Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers trade Okafor to Brooklyn in deal that sends Booker to Philly

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Sixers trade Okafor to Brooklyn in deal that sends Booker to Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Buried on the bench in Philly, Jahlil Okafor has a chance to prove in Brooklyn he's not a bust.

Okafor got his wish when the Philadelphia 76ers finally traded the No. 3 overall pick of the 2015 draft to the Brooklyn Nets. The deal ends the stalemate that had kept Okafor on the bench for all but two games this season.

Once a prized piece of The Process, Okafor rapidly fell out of favor with the rise of star center Joel Embiid.

"Love you. New beginnings," Embiid said he texted Okafor. "Good luck. And I made sure to let him know I was going to kick his (rear)."

Team president Bryan Colangelo said he reached a deal with a team he declined to name to trade Okafor last season until it fell apart at the last minute. That led to an awkward situation where Okafor didn't even travel with the team during the trade deadline. Okafor led the Sixers in scoring as a rookie with Embiid out with injuries. Okafor played 55 games last season and never really meshed with the franchise center. Okafor started piling up DNP-CDs and those stretched into this season, where the Sixers will chase a playoff berth without him.

"He can go play basketball again," coach Brett Brown said.

The Sixers also sent seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2014 draft, and a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets for forward Trevor Booker. Booker, the 23rd overall pick of the 2010 draft by Washington, averaged 10.1 points with the Nets.

"There is a level of toughness and versatility that interests me," Brown said. "He's shown that he can play, handle not play and be good people and handle himself like a pro."

Okafor gave the Sixers plenty of headaches in his rookie season out of Duke with his off-court conduct, which included his role in Boston street fight that earned him TMZ scrutiny and a two-game suspension.

He was widely mocked last year for a lackadaisical defensive effort where he stood still and failed to contest shots in a game against Miami.

"I think like anybody that comes into our organization, we need to defend the basketball," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I think that will be a challenge for both of them. We need those guys to be two-way players."

Under former general manager Sam Hinkie, the Sixers orchestrated a plan to strip the roster of talent to gobble draft picks that could turn into future rotation players. Accused of tanking, the Sixers went 18-64 in 2014-15 and earned the No. 3 pick. They landed a flop instead of a future star. Okafor not only dropped behind Embiid on the depth chart, but this year was demoted behind Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson.

"It's not easy to take a guy that was drafted third in the draft, after all the pain and strife that this organization and fan base went through, to just move away," Colangelo said.

Colangelo had no ties to Okafor and there was no secret of his desire to move him. Okafor played in 105 games (81 starts) with the Sixers and averaged 14.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 26.2 minutes while shooting 51.0 percent from the field

"I wouldn't say there's regrets. I'd say there's human disappointment," Brown said. "We went through a lot together while he was here."

The Nets also requested waivers on guard Sean Kilpatrick. Atkinson said he was ready to help the two former first-rounders find success with the rebuilding Nets.

"I think they're coming into a strong locker room," Atkinson said.

"This trade provides us with a good opportunity to bring in two young players who were high picks in recent drafts and give them a chance to succeed in our system," Nets general manager Sean Marks said.

Booker was ready for a fresh start in Philly.

"It's been real Brooklyn . Will always have nothing but love for you. Loved my time in New York!!!" Booker tweeted Thursday night. "Philly what it do ?"

Has Celtics offense caught up with defense?

Has Celtics offense caught up with defense?

BOSTON – In the early days of training camp, it was pretty obvious that the Celtics defense had a much more effective, efficient flow in comparison to the offense.
 
And once they started playing games that mattered, the difference was even more pronounced.

MORE CELTICS:

Boston’s defense is still ahead of the offense, but that gap is quickly closing.
 
And that makes the Celtics, owners of a league-best 19-4 record after their 108-97 win over Philadelphia on Thursday night, an even more dangerous team going forward.
 
Against the Sixers, the Celtics shot 50.6 percent from the field, which marked their third consecutive game where they connected on at least 50 percent of their shots. That’s a huge contrast to the first 20 games, which featured not a single game in which the Celtics made at least half of their field-goal attempts.
 
Boston also made 41.4 percent (12-for-29) of its 3-pointers, which marked the fourth consecutive game where the C’s connected on at least 40 percent of their 3s after doing it only four times through the first 19 games.
 
And yes, Boston’s defense delivered yet another strong game.
 
But it is an improving offense that makes an already promising future, look even brighter for the Celtics.
 
“We were playing the Boston Celtics, the best team in basketball,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown.
 
Here are five takeaways from the victory:


 
KYRIE IRVING

It didn’t take Irving leaving Cleveland for folks to realize just how lethal a scorer he is in the NBA. Still, the departure has created a slightly different narrative, one that now includes Irving making those around him better. The two-man game that he and Al Horford run together, has created major problems for teams. And as we saw against the Sixers, he has a great feel for when to take advantage of defenses that on a lot of nights, aren’t sure how to defend him. If you double-team or blitz him too soon, he’s capable of finding teammates. And if you don’t provide defensive help, he’ll crush with his near-unstoppable one-on-one moves. “No question,” said Horford. “He forces a couple people and yeah, there are a lot of opportunities that he creates. If teams don’t double him he’ll make them pay.”
 

MARCUS MORRIS
If not for Gordon Hayward’s season-ending ankle injury, we might be talking about Morris as a serious candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year. It’s no secret that he sees himself as a starter on this team. But to his credit, his production and impact aren't tied to whether he’s with the first or second unit. “I think that he was the difference for us early in the fourth when we couldn’t really score the ball,” said Horford. “He got us going, he hit some big baskets; it’s his ability to post, his mid-range and also he’s able to shoot the three. He made some timely shots.”
 

AL HORFORD
Speaking of Horford, he continues to play at an All-Star level with fewer peaks and valleys statistically this season. He was about as efficient as we’ve seen him this season, tallying 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go with eight rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. “Horford probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is offensively,” Philadelphia’s J.J. Redick told reporters after the game. “One of the reasons is because of the way he pops and sort of the problems that presents; whether that’s shooting threes, or attacking closeouts, or catching and running into another pick and roll… As good as Kyrie is offensively, it’s almost like Horford is the sort of the hub of everything they do – and because he’s so versatile, it creates all sorts of issues.”
 

BENCH STAYS POSITIVE
Boston’s reserve unit had varying levels of success in terms of shooting the ball against the Sixers, ranging from Morris and his 17 points, to Semi Ojeleye, who missed his lone field goal attempt. That said, all five players off the Celtics bench – Morris, Ojeleye, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Daniel Theis – had moments of solid play for Boston. In fact, each of them had a positive plus/minus when they were on the floor against the Sixers, ranging from Ojeyle and Theis who were each +1, to Marcus Smart who had a team-best plus/minus of +15.
 


ROOKIE DEFENDERS
There has been a lot of talk about how Boston’s rookies have played with a level of maturity that’s well, unusual. Making their play all that more uncommon is that their greatest impact, for the most part, comes on defense. Jayson Tatum has been an impressive offensive force for the Celtics. But his defense has been pretty special, too. In fact, Tatum’s defensive rating of 98.5 is tops among all NBA rookies to log at least 10 minutes per game and appear in at least 10 games this season. He’s not alone when it comes to defensive standouts among Celtics rookies. Theis is third on that list with a 99.5 defensive rating and second-round pick Semi Ojeleye is fifth with a defensive rating of 100.2.


 

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: LeBron the King of Philly?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: LeBron the King of Philly?

0:41 - The Celtics bounced back on Thursday night with a 108-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Michael Holley, A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper discuss what factors led Boston to the win.

5:24 - Tom Curran and Tom Giles preview the Patriots Week 13 matchup with the Buffalo Bills and compare this season’s Pats squad to past teams.

10:03 - Could LeBron James be heading to the 76ers via free agency this coming offseason? Tom Giles, Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Curran debate whether or not the King would be a good fit in Philly. 

14:21 - Tiger Woods is looking to mount yet another comeback. Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss Tiger’s career and debate whether or not he can compete at a high level once again.