So This is Christmas: NBA War is Over

So This is Christmas: NBA War is Over

I could only look at HoopsHype.com this morning with one squinted,
hesitant eye open, mere seconds after stirring from bed after
remembering that there was the slightest of chances that the greatest
pre-Christmas gift of ever could have been waiting for me on the
internet. My dad, forever the voice of reason on sports-related matters
(as in most other things), had cautioned me the night before that if
resolution was to be reached in this new round of last-ditch lockout
discussions, it probably wouldn't be until after the weekend, and he was
probably right—but still, before I went to sleep I had read some
anonymous source quoting some anonymous source saying that some other
anonymous source had said that both sides really wanted to get a deal
done tonight. Could it be?

And then as I opened my eyes this morning to confirm, there it was:
DONE DEAL. (This was similar but much more affirmative than last night's
extremely misleading headline, "DEAL DONE," as in, "Players and owners
would like to have a ______.") The settlement deal still needs official
approval from both sides (15 of 29 owners, 226 of 450 players), there
are still some minor issues that need resolving (drug testing, D-League
assignments) and some owners and players are still not feeling the deal,
but consensus opinion appears to be that the deal will pass, and that
basketball action should officially tip off on December 25th. ("There
will be a significant number of players who will not vote to approve
this deal, but there won't be a majority," tweets NBA scribe Adrian Wojnarowski. "The deal will pass.")

So
what does this mean for the Sixers? Well, with a shrinking salary cap, a
more punitive luxury tax, and a reduced mid-level exception, all of
which appear to be conditions of the new CBA agreement, the Sixers are
going to have even less elbow room for team re-building than the
salary-tapped Liberty Ballers did before. (No official word about
whether there will be an amnesty clause included in this agreement, but
if there is, the Sixers would get the advantage of possibly being able
to waive the remainder of Elton Brand (2 years / $35 million) or Andres
Nocioni (1 year / $6.5 million) from their books.)

Meanwhile, with free
agency projected to only be a week-long period this off-season, starting
in early December, and with a number of teams likely gun shy over
dealing in the new CBA, it seems less probable that restricted free
agents Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young will end up jumping ship, for
better or worse.

But only one thing really matters at this
point: There will (probably) be a Sixers season after all. We don't know
exactly where or when—the first game scheduled after Christmas would be
in Sacramento on the 26th, but in all likelihood they'll have some
earlier games squeezed in before that—but as long as 'Dre, Elton, The
Villain and the Damaja (not to mention Couch Dougie in his second year)
are involved, we'll certainly be watching.

It's the best
Thanksgiving/Christmas present we could have possibly asked for.

Howard Smith-US Presswire

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

ap-cj-sapong-union.jpg
Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The good news for the Phillies on Saturday was that it finally seems All-Star Odubel Herrera's bat is returning to its typical, productive form.

The centerfielder had his second straight three-hit game Saturday as he continued to pull out of his slump, though it wasn’t enough to keep the Phillies from losing 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of a three-game series at PNC Park (see Instant Replay).

Yet Herrera’s suddenly hot bat gave the Phillies some reason to feel good on a day when another player who the organization believes can be a foundation player backslid. Right-hander Aaron Nola (5-9) took the loss as he allowed six runs and six hits in four-plus innings.

The bad Nola returned after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous outing Monday against the Miami Marlins. Prior to shutting down the Marlins, Nola allowed a combined 30 runs in five starts while failing to get past the fourth inning four times.

“When he’s at his best, he has control of all his pitches,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s lost his control and he needs to a find a way to get it back.”

However, Herrera improved to 6 for 9 in the series by going 3 for 4 with a triple, two runs scored and two stolen bases. He had been 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games before coming to Pittsburgh, a skid that dropped his batting average to .281 from .300.

“It was getting pretty ugly for about a week there, so it feels good to get some hits,” Herrera said. “That’s my job, to get hits, be successful and help the team win. I really don’t go into too many slumps, so it’s hard to try to fight your way through it and stay positive. When I get a hit, I am happy.”

Herrera is now hitting .290 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 98 games.

There had been a school of thought that making his first All-Star Game appearance July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego might have had an effect on the 24-year-old. The schedule for the players during the festivities is basically non-stop for two days and then Herrera had to fly across the country to rejoin the Phillies in Philadelphia for the second half of the season.

“I was concerned it might have an effect on him,” Mackanin said. “It was the first time he had participated in an even of that magnitude and it can be hard to refocus after that.”

Herrera, though, said he is not sure how much being an All-Star played into his cold spell.

“Maybe it did,” Herrera said. “It was a busy couple of days there. I don’t know what to compare it to because I hadn’t been before. Obviously, I didn’t have the same chance to rest as a lot of other players, so it could have had an effect. However, playing in the All-Star Game was a great experience and I am glad I had a chance to be there.”

If Herrera plays like he has the last two games, Herrera figures to appear in more Midsummer Classics before his career is through.

“He has the ability to win a batting title,” Mackanin said. “He’s that good of a hitter. He’s a smart hitter. When pitchers start adjusting to him, he adjusts back. I only see him getting better.

“Then you throw in that he played a heckuva center field and it’s just an impressive total package."