I Don't Recall Saying "Good Luck": Andrew Bynum Signs With Cavaliers

I Don't Recall Saying "Good Luck": Andrew Bynum Signs With Cavaliers

Well, that's that then. Apparently the Sixers' pitch to Andrew Bynum wasn't quite good enough, and now he's gone and signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bynum will join the Cavaliers' up-and-coming collection of top-five talent--#1 overall picks Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett, and #4s Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters--as a likely up-and-coming team in the Eastern Conference, and down the road, perhaps even a re-landing spot for LeBron James should he decide to forgo quintiple-peating or whatever with the Miami Heat.

Thus ends Andrew Bynum's time as a Philadelphia 76er, with a grand total of zero minutes played in the Red, White and Blue, and a tab of Andre Iguodala, two prospects and a future first-round pick that he will never collect on for the Sixers. We can't say we didn't have memories with Drew during his short time in Philly, but I think we all hoped those memories would be more about playoff wins and All-Star appearances than ridiculous haircuts and bowling tragedies. Nevertheless, he is gone, unlikely to ever return, and the Sixers franchise and fanbase has little choice but to suck it up and get over it.

Of course, this hardly comes as a surprise to Sixers fans, who had long since written off Bynum as a sunk cost, and in many cases, didn't even want the injury-ridden big man back in the fold. The acquisition of Sam Hinkie as GM and subsequent draft-night trade for Jrue Holiday were fairly large indicators that returning Bynum would not be an off-season priority for the team, and we here at the Level basically assumed they would only go after Drew if they felt they could get him for decently below market value. Two years for $24 mil is a pretty decent get for Bynum, however, and it was unlikely that Hinkie would match or best such an offer for the rebuilding Sixers. Adios, Andrew.

Some stiuplations do come with those figures for Bynum, however, as only $6 mil of the $24 total is guaranteed. That six is guaranteed for the first year, with the rest coming on player incentives, and the second year is a team option, which essentially means that Bynum is a one-year, make-good experiment for the Cavs, and they can wipe the slate clean in time to go after the big 2014 free agents if so desired. I'm a little surprised that a team like Dallas, whose backup plan to Bynum at this point is going after our other old friend Samuel Dalembert, didn't just throw a couple mil more his way for the season and just say what the hell, but whatever--everyone says this is the best deal Drew was getting, so may as well take it to play with Kyrie and company on a team with a virtually ceiling-less future.

Personally, I'll still probably root for him. I can't say Andrew Bynum's time as a Philadelphia 76er endeared him to me all that greatly, but I still don't really blame him for his missing the whole season, and I still think he's one of the league's more compelling talents (and more interesting personalities) when healthy enough for his eccentricities to not seem overbearing. If he wants to build something with the kids out in the Cleve, I say go for it. I'll be at least a little bit bitter if he's 100% healthy for the rest of his career and leads the Cavs to the upper echelon of the East as he was supposed to with the Sixers, but I'll be cursing the basketball gods more than Bynum specifically. At the end of the day, he really doesn't owe us anything.

Mostly, I'm just bummed that it never happened, that it's never gonna happen with the Sixers and Bynum. So much excitement, so much worry, so much emotional bargaining, all in the name of a payoff that never came. It's not gonna be easy to get over, but at least with the Sixers' new management, there's a plan in place for a post-Bynum future, and it's not inconceivable that in a couple years, we'll be much better set for the future than we ever would have been with Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday leading the way for the Liberty Ballers. Until then...well, let's all get used to a lot of losing, and a lot of watching college basketball and fantasizing about who the next guy to really get the Sixers to contention could be.

Philly Mayor goes to bat for Eagles fans, cheesesteaks against John Oliver

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HBO's Last Week Tonight

Philly Mayor goes to bat for Eagles fans, cheesesteaks against John Oliver

Charter schools. They're complicated!

After watching John Oliver's segment on them over the weekend, you'd agree there is plenty of nuance involved in the charter school debate. But also that some of them are dirty as all get out. An underground nightclub at a SCHOOL? Jeez. That can't be okay anywhere.

It's a solid segment. But it also took a couple of unneeded digs at the city of Philadelphia, its cuisine, and its sports fans.

That irked the Mayor of Philadelphia and he fought back today on Twitter.

"Agree on charter oversight but English soccer fan who eats fish from newsprint can't judge Eagles fans, cheesesteaks," Jim Kenney tweeted.

Take that you fish-eating Brit!

You can also watch the entire John Oliver segment from Last Week Tonight below.

On Eagles' roster bubble, Marcus Smith finally showing signs of improvement

On Eagles' roster bubble, Marcus Smith finally showing signs of improvement

Final cuts are a little over a week away. Marcus Smith is trying to impress a coaching staff that didn't draft him. Steven Means has had a very good preseason. Smith has little to show for his first two NFL seasons.

If time is running out on the former first-round pick from Louisville, it's not weighing on him.

"I try not to think about those things," Smith said. "Just go out there every single day and not worry about what's going on around me because everything will take care of itself."

Smith, in his first year as a 4-3 defensive end after struggling in two seasons as a 3-4 linebacker, missed the preseason game against the Bucs with a concussion but actually played very well Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with four tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry.

It didn't count. But it was the kind of performance the Eagles have been waiting for since they made Smith the 26th pick in the 2014 draft.

Smith played just 68 snaps as a rookie, getting more than seven snaps in only four games. Last year, he played five or fewer snaps in nine of 16 games.

But new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has given Smith every opportunity to shine, and he liked what he saw in Pittsburgh.

"The thing I'm most proud about with Marcus is that he's done a good job in the run game," Schwartz said.

"He's a very skilled athlete. He's fast and he's smooth. I think he was a quarterback when he first went to Louisville. I mean, that stuff shows. Where he's really making good improvement is setting the edge of our defense [and] attacking tackles.

"He did that against a physical group from Pittsburgh. That was a great sign."

Smith was asked about his run defense being an underrated part of his game, and he disagreed with the assessment.

"For myself, it's not an underrated part,  but everybody else thinks that it's underrated because they see me as just a pass rusher," he said.

"But I also know that I can play the run and stop the run and rush the passer at the same time, and when you have both those tools then it allows the coaches to be able to put you in the game more."

When the preseason began, it was just kind of a foregone conclusion that Smith's time in Philly had run out.

Now, he's battling not only for a roster spot, presumably with Means, but also for playing time behind defensive ends Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham.

Smith insists he's not worried about where he fits in on a roster that's loaded on the defensive line.

"I don't think about those things because if you think about things you can't control you tend to not do the things that you're supposed to do," he said.

"So I just worry about what I can control and just get better and play well."

Smith is on three special teams units — kickoff, punt and kickoff return — which gives him a few more opportunities to show he belongs.

More than anything, for the first time since he got to the NFL, he's brimming with confidence.

That, more than anything else, was missing the last two seasons.

"I feel really comfortable just because the scheme and the type of defense that we're playing, it allows me to just be a defensive end," he said.

"My confidence level is really high. I feel that when I'm out on the field I can't be stopped."

Russell Wilson still affecting Eagles' decision-making

Russell Wilson still affecting Eagles' decision-making

By now, most Eagles fans have probably heard stories that the team coveted Russell Wilson in the 2012 NFL draft but waited too long and wound up watching helplessly as he went to the Seahawks. Doug Pederson was just an offensive quality control coordinator with the Birds back then, but even he realizes how losing out on a franchise quarterback altered the course of history.

“If we’d have drafted Russell Wilson in 2012, we’d still be here as coaches,” Pederson said with a smile.

That's what Pederson told Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com, and there might be a bit of truth to it. Despite concerns over his stature, it turns out Wilson was an outstanding NFL signal-caller from the jump. And while he was surrounded by a dominant defense and ground attack, he likely would've been a winner just about anywhere.

Actually, Wilson may not have been good enough to save Andy Reid's head coaching job in Philadelphia or his staff — after 14 years, it was time, and an offensive line depleted by injuries was the real reason behind a 4-12 final season. Regardless, Pederson learned something from waiting too long on Wilson in the draft, and based on the Eagles' aggressive move for Carson Wentz this year, the organization did too.

Simply enough, if you like a quarterback, Pederson says, “Take him. Take him. Take the best available one. If you’re not planning for the quarterback position, you’re probably not going to win many games.”

...

“There’s a lesson there. Seattle, they felt like we did with Russell Wilson,” Pederson said. “We got Nick Foles right after that, and I love Nick Foles and think he’s gonna be a good quarterback in this league and do well for Kansas City. But if you’re not planning for that position ...”

For as much criticism or questioning as the Eagles have faced for their plan at quarterback this year, "take him" certainly was not the issue. In addition to all of players and draft collateral they gave up for Wentz, they also invested large sums of money into current starter Sam Bradford and long-term backup Chase Daniel.

If you think Pederson and executive vice president of personnel Howie Roseman's experience of missing out on Wilson didn't play a role in those moves, the head coach made it quite clear to the contrary. While Eagles fans would prefer the known quantity and proven Super Bowl champion under center, you can't say this regime hasn't done everything in its power to erase that mistake.