Monta Ellis a Good Trade Return for Andre Iguodala?

Monta Ellis a Good Trade Return for Andre Iguodala?

Amidst the reports last night that color-commentary announcer and former
NBA great (well, former NBA very-good at least) Mark Jackson had been
named the next coach of the Golden State Warriors, a second story
floated out of Golden State, reported by
the normally reliable Ric Bucher: That the Warriors were considering a
trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, sending them combo-guard scorer Monta
Ellis in exchange for do-everything swingman Andre Iguodala. An
anonymous source with "direct knowledge of Golden State's thinking" (of
course) reports to Buch that such a deal is "not imminent, but that it
has merits for both sides," while he himself notes that the two players
are close enough in salaries that the swap could be made without needing
additional players for sweeteners.

The proposed deal is so simple and efficient (sort of a loaded word
for this article's purposes, but more on that later) for the Sixers that
it positively took my breath away when I first heard about it. We here
at the level have long been members of the Trade Iguodala camp, no time
moreso than the present, and on the surface, dealing him for Ellis would
check most of the boxes we wanted out of a 'Dre trade. It clears room
at small forward for Turner and possibly Thad, it saves us some money
and cap space (more each year and about $11 million total over the next
three years) and it fills a need the team was sorely lacking, in terms
of getting a true #1-option, crunch-time-ready scorer. Not to mention
that it gets Iguodala to a team loaded with offensive talent that could
desperately use his defense and other secondary skills without demanding
him to do anything he can't. Win-win, right?

Well, maybe. While certainly worth discussing, the deal may not
quite be a slam dunk for the Sixers. Though Ellis had been one of the
league's elite scorers the last few seasons, averaging about nine points
a game more than anyone on the Sixers did last season, he comes with
his fair share of drawbacks. For one, at a listed 6'3" (and I'm not
positive he's not actually an inch or two shorter than that), he's
undersized for a shooting guard, but not quite enough of a floor-general
type to be a long-term solution at point, aside from the fact that we
have one of those already in Jrue Holiday. He's also a defensive sieve,
frequently listed as one of the league's least-effective players on that
end of the court, a gambler who perpetually ranks as one of the league
leaders in steals, but whose lack of fundamentals will likely drive
Coach Collins insane. And his 25 or so points a game come at a cost—a
relatively low FG% and high turnover rate, the latter of which would be
especially troubling for a team that led the league in lowest turnovers
last year.

What's more, a number of his strengths and weaknesses are eerily
reminiscent of those of a player already on the Sixers' roster—Sweet Lou
Williams, another positionally ambiguous scorer with questionable
decision-making and porous defense. In fact, Sixers blog Liberty Ballers
is so taken by the comparison that they actually wrote an article
proclaiming "Monta Ellis is Lou Williams,"
pointing out the stunning similarity in the players' statistical
profiles given their numbers Per 36 minutes. (Ellis's field goal
percentage is better, but Lou turns the ball over far less.) And it's
true that there'd be absolutely no way to play the two guards at the
same time—I'd tend to think that the two players' talents are so
redundant that bringing in Ellis would likely lead directly to the
Sixers searching for a trade partner for Williams, a move that we've
long-since welcomed anyway.

Despite the hesitance over at LB, I'm not sold that the comparison
is a completely fair one. For one, though the Per 36 numbers are
similar, Monta also led the league in minutes in last year at over 40 a
game, making his numbers far more difficult to sustain than Lou's were
over his 23 a game—not to mention that Monta was asked to do a whole lot
more on offense for his lottery-bound team than Lou was for his playoff
squad. Monta has also shown great strides since taking over as the
Warriors' primary scoring option, cutting down on his turnover rate,
improving his three-point stroke and boosting his assist tally, and
though he's been in the league for six years, he's still a pup at age
25. And while I hate to have to get all old-school basketball here, in
some sense I can't help but throw out the numbers alotgether—I've
watched both players play, countless games on TV and even a couple times
live, and everything I've seen tells me that Monta, one of the most
stunning players I've ever witnessed in his ability to get to the
basket, is just on another plane than Lou. I can't believe that he isn't
a gigantic upgrade at the SG position.

But is he the right fit for the Sixers? I don't know. It'd be an
identity-changing trade, one that could potentially have rough
consequences for the team's chemistry and cohesion, and cause some huge
problems for Coach Collins in his second year manning the bench. But it
would also get the Sixers a premium talent for the one area—scoring,
still kind of important—where they most lacked production last season,
without sacrificing anyone who was (or should have been) in the team's
long-term plans to begin with or messing with the team's core strengths
of youth and athleticism. Besides, at just $11 million a year, Monta's
highly reasonable contract would very likely be flippable elsewhere
should he prove a poor fit for the Sixers, making him much less of a
binding long-term financial commitment then certain other players at his
near-All-Star level, Iguodala included. And I'm telling you, as
frustrating as his occasional 7-24, 9-28, 11-32 shooting nights would
be, there are going to be nights where Ellis would absolutely set the
Wells Fargo Center on fire, providing offense on a level not seen in
Philadelphia since that other little guy with efficiency issues got
traded to Denver four years back.

As for whether or not Thorn and Stefanski should (or will)
ultimately pull the trigger on the deal, I'm still not sure. I'd first
like them to explore their options with Minnesota, who are in desperate
need of the kind of veteran, defensive help that Iguodala offers, and
have at various points been dangling the #2 pick in the draft, as well
as potential first-option scoring forward Michael Beasley (himself the
#2 pick a few years back) as bait for potential sellers. If we could
work out some sort of 'Dre-focused deal with the Wolves for one of those
two assets, I think they'd be a little more valuable and less
potentially destructive to the team than trading for Monta would be. But
if not, I think Iguodala-Ellis is a deal that definitely has its
advantages, and might be the kind of dice-roll that the team needs to
take in order to start moving towards taking that next step at a team.
At the very least, it would guarantee that next year would break the
team's streak of seasons where nothing but low-leverage, lateral moves
were made, and show that Thorn and Stefanski are willing to make moves
that might actually put their jobs in jeopardy should they not pan out.
It's a sign of life I'd like to see on occasion from our front office.

MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

052716_mackanin_slide.jpg

MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor started serving his suspension Friday for punching Toronto's Jose Bautista after the penalty was reduced from eight to seven games.

Odor was out of the lineup for the series opener against Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return June 4 when Texas is home against Seattle.

Bautista was suspended one game, and he was serving that Friday, when the penalty was upheld a day after his appeal was heard.

The Rangers promoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar from Triple-A Round Rock, and he was in the lineup against the Pirates as the leadoff hitter playing second base. Odor had been leading off.

Odor's penalty was cut by Major League Baseball special assistant John McHale Jr. The appeal over Odor's role in a May 15 brawl between the Rangers and Blue Jays was heard Tuesday. The league disciplined 14 players and staff over the melee in Arlington (see full story).

Red Sox: Struggling RHP Clay Buchholz to bullpen
TORONTO -- Struggling Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is being moved to the bullpen and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will take Buchholz's spot in the rotation, starting Tuesday at Baltimore.

Buchholz is 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA in 10 starts and has allowed five earned runs or more six times. He gave up season-highs of six runs and three home runs in Thursday's 8-2 loss to Colorado.

Rodriguez (right knee) is on the 15-day DL has not pitched for the Red Sox this season. He's 0-3 with a 3.54 ERA in five rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie in 2015.

Buchholz has made two career relief appearances, one in his rookie season in 2007 and another in 2008.

Manager John Farrell said Buchholz will make multi-inning appearances in order to remain stretched out and could return to the rotation later in the season.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

052716_okafor_noel_slide.jpg

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

BOX SCORE

TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It's the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn't play for the Boston Celtics.

"He's just a great player," Lue said. "He's a proven winner. He's always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered "Let's go, Raptors! Let's go, Raptors!" throughout most of the final three minutes.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

052716_wentz_slide.jpg

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the negotiations says the New York Jets made a three-year offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year.

That offer has remained on the table for Fitzpatrick, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is commenting publicly on the negotiations.

The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer Friday.

Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been locked in a contract stalemate. The 33-year-old quarterback is a free agent and coming off a season in which he threw a Jets-record 31 touchdown passes and led New York within a victory of the playoffs.

Both the Jets and Fitzpatrick have said they would like a reunion, but have unable to agree on a deal.

Bears: First-round pick Leonard Floyd agrees to deal
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears and first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd have agreed to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.

The Bears drafted the outside linebacker from Georgia with the ninth pick after trading up two spots in a deal with Tampa Bay. Chicago hopes he will add some athleticism to a team trying to build on a 6-10 season. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd led the Bulldogs in sacks for the third straight year with 4 , and tied for the team lead with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.

With the announcement Friday, the Bears have agreed to contracts with eight of their nine picks. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a third-rounder, is the exception.

NFL: Navy's Reynolds, Carter can defer military service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Keenan Reynolds will get his chance to play in the NFL this season.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Friday that the record-setting Navy quarterback Reynolds and fullback Chris Swain can defer their military service to play in the NFL.

Carter made the announcement during his graduation speech to the academy in Annapolis. As students cheered the news about their graduating classmates, Carter said: "Go get 'em."

Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. He is the NCAA's career leader in touchdowns with 88. He had 31 touchdown passes while leading Navy's triple-option offense. The Ravens plan to use him as a running back, receiver and kick returner.

Swain has signed with the San Diego Chargers (see full story).

Redskins: Activists criticize poll on team name
WASHINGTON -- Native American leaders and activists have criticized a recent US national poll that found nine of 10 Native Americans aren't offended by the Washington Redskins' name.

On a conference call held Friday by the National Congress of American Indians and "Change the Mascot" campaign, panelists voiced opposition to a Washington Post poll that surveyed 504 Native Americans, 90 percent of whom said the name doesn't bother them.

James Fenelon, a California State San Bernardino sociology professor, called the poll "immoral," adding it was not representative of Native American communities. Amanda Blackhorse, lead plaintiff in the trademark case against the Redskins, said the "misguided" poll will not affect attempts to change the name.

National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata said: "This issue is not about polling. This issue is about human rights."

D.C. council member David Grosso said he hadn't been swayed and that the government would not support the team moving back into the District unless the name was changed.

The team currently plays its home games in Maryland, with its headquarters and training facility in Virginia.