A Measured Reminder About the Sixers' Offseason Options

A Measured Reminder About the Sixers' Offseason Options

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Adam Aron Far from easy in NBA to land right free agent or consummate great trade. It will be interesting to see how much progress is made off-season.
May 31 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Two months ago, I took exception that Sixers CEO Adam Aron would ask fans who the team should keep or jettison for the following season in the midst of a losing streak. 
One of my arguments, though not my most important argument in that case, pointed to how the finances of a basketball team existing under the most complicated CBA in North American sports should not be at all influenced by the whims of fan frustration.
And if I'm going to criticize Aron in that regard, then I would be remiss not to praise him in this instance.

Much like the last time we visited an Aron-Twitter scenario, this tweet was once again born from the management's public admission that it knows work still needs to be done to turn the Sixers into a real contender.
But, unlike last time, his tweets about the team's future were accompanied with the reminder that even hard work and the best of intentions don't guarantee success or, more importantly, the ideal pieces to build a winner.
Since the Sixers' Game 7 loss to the Celtics, the refrains of "trade Iguodala" and "amnesty Brand" have grown louder and more insistent. That said, those sentiments should really be met with the following responses: "for what?" and "for what immediate benefit?"
Trading Iguodala, everyone should be reminded, does not necessarily equal any extra salary cap space given the rules that govern the amount of cash allowed to be traded back and forth, even though last year's reworked CBA now makes it easier for teams to swing uneven deals. Cap concerns aside, the actual talent the team receives in return should be a more important priority then simply moving a player out of town. Sure, the divisive forward's value might currently be the highest it's been in terms of what he could garner in a trade, but a team would still have to make an offer that benefits the Sixers more than keeping Iguodala for it to be taken seriously. Considering the following question: how might Iguodala's contract, combined with his skill set, alter his value come the 2013 trade deadline?
The same logic goes for Elton Brand, who has just one year left on his deal. Unless the Sixers are on the verge of landing a franchise-changing free agent or pulling of a blockbuster deal that requires the extra cash, what cause do the Sixers really have to amnesty Brand now? If he had more than one season left on the deal, this conversation would obviously be different, but is it worth expending the clause just to say it was used? He, too, could actually become an intriguing trade piece for the team as the prospect of an $18 million dollar expiring contract could draw some interest around the league.
The central argument here is that there is plenty more that goes into these decisions beyond "he's old" or "he makes too much money" or "he's a poor shooter." The real question should be: Will part
ing ways with Iguodala and/or Brand actually improve the Sixers' long-term outlook and how?
Just as that argument applies to Brand and Iguodala, it applies to any talent the team could conceivably bring into the fold. Think about the names the Sixers have spent a whole lot of money on in the last decade and consider how those deals worked out -- Brand, by the way, the guy so many want to amnesty, is obviously included in that discussion.
In this case, it isn't about who's available to sign, trade or amnesty, it's about how a player fits with a team's rotation and finances. Change for the sake of change seems far too short-sighted and has proven so for this franchise in the past. 
Yes, there's the idea that the team could totally dismantle and start over, but that takes a conscious and deliberate decision to implode a roster so as to "bottom out" in the mere hopes of landing a star draft pick. That process would require a whole lot more than getting rid of two of the guys who made the Sixers competitive this year and would, more than likely, do the same next year.
So, for as much as criticized Aron for -- what I saw as -- his playing to the frustrations of a fan base back in March, I applaud him now and join him in reminding that same base that prudence should not be confused with failure.

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are coming off two straight losses and the slate doesn't get any easier with the 5-0 Vikings coming to town.

It also marks the return of Sam Bradford, who was traded just before Week 1, paving the way for rookie Carson Wentz to start.

The Eagles kick off against Minnesota at the Linc on Sunday at 1 p.m., so it's time for our (cough) experts' predictions for the Week 7 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (2-3)
I'll admit, this game just has a weird feel. It has the feeling like the Eagles might be able to catch the Vikings sleeping after their bye week and hand them their first loss of the season.

I was almost tempted to pick the Birds in this one.

But I'm not.

Ultimately, the Vikings are just the better team. I'm not sure how the Eagles are going to put up points against them. And I'm not convinced the Eagles' defense will be able to stop anyone after what we saw last weekend.

They keep it close, but the Birds fall to 3-3.

Vikings 20, Eagles 17

Derrick Gunn (2-3)
The good news is Minnesota's offense is ranked 30th in the league and the Vikings' run game is dead last averaging 70.6 yards per game. 

The bad news is the Vikings' defense is a monster, ranked 2nd overall and first in points allowed at 12.6.

There is not a weak link in the Vikings' D and they are fundamentally sound across the board. The Eagles' defense vows that what happened to them at Washington — allowing 230 rushing yards — won't happen again. 

Carson Wentz got roughed up by the Redskins' pass rush, and unless the Eagles' offensive line plugs the leaks, more of the same could happen this Sunday. The Birds have every reason to rebound at home, but I just don't like the overall matchup. 

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

Ray Didinger (2-3)
The Vikings aren't going undefeated. You don't go 16-0 in the NFL with a 30th ranked offense which is what the Vikings have. Yes, their defense is very good. Going back to last season they have held each of their last nine opponents to 17 points or less. They are deep, fast and well-coached by Mike Zimmer. But the offense led by Sam Bradford coughs and sputters a lot.
As a result, the Vikings will play a lot of close, low-scoring games and somewhere along the line they are going to lose. It could even happen this week when they play the Eagles. Special teams could be huge. The Eagles have a big edge with kicker Caleb Sturgis. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has already missed three field goals and two PATs. However, the Vikings return men -- Marcus Sherels on punts, Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs -- are very dangerous. I expect the Eagles to keep it close but in the end I have to go with the superior defense.
Vikings 21, Eagles 16

Andrew Kulp (2-3)
Which Eagles defense shows up on Sunday? If they can limit Minnesota's anemic ground attack, which ranks dead last in the NFL, this should be a close game. Sam Bradford is playing really well, but it's not like he's airing it out all over the place.

Then it becomes a question of how Halapoulivaati Vaitai responds to a rough debut. The Vikings pass-rush is fierce, so it doesn't get any easier this week. As long as the protection gives Carson Wentz a chance, that will at least give the rookie signal-caller a shot at making a few big plays.

For some reason, I like their chances at both. It's going to be another ugly one, but the Eagles do just enough to squeak by.

Eagles 20, Vikings 19

Corey Seidman (2-3)
I foresee a low-scoring game in which the Eagles are more competitive than some might think.

But in the end, the Vikings have the personnel and the defensive-minded head coach (Mike Zimmer) to get key stops down the stretch.

Vikings 20, Eagles 16

Andy Schwartz (1-4)
You’re still reading? 

Well good for you. Much appreciated. 

Because clearly I certainly don’t know what to expect from this team. 

But let’s forget all that for the moment and look at the Bradford Bowl. 

The Vikings’ offense is hardly scary (30th in the league in yards per game behind the Rams and Niners), but their defense is (second in yards per game behind Seattle).

The Eagles’ offense is hardly scary (22nd in yards per game), and their defense (sixth in yards per game was pretty scary a few weeks ago.

So let’s look at the intangibles. Which team needs this game more? The Eagles. And they’re at home. 

But given the outcomes the last two weeks and that Minnesota is unbeaten and coming off a bye, it certainly makes sense to pick the Vikes, who are favored by 2.5.

Then again, the Eagles not too long ago were unbeaten and coming off a bye … and we all know what happened.

So I’ll say the Birds pull off another upset and remain unbeaten at the Linc. 

Just don’t bet on it.

Eagles 6, Vikings 5

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.