76ers

Trade between Sixers, Nets could work out well for both sides

Trade between Sixers, Nets could work out well for both sides

It was only a matter of when, not if, the Sixers parted ways with Jahlil Okafor.

That time came on Thursday, 23 games into the season. The Sixers traded Okafor, Nik Stauskas and a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets in exchange for Trevor Booker (see story).

"I think rarely do you find a trade that seemingly works well for both teams. I think this one does," Brett Brown said Thursday night. "I'm happy for Jahlil and I'm happy for Nik. I've been with those guys for a while ... I think it's an excellent opportunity."

The move marks the end of Okafor's tenure with the Sixers that began in 2015 and never really had a clear fit. The team selected Okafor third overall out of Duke, but that high draft position didn't mean he was the best fit at the time. The Sixers were already logjammed with centers and there was no easy way to play Okafor, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid together. 

The team attempted to move Okafor last season, even holding him back from a road trip when a deal appeared imminent. However, a transaction never came to be. Meanwhile, Okafor continued to battle right knee soreness that stemmed from a torn meniscus suffered during his rookie season. The Sixers stayed transparent with their interest to find a trade partner as well as a situation that would be beneficial for Okafor. 

But before that could happen, Okafor ended up out of the rotation completely this season. He requested a buyout or trade in early November after the Sixers declined the option on his contract. Just over a month later, his wish was fulfilled when the Sixers came to an agreement with the Nets.

A package deal seemed the most likely scenario after a trade didn't happen last season. It can be easier to group multiple players, and picks in this case, instead of swapping just one. Stauskas has been the most likely candidate all along because of his expiring contract. Stauskas had been limited to six games this season between lack of a role and a right ankle sprain. It's hard to move an injured player, though, and he returned last week.

Both Okafor and Stauskas stayed ready in spite of their lack of playing time. In fact, hours before the trade, Okafor was the last player on the court after shootaround wrapped up. He was doing conditioning drills and putting up shots, a continuation of his commitment to health after adopting a vegan diet and dropping 20 pounds. 

The Sixers are getting a two-way player in return in Booker. The eighth-year power forward is averaging 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds this season. He gives the Sixers versatility being able to play power forward and small center. 

Booker admired the game of Kevin Garnett as he grew up in the same area of South Carolina as the future Hall of Famer. He was motivated by Garnett's success and plays with a competitive nature.

"We're getting a man," Brown said. "I think we're getting a veteran that has been there, done that. There is a level of toughness and versatility that interests me. He's shown that he can play, he can handle not playing, and being just sort of good people and handling himself like a pro." 

Bazemore game-winner nets Hawks rare consecutive victories

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AP Images

Bazemore game-winner nets Hawks rare consecutive victories

ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore hit a jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Hawks rallied from 19 points down to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 94-93 Wednesday before a sparse crowd on an icy night in Atlanta.

With the score tied at 92, DeMarcus Cousins drew a blocking foul on John Collins with 13.7 seconds remaining, earning a trip to the foul line. Cousins made only one, giving the Hawks a chance to pull out the victory.

Bazemore knocked down the winning shot with Anthony Davis in his face. New Orleans had one last chance, inbounding the ball to Cousins near the hoop. He came up short on a quick shot, pleading with the officials for a foul call while the Hawks celebrated.

Bazemore led the Hawks with 20 points, while rookie John Collins added 18. Jrue Holiday paced the Pelicans with 22 points, while Cousins had 19 points and 14 rebounds. But Davis was held to just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Coming off a victory over San Antonio, the Hawks won back-to-back games for only the second time this season and snapped the Pelicans' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Warriors fend off Bulls for 14th straight road win
CHICAGO -- Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Stephen Curry added 30 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls 119-112 on Wednesday night for their franchise record-tying 14th straight road win.

Kevin Durant had 19 points as Golden State moved into a tie for the third-longest road winning streak in a season in NBA history. The Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 16 straight road wins during the 1971-72 season.

Next up for the NBA-leading Warriors is a trip to Houston for a showdown with the Rockets on Saturday night.

Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points for Chicago, which dropped to 14-8 since its 3-20 start. Robin Lopez scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, and Kris Dunn also had 16.

The Warriors played without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala due to injuries, and Jordan Bell sprained his left ankle when he challenged Lopez's dunk on the Bulls' first possession. Bell stayed down for a while and then was helped to his feet. He tried to put pressure on his leg and grimaced before he opted for a wheelchair ride off the court.

The 23-year-old Bell was selected by the Bulls in the second round of the June draft and then dealt to the Warriors for financial considerations. X-rays were negative, but he will have an MRI on Thursday (see full recap).

Hornets ride record-setting 1st half to victory
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points, Dwight Howard had another double-double and the Charlotte Hornets used a record-setting first half to beat the Washington Wizards 133-109 on Wednesday night in coach Steve Clifford's return.

The Hornets made 12 of their first 13 shots and scored a franchise-record 77 points in the first half to build a 16-point lead. They extended that to 28 in the second half in a game that was never close.

Kemba Walker had 19 points, Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Jeremy Lamb had 16 points for the Hornets, who won for the fifth time in their last seven games.

Clifford returned after missing 21 games because of headaches caused by sleep deprivation. The Hornets were 9-21 in Clifford's absence and had fallen eight games under .500.

Bradley Beal had 26 points for the Wizards, whose five-game road trip got off to a rocky start (see full recap).

How Sixers plan to replace JJ Redick

How Sixers plan to replace JJ Redick

CAMDEN, N.J. — After Sixers’ practice Wednesday, a reporter asked coach Brett Brown, “Are you concerned about the shooting without [JJ Redick] in there?”

Brown responded, “What do you think?”

Clearly, JJ Redick’s left knee injury is a blow for the Sixers (see story). With Redick sidelined, a combination of Jerryd Bayless, Justin Anderson, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and possibly the recently acquired James Young will have to fill a huge shooting void. Brown said Bayless will start in Redick’s place.

Brown noted the Sixers' offense won’t change radically, but that the other guards will need to focus on off-ball movement without Redick in the lineup.

“JJ is amongst the league’s elite movers,” Brown said. “We need to move Jerryd more. [Robert Covington] is a little bit ground-bound at times. You’ve all sort of seen our structure enough to know almost what we’re hoping to do. And it’s movement. We don’t have to change anything, we just have to do what we do.

"Historically, [Bayless’] role has been stuck in a corner and spotting up, or loop him up to the top and put him in a rub. We’re trying to do more than that, and I think he can shine in that environment.”

Outside of his shooting, the threat of Redick’s jumper draws defenders away from the lane. His absence may make getting to the basket harder work for Ben Simmons.

“I think everybody just has to step up and fill that role,” Simmons said. “We need scoring. He helps us get a lot of shots by being a great shooter, so we need to work on getting our own shots.”

Redick has made more three-point shots (98) than Bayless, Anderson, and Luwawu-Cabarrot combined (95) this season in 34 fewer attempts. Bayless has shot better as a starter (40.4 percent from three-point range) than when he comes off the bench (35.3 percent).

According to Brown, Bayless’ most productive recent game, on Dec. 30 at Denver, may be a blueprint the team uses moving forward. Bayless scored 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting (2 of 3 from three-point territory) in a 107-102 Sixers’ win. Brown said he made a concerted effort to call plays for Bayless, and that the veteran guard responded by making big shots.

It also seems likely that, without Redick’s 17.3 points per game in the lineup, the Sixers will have to lean more heavily on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for scoring. But while those two are always front and center, Redick’s injury means Bayless will shift into the spotlight.