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February 21, 2017

2017 NBA Trade Deadline: Celtics over Okafor? McConnell off the market?

And how some L.A. 'Magic' can benefit the Sixers

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The 2017 NBA Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching and while the rumors continue to swirl from all around the league, there's yet to be a flurry of moves. 

Don't worry, there's still plenty of time left – and we all know how frantic the final few hours before Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline can be.

The Sixers, while being linked to several teams, mostly about Jahlil Okafor, have yet to make a move, and more than a few of the teams reportedly interested in acquiring the second-year center have either fallen off the radar or struck deals elsewhere.

As the clock continues to tick down for Bryan Colangelo, here's your Tuesday afternoon look at the latest rumors involving the Sixers, and how a front office move 3,000 miles away could pay dividends for Philadelphia.

ALL QUIET ON THE BOSTON FRONT

The Celtics, one of the teams reportedly interest in Okafor, has apparently moved on.

And, in case you're wondering, they're hearing the same thing up in Boston. Here's more from Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

The 76ers, meanwhile, have been quite transparent about their intentions to trade their second-year big man, Jahlil Okafor, but the source said Okafor is not on the Celtics’ radar.  [bostonglobe.com]

What it means for the Sixers: The good news for Colangelo is that as one potential trade partner dried up, another emerged in the form of the Indiana Pacers. This isn't the end of the world for the Sixers since there were never any reports that these two got close to getting a deal done. Worse is the fact that they failed to make a deal after twice being close.

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

Did I say they had a deal that was "close?" Sorry, I meant to say "done." Here's more from Jake Fisher of Sports Illustrated:

Exactly a week before the Pelicans landed Cousins, a team source told SI.com New Orleans’s deal for Jahlil Okafor was “done,” and the teams were simply negotiating the protections on the Pelicans’ outgoing pick. The 76ers also reportedly came close to shipping Okafor to Portland before the Blazers’ acquired Jusuf Nurkic. The well appears to have dried up on Okafor suitors, but rival executives expect the Sixers to make a move regardless.  [si.com]

What it means for the Sixers: Read those last five words one more time. To make a deal regardless. That's never a good spot in which to find oneself ahead of the deadline. At this point, it seems unlikely that Colangelo will get commensurate value for Okafor. The bigger question is whether or not he'll settle for 50 cents on the dollar or hold onto him until the draft and try his luck again. But can you realistically expect him to get anything better than whatever the Pelicans were offering last week? In short, no.

LOPEZ HURTING MARKET FOR OKAFOR?

Here's one reason the Sixers could be having some trouble moving Okafor, via ESPN's Marc Stein:

What it means for the Sixers: The more big men available, the harder it's going to be for the Sixers to move Okafor. And when the price of one is dropping, the others are likely to follow. And in the dwindling number of potential buyers, and suddenly the market is flooded. I saw "Trading Places." I get it. Hopefully, Colangelo does too.

T.J. STAYING PUT?

The other day, we wrote about how T.J. McConnell's value may never be higher than it is right now. A few weeks ago, Cleveland was rumored to be interested in trading for the second-year pro. But despite that – and the fact that his role will reduce dramatically once Ben Simmons is healthy – it appears Colangelo wants to keep the young point guard around for at least a little while longer.

Here's more from Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated:

The Sixers will also receive plenty of calls about T.J. McConnell but a league source suggested the team has no interest in parting ways with the point guard.  [si.com]

What it means for the Sixers: While his value may be maximized, that's only important if you don't see him playing a role on your team moving forward. McConnell's never going to be the kind of player that costs a ton of money, and he could be a great backup point guard for the Sixers going forward. He's already proven that he's plenty capable of starting, but with Simmons on the way, he could give the team a more traditional point guard to contrast Simmons' role as a point-forward. There's also no reason Brett Brown couldn't have both on the court at the same time. Now, if only T.J. could improve his outside shooting... 

MAGIC’S SHOW

No, we’re not talking about the team in Orlando. We’re talking about the Hall of Famer turned Lakers general manager who is now in charge in Los Angeles. On Tuesday, the Lakers fired GM Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operation Jim Buss as part of a big front office shake up.

Los Angeles Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss announced today that the team has named Earvin "Magic" Johnson as President of Basketball Operations. In addition, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Furthermore, Jim Buss will no longer hold his role as Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.  [nba.com]

And, at least publicly, it doesn’t seem like they plan on doing much more losing before trying to build a contender.

Jeanie Buss added, "I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again."  [nba.com]

What it means for the Sixers: The Sixers are currently in possession of the Lakers first-round pick, but it’s top-three protected. Currently, Los Angeles has the third-worst record in the league, meaning if the lottery plays out as the numbers suggest, Colangelo and Co. will have to wait until 2018 for that pick to materialize. By then, after adding what would be another top pick to their roster, it may not even be in the top 10.

If this shakeup, however, provides a slight spark — sometimes that happens — the Lakers could catch the Magic (not the GM, the team; try to keep up) and climb out of that protected range. Currently, they’re two games behind Orlando, three back of the Sixers, and three and a half behind the Timberwolves.

For all the worrying over whether or not the Sixers should actually try to make the playoffs this year — thanks in part to the Boogie Cousins trade — there’s now a very real scenario in which they could have two top-five picks regardless of where they wind up in the standings.


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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