NBA Trade Deadline Watch: Counting Down to 3 p.m. with the Still-Middling Sixers

NBA Trade Deadline Watch: Counting Down to 3 p.m. with the Still-Middling Sixers

The NBA trade deadline is set for 3 p.m. this afternoon.

This, typically, is one of my favorite days of the year, because there's nothing I love more than professional basketball teams trading troubled baggage.

Remember 2009 — when Raef LaFrentz's $13 million expiring contract was the most valuable asset on the market? That's the kind of world I want to live in all the time.

Dealings have been slow thus far, with only the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns getting together to (in order) acquire the No. 5 selection in last year's draft, shed some salary and reunite the Philly-born Morris twins for the price of a second-round pick.

And so, with mere hours to go, which of your Philadelphia 76ers is on the trade block? Kind of the whole team aside from Jrue Holiday. Grantland's Chris Ryan wants to restart the Andre Iguodala era with this fictional offer for Danny Granger.

Then again, no one would be surprised if the Sixers held steady until 3 p.m. As of last night, the team's phones were "pretty quiet."  As Adrian Wojnarowski just put it:



Either way, just for fun, here are five potential candidates to get shipped:

Nick Young: Swaggy is on a one-year, $6 million deal and has seemingly matured enough under Doug Collins that a team in need of scoring depth could want him to play for his fourth team in the last two seasons.

Dorell Wright: A similar circumstance. Dorell's $4 million comes off the books this summer and he's been less and less a factor for the Sixers as the season has gone on. Wright remains highly versatile and its unclear as to why he falls in and out of favor with head coach Doug Collins, but he's certainly not the first to have that happen. Wright is a cheap enough option with upside for the next few months.

Spencer Hawes: Teams are always in need of functional bigs, and Hawes is wrapped up in a neat little two-year deal that will pay him $6.5 million this year and next. Hawes isn't anyone's savior, but he's young and he's shown enough in flashes to entice some playoff-bound teams in need of short-term, cost-effective help in their frontcourt.

Royal Ivey/Damian Wilkins: Expiring throw-ins.

Really, unless they're called with something tempting, the Sixers are probably better off holding onto their own EC's to generate their own cap space.

The elephant in the room here is obviously Andrew Bynum, but his fate will be decided this summer and not this afternoon. The most likely scenario remains the Sixers staying put, continuing to wait for Bynum, and hoping they learn something from watching him play with this roster for a even a handful of games.

If the Sixers don't do anything today, they'll have almost $29 million (including Bynum) coming off the books this summer.

That sounds like good news, but here's the real question: Do you trust the Sixers, assuming they do not reach a new agreement with Bynum, with that kind of cap space?

Worst loss of the year for excuse-less Sixers against Magic

Worst loss of the year for excuse-less Sixers against Magic

Another new feeling for the rebuilding Sixers: The bad loss with no excuse. For at least one and possibly multiple seasons, there was no real such thing as an inexcusable L, because they were so never the favorite going into any game that their excuse could almost always be "the other team was better." But four wins and one transcendent player into this season, the Ballers actually do need an excuse for dropping a home game against a subpar team by double digits. And if they had one last night in their 105-88 loss to the Orlando Magic, they weren't telling the rest of us.

Really, this game couldn't have been teed up much better for Philly: We were home, well-rested after Wednesday's weird-ass cancellation, against a 7-12 team we nearly beat early in the season, who were on the second night of a back-to-back after ceding a tough one to the Grizzlies -- and we had Joel Embiid for up to 28 minutes. If this one was to be a laugher by early in the fourth quarter, you'd almost have to assume that it'd been the Sixers who put it to bed early. 

Instead, the Sixers slumped horribly from the field in the first quarter, missing bunny after bunny and plenty of open jumpers, as they dug themselves a hole they were never quite able to climb out of. Philly kept it manageable and D.J. Augustin and Nik Vucevic caught fire for Orlando in the third quarter, and the game was suddenly in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot territory before we could even process what was happening. 

Of course, you can't blame Embiid for this one. Though JoJo was a little out of sorts defensively on this one -- and personally, I really wish he'd stop trapping five feet outside the arc, it may cause panic in the Magic's ball-handlers but it really seems to compromise our own half-court D -- he still finished with a resounding 25-10-4 with three triples, and for the first time in his young career, 0 turnovers. (I coulda swore I saw at least one, but so says the box score, anyway.) Just another game for the Process, though the Sixers (for some reason) needed him to be immaculate last night, and he was merely phenomenal. 

Less phenomenal were the rest of the Sixers' shooters. Our bench in particular was absolutely putrid, going a combined 0-12 from three, with Nik Stauskas's streak of consecutive games with a three snapped at 15 after his scoreless, 0-6 performance. (Five assists for Sauce, at least.) Jahlil posted a dominant stat line of 16 and 13 (on 8-10 shooting) but was again hapless on defense, ending a team-worst -19 for the night. And Dario Saric's slumping continued with a 1-5 shooting outing with no rebounds or assists, likely his worst game of the season. 

It was a surprisingly listless effort from a team that should have looked much sharper, and the most positive non-Joel-related thing to be said about it is that it's (sort of) nice to finally have expectations high enough to have them let down. It'll be a lot harder for Philly to let down tonight against the Celtics, without JoJo, against a pretty good and mostly healthy Boston team. But that's five losses in a row already for the improving Sixers, and it'd be nice to cut off that streak soon, before it starts threatening double digits -- we could certainly do with being done with those for the forseeable future.

No longer feeling like a rookie, Wendell Smallwood more comfortable as lead back

No longer feeling like a rookie, Wendell Smallwood more comfortable as lead back

As the Eagles prepared to face the Green Bay Packers last week, rookie Wendell Smallwood readied himself for a big role.
 
Then he got just nine carries. 
 
It wasn’t that those carries went elsewhere, it was that the Eagles got away from the run game early in the 27-13 loss to the Packers despite being down one score for most of the game. Ultimately, he had half of the team’s carries. 
 
On Friday, head coach Doug Pederson said the disparity in play-calling didn’t have anything to do with having Smallwood as the lead back instead of Ryan Mathews. 
 
“Not really,” Pederson said. “Again, that's something – when I go back ask evaluate after the game – it's something I have to consider more of: Did I run the ball enough or throw the ball enough or not enough or did I do it too much, one way or the other. 
But no, that did not dispel anything, run or pass.”
 
For the second straight week, Mathews is out with an MCL sprain, which means Smallwood is preparing for a bigger role in the offense again. That could also mean his second career start in as many weeks. 
 
Having gone through this process last week has made this week even easier. 
 
“I think I'm very comfortable, more than I was last week,” Smallwood said. “I kind of knew I was going to have a lead role, kind of thinking about a lot, how to play better and take on the load that I was probably going to get. So this week, I think it was kind of natural for me, not really worrying about it.”
 
Smallwood, who was a fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, has 66 carries for 290 yards and one touchdown this season. Smallwood's average of 4.4 yards per attempt is sixth in the league among rookie with at least 60 carries this season. He also has the most rushing yards of any Eagles rookie since Bryce Brown in 2012. 
 
While the Eagles would probably have preferred to use Mathews more this season, the veteran has played just 53 more snaps than Smallwood. 
 
Does Smallwood even feel like a rookie anymore? 
 
“Nah, definitely not, definitely not,” he said with a smile. “Probably after Week 3 I stopped feeling like a rookie. And guys tell me all the time, 'we need you to play, we don't need you to be a rookie right now.' So kind of forced not to be a rookie.”