Ending season not an option for Jahlil Okafor

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Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor drives to the basket on Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 9, 2017.

PORTLAND, Ore. - 76ers center Jahlil Okafor has experienced right knee soreness throughout the season. One would assume that the second-year player would consider sitting the rest of the campaign to rest his knee.

Okafor said during Thursday's shootaround that sitting out has never been an option.

"We just rest and do treatment whenever we think is necessary,"  he said, "and just go from there."

Okafor returned to action in Thursday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center after missing the last two games because of the soreness.

He said icing the knee and strengthening his quadriceps are part of the treatment he's receiving along with a lot of compression on the knee.

But Okafor has been dealing with knee soreness since having surgery on March 22, 2016, to repair the meniscus in the knee. The injury cost the NBA all-rookie selection the final 23 games of last season.

So far, he has missed 20 games because of coach's decisions, illness or injury. He missed five games because of right knee soreness, three with a stomach flu, two for rest, and one for hamstring tightness. In the other nine games, he didn't see action because of his spot on the depth chart.

Okafor became the regular starter on Feb. 24. That's because Joel Embiid suffered a season-ending meniscus tear and bone bruise in his left knee and Nerlens Noel was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

Homecoming for two

Thursday's game was sort of a homecoming for Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez. The two Sixers had stints with the Blazers.

The Phoenix Suns drafted Rodriguez with the 27th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. They traded him to Portland on draft night. He played three seasons there before being traded to the Sacramento Kings on June 28, 2009.

Henderson came to Portland in a trade from the Charlotte Hornets on June 24, 2015. He spent only one season with the Blazers.

Both players signed free-agent deal with the Sixers in July.

"I've got great memories from Portland," Rodriguez said. "Not only basketball-wise. Living here in the city, I love the way that they live and the way that the people are. It's a good time for me to be back."

It wasn't a big deal for Henderson. "Obviously, we played them before," he said. "I've done this a couple of times now."

Splitter to Sevens?

Sixers reserve center Tiago Splitter could go the Sixers' NBA Development League team, the Delaware 87ers, as part of his rehabilitation. The Sixers acquired him in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 22.

He has not played at all this season because of injuries. The 32-year-old is dealing with a right calf strain.

"We are discussing his return to play," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "Some of it could look like involvement with D-League stuff, practicing, maybe playing. We don't know, but we talk about it."

Brown and Splitter have a relationship from their time with the San Antonio Spurs. Brown was an assistant coach there while Splitter was a player. Back then, the Spurs would send players on assignment to their D-League, the Austin Spurs.

"He is wired as a pro. So it's not delivered like it's demeaning," Brown said of Splitter being asked to play for the Sevens. "It's not an insult. It's a vehicle to return to play. He hasn't played basketball for a year. I think the path to return to play can take different looks. That's one of them that I just suggested."

Simmons, Bayless with team

Injured players Ben Simmons (right foot), Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) and Splitter and Sixers player development consultant Elton Brand are with the team during their four-game road trip.

Embiid will join the team in Los Angeles. The Sixers were scheduled to fly there after Thursday's game.

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