best you could do? While Nerlens Noel has an expiring contract, it still allows the team who owns it to express a qualifying offer and match any potential free agent suitor that offers the (eye roll) Mavericks center. Then there’s this if that’s all you could get for Noel, and you felt that the better tender than any offer for Jahlil Okafor, we have the wrong leadership. Nothing could have driven Okafor’s trade value down further than the manner in which they handled the entire process. Colangelo, and to a slightly lesser extent, Brett Brown for his collusion on the whole insane circus, which culminated in Okafor being left off the team plane, and told a deal was imminent, then two days later flown halfway across the country because a deal was not. Jahlil Okafor has to take a hit here too. His lazy, disinterested approach to the defensive end of the NBA floor is a huge part of the reason teams weren’t knocking down the Sixers doors. Heartless at times, and blatantly invisible at most others, Okafor still possesses a huge set of offensive skills. Now the question is, does he grow a heart? Has the prospect of being traded lit any spark under a player one year removed from being the 3rd overall selection in the draft? Could be the Sixers just parked him until draft day, and with the prospect of Joel Embiid missing the next four games, they’ll allow him to display exactly why he is the player the 76ers chose not to move.
Back to the management though. They’re may not be a more mismanaged situation in any sports front office history. The debacle of the silly benchings, and banishment from the rotation of both Okafor and Noel was embarrassing to this franchise. The truth is too easy for Colangelo. He could have easily shaped this so that it appeared that he was moving Okafor only to free money to extend Noel. Instead, he drove the value of both players down through his inept and dopey press conferences where he played “I love you, I love you not” with both players over the past two months, and the openly and very publicly declared that Noel was the 76er who would stay, further burying any possibility of getting equal value for Jahlil Okafor.
Final question for the Sixers….
This REALLY the guy who is going to manage the assets you lost 200 games over the past three seasons to acquire?
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