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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

With Eagles training camp opening on Sunday, July 23, Gordon Glantz takes a detailed look at the potential position and roster battles, categorizing some players as pure locks while throwing in other options and some long shots at other positions.

An injury to Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater created an opportunity for the Eagles to trade Sam Bradford and accelerate their rebuilding plan. Perhaps, though, the plan all along was to trade Bradford in order to create opportunities for Carson Wentz this season.

With 500 career wins and his Wildcats once again in the national title chase, Villanova’s Jay Wright has solidified his reputation as an elite coach. Eric Fisher also examines Saint Joseph’s injury woes, several Palestra events, and Drexel women’s coach Denise Dillon’s coaching milestone.

Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

Sixers Notebook: What assets do Sixers have?

Posted by Eric Fisher On February - 5 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

How much value does former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz (pictured) have to other teams? The Sixers may find out before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Sixers’ best hope of acquiring bench much-needed help would be to trade rookies and draft picks.

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The 76ers would like to acquire some help for their bench before Thursday’s trade deadline. They need a perimeter defender, preferably one who can shoot, a backup center and a backup point guard who isn’t a liability on defense.

The need for bench help was evident Saturday during the Sixers’ 115-108 loss to the Kings. Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler scores 29 points apiece and Ben Simmons added 22. With JJ Redick getting a day off for rest, however, no other Sixer cracked double digits.

Identifying what the Sixers need in order to solidify their status as legitimate championship contenders isn’t difficult. What’s hard is figuring out what the Sixers have that other teams may want in exchange.

Wilson Chandler, along with his expiring contract, might be attractive to some teams. But remember that the Sixers’ trading partner is likely to be a non-playoff team. Why would a non-playoff team want a veteran except to acquire his expiring contract? Another issue with trading Chandler is that he is valuable to the Sixers. His scoring is inconsistent and he has been sidelined by injuries – he’s currently expected to miss 2-3 weeks due to a quadriceps injury – but he’s helpful on the defensive end and has occasional bursts of offense.

Another option is to trade rookies. A young team outside of the playoff picture might be interested in rookies Landry Shamet, Jonah Bolden and Zhaire Smith (who hasn’t played yet this season due to a foot injury and an allergic reaction). The Sixers haven’t demonstrated a willingness to trade those rookies, but they might have to in the right deal.

The most intriguing player the Sixers have in terms of the trade market is Markelle Fultz. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Fultz’s value, which has already plummeted, drops with each game he doesn’t play. Fultz could be considered damaged good right now. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft wouldn’t bring back more than a late first-round pick in exchange, and even that seems unlikely. The last thing the Sixers would want to see is Fultz, who is only 20 years old, develop into a star after being traded away in a middle-of-the-road deal.

The Sixers don’t have many players who might be attractive to trade partners, but they do have draft picks which could be enticing. The Sixers have an extra first-round pick in 2021, courtesy of the Heat. The Sixers could trade that pick, or their own first-rounder that year, but that might be a tad expensive for a complementary part.

On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the Sixers will be able to re-sign Jimmy Butler after the season, so giving up a future first-round pick might be worth taking a shot right now while they have Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together. It also should be noted that JJ Redick isn’t going to get any younger.

Expect the Sixers to make a move to improve their bench before the trade deadline. Standing pat sends the wrong message.

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SOMETHING BREWING? Reports that the Sixers won’t sign Corey Brewer for the rest of the season may be an indication that they expect to make a trade. By not re-signing Brewer – who can’t be signed to a third 10-day contract – the Sixers create an open roster spot.

The Sixers are risking having Brewer sign with another team, but the payoff of a trade is worth that risk. If Brewer isn’t picked up by another team, they can always bring him back later.

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EYE ON MATTHEWS: A player to keep an eye on is guard Wes Matthews. He was traded from the Mavericks to the Knicks last week in the Kristaps Porzingis deal. The Knicks, who are trying to tank, will likely trade Matthews or buy out his contract. The Sixers would love to pick up Matthews after he’s bought out, the way they got Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli last season, but a trade would eliminate the competition they might face if they tried to sign Matthews after his contract is bought out.

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RISING STAR: Ben Simmons could be extremely busy during All-Star week. Simmons was selected as a reserve for the All-Star Game, which takes place on Feb. 17 in Charlotte. Simmons was also selected for the World squad for the Rising Stars Challenge, which takes place two days earlier in Charlotte.

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HONORING MALONE: The Sixers will retire the uniform number (2) of center Moses Malone on Friday during a halftime ceremony. Malone, who died three years ago, was a three-time NBA MVP and made 12 NBA All-Star teams. He was a relentless rebounder and a terrific scorer. During the 1983 playoffs, Malone averaged 26 points and 15.8 rebounds as he powered the Sixers to the NBA title.

Despite only playing four seasons with the Sixers, Malone richly deserves to have his number retired. The only question is “What took them so long?”

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EXCUSES, EXCUSES: The Sixers went 2-2 on their recent road trip, which proved nothing. The Sixers opened the trip with a loss to Denver, which they could blame on injuries to  Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler and a “rest” day for Joel Embiid. The Sixers bounced back with a win over the Lakers, who were missing LeBron James due to injury. The Sixers then upended the Warriors, which is always a big deal, but a little bit of edge was taken off the victory due to the absence of Klay Thompson. The Sixers, with JJ Redick resting, then lost the next game to the Kings. In other words, the loser of every game during the road trip could use the excuse that they were shorthanded.

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GOOD BREAK (FOR SIXERS): The Sixers’ quest for homecourt advantage during the playoffs wasn’t helped much by their 2-2 road trip, but it was helped by a season-ending injury to the Pacers’ victory Oladipo. A ruptured quadriceps tendon in his right leg required season-ending surgery, which will make it difficult for the Pacers to remain among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference.

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BARKLEY SPEAKS OUT (SURPRISE!): During a recent TNT broadcast, Charles Barkley criticized against Rich Paul for trying to build a “super team” with the Lakers. Paul is part of Klutch Sports, which represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With Davis telling the Pelicans he wants to be traded, and the Lakers immediately jumping in to try to acquire Davis, Barkley was critical of Paul for trying to orchestrate a trade that would bring Davis and James together.

Barkley’s criticism was on the money, but the target of his wrath should have been James. Paul isn’t trying to make this happen without King James, who is trying to build the roster around him.

Not surprisingly, there is tension on the Lakers. There are reports that players aren’t happy about having their names in trade rumors. This could cause problems because of the widespread perception that James is calling the shots. As always seems to be the case with James’ teams, the head coach is apparently on thin ice. Stay tuned for more drama, which is sort of appropriate in Los Angeles.

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TLC TRADED: For the Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot fans out there, the player the Sixers selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft was traded from the Thunder to the Bulls, along with cash, in exchange for a protected 2020 draft pick.

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ROUGH HOMECOMING: After completing their four-game western swing, the Sixers don’t have a soft landing when they return to Wells Fargo Center for a four-game homestand. They host the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors on Tuesday (8 p.m.) and the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets on Friday (7 p.m.). The Lakers, presumably with a healthy LeBron James, visit the Sixers on Sunday (3:30 p.m.). The Celtics, who have moved into a tie with the Sixers (34-19), come to town next Tuesday (8 p.m.) before Sixers visit the lowly Knicks at Madison Square Garden in their final game before the All-Star break.

Sixers Notebook: Road test

Posted by Eric Fisher On January - 26 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

The 76ers hit the road this week with a point to prove. Despite an impressive 32-17 record, the Sixers still have a losing record (11-12) on the road.

The Sixers currently are fourth in the Eastern Conference. That means that if the season were to end today, they would, barring a first-round upset of the top seed, only have homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Consequently, they would have to be able to win on the road.

The Sixers picked up a big road win on Thurs., Jan. 17 against the Pacers. The Sixers were dominant in a 120-96 victory. But they will be severely tested during their upcoming four-game road trip.

The four-game western swing includes games against the Warriors and Nuggets, the top two teams in the Western Conference. The trip also includes the Lakers and Kings, both of whom are 25-24 following Friday’s games.

Perhaps the Sixers are trying to take some of the pressure off of this trip by basically conceding the first game (Saturday, 9 p.m.) against the Nuggets. Joel Embiid has a scheduled rest day on Saturday, according to head coach Brett Brown. Why Embiid would need a rest day three days after the Sixers beat the Spurs and three days before their next game is a bit of a mystery. One possibility is that having six days between games would give Embiid an opportunity to give his lower back, which has been a source of tightness, extended time to heal.

Another possibility is that having Embiid sit out the game would give the Sixers an excuse, more for themselves than for outsiders, if they lose to the Nuggets, who are tied with the Raptors for the NBA’s second-best home record (21-4). Yes, the Nuggets’ home record is even better than the Sixers’ home record (21-5). With starters Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler likely to miss Saturday’s game due to injuries, a Sixers victory on Saturday would be a miraculous triumph while a loss could be dismissed as being the result of being undermanned. The Sixers could then proclaim their rematch with the Nuggets at Wells Fargo Center on Fri., Feb. 8 as the true test of superiority.

A win over the defending-champion Warriors, who have won nine straight games, would be a big deal regardless of where it occurs. But a win over the Warriors on their home court would be a huge psychological boost.

A 3-1 trip would wipe out many questions about the Sixers ability to win on the road, but the Sixers have set themselves up so that a 2-2 road trip would be considered satisfactory, especially when a loss to the Nuggets could be dismissed as being a product of the Sixers being shorthanded. A 1-3 trip would still leave the Sixers’ ability to win on the road a pressing question. Only an 0-4 trip would be considered a disaster.

It’s likely that the Sixers’ ability to win on the road will remain an unanswered question after this road trip.

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STAR GAZING: Joel Embiid was selected to the All-Star Game for the second straight season. Embiid, averaging 27.2 points and 13.3 rebounds, was selected as a starter from the Eastern Conference for the game, which will take place on Feb. 17 in Charlotte. He is the first Sixer selected in consecutive years since Allen Iverson.

Reserves for the All-Star Game will be announced Thursday. Ben Simmons, who finished fourth in the voting among Eastern Conference guards, has a good shot at being named as a reserve. It’s also possible that Jimmy Butler could be picked for the team.

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SIGH OF RELIEF: After guard Jimmy Butler saw a specialist in Los Angeles, head coach Brett Brown said the Sixers expect Butler to be ready to play Tuesday against the Lakers. Butler was sidelined from the Sixers’ wins over the Rockets and Spurs this past week due to a sprained right wrist, and he is expected to miss Saturday’s road game against the Nuggets.

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WELCOME ADDITION: With Jimmy Butler sidelined, Corey Brewer started against the Rockets and Spurs. The Sixers won both games, with Brewer playing a crucial role against the Rockets, guarding James Harden. Although Harden scored 37 points, Brewer did an admirable job. The veteran swingman was rewarded Friday with a second 10-day contract.

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THIRTY SOMETHING: If it sounds strange to praise Corey Brewer for his defensive effort on a night that James Harden scored 37 points, consider that Harden has scored at least 30 points in 32 straight games, an NBA record.

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BOLD(EN) MOVE: Another player who has seen his minutes increase lately is rookie forward Jonah Bolden. After sitting out most games earlier this season, Bolden has played in 14 straight games, playing at least 10:58 in each of those games. Bolden’s versatility on defense makes him a valuable player for the Sixers, who need more contributions from their bench.

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TIME REDUCED: In contrast to Bolden, Furkan Korkmaz has seen his playing time reduced. Korkmaz has only played 10 minutes in two of the past seven games. He also didn’t play at all in two games during that stretch. Korkmaz is a good shooter which led to calls to increase his playing time earlier this season, but he doesn’t add much else, and he is a liability on defense.

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ROUGH SCHEDULE: After completing their western swing, the Sixers’ schedule doesn’t get much easier. They will host the first-place Raptors on Tues., Feb. 5, and then continue their homestand with games against the Nuggets, Lakers and Celtics before visiting the lowly Knicks at Madison Square Garden in their final game before the All-Star break.

Harper hits 1st home run as Phillie