Denver Nuggets

Jahlil Okafor Was Nearly Traded To Portland

The Sixers were close to a deal with the Trail Blazers when Jahlil Okafor was held out of the lineup, tweets David Aldridge of TNT.

Okafor sat out last Saturday and didn’t accompany the team on a flight to Charlotte for Monday’s game. A trade appeared imminent at the time, but nothing happened and he rejoined the Sixers on Wednesday.

Aldridge says the deal that nearly took place involved Portland, although he doesn’t speculate on what Philadelphia would have received in return. The Blazers and Nuggets finalized a trade Monday that sent Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round draft pick to Portland in exchange for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second-rounder and cash. Presumably, that deal ended the Blazers’ interest in Okafor.

Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.

On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.

Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.

Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Jahlil Okafor Rejoins Sixers

With trade rumors swirling, the Sixers held Jahlil Okafor out of action on Saturday night, and didn’t bring him on their trip to Charlotte for Monday’s game. However, Okafor has rejoined the Sixers in Boston and will play in tonight’s game against the Celtics, as Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com writes. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter), Nerlens Noel will remain in the starting lineup, with Okafor coming off the bench.

When Okafor was initially kept out of action over the weekend, it appeared that the Sixers were moving toward finalizing a trade involving the former No. 3 overall pick. Indeed, a source tells Camerato that the team had been close to a deal involving Okafor. Now that the club is ready to re-insert him into the lineup, it seems no trade is imminent.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, people around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers were ever all that close to moving Okafor. O’Connor’s sources speculate that Okafor’s absence was a failed attempt to “stir interest” and “flush out” teams’ best offers.

The Pelicans, Bulls, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers have been linked to Okafor in recent reports, but O’Connor suggests Denver and Portland don’t appear to be serious suitors, and he’s not sure Chicago is either. New Orleans seemed to be gaining momentum on a possible Okafor deal earlier this month, but that was nine days ago, and nothing has come of it yet.

The Sixers’ game tonight is the team’s last one before February 24, a day after the trade deadline, so it’s possible that it will be Okafor’s last contest with the franchise. We’ll have to wait to see if the offers for Okafor improve by next Thursday, or if Philadelphia eventually settles for an offer currently on the table.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Nuggets May Continue To Deal After Plumlee Trade

The deal that landed Mason Plumlee may not be the last one the Nuggets make this month, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The reporter relays that his sources believe Denver could still move names like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and even second-year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

After years of stock piling assets, the Nuggets have emerged as a playoff contender in 2016/17. Leading the charge for the franchise has been sophomore center Nikola Jokic. With Jokic at the helm and the club finally focused on building around him, the the team is in a position to deal some valuable building blocks in an effort to fortify their new core.

Kyler suggests that the emergence of Juan Hernangomez, too, could expedite a formal regime change in Denver. The Nuggets currently sit eighth in the Western Conference.

  • The Nuggets don’t anticipate having any issues working Mason Plumlee into their rotation, writes Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone expects to seamlessly integrate the new big man, adding that Plumlee’s playmaking abilities should help the team’s offense continue to flow well when Nikola Jokic is on the bench.
  • The Trail Blazers will send $2.85MM to the Nuggets as part of the Nurkic/Plumlee swap, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That, Pincus says, explains why Denver included a first-round pick in their outgoing package. For more details of the trade, consider Mark Deeks of Give Me Sport‘s break down of the deal.

Trade Deadline Outlook: Northwest Division

In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic. Today, we’re examining the Northwest.

Buyers:

Two Northwest teams are currently over .500, and both the Thunder (31-25) and Jazz (34-22) are in decent position to add reinforcements, though that’s certainly no lock for either team. Oklahoma City has already cashed in many of its trade assets, including a protected 2020 first-round pick sent to the Sixers for Jerami Grant earlier this season. With no trade-eligible first-round picks before 2022 and Enes Kanter on the shelf, the Thunder have limited trade options. Young players like Cameron Payne and Josh Huestis are probably their strongest realistic trade chips at the moment.

As for Utah, the Northwest leaders likely won’t want to shake up their roster too significantly — potential 2017 free agents like Gordon Hayward and George Hill would be trade candidates if they were on lottery teams, but they’re not going anywhere for the Jazz. Still, the team’s sizable chunk of cap room, depth at the point guard spot, and extra first-round picks would make it easy for the Jazz to get something done if they receive an offer they like.

Read more

Trail Blazers Trade Mason Plumlee For Jusuf Nurkic

FEBRUARY 13: The Nuggets and Blazers have officially completed their trade, according to a press release from Denver. The Nuggets get Plumlee, a 2018 second-round pick, and cash considerations from Portland in exchange for Nurkic and Memphis’ 2017 first-round pick.

FEBRUARY 12: The Trail Blazers will send Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round pick to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The first-rounder will be the Memphis pick that Denver owns.

The deal gives Portland three first-rounders is what is considered to be a strong draft. In addition to their own pick, the Blazers also own Cleveland’s first-rounder.

The trade also eases the luxury tax predicament for Portland, as Plumlee was set to become a restricted free agent this summer, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link). The team wasn’t able to work out an extension with Plumlee before the October deadline. Portland still has about $130MM in guaranteed contracts for next season (Twitter link).

Plumlee was in the middle of his second season with the Blazers after two years in Brooklyn. He appeared in 54 games, all as a starter, and was averaging 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night.

Nurkic, a third-year big man, began the year as a starter but was moved to the bench after a twin towers approach with Nikola Jokic was deemed a failure. He played in 45 games, starting 29, and was averaging 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Denver exercised his team option for 2017/18 in October.

Nuggets Did Well To Get Mason Plumlee

  • The Nuggets got the better of the pending trade with the Blazers, Ben Golliver of SI.com opines. While it’s unlikely that the pairing of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee would work defensively, it gives Denver coach Michael Malone the ability to establish a clear offensive identity across his rotations if Plumlee is used in a backup role, Golliver continues. The Blazers were smart to get something now for Plumlee, who will become a restricted free agent, before he became too expensive to keep but the return of Jusuf Nurkic and a first-rounder the Grizzlies owed the Nuggets was modest, Golliver adds.

Northwest Notes: Aldrich, Westbrook, Plumlee, Hood

Cole Aldrich, who signed a three-year, $22MM deal with the Wolves over the summer, was brought in to be a veteran mentor to the younger guys on the team and he’s enjoying his role, as he tells Michael Rand of The StarTribune. “Well, with [Jordan Hill], myself, [Brandon Rush] and we had John Lucas earlier in the year, it’s fun to have those guys and the young guys,” Aldrich said. “The teams we were on last year, we were all on older teams, playoff teams. Being able to bring our experience from those teams to a younger group of guys has been a lot of fun.”

More from around the Northwest…

  • Several of Mason Plumlee‘s teammates had adverse reactions to Sunday’s trade, Casey Holdahl of NBA.com reports. “I mean, the business sucks man,” Damian Lillard said. “You wish you could get a team together and put pieces together and you can keep it together. You wish you had the power to keep it together regardless of anything. It happens this way sometimes.” Plumlee, who was dealt to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, had become an “adept playmaker” under coach Terry Stotts. “He’s [Plumlee] just a glue guy that you want on your team,” C.J. McCollum said. “He’s a guy who does things the right way, never complains and he’s getting better. He put together a nice string of 20, 25 games to where he’s getting double-doubles, making his free throws, finishing in the lane. And he’s a good guy. That’s what matters the most, he’s a good guy.”
  • Kevin Durant continues to get the best of Russell Westbrook, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. KD is averaging 37.7 points against OKC this season, a span in which the Warriors have gone 3-0. Despite the loss, Westbrook appeared to enjoy the home crowd’s mental warfare against Durant. “Honestly, I used to get booed in all arenas,” Westbrook said. “So, you know, the tables have turned a little bit.”
  • Chris Haynes of ESPN was critical of Westbrook’s demeanor in Saturday’s rivalry game, writing: “That miniature exchange exemplified Durant’s frustration in playing alongside Westbrook for those eight years with the Thunder. It was always, “I’m coming. I’m coming.” Meanwhile, the team wasn’t going anywhere.” Whereas Westbrook pursued lofty stats, Haynes writes, Durant always prioritized winning.
  • Rodney Hood, who has been out of action since February 1 due to a right knee injury, is expected to return after the All-Star break, the Jazz announced on its official website. Hood has averaged 13.7 points with 3.6 rebounds through 40 games in 2016/17.

Stein’s Latest: Ibaka, Gallinari, Lopez, Millsap

There’s a growing sense around the league that Serge Ibaka could be dealt before the trade deadline, Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes. Orlando traded for Ibaka during the offseason with the thought that he could be a long-term fixture with the team. However, the Magic now feel retaining the big man in free agency could be harder to accomplish than they initially expected.

A source told Stein that the belief around the league is that Orlando will take the best offer for Ibaka at the deadline. The Magic are fielding calls from several teams and Toronto and Miami are among the Eastern Conference teams to express interest in Ibaka this month, sources tell Stein.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest piece:

  • There is growing belief that the Nuggets are prepared to move Danilo Gallinari, as the team believes he will turn down the player option in his contract and become a free agent this offseason. Stein adds that Denver doesn’t plan on breaking the bank for the small forward and notes that the Raptors and Clippers are among the teams monitoring the situation.
  • The Nets continue to demand two first-round picks in exchange for Brook Lopez, Stein writes.
  • The Hawks remain adamant that Paul Millsap will not be traded. The team is willing to stick it out with Millsap this season even if it means losing him for nothing come summertime.
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