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Report: Philadelphia would prefer to trade Jahlil Okafor, not Nerlens Noel

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It’s probably the worst-kept secret in the run-up to the NBA Draft and this summer that the Philadelphia 76ers are looking to trade either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel.

The Sixers know that those two can’t play together — the Sixers were -20 per 100 possessions when they were paired last season — and they have a lot of other bigs coming in such as Joel Embiid (knock on wood), Dario Saric, and they will draft Ben Simmons. Add in the fact the Sixers want to add some veterans and get into more of a win-now (or lose less, at least) place under the Colangelos, and you have an obvious trade situation.

While Noel’s name has come up in trade rumors already, the Sixers would prefer to move Okafor, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (hat tip Liberty Ballers). 

Sources have said that the team would prefer to trade Okafor. The Sixers expect to get equal value in return, but it could be hard to do that when every team knows they are looking to unload the big man.

Okafor brings a distinct and valuable NBA skill — he can score inside. Okafor averaged 17.5 points a game on 50.8 percent shooting. He also pulled down seven rebounds a game. The problem is Okafor also has a glaring weakness — defense. It may not help that he is coming off knee surgery (although it was minor and he should be good to go by training camp).

Okafor is still on his rookie contract, making just $4.8 million next season, meaning you can expect the Sixers to get a few lowball offers. But he has real value, especially if paired next to a more defensive-minded center who covers some of his deficiencies.

It’s just that other teams may look at Noel’s defense and potential, and like the Sixers decide they would prefer that.

NBA family reacts to tragic shooting in Orlando; expresses condolences to victims, families

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OAKLAND — The NBA Finals feel small in the wake of the tragic shooting that killed at least 50 people at an Orlando night club.

Players and others in the NBA family, like the entire nation, expressed sympathy for the victims of this senseless terrorist act.

“My condolences goes out to all the lost ones and families in the tragic shooting in Orlando,” LeBron James said to open his remarks to the press on Sunday. “I think it’s another hit for us as Americans and what we have to deal with in our world today, and it definitely puts things in perspective on basketball. For myself, it’s just a small matter of what reality really is. So my prayers to all the lost ones and all the ones that are recovering from this morning’s tragedy in Orlando.”

Other members of the NBA community took to social media to express their thoughts, including members of the Orlando Magic.

🙏🏿#Orlando 🇺🇸🌎

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Stephen Curry denies report he may need knee, shoulder surgery

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OAKLAND — Sunday, long-time Los Angeles-based NBA writer Mark Heisler wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News that Stephen Curry‘s injuries are worse than he is letting on.

“If Steph Curry has only been Steph Curry intermittently, there’s a reason. He’s hurting … even more than he acknowledged last week while withdrawing from the U.S. Olympic team….

A source says Curry consulted a orthopedist in Southern California. Steph’s MRI showed issues with both shoulders as well as his knees, some of which may require surgery this summer.”

Curry shot that down when he met with the media Sunday after Warriors practice, with an ice pack wrapped on his right shoulder.

“I can’t even keep a straight face,” Curry said laughing. “Whoever said I was getting shoulder surgery and all that kind of stuff, we’ve got bumps and bruises, but every — we’ll be all right.”

Of course, that’s what he’d say injured or not, but he hasn’t looked particularly injured this series. Give the Cavaliers defense some credit.

Curry may not be 100 percent, but the Warriors are going to need one of those magical Curry (and Klay Thompson) nights if the Warriors are going to close out the NBA Finals at home without the suspended Draymond Green.

Klay Thompson on LeBron: “I guess his feelings just got hurt”; LeBron laughed

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OAKLAND — There’s been a lot of smack talked on the court between the Warriors and Cavaliers through the NBA Finals, a fair amount of it between the always chattering Draymond Green and LeBron James. After Game 4, LeBron said that he felt some of what was said crossed a line.

“I’m all cool with the competition,” LeBron said after the loss. “I’m all fine with that, but some of the words that came out of his mouth was a little bit overboard, and being a guy with pride, a guy with three kids and a family, things of that nature, some things just go overboard and that’s where he took it, and that was it.”

In the wake of Green’s suspension for Game 5 (not for words but a low blow to LeBron), Klay Thompson commented on the smack talk and LeBron, voicing the feeling among the Warriors that the Cavaliers lobbied for the Green suspension.

“I don’t know how the man feels,” Thompson said of LeBron. “But obviously people have feelings and people’s feelings get hurt even if they’re called a bad word. I guess his feelings just got hurt. I mean, we’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently.”

When told of this, LeBron just laughed.

“I’m not going to comment on what Klay said, because I know where it can go from this sit-in,” LeBron said, shaking his head. “It’s so hard to take the high road. I’ve been doing it for 13 years. It’s so hard to continue to do it, and I’m going to do it again.”

LeBron then went on to give a banal quote about the Cavs needing to play hard in Game 5.

The Warriors Mo Speights made his feelings known on twitter.

None of this talk will impact Game 5 — the Warriors are motivated with Green out; the Cavaliers know the door to a title that seemed closed has been cracked open.

Just don’t expect the jawing to stop.

That is part of the Finals, too.

Disappointed Warriors preach “strength in numbers” in wake of Green suspension

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OAKLAND — The Warriors coach and players did not want to risk getting fined.

They were not happy with the league’s ruling against Draymond Greengiving him a Flagrant 1 for hitting LeBron James below the belt, which led to a one-game suspension for cumulative flagrants during the playoffs — but they tapped danced around questioning the league.

Well, except Andrew Bogut.

“It’s just, when you compare it to what went on earlier in the series (referring to Matthew Dellavedova hitting Andre Iguodala below the belt), what’s the difference?” Bogut asked. “Is there a difference? I don’t think there is; I think the other one was just as bad. The ball really was on the other side.”

The league saw that as a basketball play (Dellavedova was reaching for a steal), that’s not how they saw what Green did. Bogut added he thought Green’s playoff resume added to this decision, but that reputation — and who you hit, would the league have made the same decision if this were Tristan Thompson instead of LeBron? — should not matter.

The rest of the Warriors fell back on their “strengths in numbers” motto.

“We had a next-man-up approach all year,” Klay Thompson said. “Draymond, we know it’s going to kill him not being there, but we’re going to go out there and do it as a team and win for him. Go out there and try to make a statement on our home floor….

“We obviously can make up for it, but we’ve got to do it collectively. Nobody can make up what Draymond does individually. Luckily for us, we’ve got such a deep, talented team, we can really do it, and we believe it 1,000 percent.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he learned of the suspension after practice had already started, he pulled Green aside and told him (Green went through practice with the team but did not address the media). Kerr added that, as expected, Green was disappointed.

Kerr said he has not yet figured out who will replace Green in the starting lineup (smart money is on Andre Iguodala or Brandon Rush), but said expect the Warriors to throw a lot of different lineups at the wall and see what sticks.

“Then as far as the game itself, we’re going to play a lot of people and we’ll give a lot of different looks and we’ll compete like crazy, and I think we’ll give ourselves a great chance to win,” Kerr said.

“Yeah, we were surprised,” Stephen Curry said of the Green suspension. “You know, it’s an unfortunate situation and him getting caught with LeBron on top of him. I don’t think his intention was to try to hurt anybody. He was protecting himself.

“But it’s an unfortunate situation for our team. But, like you said, we’re still confident and we know we have the personnel and the depth to come out and get a win, and that’s all that really matters. It honestly doesn’t matter what we think about what he did or didn’t do. The situation is what it is, and we’ve got to win.”

Kerr also pointed to history.

“Not as a player or as a coach, but as a Laker fan growing up, Kareem did not play in Game 6 in 1980, and Magic had 42 points, 19 [15] rebounds, and 15 [7] assists,” Kerr said (the correct totals are in the parenthesis).

The Cavaliers players were quick to emphasize Green wasn’t suspended for this one play, but rather the accumulation of flagrant fouls throughout the playoffs. For the Warriors, that’s the other edge of the sword.

“Yeah, we thrive off of Draymond’s competitiveness and his edge, and it’s been very important for us this year, and maybe that same quality has led him to this point, just his competitiveness and his passion,” Kerr said.

The Cavs still noted to a man they had to win a game in Oracle Arena anyway, and if they let up because of the suspension it will cost them.

“I mean, it doesn’t mean anything because he’s suspended,” Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said. “They still have a great team, and we have to come out and play basketball. We can’t worry about the suspension.”

No Warriors players were unhappy with Green because of this.

“His success is based on playing like that,” Bogut said of how Green plays. “He plays physical, chippy, he’s a talker and physical and that makes him who he is. It’s hard to tone that down when you’ve got it in you.”

While the door is cracked open for the Cavaliers with the suspension, they know that the Warriors have won this postseason without Curry, and one hot shooting night from the Splash Brothers — or a let up from the Cavaliers — and this series ends Monday.

“I think the consensus is we’re supposed to lose because we lost an All-Star player, but we’re competitors and we have other guys who can step up that aren’t really on the scouting report and can make an impact in the game,” Shaun Livingston said. “Our motto has been strength in numbers, and we have another chance to prove that tomorrow.”

“It is devastating, but I’m sure if you ask Draymond he’d rather have us win tomorrow than come back in Game 6, you never know what could happen after that,” Bogut said.