2011

Most recent year in which Phillies had winning record

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On June 15

The fortunes of the Flyers and Sixers could be dramatically affected during the next few weeks. Both teams have a pair of first-round picks in their league’s respective drafts, and both have an opportunity to improve through free agency.

The Sixers have the 10th and 26th overall picks in the NBA Draft, which takes place next Thursday. They also have four second-round selections. It’s possible that the Sixers could package their two first-round picks to move up further in the Top 10 if there’s a player available that they really like. Trading up later in the round by packaging the 26th pick and a second-round pick is also a possibility.

If they don’t trade up in the draft, the Sixers should get a good player at No. 10. Two players who could be available and would be nice fit would by Vlllanova’s Mikal Bridges and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, both of whom are swingmen who seem to fit the Sixers’ system.

But the draft is just the preliminary bout before the main event. Free agency begins on July 1. As you might have heard, LeBron James is expected to utilize the player option in his contract to become a free agent. The Sixers, with a talented young nucleus and plenty of room under the salary cap, are considered top contenders for James’ services. A backup plan could be to sign Paul George, who also is expected to utilize his player option to become a free agent.

The Flyers are unlikely to make free-agent moves as dramatic as the Sixers. Unless they trade a top line player such as Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek, the Flyers won’t be in the hunt for center John Tavares, considered the top free agent available, when free agency commences on July 1. But the Flyers could improve through free agency by signing center Paul Stastny or left wing Evander Kane – if the price is right. A lower-priced option such as center Riley Nash or right wing Michael Grabner, a player I touted the last time he was a free agent, seems more likely.

The Flyers are more likely to make a splash in the draft, which begins next Friday. In recent years, general manager Ron Hextall has demonstrated a willingness to trade up into the back end of the first round to get a second first-round pick, which he used to select forward Travis Konecny and center Morgan Frost. This year the Flyers enter the draft with two first-round selections, the 14th and 19th overall picks. It’s possible that Hextall could package those picks if a player the Flyers really like, such as right-handed defenseman Evan Bouchard of London (Ontario Hockey League) or Noah Dobson of Acadie-Bathurst (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), slip past the top five picks.

Hextall has made it clear that the draft is the key to the Flyers’ plan to build from within in order to make steady progress. Quick fixes through the signing of big-name veteran free agents don’t seem to be part of the plan.

On the other hand, the Sixers are searching for ways to immediately make the jump from a team on the rise to a championship contender.

Although the methodology is different, the Sixers and Flyers both could have their fortunes affected by their actions during the next several weeks.

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NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: Has there ever been less real news out of a mini-camp than the Eagles’ mini-camp this week? Carson Wentz participated in 7-on-7 drills, cornerback Sidney Jones and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata didn’t participate due to injuries – and that was about the extent of the real news.

And that’s a good thing. Nobody sustained a serious injury. Nobody refused to attend. Nobody complained about their contract. There weren’t even any fights.

Although it might not be what media members want, when it relates to mini-camp, no news is good news.

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PICKING UP THE PIECES: The Bryan Colangelo mess leaves the Sixers in a bit of a bind. Head coach Brett Brown will be in charge of the draft, which is fine. Brown certainly has the knowledge to draft players, but will he have the final say on making trades during the draft? That’s something he hasn’t done before.

Brown is certainly better able to attract free agents than Colangelo. Although Colangelo’s connections throughout the NBA were supposed to make him adept at attracting fee agents, the Twitter disaster certainly would have made free agents hesitate before signing with a team whose president appears to be connected to Twitter accounts on which players were criticized, which is one reason why Colangelo lost his job. But, unless the Sixers hire a general manager before July 1, there is still an unknown for free agents because it’s unlikely that Brown will continue to wear both hats as coach and GM.

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SUPER NOVA: As many as four players from Villanova’s national championship team could be drafted during the first round of the NBA Draft. One of the ironies, however, is that guard Jalen Brunson, who won several national player of the year honors, could be the fourth Wildcat selected.

Mikal Bridges, the 6-foot-7 swingman, is likely a top 10 pick. Remember, the Sixers have the 10th selection. The next Wildcat likely to be drafted is guard Donte DiVincenzo, who was named the most outstanding player in the Final Four. He likely won’t last until the Sixers pick at No. 26, but forward Omari Spellman and Brunson could both be available at that spot. There’s a possibility that Spellman (6-foot-9, 255 pounds), with his raw power and talent, could be selected ahead of Brunson, which highlights the difference between the NBA and college games.

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STEWART LEAVES UNION: Although it obviously didn’t generate the same headlines as Bryan Colangelo’s dramatic departure from the 76ers, the departure of sporting director Earnie Stewart may have a more dramatic impact on the Union. Stewart left to become the general manager of the United States National Team, which failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.

Stewart leaves behind a mixed legacy during his 2½ years with the Union. His signings have produced mixed results, but he has been given credit for improving the Union’s player development. Most importantly, he seemed to give the Union direction. With Stewart gone, it’s unclear who will provide that direction in the future.

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CUP TO PHILLY? The 2026 World Cup has been awarded to North America, with games to be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Lincoln Financial Field has been mentioned as a potential site for games. Local soccer fans should be excited about the possibility of Philadelphia hosting a World Cup match.

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CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS: Although the NBA Finals had the marquee matchup, I preferred seeing the Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin win their first Stanley Cup to seeing the Warriors win for the third time in four years. Each event had its merits, but I liked the fresh matchup of Las Vegas, in its inaugural season, trying to making history against the Capitals, who were also chasing their first Stanley Cup, to seeing the same two teams in the finals for the fourth straight year.

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HEART AND SOUL: The good news for the Soul is that every team in the shrinking Arena Football League makes the playoffs. The bad news is that the defending-champion Soul have slipped to 4-4, including a 49-48 home loss last weekend to Washington, which had yet to win a game. The Soul have lost four of their past five games.

The biggest difference is that quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, who finished last year’s ArenaBowl victory despite a torn ACL, is on injured reserve after tearing his labrum. Raudabaugh is eligible to return on July 14, which would be just in time for the start of the Arena League playoffs. But will he recover in time to save the season?

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 29 years, had nothing to do with the Eric Jr. Twitter account reportedly linked to Bryan Colangelo.

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