76ers

Reported Nuggets-Blazers trade could take them out of Jahlil Okafor sweepstakes

Reported Nuggets-Blazers trade could take them out of Jahlil Okafor sweepstakes

Two potential suitors for Jahlil Okafor's services could be off the board.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, both of which have been mentioned as destinations for the 21-year-old Sixers big man, reportedly agreed on Sunday to swap big men.

Portland sent center Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round draft pick to Denver in exchange for center Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round draft pick. HoopsHype.com's Alex Kennedy on Saturday night reported the Blazers and Nuggets both had talks with the Sixers about Okafor, whom Brett Brown held out of the Sixers' win over the visiting Heat on Saturday night because of the swirling trade rumors.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey reported earlier on Sunday that the Sixers' talks with the Nuggets revolving around Okafor had stalled.

That leaves the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans as the two most-talked about destinations for Okafor before the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline.

The third-overall pick out of Duke in the 2015 draft, Okafor has played in 37 games so far in his second year with the Sixers. He's averaging 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a night in 23.2 minutesper game

This season, Okafor has missed 27 games, some because of minor injury, but many as a coaches' decision as Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid have taken over as Brown's trusted big men.

Nets general manager Sean Marks suspended one game, fined $25,000 for entering referees' locker room after Game 4

Nets general manager Sean Marks suspended one game, fined $25,000 for entering referees' locker room after Game 4

Updated: 2:38 p.m.

The Sixers might have felt aggrieved Saturday after the third-quarter confrontation that resulted in the ejections of Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler, a trade-off that favored the Nets.

But, after the Sixers pulled off a 112-108 Game 4 win without Butler, it was a member of the Nets’ organization who wanted to see the referees.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks has been suspended for Game 5 and fined $25,000 for entering the referees’ locker room after the game, the NBA announced Sunday.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Marks was upset over Joel Embiid's Flagrant 1 fouls in Games 2 and 4 not being adjudged Flagrant 2s. A Flagrant 2 foul is an automatic ejection.

Caris LeVert and Dudley had expressed their displeasure with Embiid laughing as he apologized postgame for his Game 2 elbow to Jarrett Allen's face. Embiid reiterated his apology before Game 3, saying he didn't mean to make light of the situation and that he'd texted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to again let the Nets know he was sorry.

After his foul on Allen in Game 4 that kickstarted the scuffle which resulted in Dudley and Butler's ejections, Embiid immediately pointed to indicate he'd gone for the ball.

While Elton Brand will be watching at Wells Fargo Center on Monday night as the Sixers look to advance to the second round, Marks will have to watch elsewhere as his team tries to bring the series back to Brooklyn. 

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After being listed as doubtful, Joel Embiid dominates Nets in Sixers' Game 4 win

After being listed as doubtful, Joel Embiid dominates Nets in Sixers' Game 4 win

NEW YORK — So far this postseason, there is no way to predict if Joel Embiid will play in a playoff game.

He was doubtful in Game 1, but played. He was questionable in Game 2 and played. He was questionable and said his knee was feeling better pregame, but didn’t play in Game 3.

So naturally, with him being listed as doubtful, he played and was absolutely magnificent in the Sixers’ 112-108 Game 4 win over the Nets at Barclays Center Saturday (see observations).

After playing just 10 minutes in the first half, Embiid played 21 of 24 minutes in the second half. He finished with 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and six blocks. The only other player to put up that stat line in a playoff game is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974, per Basketball-Reference.

“Just look at the magnitude of what the numbers say, the influence that the numbers say he must’ve had on a game,” Brett Brown said. “It’s hard to sort of say it any better than that. He was dominant. 

“There are times you could see it’s still raw. There are some decisions that he would probably like to have over again, but given the volume of playing time lately that he hasn’t had, it’s just a dominant performance. What more can you say?”

Beyond the numbers, Embiid was a force on both ends of the floor. His physical presence has been tough for the Nets to handle, especially young center Jarrett Allen.

Embiid was assessed a Flagrant 1 in Game 2 after delivering an elbow to the neck of Allen when making a move to the basket. On Saturday, Allen drove to the rim and was met by Embiid who was called for a foul. Veteran Jared Dudley, who’s become public enemy No. 1 in Philadelphia, took exception to the contact and charged after Embiid. Jimmy Butler in turn rushed at Dudley.

Butler and Dudley were both given double technicals and ejected while Embiid received yet another Flagrant 1. It’s worth noting that the league uses a point system with flagrant fouls. Embiid is up to two points. Four points and he’ll get an automatic one-game suspension, though the league could rescind the Flagrant 1 from Saturday.

Embiid was adamant postgame that he got “all ball.” 

“I’m not that type of player,” Embiid said. “Any chance that I get I try to go for the ball and if I feel like I made a mistake, I always apologize. At the same time, that’s also a mind game. l know these guys are going to go at me because they want me to retaliate so I got to be the mature one on the court and just stay cool and not react. Today I knew I could’ve reacted but I felt like my team needed me more than [the Nets] needed Jared Dudley.”

That’s an understatement — especially on Saturday.

The Sixers were able to win Game 3 without Embiid with Boban Marjanovic having his third consecutive standout performance. Marjanovic came down to earth in a big way in Game 4. Brown also tried plugging in rookie Jonah Bolden and Greg Monroe to buy Embiid more rest. It didn’t work out.

Brown was forced to ride his All-Star big man, who always seems to be in the middle of the action.

“He’s got a spirit about him — that’s the word I choose to use,” Brown said. “There’s a belief, there’s a swagger, there’s a spirit — choose whatever word you want. He’s got that persona. And then you say well, he’s incredibly physical. You take 7-foot-2 and you have that sort of dynamic personality and kind of the way you live your life and play basketball and you’re completely physical and highly competitive. It produces environments like that. 

“As his coach, you kind of wouldn’t trade it for much. It’s a rare combination that he has with his skill and his personality and his sort of innate competitiveness.”

What’s crazy is for as dominant as Embiid is on the offensive end, you can make the argument he’s even better on defense. He was otherworldly in this one with those six blocks and providing outstanding help defense all afternoon. 

With the way Ben Simmons has been playing against D’Angelo Russell in this series, the combination of Embiid and Simmons has neutralized Brooklyn’s pick-and-roll — not a sentence anyone expected to be typing while the Sixers were getting scorched in Atlanta by Trae Young just a few weeks ago.

But that was the regular season. The postseason is a completely different animal as the young Nets are finding out the hard way.

There is one thing that hasn’t changed from the regular season for the Sixers. The offensive strategy remains the same.

Get the ball to Embiid.

“The game plan has always been the same,” Embiid said. “I just got to be aggressive. These guys are trying to find me any ways they can … just got to play through the system. They want me to be aggressive. Any time [Brown] gets a chance to post me, he does it. For me, it’s just about being aggressive all the time and they do a great job finding me.”

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