The week started out with several reports that the New Orleans Pelicans were looking to get more support for Anthony Davis by trading for another big man. Sam Amick of USA Today Sports first reported that the Pelicans were talking to the Philadelphia 76ers about center Jahlil Okafor.
Sixers & Pelicans in talks about sending Jahlil Okafor to New Orleans. Philly pushing for NO 1st rounder. Story coming at @USATODAYsports— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 6, 2017
In his corresponding story, Amick wrote that the 76ers were pushing for New Orleans’ first round pick. The sticking point in the trade is the level of protection for that pick. The Pelicans want it to be lottery protected, but, according to Real GM’s Keith Smith, Philadelphia was looking to lower the protection to the top 5–10 range.
Saturday night, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that 76ers coach Brett Brown had held Okafor out of Saturday’s game because of a potential trade. He listed the Pelicans as well as the Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls as teams Philadelphia had been talking to—something we wrote about here. Keith Smith reported this morning that New Orleans was the most likely destination for the second-year big man but that several other teams were involved.
Source: NOP frontrunners for Okafor. CHI and POR have come on strong over the weekend. DEN and LAL more exploratory vs serious at this point— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 12, 2017
As initial reports of the trade talks between New Orleans and Philadelphia broke on Monday, additional reports came out that New Orleans was looking at several other centers as well. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweeted that the Pelicans had shown interest in Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets.
New Orleans has been engaged on several fronts to land a center, including pursuit of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez, sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 6, 2017
He later tweeted that the New Orleans front office was working to unload Omer Asik’s contract in a trade package and that the discussions with the 76ers did not include him. Keith Smith added that the Pelicans had also reached out to the Orlando Magic about Nikola Vucevic, but that the two teams were not able to hammer out a deal.
Whether with New Orleans or another team, both the Nets and the Magic are actively looking for trades according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler. He wrote on Tuesday that the Nets have been open to moving Lopez all year, but that they are asking for too much in return. According to Kyler, Booklyn is looking for a lottery level pick this year as well as a first-round pick for next year in exchange for the veteran center.
Orlando, meanwhile, has increased their efforts to make a trade happen before the deadline. Kyler wrote:
League source continue to speculate that Orlando could be the team that makes the most moves around the deadline with big man Nikola Vucevic, forward Serge Ibaka, forward Jeff Green and possibly guard C.J. Watson also changing teams before the deadline.
One team potentially interested in acquiring Ibaka from the Magic is the Houston Rockets. On Wednesday, Calvin Watkins of ESPN wrote that the Rockets had “some interest” in the eighth-year forward. However, Houston GM Daryl Morey says not to expect any big moves:
“I think if we do anything, it will be for depth,” Morey told ESPN. “I don’t see any big things happening. We got a good thing, a good rotation, good chemistry. I’m pretty reluctant to make any changes there.”
Another team looking at Ibaka is the Miami Heat. The Heat have been a part of several trade rumors as sellers, but a recent 13-game winning streak has them only 1.5 games out of the playoffs in the East. Now they are looking to add pieces. Sean Deveney of Sporting News wrote about Miami’s change in direction on Friday:
But now the consensus around the league is that the last month’s success has flipped the Heat from the brink of a fire sale to buyers’ status on the market. “They were willing to listen to whatever anyone wanted to offer,” one league executive said. “But those calls have changed, because now they’re looking for pieces to help them as they are.”
Ibaka could be one of those pieces. They currently start Luke Babbit at power forward, and, as Deveney points out in his article, the Heat would rather use him off the bench. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported specifically that Ibaka was on Miami’s radar in an article on Thursday. Jackson wrote “It’s unclear whether the Heat has assets that the Magic wants, or how aggressively Miami will pursue this. But Ibaka intrigues the Heat.”
The Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love rumors got a little more interesting (and heated) this week. On Monday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote that LeBron James was pushing the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire Carmelo:
According to a league source, LeBron is the one pushing the Cleveland Cavaliers front office to acquire Carmelo even if it potentially means having to include Kevin Love in a deal, which is something Cavs management is opposed to doing.
After Monday night’s game, LeBron responded to the report, calling it, and the reporter who wrote it, “trash”:
LeBron responds to the recent K Love/Melo trade rumors... pic.twitter.com/zmLTovOpxN— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 7, 2017
However, there should still be plenty of drama before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Check back next week for all the latest NBA trade rumors.