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Around the NBA: Frank Ntilikina signs with Mavs, Jahlil Okafor with Hawks

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NBA: New York Knicks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The last week of the NBA offseason has been pretty active by offseason standards. There was, of course, your weekly Sixers news related to Ben Simmons. But other teams around the league have been making actual moves. Let’s review the last week or so of the NBA wire.

Eric Gordon “open to trade” from Houston Rockets

Veteran combo guard Eric Gordon may be looking for a way out of Houston, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

So where does that leave Gordon, an established scorer in a league that values scoring on a rebuilding team? In limbo.

Will his fate be the same as Wall’s? Sources with knowledge of Gordon’s thinking say while Gordon hasn’t approached management to ask for a trade, he’s open to moving to a more favorable situation. In meetings between his representation and Houston this offseason, the Rockets communicated they would love to have Gordon stay.

As Iko’s reporting covers, Gordon has not explicitly asked for a trade. But a trade would make a whole lot of sense for both parties. There’s likely to be a playoff contender out there who would value Gordon’s offensive production, whereas Houston’s main focus should be on developing and improving a young core to compete in seasons down the road. Gordon is only 32 years old and has been productive when he’s played over the last two seasons (if inefficient). But there lies an issue: Gordon has played just 63 games over the last two NBA seasons.

It’s worth noting that Gordon first signed with the Houston Rockets while current Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey was heading up Houston’s front office. If Gordon could had on the cheap, the Sixers might be interested in acquiring his services.

Frank Ntilikina signs with Dallas Mavericks

While the NBA Free Agency frenzy has come and gone, there remains a few notable names in the pool of players without a home. One such name has come off the board, as Frank Ntilikina has signed with the Dallas Mavericks, according to the team’s public relations Twitter account.

Ntilikina has had a most underwhelming career since being drafted 8th overall by the New York Knicks in the 2017 NBA Draft. He’s shown flashes as a point-of-attack defender, but he’s never been able to put it together on the offensive end of the floor. Maybe a change of scenery to a franchise known for developing European prospects is just what Ntilikina needs.

USA Basketball hopes to hire new head coach before start of NBA season

At last weekend’s Naismith Hall of Fame induction ceremony, ‘Papa Collars’ Jerry Colangelo symbolically handed the reigns over to Grant Hill as the new managing director of Team USA Basketball. Hill’s first order of business as managing director is hiring a new head coach for Team USA. Could Sixers head coach Doc Rivers be a candidate? Marc Spears of The Undefeated reporting on Hill’s search:

[Gregg] Popovich’s coaching staff in Tokyo included Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University men’s head basketball coach Jay Wright. Hill told The Undefeated that he hopes to hire a new coach for USA Basketball before the 2021-22 NBA season begins on Oct. 19. A source told The Undefeated a current NBA coach with previous USA Basketball experience would likely be hired as the next coach of the team. Other possible candidates with USA Basketball coaching experience include the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers, Atlanta Hawks’ Nate McMillan, Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams, New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau and Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra. Another potential candidate is former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, who has coached USA Basketball in qualifying play in recent years.

Spears’ reporting doesn’t make it sound as if Rivers is a leading candidate, just a name in the mix. But if Rivers were to land the gig, it could be beneficial for the Sixers. In such a role, Rivers would be hobnobbing with the NBA’s elite. It gives Rivers access to players in a context that could shed light on Rivers as an everyday coach. That could have implications on players’ desire to come to Philadelphia via trade or free agency.

Jahlil Okafor signs with Atlanta Hawks

Former Sixers no. 3 overall draft pick Jahlil Okafor has signed a non-guaranteed deal to join the Atlanta Hawks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

(Not sure what it is exactly, but Atlanta just feels like an Okafor destination. I can easily visualize him in a Hawks uniform.)

Since leaving Philly, Okafor has bounced around the league serving as a backup center for the Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Detroit Pistons. Okafor last played for the Pistons, appearing in 27 games in 2021-21.

Pulling for you, Big Jah. Let the Prokafor/Nokafor Wars commence in the forum.

Memphis Grizzlies waive Marc Gasol

The Memphis Grizzlies traded for Marc Gasol in what was essentially a favor for the Los Angeles Lakers, saving the Lakers about $10 million while the Grizzlies received the Lakers’ 2024 second round pick in the process. But the Grizzlies turned right around and waived Gasol on Wednesday, according to a report by the Associated Press. The 36-year-old Gasol is expected to return to his native Spain to continue his playing career.

If this is the end of Gasol’s NBA career, it’s a pretty fitting way out. Gasol was first drafted into the NBA by the Lakers. But before he ever suited up in the purple and gold, he was packaged into a trade to the Memphis Grizzlies, which brought his brother Pau Gasol to L.A. Marc played the bulk of his career with the Grizzlies before being traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2019 and winning his first and only NBA Finals. He joined the Lakers in the summer of 2020 for one season. Now, he leaves the league a Grizzly.

Denver Nuggets, Aaron Gordon agree to extension

The Denver Nuggets and Aaron Gordon have agreed to a contract extension, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Gordon’s new contract is a four-year deal worth $92 million with a player option for the 2025-26 season.

The Nuggets traded for Gordon at the most recent NBA trade deadline, sending Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a future first round pick to the Orlando magic for Gordon. So it makes sense that they would want to lock him up long term. This seems like a bit of an overpay, but the Nuggets evidently love Gordon’s fit with their core, so who am I to judge.

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