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NBA trade deadline rumors: Sixers trade Nerlens Noel to Mavericks

NBA trade deadline rumors: Sixers trade Nerlens Noel to Mavericks

The years-long trade speculation saga for Nerlens Noel is finally over, as the Philadelphia Sixers dealt the forward to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, just hours before the 2017 NBA trade deadline.

In return the Sixers will receive Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a protected first round pick. That news comes from ESPN's Marc Stein:

That's quite the haul for Noel, to Philly's credit. Noel, 22, was playing just 19.4 minutes per night and, in the team's opinion, was not compatible with star Joel Embiid.

The Sixers are reportedly going to trade Bogut, but getting a first round pick and Anderson - a former first round pick himself - is a strong return in itself.

NBA TRADE DEADLINE: TRACKING THE RUMORS AND DEALS

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Bobby Portis replacing Thomas Bryant in starting lineup, Scott Brooks announces

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Bobby Portis replacing Thomas Bryant in starting lineup, Scott Brooks announces

The Wizards' starting five is gonna look a little different Saturday night. 

Bobby Portis will replace Thomas Bryant as Washington's starting center against the Pacers, head coach Scott Brooks told reporters before the game. 

Per Brooks, the Wizards want to "see what we have" in Portis, who will be a restriced free agent this summer. 

With his team having lost eight of their last 11, this tweak signals Brooks will be looking to switch it up as the Wizards' playoff hopes begin to dim. Washington sits four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Portis, who came over from the Bulls in the Otto Porter trade, has averaged 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in five contests since joining the Wizards. He's been particularly lethal from beyond the arc, knocking down 50 percent of his three-point attempts.

Bryant has filled in admirably as the starting center this season with Dwight Howard dealing with a back injury. In 49 games (43 starts), he's averaged 9.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. 

For the Pacers, center Myles Turner has been officially ruled out of Saturday's game with a hip injury. 

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Reeling Wizards hope to shift momentum in playoff race as they host red-hot Pacers

Reeling Wizards hope to shift momentum in playoff race as they host red-hot Pacers

The Wizards' playoff hopes just keep taking hits. Washington fell on Friday night in their first game back from the All-Star break, making that eight losses in 11 games. Meanwhile, the eighth-seed Pistons won, pushing the Wizards to four games back from a playoff spot.

With 23 games remaining in their season, the odds are increasingly stacked against the Wizards making the playoffs, a goal they maintain despite the injuries that have plagued them so far. 

Basketball-Reference.com handicaps postseason chances and the Wizards currently hold a higher likelihood of winning the draft lottery (7%) than they did making the playoffs (4.8%). 

If teams maintain their current course for the remainder of the regular season, the threshold to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference should fall somewhere close to 39 wins. The Pistons are on pace for 38.8 wins as they sit in the final spot.

At 24-35, the Wizards need to go 15-8 from here on out to get to 39. That's a .652 win percentage. Basically, the Wizards would have to play at a 53-win pace for more than a quarter of a season.

For a team that has shown no signs recently of going on an extended run, that seems highly unlikely. For it to happen, they would need a sudden defensive overhaul.

Their offense, even in this 11-game skid, has been fine. During this stretch, they have been third in the NBA in points per game (118.8), second in field goal percentage (49) and eighth in offensive rating (114).

The defense has been an unmitigated disaster. They have surrendered more points than any team (123.4) and the highest field goal percentage (49.5) and three-point percentage (42). 

The Wizards found salary cap relief in their deals before the trade deadline, but didn't add much in the way of a defensive upgrade. 

Jabari Parker is known for his scoring and made headlines earlier this year about how teams don't pay players for defense. Bobby Portis, though a capable rebounder, doesn't block a good deal of shots. 

Looking at their current roster, it's hard to see where the defensive upgrade will come from. Guys like Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza can't stop teams on their own.

The Wizards did not get off to a good start after the All-Star break with their loss to the Hornets, but will get another chance quickly as they host the Indiana Pacers for a 7 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington.

The Pacers, who hold the No. 3 seed in the East at the moment, charge in having won seven of their last eight games. Technically, it represents an opportunity for the Wizards to punch back against a playoff team, though they will take a win against anyone at this point.

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