The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly have another new face that will grace their frontcourt for the 2018-19 season.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans have agreed to deal with former No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor. Okafor averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and shot 56.6 percent overall last season for the Nets, who acquired him via a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in early December.
Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that Okafor’s deal is partially guaranteed for next season and has a team option for 2019-20. The terms of the deal were also reported by Michael Scotto of The Athletic.
Source: Partial guarantee on this season, and a team option for 2019-20. https://t.co/uqHXwW06Rb
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 8, 2018
Jahlil Okafor has agreed to a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, a league source told The Athletic. Year 1 is partially guaranteed. Year 2 is a team option. First reported by ESPN.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) August 8, 2018
Once a prized piece of the Sixers’ rebuilding process, Okafor rapidly fell out of favor with the rise of star center Joel Embiid. He appeared in just two games for Philadelphia last season before he was shipped to the Nets with guard Nik Stauskas for and a 2019 second-round pick and Nets for forward Trevor Booker.
This summer, the Pelicans lost All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in free agency to the Golden State Warriors. However, they rebounded by signing young forward Julius Randle of the Los Angeles Lakers to a two-year deal. In New Orleans, Okafor will be a part of a front line that is led by All-Star big man Anthony Davis and features Randle, sharpshooting forward Nikola Mirotic, defensive-minded Solomon Hill and others.
In December, former team president Bryan Colangelo said he reached a deal with a team he declined to name to trade Okafor to in 2016-17 … until it fell apart at the last minute. That led to an awkward situation where Okafor didn’t even travel with the team during the trade deadline. As a rookie in 2015-16, Okafor led the Sixers in scoring and was an All-Rookie first teamer as Embiid mended from his injuries. Okafor played 50 games in the 2016-17 season and never really meshed with the franchise center. Okafor started piling up DNP-CDs and those stretched into last season.
Under former general manager Sam Hinkie, the Sixers orchestrated a plan to strip the roster of talent to gobble draft picks that could turn into future rotation players. Accused of tanking, the Sixers went 18-64 in 2014-15 and earned the No. 3 pick. They landed a flop instead of a future star. Okafor not only dropped behind Embiid on the depth chart, but in 2017-18, fell behind Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson.
Okafor played in 105 games (81 starts) with the Sixers and averaged 14.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 26.2 minutes while shooting 51.0 percent from the field.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.