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." 

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback


Allen Iverson intently watched the Sixers pull out a 120-116 win over the Nets Friday standing on the court of the Wells Fargo Center (see observations)

After the buzzer sounded, he gave an impromptu postgame press conference as he walked through the room where Brett Brown addresses the media. 

“I’m very familiar with this right here,” Iverson said, laying his hand on the podium. 

When the topic of his desire to get in the game and still play came up, the 42-year-old Hall of Famer replied, “I always want to help, but I’m too old to help. I can’t help no more … I can’t play no more. “The Answer” has gone to heaven and Allen Iverson is still here.” 

Iverson was very much a part of the game from the sidelines. He stood during the final stretch in the fourth quarter, enthusiastically reacted to calls, and high-fived fans as the Sixers closed out the victory in the final seconds. 

“It’s awesome,” Ben Simmons said. “He wants us to win. He’s behind us. He can obviously see we have a lot of potential, which is awesome coming from him.” 

Iverson made a request about the Sixers, who at 38-30 are chasing a return to the playoffs and possibly home-court advantage. 

“Treat my ‘little dudes,’” Iverson said with air quotes, referencing how he described the players in an interview last week, “treat them right and give them a chance.”

The Sixers noticed Iverson's encouragement. 

“I saw him, I saw the support,” Joel Embiid said. “I like it. Like he said, we are his little dudes. I appreciate the support.” 

Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

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Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

LOS ANGELES — Goran Dragic scored 30 points, including a go-ahead jumper in the final seconds, and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-91 on Friday night.

Miami trailed 91-90 after Kyle Kuzma made a 3-pointer for Los Angeles with 1:23 left. But Dragic got the lead back for the Heat with about 15 seconds remaining and Isaiah Thomas missed a 10-foot fallaway jumper at the buzzer for the Lakers.

Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points for Miami. James Johnson had 12 points, and Bam Adebayo added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The road win left the Heat 15 1/2 games back in the Eastern Conference, in a virtual tie with Milwaukee for seventh. Miami (37-33) has played two more games than the Bucks (see full recap).

DeRozan lifts Raptors to 11th straight win
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan made the game-winning basket in overtime and the Toronto Raptors rallied to match the longest winning streak in franchise history, extending their season-best run to 11 by beating the Dallas Mavericks 122-115 on Friday night.

DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors won for the 18th time in 19 games. Kyle Lowry got the night off to rest as the Raptors played the second game of the back-to-back.

Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet each scored 14 points, helping Toronto improved to an NBA-best 29-5 at home.

Dallas had won three of four. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points for the Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 and J.J. Barea 18 (see full recap).

Rozier, Celtics hold off Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe each scored 17 points, helping the Boston Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 92-83 on Friday night.

Boston stopped a two-game losing streak despite shooting just 37.8 percent from the field. Al Horford had 15 points for the Celtics, and Abdel Nader finished with 11.

Orlando lost for the sixth time in seven games. Reserve Shelvin Mack scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin had 13 apiece (see full recap).

Shorthanded Warriors fall at home to Kings
OAKLAND, Calif. — Buddy Hield made three free throws over the final 27.5 seconds, Willie Cauley-Stein had a late dunk and the Sacramento Kings won for the second time this season on Golden State's home floor, beating a Warriors team missing its top three scorers 98-93 on Friday night.

Hield finished with 22 points off the bench. He also had seven assists and seven rebounds.

Quinn Cook scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting for Golden State, making his initial seven shots and also hitting a career-best five 3-pointers after Kevin Durant was lost to a broken rib in a discouraging pregame announcement for the defending champions.

Draymond Green returned from a one-game injury absence to produce 14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots (see full recap).