Pacers trade Danny Granger to Sixers for Evan Turner

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It was a lackluster NBA trade deadline by any reasonable standard, and once 3 p.m. Eastern had come and gone, there was nothing of note that went down that would improve any of the contending teams significantly.

It wasn’t until more than 30 minutes after the deadline had passed that we found out about the biggest deal of the day.

The Pacers have traded Danny Granger to the Sixers in exchange for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, a deal first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Zach Lowe of Grantland added that the Sixers also received a future second round pick in the deal.

We knew about Philadelphia’s willingness to part with Turner, just as they had done with Spencer Hawes earlier on deadline day. It wasn’t even believed that it would take all that much to acquire him either, based on his status as a restricted free agent next summer at the relatively high price of a qualifying offer just short of $9 million.

What came as a surprise was Indiana’s decision to trade its former franchise player.

Granger was back as part of Indiana’s regular rotation after missing close to a season and a half due to various injuries. He was essentially a shell of the former All-Star level talent he had proven to be in 2009, when he was a dominant primary scorer who effortlessly averaged 25.8 points per game.

This season, Granger has been reduced to a bench role, and has posted averages of 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds, while shooting just 35.9 percent from the field in 22.5 minutes per contest. He is in the final year of a huge contract, and Indiana wasn’t expected to sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Turner, however, is a completely different story. He’s a talent on the wing that will immediately add to the Pacers’ depth, and with Indiana going all in on its pursuit of a championship this season, his averages of 17.4 points, six rebounds and 3.7 assists will be an instant boost to those title chances.

If Turner wasn’t to work out in Indiana for some reason, there’s really no risk here. Granger was gone at the end of the season anyway, and if the Pacers don’t want to overpay for Turner’s skill set by matching any offer he receives on the open market, they can simply let him walk in free agency, essentially having given up nothing for the chance to upgrade the roster in advance of the playoffs.

Turner started all 54 games that he appeared in for the Sixers this season, and averaged 34.9 minutes per contest. He’ll likely see a reduced role in Indiana, especially as they’re getting him acclimated to their system. But the Pacers’ hope is that he’ll be able to play at that same level in shorter bursts, making things even tougher on opponents when trying to match up with an Indiana team that currently sits at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder won in triple overtime, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.