Jahlil Okafor on DNPs: 'It's funky for all of us'

Jahlil Okafor on DNPs: 'It's funky for all of us'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor knows the situation.

There are only so many minutes to go around among himself, Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel, and someone is going to come up short. That person, as of late, has been Okafor.

“Obviously it's a funky situation. It's funky for all of us,” Okafor said Tuesday. “Right now I'm the person who's sitting out, so obviously not [the position I want to be in]. I know I’m not the type of player that’s a DNP, but that’s what it is right now. 

“Coach (Brett) Brown has been phenomenal with communicating with me, and I know in the long run I’m going to be fine. I just try to come in here every day and work as hard as I can.”

Okafor registered DNPs the last two games while Embiid started and Noel took on a sixth-man role. Riding the bench is a stark contrast for the 2015 third overall pick, who had been averaging 22.4 minutes per game this season. 

“I think for the short term, I think it’s wise and mature for him to accept it," Brown said. "When you really crawl in and say what do you want out of your career, what do you want to be, he’s not going to tell you he wants to be sixth man and I don’t blame him.”

On Monday, Okafor participated in a workout for low-minute players. He also spent time at the training complex putting up extra shots. 

"The roles that people accept versus the roles that people are given are kind of different," Brown said. "To date, I feel like he has handled it like an adult, like a pro, and his spirit has not taken a dent. I intend on trying to keep him believing in himself.”

Okafor said he and Brown have kept open dialogue during this shift in playing time. 

“I know that he doesn’t have to tell me anything,” Okafor said. “He could just go out there and coach, I could just be on the bench unaware of anything. He’s done an amazing job. I’m appreciative of that.”

While Okafor has not received a timeframe of how long this situation will continue, he expects to play Saturday against the Wizards on the second night of a back-to-back. Embiid does not play in consecutive games, which creates an opportunity for Okafor. The Sixers have four sets of back-to-backs this month alone. 

“I see a very clear path in the immediate future where we keep his spirit up and there is an end game to why he’s coming in late last night,” Brown said. “There’s light at the end of his tunnel because of that Joel back-to-back situation especially.”

As Okafor watches games from the bench, he doesn't get caught up in the concept of his teammates' "taking" his minutes. The close-knit frontcourt has remained supportive of one another while minutes fluctuate from big to big.

"It makes it a lot easier knowing I have guys playing in front of me that I genuinely like," Okafor said. "You can’t really get mad at them or anything like that because you guys are really good friends. I’m seeing Nerlens do his thing, it makes me happy to see any one of your friends doing well. It makes it a lot easier having guys that you like."

Report: Sixers interested in reunion with Andre Iguodala

Report: Sixers interested in reunion with Andre Iguodala

Fresh off his latest NBA Finals victory, two-time champ Andre Iguodala could end up back in Philly.

The Sixers are one of seven teams interested in prying the 2015 NBA Finals MVP away from the Warriors, according to an ESPN report.

Iguodala averaged 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 26.3 minutes a game for the reigning champs. He scored 20 points in the series clincher in Game 5. 

Since joining Golden State, Iguodala has taken a lesser role, unlike his days with the Sixers. Back in February, Iguodala had some glowing things to say about one of the Sixers' franchise cornerstones, Joel Embiid. 

"I'm a big fan of his," Iguodala said following a Warriors' 119-108 win over the Sixers. "I think he has a crazy upside. I don't even think people realize how good he really is."

Next season, the Sixers will add 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons and 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz to that mix. With the young foundation in place and the money the Sixers could throw at him, Iguodala could consider coming back to the place where his NBA career started.

Iguodala could offer the Sixers two valuable things: defense and veteran leadership. With guard Jerryd Bayless being the only player on the current roster with five years of NBA experience, the Sixers could use a player with Iguodala's resume.

Iguodala, 33, has now played in 109 career postseason games. He's also been durable, having played at least 62 games in each of his 13 NBA seasons. 

"As long as they keep having good intentions," Iguodala said when asked if he thought the Sixers were on the right track. "As long as [Embiid] continues to improve and his confidence goes higher and higher — his potential is amazing — and they get the right guys around him, and they've already started that, so sky's the limit."

Iguodala was originally drafted ninth overall by the Sixers back in 2004 out of Arizona. He averaged 15.3 points in 615 games and made one All-Star appearance in his eight seasons with the Sixers.

Robert Covington finishes 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting

Robert Covington finishes 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting

Draymond Green. Rudy Gobert. Kawhi Leonard.

Robert Covington.

Covingon placed fourth in the voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, though he wasn't even close to the top three.

Green, who won the award Monday night, received 73 of 100 first-place votes and had 434 voting points.

Gobert was next with 16 first-place votes and 269 points, followed by Leonard with 11 first-place votes and 182 points.

Covington was the only other player in the NBA to receive both a second- and third-place vote, giving him a total of four voting points. That was one more than LeBron James, Hassan Whiteside and Andre Roberson. 

Both writers who voted for Covington are international: Antoni Daimel of Moviestar+ in Spain and Flavio Tranquillo of Sky Italia. European hoops heads must love them some RoCo.

After a slow start, Covington had a breakout 2016-17 season, offensive and defensively. His reputation has grown substantially over the last year and he's now considered one of the better three-and-D players in the NBA and a solid fit alongside the Sixers' young nucleus.