ESPN TrueHoop Extends Apology to Lavoy Allen

ESPN TrueHoop Extends Apology to Lavoy Allen

At the time, the dubious honor went somewhat under the radar, unless, of course, you were a Temple fan and/or a Lavoy believer from the start.
Back in August, ESPN's TrueHoop blog ranked the 500 best players in the NBA. As you may remember, or have heard by now, Sixers forward Lavoy Allen, who had been taken 50th overall in last year's draft, was ranked dead-last. No. 500.
Fast-forward nine months and Allen has become on a vital cog on a team one win away from reaching its first Eastern Conference Final in 11 years. As Lavoy's playing-time and contributions have increased over the course of the season, the list has regained a second life for those who wish to point out how wrong those rankings were.
Well, sensing he and his usually astute crew mucked this one up, the WWL's Henry Abbott recently paid Lavoy a visit to apologize. In his typical fashion, Lavoy played it off like it was nothing, just another part of having one of those "Lavoy Allen days" his coach wants so badly.

You can read the whole conversation here, though, in short, Allen says he grateful to have been last on the list because it garnered him more attention than if were, say, "No. 482." Rather than accepting an apology, Allen thanked Abbott for doing him a favor and getting his name out there.
While we're sitting here apologizing to Lavoy, I used to wonder during his college career if and where he might fit in the NBA. The one thought I kept coming back to was him locked in the post with Kevin Garnett. I would shake my head and think: "well, that would never end well." I also wrote on this site over a year ago that the most disappointing part of the end of his career at Temple was that I wouldn't be able to watch him reach his potential "when and where I could see it."
Now he's playing for the Sixers, D'ing up Garnett in this team's biggest playoff series in over a decade and doing a helluva job in the process. 
Anyone else have anything they wanna get off their chest before tonight's Game 7?
>>> Sorry, Lavoy [ESPN TrueHoop]

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

The Phillies made a couple quiet additions as the winter meetings ended, signing veteran outfielder Daniel Nava and lefty reliever Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts.

Nava, 34 in February, is a left-handed hitter who can play the outfield corners and first base. He came up with the Red Sox and became a fan favorite in Boston in 2010 as a 27-year-old rookie. Some Phillies fans will remember him for hitting a grand slam off Joe Blanton in his first major-league plate appearance.

Nava had a few decent years in Boston, the best of which was 2013, when he had 536 plate appearances and hit .303/.385/.445 with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 66 RBIs. 

Nava's numbers and opportunities have dropped every year since. He was designated for assignment by Boston in 2015, latched on with the Rays, signed the next year with the Angels and was traded late in the season to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons, Nava has hit just .208, albeit with an on-base percentage 99 points higher because of his 30 walks and 10 hit by pitches.

Burnett, 34, has spent five of the last seven seasons in the Nationals' bullpen. He had a 2.85 ERA in 283 appearances from 2009-12 and parlayed that success into a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Angels. However, he barely pitched in 2013 and 2014 for the Halos because of an elbow tear. He returned to the Nats last season and allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings.

Burnett, perhaps more so than Nava, has a chance to fill a role with the Phillies if he can stay healthy. He's shown he can get outs at the highest level, posting a 2.38 ERA in 2012 with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.14 ERA with 8.9 K/9 in 2010. That was a long time ago now, and Burnett's fastball has dipped from averaging 90-91 mph to 88.

According to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Burnett will receive a $1.25 million salary if he makes the team and can earn another $1.75 million in incentives based on his number of appearances.

Burnett has an opt-out date of March 26, meaning he can become a free agent a week before the regular season begins if it looks to him like he isn't in the Phils' plans.

Nava's chances at cracking the opening-day roster seem longer because the Phillies are expected to make more depth signings between now and the start of camp. They've prioritized finding some offense in the corner outfield and that could come in the form of more minor-league deals, a guaranteed contract or trade. One potential fit I examined last week was Mariners outfielder Seth Smith, a hitter more proven than Nava (see story).

These minor-league deals were commonplace for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak last offseason, when the only free agent he signed to a major-league deal was reliever David Hernandez. 

Last season, three players who were signed to minor-league deals with invites to spring training made the team on opening day: outfielder Cedric Hunter, utilityman Emmanuel Burriss and reliever James Russell.

Others, such as former closers Edward Mujica, Ernesto Frieri and Andrew Bailey, failed to make the team out of camp. Bailey eventually earned a call-up; the other two didn't.

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixers point guard and Meek Mill collaborator Lou Williams is enjoying quite the run off the bench for the Lakers recently.

Over Los Angeles' last four games, Williams has posted totals of 40, 38, 24, and 35 points. 

The six-man is averaging 34.5 points per game over the stretch, and his 137 points are the most off the bench in a four-game span by any player since 1970-71, when stats were first recorded, per Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN. Williams is now averaging 19.3 points this season, which is 4.4 more than his highest average with the Sixers.

Williams isn’t the only player who used to play for the Sixers that is playing well for the Lakers this year. Nick “Swaggy P” Young, who also comes off the bench, is averaging 13.3 points per game. Just a few weeks ago, Swaggy P stole a pass intended for Lou Williams, and then proceeded to hit a game winner against the Thunder. Swaggy P, however, is currently sidelined with a right calf strain, but is getting closer to a return.

"Lou Will" was also talked about last April during Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game, when he was beefing on Twitter with another former Philadelphia athlete, LeSean McCoy.