Will injuries force teams like Sixers into a trade?

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Will injuries force teams like Sixers into a trade?

If there has been one element to define the 2012-13 NBA season its been big injuries to franchise players. Obviously, Andrew Bynum has been among the most notably absent this season, but the Sixers are hardly alone.

The Mavericks missed Dirk Nowitzki for a long period while the Timberwolves have played without Kevin Love, the Bulls without Derrick Rose and the Wizards without John Wall. Then there are the Cavaliers who have been without both Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao and the Lakers have missed Steve Nash.

Thats an All-Star team of injuries right there.

In the Sixers Atlantic Division, every team has faced a significant injury to a key player, and for the most part, teams (and fans) have not panicked or rushed out to make moves to fill gaps.

At least not yet.

For now, the plan for the Sixers, as well as every other team in similar predicaments, is to hold the fort until the reinforcements arrive. For the most part, that plan has worked well for teams in the Atlantic, though it hasnt always been easy. Patience has won out across the league.

We just have to wait and be patient and try to get some answers, said Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo last Friday when discussing the shape of his roster. We want to see how Andrew fits in and how our players fit in with him.

Dont expect teams to be patient for too much longer, though. With the NBA trade deadline set for Feb. 21, GMs may be chomping at the bit with some big names reportedly being shopped around.

Could the Sixers be kicking a few tires and looking to make a move? Probably. Its no secret the team is looking to add a backup point guard with reported inquiries made for Oklahoma Citys Eric Maynor. But the Sixers likely wont make any type of move until Bynum returns or until closer to the deadline.

When we made the trade for Bynum, we built the team around him, DiLeo said. Thats one of the questions we have to answer.

In the meantime, here are a few of the players that could be traded before the Feb. 21 deadline:

Rudy Gay, Memphis
Why would one of the best teams in the West be looking to move its leading scorer? Easy ... money. Gay is signed through the 2014-15 season and is owed approximately 37 million over the next two seasons.

Tyreke Evans, Sacramento
The Chester, Pa. native is still just 23 years old and has an expiring contract. He also is playing in basketball limbo with the dysfunctional Kings and his stats have dropped off a bit as a result.

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento
Incredibly talented, but troubled, Cousins may need a change of scenery. Then again, that change could be Seattle whenif the Kings become the Sonics.

Derrick Williams, Minnesota
Reports are that the Twolves have already soured on the 2011 No. 2 overall draft pick and are looking to move him. Then again, reports seem to indicate that all-star Love has soured on Minnesota.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
What good is a list of players on the trading block without the perennially tradable Gasol? Where could Gasol go? How about to any team willing to pay his 20 million salary next year.

As for the Sixers potential trade chips:

Nick Young
He took his first DNP-CD during Saturday nights victory over the Rockets and isnt much of a defender. He does, however, have something that a lot of teams are interested in -- an expiring contract. Young was dealt at the deadline last season from Washington to the Clippers. Could he be on a fourth different team in a little less than a calendar year?

Dorell Wright
Another expiring contract and at a relative bargain of 4.1 million. What also makes Wright more attractive than Young is that he actually plays some defense.

Royal Ivey & Damien Wilkins
Expiring contracts.

E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor is still a Sixer.

He's not a New Orleans Pelican or a Portland Trail Blazer or a Dallas Maverick. He's not going back home to Chicago or to Indiana to play with Paul George. He's in Philly for at least the next 26 games and he's ready to get to work.

"I was happy that the trade deadline was over with and I knew where I'd be finishing the rest of the season," Okafor said. "After the past couple weeks I couldn't wait until 3 o'clock yesterday would pass, which means I wouldn't have to worry about where I would be and have to deal with all the trade rumors.

"It's a sigh of relief. I'm glad it's over with. I'm still a Sixer so I'm excited about playing tonight."

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo on Friday spoke at length about the team's future. He's said he's planning to build around the team's "transformational players" in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

He also addressed the deal that sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas for a protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. With all of the rumors swirling around Okafor, there wasn't much chatter around Noel.

The biggest reason for Noel's departure is his contract. Noel is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He's a desirable player in today's NBA as a big that can run the floor and offer elite rim protection. Okafor can't become a restricted free agent until 2019.

Colangelo said there was a market for Okafor, but he just couldn't find the right deal.

"The market dictates what’s there and interestingly given our situation with the multiple talented bigs I think it's safe to say people view us as a place to come if they are looking for a big," Colangelo said. "Several bigs were out there and available on the market. A trade went down early. (Jusuf) Nurkic going to Portland. There was some conversation with Jahlil early, some advanced discussions to the point we pulled him out of a game situation just because there was so much at stake given the terms of a proposed transaction."

It seems like Okafor has been on the trade block since the day he was drafted third overall in 2015. With Embiid's emerging as a star and Noel's being the team's longest-tenured big, it had been difficult to see Okafor's long-term fit with the Sixers.

To Okafor's credit, he's taken it all in stride. As Colangelo alluded to, he had "advanced" talks on a deal that would send Okafor to Portland. The talks got serious enough to where Okafor was held out of a win over the Heat and began the handshaking ritual of a player on the move. He was also held out of the next game in Charlotte.

Through all of it, Okafor wasn't bitter. He just quietly kept working.

"I never looked at me being shopped as a negative thing," Okafor said. "It's just part of the business... I am here so there are no hard feelings or anything like that. No, not at all.

"I never felt disconnected from the team. When I wasn't traveling with the team I was still here in the facility with [Embiid and Simmons]. I was never just at home alone or anything like that. I was still with the team. Some of the coaches would stay back so I always felt connected with the Sixers."

Okafor will get his first action of the second half of the season tonight against the Wizards. He's been dealing with knee soreness, a result of a surgery to repair a torn meniscus last March. He said Friday afternoon that he's feeling healthy after the All-Star Break and the Rising Stars Challenge.

After all the speculation and rumors, Okafor just wants to play basketball.

"I think it's something a lot of players in the NBA have to deal with," he said. "We're all basketball players. We want to play well for ourselves and for our team.

"Whatever happens in a few months, we'll see what happens then. Right now I'm just worried about playing these last 26 games and playing well for the city and playing well for the team. "

Colangelo admits mistake when classifying Joel Embiid's injury

Colangelo admits mistake when classifying Joel Embiid's injury

CAMDEN, N.J. -- In retrospect, the Sixers would have done things differently.

For more than a month, the team did not announce a timeframe for Joel Embiid's return from a left knee contusion. After he missed 14 of the last 15 games, the Sixers said on Wednesday Embiid would be out the next four games and are targeting a March 3 return.

The next day, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo addressed the lack of timetable provided. 

"We should have just said 'out indefinitely,' even though the treatment was still day to day," Colangelo said. "But the fact that there was uncertainty, I'll own that."

Embiid's injury goes back to Jan. 22 when he suffered the contusion against the Trail Blazers. After the Sixers held him out three games, he played on Jan. 27 against the Rockets and has been sidelined since.

Embiid was very candid on Thursday in expressing his displeasure of how his injury news had been shared. While he had been optimistic he would return earlier than March, citing a recovery period of less than a month, it didn't line up with the day-to-day status.

"I wasn't too happy with the way it was kind of handled before," Embiid said.

"I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn't happy with the way it was handled.

"I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back. So I'm happy that they did that today and they said that I'm out for the next four games."

Colangelo addressed that timetable.

"The two-to-three week comment, I think I know where that came from," Colangelo said. "There was a lot of discussion, and despite the fact that we were saying it's day-to-day treatment and evaluation, two to three weeks may have been mentioned as a possibility of what it may be. But a possibility.

"To say that publicly may not have been the best thing at the time because I was also told sometimes it's four to six weeks for a bone bruise to resolve itself."

The lack of clarity on Embiid's return had upset Sixers fans who wanted more transparency. They had been through years of lengthy injuries, including the past two with Embiid, and were frustrated by this recent absence.

"There's never, ever been any effort to deceive fans, to mislead fans, to mislead [media]," Colangelo said. "We give the information as we're given the information. We've got very good medical care, very good medical oversight. Everything is explainable, but injuries are unpredictable is the best way I can describe it."

Embiid isn't the only player whose status was made public this week. On Friday, Colangelo also announced Ben Simmons will miss the remainder of this season. The first overall pick has been sidelined since training camp after suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot.

"There's no deceit, there's no movement toward doing anything to be dishonest here at all. It's quite simple," Colangelo said. "Injuries are a hard thing to manage. Injuries are a harder thing to manage with daily interface with the media, the public, games being played, the schedule, no practice, practice -- it's a sensitive issue. 

"And you're not talking about simple things. You're talking about complex injuries, you're talking about high-level performers and I'm calling them our stars. They're the ones everyone wants to see. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. And they're both out. Nobody is more frustrated than them."

After not committing to injury timetables, the Sixers are committing to taking a different approach. 

"It was our mistake to put out 'day-to-day' opposed to 'out indefinitely,' Colangelo said. "But that mistake will not be made again."