February 10, 2017
The NBA trade deadline is now less than two weeks away and the 76ers were a major storyline over the past seven days, with Jahlil Okafor trade rumors (specifically ones linking the big man to New Orleans and Chicago) starting to heat up on Twitter.
Off the court, Okafor has handled getting benched and constantly hearing his name in trade rumors as well as the Sixers could hope for. Recently, Brett Brown went out of his way to express his growing admiration for Okafor with the way he has dealt with the situation.
Colangelo: "I have to complement Nerlens, Jahlil on way they've handled everything. Acting like true professionals. Both have been great."— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) February 9, 2017
"I don't even approach it," Noel said inside the visitors' locker room at Amway Center. "I just play my game. If that's what they decide, that's what they decide."
"I haven't heard anything. So I don't really look for anything."
Per a report by Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler, the Sixers aren’t looking to trade Okafor to New Orleans for a late first-round draft pick. Specifically, he says they’re looking for Jrue Holiday:
The 76ers, according to a source, were not as enamored with the Pelicans offer as maybe it seemed. Sources close to the situation are saying the 76ers wanted guard Jrue Holiday in an Okafor deal instead of the draft pick. Both sides are said to be continuing the dialogue, and now that the talks are out in the open, there will be some urgency to either complete the deal or move on.
We wrote about the potential pros and cons of bringing back Holiday in free agency a month ago, and the “Time is a flat circle” True Detective jokes really would write themselves. But regardless if the 76ers find traction on any Holiday discussions, this probably won’t the last time we’ll hear Okafor’s name in trade rumors.
Here are some other trade rumors and reports from around the NBA, with analysis of how they could potentially affect the Sixers:
In response to reports about a potential trade sending DeMarcus Cousins to Phoenix, Kings GM Vlade Divac put any more Boogie rumors to bed via ESPN’s Marc Stein:
"We're not trading DeMarcus," Divac told ESPN. "We hope he's here for a long time."
Sources told ESPN that Divac recently met face to face with Cousins and his representatives to make it clear that the 26-year-old is not being made available to interested teams and encouraged them to ignore any media speculation leading up to the trade deadline.
There has been reporting out of Sacramento that Cousins would be open to signing a designated player (read: big) extension, and the Kings can offer him one in the offseason. Sacramento could also trade Darren Collison or Kosta Koufos, per Basketball Insiders.
As far as the Lakers are concerned, they could move players like Lou Williams at the trade deadline. In what seems like a murky situation, new ownership advisor Magic Johnson will be part of the talks according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:
It starts here as the Feb. 23 trade deadline approaches, when Magic is expected to play a part in the Lakers' decision-making process. But he's not the general manager. He's at the senior level, hired to advise, not to get down in the weeds plotting out maneuvers.
How it affects the Sixers: It sounds like there is at least a chance that Johnson could advise Jeanie Buss to move on from her brother Jim and Mitch Kupchak after the season. If the Lakers land a Top-3 pick in this year’s NBA Draft (which would be an incredible string of luck), that pick would then be unprotected for the Sixers next season. So, you know, who is calling the shots in L.A. this offseason kind of matters 3,000 miles away.
2019 is still a long ways away (especially for the Kings), but on the surface, a Cousins extension would seem to weaken both the pick swap and unprotected first-rounder possibilities for the 76ers. Even with his warts, it’s understandable why Sacramento would want to lock up Boogie long-term. Still only 26, that type of talent is hard for anyone to acquire, especially the Kings.
There is never a dull day with the New York Knicks. First there was a New York Daily News report that LeBron James was pushing for a Carmelo Anthony trade, even if it involved shipping out all-star Kevin Love. LeBron publicly shot down the trade rumor, even calling the reporter (Frank Isola) “trash.”
And then, apparently not satisfied being out of the headlines for more than 24 hours, the Knicks ejected and arrested beloved former player Charles Oakley on Wednesday for good measure.
Back on the Melo front, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Anthony won’t be publicly pushed out of New York by Phil Jackson:
Boston’s shown minimal interest in Anthony, preferring to continue its pursuit of persuading Chicago (Jimmy Butler) and Indiana (Paul George) to engage in trade talks that involve two younger, more well-rounded stars.
There was an expectation around the NBA that Knicks management would start to search elsewhere for trade possibilities and bring Anthony different scenarios for his approval, but that process doesn’t appear to have begun, league sources said.
How it affects the Sixers: As we wrote last week, the Celtics are well positioned for the future and could be one of the Sixers’ main rivals down the road. It seems as if they have little interest in trading for Anthony, even if it requires role players. Here’s the thing, though: They aren’t getting Butler or George before the deadline without trading away at least one of those Brooklyn picks, probably this year’s.
Regardless of how Danny Ainge decided to play it, the Celtics are in a good spot. If Boston stands pat, draft lottery night should again be a lot of fun/torture.
The Knicks will probably keep on Knicksing (tanking, but with the most possible drama) with or without their aging star. Even if Anthony’s no-trade clause makes a deal less likely, I would expect to continue to see his name in trade rumors.
Despite having much higher expectations than the Sixers this season, T.J. McConnell’s buzzer-beater drew the 76ers to within percentage points of the Orlando Magic in the standings. Perhaps the Magic’s best trade chip is Serge Ibaka, a recent trade acquisition can leave Orlando as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
And according to a report by the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the Heat are interested in Ibaka:
One name we’ve been told is on Miami’s radar: Orlando forward Serge Ibaka, an impending free agent for whom the Magic reportedly is willing to consider offers. It’s unclear whether the Heat has assets that the Magic wants, or how aggressively Miami will pursue this. But Ibaka intrigues the Heat.
How it affects the Sixers: It’s hard to think Miami has enough assets to swing an Ibaka trade, considering that they’re out two first-round picks in the next four years. The problem for the Magic is that they’re six games out of a playoff spot with a roster that makes no sense; they lost to the Sixers without Joel Embiid last night!
With Ibaka able to leave for nothing in free agency, what does a front office that is under pressure decide to do? Houston was also rumored to be interested in Ibaka. If Embiid and Ben Simmons return, Orlando is a major threat to pass the Sixers in Tankapalooza.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann