Rumors Running Rampant As Trade Deadline Nears

Some news and views before this afternoon’s NBA trading deadline:

With an enviable glut of frontcourt players, the Philadelphia 76ers appear poised to trade talented center Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Said a person close to the Okafor situation: “He will be traded.’’ Added another source, “We (the 76ers and Okafor) want to get this done and I think we will.’’

Chicago appears the leading candidate for Okafor, who is a native of the Windy City.

  • The Toronto Raptors nicely bolstered their frontline with the recent acquisition of Serge Ibaka. Now they want to fortify their wing spots and have checked out several candidates, including Denver’s Wilson Chandler, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Sacramento’s Arron Afflalo with the latter perhaps their primary target.

Afflalo has started 34 of the 49 games he’s appeared in this season, averaging 7.8 points while shooting 39 percent from the field.

Afflalo and fellow Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore, sources say, are definitely available after the Kings recently acquired Buddy Hield in the DeMarcus Cousins trade with New Orleans.

  • One prominent sports agent is convinced the Chicago Bulls are receptive to dealing standout small forward Jimmy Butler, if not by the deadline then after the season.
  • If Dallas doesn’t jettison veteran center Andrew Bogut today, the Mavs are expected to buy out his contract. He could then become a legitimate possibility for the Cavaliers and Celtics, who both need to shore up their interior defense.
  • The Thunder have been working the phones, fully cognizant they need to bolster their bench to make any kind of run in the playoffs.
  • A source close to the Portland scene told me at the All-Star Game on Sunday in New Orleans that Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard could be on the move for the right price, although management is fearful of taking a major p.r. hit.
  • The Denver Nuggets could still emerge as a player before the trading deadline with Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Chandler and Gary Harris all piquing the interest of numerous teams.
  • Rajon Rondo’s day in Chicago are unequivocally numbered. If the veteran point guard isn’t relocated to another area code today, a buyout seems inevitable. Some NBA officials think Rondo could wind up in Cleveland, where LeBron James has whined about getting additional backcourt help.,
  • Everyone knows the Timberwolves want to trade Ricky Rubio while his stock is still high, but some NBA officials claim the T-Wolves are perhaps more eager to deal forward Shabazz Muhammed.
  • Speaking of the Cavaliers, their hierarchy spent several hours with Larry Sanders on Wednesday and came away impressed, so much so that they may seriously contemplate signing Sanders if they fail in their bids to land Bogut or another big man before the trading deadline.

Sanders, who played five seasons with the Bucks before agreeing to a buyout in February of 2015, has drawn interest from several other teams, including San Antonio, Brooklyn, Golden State and Minnesota.