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February 02, 2017

2017 NBA Trade Deadline: How the latest rumors affect the Sixers

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With the NBA trade deadline three weeks away, let’s check in on the major rumors and reports from around the league. And more importantly, we’ll talk about any potential impact that they could have on the Sixers.

Carmelo Anthony

The biggest story in the NBA as the trade deadline nears is in New York. Carmelo Anthony is 32 and has the same old warts … but he’s still Carmelo freaking Anthony! If a contender could utilize him more as an off-ball threat (hey, it worked on Team USA for a decade) and a primary option/small-ball 4 on bench units, Carmelo could still help a contender.

There are hurdles to jump over. Anthony has a no-trade clause, 15 percent trade kicker, and he’s very comfortable with his family’s lifestyle in New York.

One big market team that has been popping up in rumors frequently is the Los Angeles Clippers. According to ESPN, the Knicks and Clippers are looking for a third team to facilitate a trade:

The recent thumb injury suffered by Anthony's good friend Chris Paul has complicated matters, with the Clippers reluctant to part with two of their healthy guards -- Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers and J.J. Redick -- in any trade while Paul is sidelined.

Sources said the Knicks ‎are reluctant to absorb the three years and $42 million left on Crawford's contract after this season, which has led to the hunt for a third team that might be interested in Crawford. The Clippers, meanwhile, are hesitant to surrender the sharpshooting Redick even if they were at full strength in the backcourt, sources said.

How it affects the Sixers: If the Knicks essentially give Anthony away — Austin Rivers isn’t exactly moving the needle —they could make a serious move in the race for NBA Draft positioning. For all of New York’s problems, the Knicks still own their first-round draft picks. They have a bad team with Melo over the past few months, but shedding the nine-time all-star could help in Tankapalooza 2017.

More tanking candidates

The Magic are interested in trading Serge Ibaka before he hits free agency, according to a Sporting News report:

League sources told Sporting News that the Magic have picked up their attempts to move Ibaka ahead of next month’s trade deadline, eager to ensure that they come away with some return for a player who does not figure to be in Orlando long.

How it affects the Sixers: Just like with Dallas (Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams), the Magic might look to trade veterans who won’t be sticking around. As of Wednesday, the Sixers actually a better winning percentage than both teams. So, you know, the tank could really be on.

Boogie Fever

There was a report that Phoenix and Sacramento were discussing a trade centered around DeMarcus Cousins. But Basketball Insiders is reporting the Kings plan to offer Cousins an extension:

The Kings plan, according to sources, is to offer Cousins a Designated Veteran extension in July that could be worth more than $200 million. There is a growing sense that Cousins would sign it. The narrative around the situation has been that the Kings will wait out that process and decide the future of Cousins after they get an answer on the extension.

How it affects the Sixers: The Sixers own the Kings’ unprotected first-round draft pick in 2019. That is the year Cousins’ latest contract runs out, so an extension sure would change things a little bit when it comes to the Sixers’ chances at landing a top draft pick.

Butler to Boston?

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, other teams believe the Bulls and Boston Celtics could discuss a Jimmy Butler deal before the trade deadline:

There are rival executives who believe the Bulls and Celtics will rekindle trade talks centered on Jimmy Butler before the Feb. 23 deadline. The teams held serious talks in June, and the Celtics own the same assets — Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Nets' first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — the teams discussed then.

Butler could be in line for a five-year, roughly $230 million extension in 2018 that would begin in 2019-20 should he qualify for the designated player exception.

How it affects the Sixers: A few years down the road, the Celtics and Sixers could very well be at the top of the Eastern Conference. And looking at the rest of the NBA, they might be the only two teams that could realistically deal for Butler without their core taking a major hit. Of the two, Boston, which has a team built to win now, could probably use the 27-year-old Butler’s two-way play more. He’s a Top-10 player now and also someone the Sixers could see down the road in a playoff series.

The Bulls are a mess and there have been plenty of rumors that the front office isn’t enamored with Butler’s leadership. If they were able to land this year’s Brooklyn pick (which is gold in NBA circles), Gar Forman and John Paxson would have to think pretty hard about pulling the trigger on a trade.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann