Welcome to NBA trade sea­son, al­ready un­der­way in earnest

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY TIM REYNOLDS

Jahlil Okafor viewed New Or­leans dur­ing All-Star week­end with a dif­fer­ent lens than usual, since he thought there was a chance it may have been his next home.

That’s life in the ru­mour mill. Welcome to trade sea­son, al­ready un­der­way in earnest and will re­main so un­til Thurs­day af­ter­noon’s dead­line. All-Star DeMar­cus Cousins is chang­ing his ad­dress from Sacra­mento to New Or­leans, Serge Ibaka was sent last week from Or­lando to Toronto — and the next few days will likely see Carmelo An­thony, Jimmy But­ler, Taj Gib­son, Reg­gie Jack­son and many more all dis­cussed by var­i­ous teams.

“Here we go again,” said Okafor, the Philadel­phia 76ers for­ward who missed two games be­fore the break amid loom­ing trade spec­u­la­tion.

The mo­ti­va­tions are many, and ob­vi­ous in most cases. Some teams will look to add pieces with hopes of en­hanc­ing their post-sea­son hopes; oth­ers are look­ing to build to­ward the fu­ture by shed­ding ex­pir­ing con­tracts or col­lect­ing draft picks.

The jostling is al­ready well un­der­way, and the Cousins move would be huge for New Or­leans — if they can con­vince him to sign an ex­ten­sion this sum­mer. Ibaka fig­ures to bol­ster the Rap­tors’ chances in the East, and Cleve­land moved the in­jured Chris An­der­sen to Char­lotte to open up a ros­ter spot just in case the Cavs have a chance to add a piece that might help LeBron James when it’s time to de­fend last sea­son’s ti­tle.

Even the Cavs are look­ing to get bet­ter. And of course, teams are look­ing for ways to im­prove enough to beat the de­fend­ing champs as well.

“To know that ev­ery­one is try­ing to build their team or want­ing to get their team to try to get to where you are and try to knock you off, it’s a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor,” said Cleve­land star LeBron James, who’s vy­ing to make a sev­enth con­sec­u­tive trip to the NBA Fi­nals. “It’s also a hum­bling fac­tor that to know that I’ve been in this po­si­tion for so long.”

With Cousins now moved, the next huge domino to fall may be An­thony, who has a no-trade clause — but is go­ing through times try­ing enough with the New York Knicks that he may be per­suaded to drop that clause.

The Bulls, mean­while, might lose Gib­son in free agency this sum­mer, and Bos­ton — which could eas­ily have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft thanks to a past deal with the Brook­lyn Nets — is be­lieved to be a po­ten­tial land­ing spot for But­ler if Chicago elects to go into a full re­build­ing mode.

If that hap­pens, the Bulls prob­a­bly wouldn’t be ex­pect­ing Dwyane Wade to stay this sum­mer ei­ther.

Or­lando, with an eye on the fu­ture, is con­sid­er­ing a deal where it would take Jack­son from Detroit and es­sen­tially make him the Magic point guard of the fu­ture since three full sea­sons re­main on what was a five-year, $80 mil­lion con­tract.

Not ev­ery­one gets fren­zied at trade-dead­line time. San An­to­nio, for ex­am­ple, hasn’t made a dead­line deal of any real sig­nif­i­cance since ac­quir­ing Kurt Thomas in 2008.

“It’s all about team chem­istry,” Spurs star for­ward Kawhi Leonard said. “You’ve al­ways got to fig­ure out the best way for you and your team, but I think we’re do­ing a good job right now. You can talk to the front of­fice and see what they’re do­ing, but right now I feel like we’re do­ing good.”

AP PHOTO

Western Con­fer­ence for­ward DeMar­cus Cousins of the Sacra­mento Kings plays dur­ing the first half of the NBA All-Star bas­ket­ball game in New Or­leans on Sun­day. The New Or­leans Pel­i­cans agreed to ac­quire Cousins from the Kings on Sun­day, the same night the cen­ter was play­ing in the All-Star Game in their arena.

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