Are Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins even willing to be traded?

Are Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins even willing to be traded?

Everywhere I go these days, people are asking me, “When are the Phillies going to blow it up? When is the fire sale?” The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know because I’m not sure what the Philadelphia Phillies truly have to offer another team.

Ryan Howard is the immovable object. Cliff Lee, to my knowledge, hasn’t thrown a baseball in close to a month. Mike Adams just hit the disabled list. The Phillies would likely have to eat most of Jonathan Papelbon’s salary to be rid of that distraction. The wheels have come off for A.J. Burnett in recent weeks. And don’t get too excited, because the Phils are not replenishing the farm system by moving the likes of Carlos Ruiz or Marlon Byrd.

Of course, we all know who people really mean when they start hinting about the Phillies blowing it up—Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, two of the only real commodities this team has at the moment. The question is, though, can the Phillies trade either one of them?

Both Utley and Rollins have full no-trade clauses due to their 10-and-5 rights—10 years in the league, five with the same team. And while they can waive their no-trade clauses and agree to a deal, who’s to say they will?

Most folks seem to assume anybody would want out in Utley’s or Rollins’ situations because the Phillies are the Titanic right now. These are 35-year-old players we’re talking about, guys with few legitimate runs at a World Series left in the tank. How could they pass up a golden opportunity to win one somewhere else?

I’m not so sure it’s that simple.

Utley, in particular, doesn’t strike me as somebody who wants to move on. He signed an incredibly team-friendly contract just last summer to remain in Philadelphia, then afterwards went so far as to say he was happy to finish his career here no matter what.

"This is something that, no matter what happens, I'm not going to regret. I've talked to some guys that have played here and moved onto other organizations. The grass isn't always greener on the other side. I'm excited. I'm happy to be still a Phillie, and hopefully a Phillie for another five years."

Meanwhile, when Rollins was being pressed by reporters about a potential trade last summer, he admitted he had no intention of leaving until after he set some more franchise records. Now that he’s a mere five base knocks away from becoming the Phillies’ all-time hits leader, the thinking is he might be more susceptible to a deal.

Don’t get your hopes up. Many viewed Rollins’ comments as selfish at the time, but it seems that was just his way of saying he doesn’t want to go anywhere. He admitted as much in February.

“I’m not planning on waiving my no-trade clause,” he said during a sit-down with Marshall Harris on Wednesday. “My plan is to bring a championship back here, to be honest.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what would compel either of them to stay. Anybody can see the Phillies are bad and will likely continue to be bad for awhile.

Perhaps such a decision would be rooted in part in something other than wins and losses. Utley and Rollins have built homes and lives in the area, which at this stage of their careers might matter more to them than winning. They have a world championship, so they may not be that interested in leaving their comfort zone to chase another.

Don’t assume the organization is necessarily going to be complicit in your fire sale, either. While it’s plain to see this franchise is in desperate need of a rebuilding process, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated time and time again there is no blowing up the Phillies. There is only “retooling.”

Misguided or not, the organization seems committed to putting a winning product on the field every year. You can certainly envision how Utley and Rollins might still be useful if the roster could be retooled quickly. It's the same reasons other teams might find them valuable at the trade deadline.

So as long as the Amaro is telling players the Phillies are committed to winning, and those players are happy and comfortable where they’re at, are they even interested in waiving no-trade clauses? Only Utley and Rollins know the answer to that question for sure, but neither has given any indication they are willing to move.

Report: Sixers have shown interest in Timberwolves PG Tyus Jones

Report: Sixers have shown interest in Timberwolves PG Tyus Jones

With Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless hurt, the Sixers are still lacking a distributor, and so it makes sense that they've been in contact with the point guard-rich Timberwolves.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Sixers and New Orleans Pelicans have shown interest in T'wolves backup point guard Tyus Jones. 

With fifth overall pick Kris Dunn and Ricky Rubio, Minnesota is set at PG. Jones, 20, is third on the totem pole a year after being drafted 24th overall. 

According to Wojnarowski, the Timberwolves are more inclined to trade Jones than Rubio. 

Jones has a connection to the Sixers in Jahlil Okafor, a former teammate at Duke. Both were one-and-dones for the 2014-15 National Championship team. Jones averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the Blue Devils. 

He played sparingly as a rookie last season with Minnesota (37 games), averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 assists in 15.5 minutes, but stood out this summer, winning Las Vegas Summer League MVP.

T.J. McConnell has started the majority of the preseason at point guard for the Sixers. Sergio Rodriguez got the nod in the last game against the Pistons. Brett Brown is also looking at Nik Stauskas to fill the spot in a non-traditional role.

Elton Brand announces retirement after 17 NBA seasons

Elton Brand announces retirement after 17 NBA seasons

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Elton Brand walked out to the practice court clad in a gray suit and tie. As he approached the media with his family, the Sixers' players and staff gathered to watch and, more importantly, pay their respect to the news he was about to deliver. 

“After 17 years of playing the game that I love, and it’s been great to me, I’m officially retiring,” Brand said standing next to his wife Shahara. “It’s for real this time. It was a wonderful journey.”

Brand, 37, played 17 seasons in the NBA with a career average of 15.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists. A two-time All-Star, he recorded four 20-and-10 seasons. 

This summer he signed his final contract, a one-year deal with the Sixers worth $980,431. Brand announced his intention to retire on Thursday and the roster move will be officially completed at the conclusion of training camp. Brand’s retirement clears up a roster space for the Sixers. 

“Me personally, playing, being out there, the mentoring role, it was great. I enjoyed it,” Brand said. “But I really couldn’t be out there giving my all after 17 years, helping the team, being in the right place on defense, and giving the coaching staff the energy they deserve from their players. I thought it was time.”

The Bulls selected Brand with the first overall pick in the 1999 draft out of Duke, a moment he considers a highlight of his career. He played his first two seasons in Chicago, followed by seven with the Clippers. The Sixers signed Brand in July of 2008. He was a member of the team for the next four years, including two playoff runs. Brand played one more season with the Bulls, followed by two with the Hawks. 

His already-lengthy NBA career appeared to be over at the end of the 2014-15 season, but he made a surprise decision to return to the league in January of 2016 with the Sixers. He appeared in 17 games last season, averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 13.2 minutes. 

While Brand was needed to log time because of injuries, including 20-plus on back-to-back nights, his biggest contribution came away from the game. The young team signed Brand to serve as a mentor to players such as fellow Blue Devil Jahlil Okafor, who struggled with off-the-court issues as a rookie. Okafor developed a big-brother relationship with Brand, talking often — and rarely about basketball itself. 

Brand shared his messages of discipline and work ethic across the locker room. He stayed late after practices to work on fundamental drills with then-rookie Richaun Holmes. On game days he often could be seen dressed in a suit, a visualization of professionalism for his teammates. At the end of the season, Brand paid for the team to take a trip to Miami. 

“We felt his presence,” Okafor said. “Having another vet in there, knowing who he is, his accolades, it was a respect factor to him. Whatever he said goes. I remember hearing his voice at halftime if we were playing poor, he would let us know about it. It was good to have somebody on your team tell you you’re playing bad rather than hearing your coach’s mouth all the time.”

Brett Brown described his emotions as "sad" when Brand informed him of his decision. In less than a year of working together, Brown has learned from Brand's NBA experiences. 

"He's as elite in class as anybody I have ever coached," Brown said, adding, "He's got the ingredients that make him, I feel, highly attractable down the road. Surely he's got stuff to offer after this is all done. Compassionate, hard-working, educated, real, tough. He was a great example for our locker room."

Brand plans to spend time away from the game and has not made any decisions on his next career move. He will be accessible to the Sixers and plans to spend time around the team but not in an official role. He has had conversations with the team about possible opportunities in the future, just not right now. 

The Sixers broke out in applause at the conclusion of Brand's announcement. He didn't know they were going to be present and joked that as the "OG" of the team, he doesn't like surprises. Brand wanted a simple no-frills gathering of media, a low-key departure from the game. It was fitting for a career based on quietly putting in hard work. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said. “But it’s definitely time now.”