A Measured Reminder About the Sixers' Offseason Options

A Measured Reminder About the Sixers' Offseason Options

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@SixersCEOAdam
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.

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."

Jordan Matthews eager to return after missing first-ever game

Jordan Matthews eager to return after missing first-ever game

Jordan Matthews experienced something new on Sunday. Something he hoped he’d never have to experience. 

He was relegated to spectator.  

After never missing a game dating back to little league – through high school, college, and into his third season in the NFL – a right ankle injury kept him out of Sunday’s 32-14 loss in Cincinnati. 

“It’s definitely not fun,” Matthews said. “But it’s one of those things where I try not to dwell on it or be like ‘woe is me.’ There’s people going through way worse things in America than me missing a football game.”

The Eagles certainly could have used Matthews on Sunday. But they should get him back this weekend when the Birds host Washington for a 1 p.m. kickoff at the Linc. Along with Ryan Mathews and Dorial Green-Beckham, Matthews is listed as questionable. 

But he seems confident he’ll be good to go. 

“I think one game is definitely going to be enough for me,” Matthews said. “I’m definitely going to try to get back out there Sunday.” 

On Friday, during his first media availability in two weeks, Matthews said he chose to find the positives in his absence from Sunday’s game. Namely that Paul Turner and Trey Burton got some extra reps. 

Burton had five catches for 53 yards and Turner, in just his second NFL game, had six catches for 80 yards. 

“I try to see the positives,” Matthews said. “I liked seeing what PT was able to go out there and do. I was happy for him and his first live-game action, being able to go out there and make plays. I was also proud of Trey. His role got to expand with me being out and I think he played extremely well. He got to show what he can do and show how he can help this team. We just have to continue to utilize him moving forward. There’s always a positive in it. 

“We might not see it now, in a loss, but just think, some of those guys are going to be weapons for us in the future. And we saw they can go out and perform well without me in there, so I think it’s going to end up being a positive. But I definitely can’t wait to get back out there.”

Earlier in the week, head coach Doug Pederson said that even with Matthews’ returning, the team would still try to get Turner involved. Since the team sees Turner primarily as a slot receiver, that means Matthews could see time outside this weekend. There’s an even better chance when taking Green-Beckham’s injury into account. 

Before the season, Pederson talked a lot about wanting to play Matthews both inside and outside, but this season, Matthews has been in the slot for 74 percent of his snaps. Forty-four of his 57 catches have come from the slot too. 

On the play where Matthews hurt his ankle against the Packers, he was actually lined up outside and caught a back-shoulder throw from Wentz. 

“I was actually joking with Carson,” Matthews said, “I was like ‘bro, the reason I got hurt was because our back shoulder was better than Jordy [Nelson] and Aaron [Rodgers’]. So it didn’t mesh well with the universe. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way on Monday night for everybody to see, so the football gods took my ankle. So it’s all good. … That’s a joke.”

Matthews, despite being in his third season, is clearly one of the Eagles’ leaders on offense, especially in a very young receivers room. He’s looking forward to playing Washington after he thinks they were the first team that “actually came out and beat” them earlier in the year. 

With four games left in the regular season, the Eagles’ playoff chances are extremely slim. But Matthews thinks it’s important for the team to finish strong, especially with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. 

With Wentz, Matthews thinks the Eagles have already taken the first step toward building something special. 

“He’s the guy,” Matthews said. “He looks like the guy, he walks like the guy, he talks like it. And he goes out there and plays like it. It’s more we have to continue to ride around him and coach Pederson and be positive and go out there and produce.”