The 76ers sat Jahlil Okafor for two games last week, openly acknowledging they were discussing trading him. Then, they played him in their final game before the All-Star break.
That prompted speculation that no deal fell through, but that Philadelphia was bluffing being close in order to drum up interest.
But maybe there actually was a near-trade.
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
But that trade also makes Portland perfect cover if the 76ers are just trying to deflect from a gambit gone wrong. Not only were the Trail Blazers plausible trade partners, they already made their deal. So, there will be no questions about revisiting discussions.
NEW ORLEANS — Russell Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant spreading tension throughout the locker room. Players trying to convince Carmelo Anthony he should agree to a trade to their city. Players coming up and trying to recruit free agents to be this summer like the Hawks’ Paul Millsap.
It’s how some fans picture it is inside All-Star weekend locker rooms, all sorts of palace intrigue playing out like a soap opera.
“Rarely ever,” Millsap said of these kinds of things coming up. “For us, we get away from regular season basketball. It’s not about our respective teams, it’s about what’s going on now. You may share some stories, but we’re not talking about (regular season drama).”
But for the players, it’s a vacation. A chance to get away from all that drama.
“No, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter at all,” Millsap said of the regular season minutia that can dominate the league. “Once you get down here we’re all teammates. That’s how guys treat it. To get here, we’re enemies, but while we’re here everybody’s teammates and are fun to have in the locker room. It’s just a good time.”
They’re more likely to talk about the parties around town.
“Some,” Millsap said with a laugh. “But it’s just more general conversation, almost nothing about the season.”
Most of the recruitment comes in the summer, and most via text. Some players don’t like each other, just like nearly everyone reading this has someone at their office/job they don’t like working with (except me, all my bosses should be canonized they are such good people). Come the office Christmas Party, people put that aside and just get along. Same thing All-Star weekend for the players. Everyone just gets along and tries to enjoy the experience.
When play starts up again next week, the drama can return.
NEW ORLEANS — JaVale McGee has fired off at Shaquille O’Neal about “Shaqtin A Fool,” TNT’s blooper segment. Now, the oft-mocked Warriors center has someone else sticking up for him.
“I think JaVale is unfairly treated on Shaqtin,” Golden State forward Draymond Green said. “This year has given me a little different outlook on it.
“I just think there’s some stuff that goes on there about JaVale that really shouldn’t be on there. But, because it’s JaVale…”
And it’s not as if Green is completely turned off.
“I like the show,” Green said. “It’s funny as hell to me. But that aspect of it has kind of given me a little different view.”
The NBA’s MVP race is down to two men. Sure, you can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James, some even want to throw Isaiah Thomas in the mix, but the best any of them is going to do is down the ballot in the final three slots.
In this PBT Extra, I discuss that while Westbrook is on pace for a historic season — averaging a triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists a game — it is Harden who is lifting his team to higher heights, and that very well could win the beard the award.