Checking In With the 76ers In Week Four of the Lockout

Checking In With the 76ers In Week Four of the Lockout

Yeah, yeah, football football football. Bully for them for getting their
act together with time to spare before the 2011 NFL regular season is
to start, but for those of us more concentrated on the upcoming NBA
season—there's probably a handful of us somewhere, maybe in Los Angeles
and Miami—it's hard to get too excited about football's return when
resolution in pro hoops still seems so far away. Who cares about Kevin
Kolb and Brett Favre when the Sixers don't even know if they're going to
be able to re-sign Tony Battie next year?

There's no particularly promising news on that front to my
knowledge, so the best I can do for you guys is to keep you posted as to
what the boys on the team have been up to while locking out is still in
effect. Here's the lowdown on how some of our guys have been keeping
themselves busy.

Andre Iguodala:

Enrico already told you about 'Dre's aspirations towards business management
(and possibly some dabbling in civil activism), and aside from his
summer reading list, he's also doing some training and made a cameo at
Sweet Lou's kiddie hoops camp. But most of what AI9 has been doing is
listening to pop music, and sharing his opinions about it via his new
Twitter account. Some pearls:

On Lady Gaga: "What do @ladygaga be talkin bout that got her 11.6
million followers???...11.6 million followers??? No one MAN should have all that power!!! ( #kanyevoice)"

On Watching ?uestlove DJ in Brooklyn: "It's mad eccentric in this joint...but I can dig it"

On Big Sean and 21st Century Music Storage: "Big Sean on his way, his cd dope...I said "cd" like I have the actual thing! Album I should say...my bad.."

On Beyoncé: "This beyonce album is the perfect shower music #isaidit...isaidit !"

Oh, and he and ET should be checking the Chicago date of Jay-Z and Kanye's Watch the Throne
tour. So if you're at the United Center show on Oct. 6th, keep an eye
out for two dorkily dressed six-and-a-half footers with awkward (and
oddly overlapping) dance moves. Can't miss 'em.

Evan Turner:

Speaking of the Extraterrestrial, he's had the most high-profile training regimen in this off-season, thanks to his working out
with renowned shot doctor Herb McGee, who's trying to get the Kid to
use his guiding hand less on his jumper. Good on Evan for putting in
work, though if he's actually hoping on being able to keep up his career
rate of shooting 50% from the field, he might want to think about
playing in a different basketball league than the NBA. (No high-usage
two guards besides Dwyane Wade even approach 50% in the pros, and
crossover moves aside, Turner's no D-Wade.)

Besides that, the Villain has also been tweeting up a storm, learning about the manipulativeness of girls (awww, Evan!!), singing along to the Backstreet Boys (does anyone actually think "Shape of My Heart" is a classic, though?) and begging for rides
to the Waffle House (bro, there's probably an IHOP within walking
distance). If the lockout continues, Evan and 'Dre might eventually have
a Russian novel between them, composed haltingly in 140-character
installments.

Jrue Holiday:

Now that he's done supporting girlfriend Lauren Cheney
on the US Women's Soccer team (losers), The Damaja is putting in time
for the kids out on the West Coast. The Sixers' point guard held his
first-ever kids basketball camp
in Porter Ranch, California this week, and is prepping another camp at
the SuperGym in Los Angeles in Early August. Featuring special guests
Shawn Marion and John Wall! Watch the awkward promo below. ("Sepulveda?") :

Oh, and not to be left out of the team's pop love on Twitter, he's also been quoting Drake, though saying you ain't went this hard since you was 18 doesn't mean so much when you were 18 like, a year ago.

Thaddeus Young:

The boy Thaddeus has perhaps the most
to anticipate about the lockout ending, given his imminent free agency
and his likelihood to demand a yearly salary in the high-seven /
low-eight digits on the open market. "I think I’m definitely underrated
by many people after all these years," Thad told HoopsHype
recently. "There’s a lot of different aspects to my game: I can take
guys
one-on-one, I can play guys out, I can dridbble… There’s a lot of
things I can do out there." There are indeed, but whether that's enough
for the Sixers to match whatever exorbitant offer he might end up
getting—under what might be a pretty restrictive salary cap by
then—remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Thad says that he'd "like to stay with
Philadelphia, the team drafted me," but qualifies that "my mindset is
that anything can happen." To be continued...

Spencer Hawes:

This guy did this:

Yikes. Basketball really can't get back here soon enough.

Eagles Stay or Go Part 5: Brandon Graham to Aaron Grymes

Eagles Stay or Go Part 5: Brandon Graham to Aaron Grymes

In the fifth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 5 is Graham to Grymes.

Brandon Graham
Cap hit: $7.5M

Roob: Interesting year for Graham, who got consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback and graded out as one of the most effective pass rushers in the league but managed only 5½ sacks. Hard to believe Graham is now entering his eighth season with the Eagles. He still has never had more than 6½ sacks in a season, but the pressure is there. I love his effort but would still like to see him finish when he gets a hand on the quarterback. He'll be here. The question is whether he can take his game to the next level and turn those hurries into sacks. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s hard to believe this is the same player who was once labeled a bust and completely written off by fans. Graham ended up having the best season of his career in Jim Schwartz’s defense and looked much more at home as a 4-3 defensive end. No, his sack numbers weren’t very high this year, but sacks don’t tell the whole story and that was the case with Graham. He was extremely disruptive and was the Eagles’ best defensive end. No-brainer. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dwayne Gratz

Roob: Back in 2013, Gratz was a third-round pick and a pretty good cornerback prospect for the Jaguars. He started 25 games over three years for the Jags before bouncing from the Jags to the Rams and Eagles last year. Considering the Eagles’ situation at corner, the Eagles have to give him a long look this offseason to see if there’s anything there. He didn’t get into a game after joining the Eagles late last year, but without even seeing him play, I’m prepared to call him the Eagles’ best cornerback. (That's kind of a joke, but not really.) The Eagles have so many needs and need so many receivers, corners and running backs that they can’t get them all through the draft and free agency. So I’m going off a hunch and saying Gratz makes the team next year. Just because somebody has to play cornerback and it can’t be the guys who were here last year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Gratz was added late in the year and never played. But he’s a former third-round pick and we’ll have to see what he can offer. He’ll likely be with the team in training camp and will have a shot, but probably not a great one. Honestly, it’s probably too early to call this one. 

Verdict: GOES

Dorial Green-Beckham
Cap hit: $944K

Roob: One of the Eagles’ bigger disappointments this past year, DGB took a big step backwards after a promising rookie year with the Titans. Now, the question is, how much was because he arrived late in the preseason, how much was because the since-departed Greg Lewis was his position coach, how much was his lack of familiarity with Carson Wentz? The Eagles are desperate for playmakers at wide receiver, and you can’t draft or sign an entirely new group. Considering DGB’s salary and cap figure — both are just $944,418 — I figure the Eagles will keep him around one more year just to see if there’s anything there. Maybe with a new coach and another year in this offense, he can help. I kind of doubt he'll ever become more than just a guy, but there's no reason for the Eagles not to keep him around another year to find out. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It didn’t take too long into this season to see why the Titans were fine with giving up DGB for reserve offensive tackle Dennis Kelly. I know many people have said they’ve seen all they need to see of Green-Beckham to know he can’t play. I’m not sold yet. I’m just not ready to give up on a 23-year-old receiver who is 6-5, 237. I know he doesn’t play well with his size, but I want to see him have a full offseason here and I want to see him work with a new receivers coach. 

Verdict: STAYS

Darrell Greene

Roob: Greene spent the year on the Eagles’ practice squad after a solid career at San Diego State. He’s got some size at 6-3, 320, and the Eagles are definitely uncertain at guard. But is Greene the direction they’re going to go for offensive line depth moving forward? Probably not. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Greene was on the practice squad, then off the practice squad, then on the practice squad, etc., in the beginning of the season when the Eagles had their practice squad revolving door. But they liked Greene enough to keep him around, although he never made his way to the 53-man roster. 

Verdict: GOES

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Cap hit: $540K

Roob: While longtime special teams stalwarts like Bryan Braman and Najee Goode may be expendable because of their high minimum salaries and diminishing effectiveness, a young kid like Grugier-Hill stays because he comes much cheaper and can still run around on special teams and make plays. For the most part, special teams is a young man's game. Grugier-Hill is also a young linebacker at a position in which the Eagles have very little youth outside of Jordan Hicks. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He’s pretty far down the list of linebackers on the depth chart but proved to be a good special teams player. Maybe he’ll never be any more than that, but for now, that’s good enough. He can make an impact as a teamer. 

Verdict: STAYS

Aaron Grymes

Roob: Honestly, I wouldn’t rule out anybody who plays cornerback. Grymes is a guy who had three good years in Canada and even played for the Grey Cup-champion Edmonton Eskimos in 2015. How much of that translates to the U.S. game, I don’t know, but other than seventh-round pick Jalen Mills, undrafted C.J. Smith and possibly journeyman Gratz (see above), there really aren’t any young corners on the roster, so a guy like Grymes will get every chance to make the team. None of us have seen enough of Grymes to know whether he can help, but I figure he’ll get a long look in training camp, but ultimately not survive final cuts. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Grymes impressed last training camp and probably would have had a good shot at making the initial roster had he not injured his shoulder. The Eagles are going to take a look at him again this spring and summer, but they’re probably going to completely revamp that entire position if they can. 

Verdict: GOES

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).