The Sixers have one week to extend Evan Turner -- What are their options?

The Sixers have one week to extend Evan Turner -- What are their options?

The Sixers' three biggest preseason storylines involve Lavoy Allen missing practice, their future franchise centerpiece who probably won't play at all (which no one minds) and the creation of Team Whop.

Two things:

1. There's really, truly, sadly, but sort of gloriously, very little of note to report.
2. And even the relevant contract talk isn't happening.

So we'll dive into it here.

The Sixers have until Oct. 31 -- that's one week -- to extend Evan Turner and exercise team-options on Arnett Moultrie, Tony Wroten and Royce White for the 2014-15 season (next year).

White, Molutrie and Wroten would all become unrestricted free agents at season's end if not retained within the next week. If the Sixers choose to exercise their options, they'll all continue the normal course of their rookie deals. A few small notes on each before we get into the real reason we're discussing this (Turner):

  • Moultrie: The Sixers traded a future first-round pick to draft Moultrie 27th overall in 2012 after taking Moe Markless with their own pick. Moultrie spent his rookie season rehabbing from an ankle injury, then not playing, then not playing because he was overweight, and then finally he played a little. He's now out until some time after the new year with another ankle injury. He's due to make $1.1 million next year if kept, which is basically nothing on a team full of guys making basically nothing. Should the Sixers fail to make the playoffs in each of the next two seasons, the future first-rounder owed to Miami becomes two second-rounders. However it works out for the Sixers, this was a smart trade by the Heat, who turned a pick they couldn't afford into a future asset.
  • Wroten: Quiet offseason addition from Memphis acquired in exchange for enough cash to keep Zach Randolph's snack machine stocked through December. Former Pac-12 freshman of the year. Upside. Will contribute this season.
  • White: All reports are that White was acquired because the Sixers wanted a Turkish guy named Furkan Aldemir, and they knew they could get out of White's salary. We'll see.

Now, to the real point ...

AU did a nice job a couple weeks back looking at Turner's game and how it may or may not fit what Brett Brown and Sam Hinkie are trying to do. That's the basketball side of things. As for the money, the Sixers have the following options:

1. Extend Evan Turner by Oct. 31
This is what they did with Jrue Holiday last year after the home opener, giving him a four-year, $44 million deal. Tyreke Evans, the No. 4 pick in the 2009 draft, was not extended by the Kings last season, but was traded to New Orleans this summer, and signed Holiday's exact same deal: four years, $44 million. Derrick Favors -- who went No. 3 in Turner's draft and was one of the Sixers' options in the pu-pu platter that followed John Wall -- just signed a four-year, $49 million extension with the Jazz last week. DeMarcus Cousins, No. 4 in the platter, just got a (potentially disastrous) four-year, $62 million commitment. Larry Sanders, who many casual basketball fans have never even heard of, managed to secure himself ... you guessed it, four years, $44 million.

You may see a pattern here. Those guys -- two of whom were picked directly after Turner -- are all making upwards of $11 million per, and probably aren't getting their teams any closer to a title for that amount of cash. Turner wouldn't either.

Now, take a look at Jrue vs. Evan in their third NBA season. These are Evan's numbers from last year and Jrue's from the year before his extension:

  • Turner: 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 41.9 FG, 36.5 3FG
  • Holiday: 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 43.1 FG, 36.8 3FG

The likely scenario here is that Hinkie and the Sixers have no intention of paying Turner what he would ask for right now, and that Turner and his agent, David Falk, will use the 2013-14 season -- during which Turner could be a "good stats on a bad team" guy -- to boost his value for next summer.

Asked about a possible extension before the deadline, Turner admitted as recently as last week that there has been no contact between the Sixers and Falk. ProBasketballTalk named a post "Evan Turner isn’t worrying about contract extension he won’t get."

All of this assumes Hinkie and Co. have any interest in him at all long-term. And that's a bit of a leap when you look at Turner's advanced metrics -- or even his shot chart.

2. Make Turner a qualifying offer after the season
Should they opt not to extend him, the Sixers will have until June 30 to make Turner an $8.7 million qualifying offer after the season ends. A qualifying offer makes Turner a restricted free agent, meaning the Sixers would have the right match any deal he's offered by another club, or let him walk.

3. Don't offer at all
And then Turner hits the open market next season unrestricted, likely ending his tenure with the Sixers.

A whole lot can change between now and June 30, but the clock on Evan's future with the Sixers is currently counting down to next Thursday.

The Sixers open the season next Wednesday at home against the Miami Heat.

Temple QB Phillip Walker provides leadership, offensive spark as Owls beat Charlotte

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Temple QB Phillip Walker provides leadership, offensive spark as Owls beat Charlotte

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Temple quarterback Phillip Walker rolled on the ground in pain after taking a shot late in the first quarter and was immediately forced to the sideline.

With the Owls already trailing and their starting QB’s shoulder dinged up, things certainly weren’t going how the team envisioned opening up its homecoming game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

“It’s a nagging injury that comes and goes,” Walker said.

The pain was able to quickly go away, and then the Owls were able to go off.

Walker returned after a one-play absence to throw a deep touchdown pass and spark 28 unanswered points by Temple during the second quarter of a 48-20 win over Charlotte (see Instant Replay).

The Owls (2-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) evened their record with the win before opening up AAC play next week against SMU.

“It was big for us just because we needed to get going offensively,” Walker said of his beautiful 51-yard touchdown pass to Adonis Jennings on the first play of the second quarter. “We knew it would happen. It just takes time. A lot of people come with the same energy every game at the beginning of the game. Just let that energy wear off a little bit. Once you get your opportunity, then you take your shots and make your plays as an offense.”

The Owls’ offense made plenty of plays during that big second quarter. 

A couple of possessions after Walker’s TD pass gave Temple back the lead, the Owls got a gift when Charlotte (1-3, 0-0 Conference USA) quarterback Kevin Olsen and running back Kalif Phillips botched a read-option exchange. The fumble was scooped up by TU defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike and returned 20 yards to the 49ers’ 13-yard line. On the very next play, Jahad Thomas scampered around the left side for a touchdown.

Temple’s defense then forced a three-and-out to get the ball right back for Walker, who connected with Brodrick Yancy on a 40-yard score to break the game open.

Ryquell Armstead tacked on a one-yard touchdown plunge right before halftime to give the Owls a 31-7 advantage at the break.

In all, the Owls outscored the 49ers 28-0 and outgained them 176-66 during the period.

“Once we got the turnover, we had another opportunity in the red zone to make something happen and we did,” Walker said. “Give us the ball in the red zone, we have to capitalize off of it and we have to be able to make a play.”

“I thought the turnovers and field position started helping hitting the big play,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule said. “I just think we kind of settled down on offense, got into a rhythm. I think you’re seeing that we’re able to get our quarterback into a rhythm and he’s playing pretty well.”

Temple got contributions from several key players on offense to rack up 507 total yards and 26 first downs in the victory. Thomas and Armstead each had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Eight different players caught passes with five reaching at least 40 yards, including sophomore wideout Yancy, who had four receptions for 70 yards and a score.

However, it all starts with Walker as he continued to build on the momentum he found last week against Penn State. Walker completed 15 of 26 attempts for 268 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The senior quarterback is starting to hit his stride at the right time with conference play coming up and his teammates are following his lead.

“He likes throwing the ball. The more we catch the ball for him the more it makes him look good, makes others look good and allows us to run the offense the way it can be run,” Yancy said.

“He’s been productive,” Thomas said. “Definitely coming into the season he was talking about his completion percentage. He’s a senior now. He feels more comfortable just getting his feet set. When you don’t have people breathing down your neck all the time you can be comfortable out there, so I’m quite sure that’s the reason why he’s playing so well in the last two games.”

With the defense still showing some warts (429 total yards allowed to Charlotte, including 231 on the ground) and the meat of the schedule coming up with conference play, Temple will be counting on Walker to keep his game at a high level to help the Owls defend their East Division crown.

“Looking forward to it,” Walker said of opening up the AAC portion of the schedule. “There are a lot of great teams in this conference. I think this conference can go either way whether it’s anyone from the West or anyone from the East. There’s a lot of great talent. We just have to bring our A game every week. We’ve got a long stretch here, so we just have to come out here and play our game.”

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

The final eight games remaining on the Phillies’ 2016 schedule will undoubtedly serve as a farewell to Ryan Howard.

Lost in the background may be the fact this week could quite possibly be the end for the man who was supposed to platoon alongside him this year, as well: Darin Ruf.

Both men have been supplanted by Tommy Joseph, who's hit 21 home runs in just 100 games this year while positioning himself as the Phillies first baseman of the near future.

Ruf will start Saturday night against Mets’ lefthander Sean Gilmartin. The Phillies are not scheduled to face a lefty starter for the rest of the season, so Saturday could be one of the final chances to see Ruf in a Phillies uniform, especially considering manager Pete Mackanin’s stated intent to give Howard more playing time down the stretch.

“It seemed like we never faced a lefty for the first month of the season. So that didn’t help Ruf at the time,” Mackanin said.  “Joseph entered the picture and made an immediate impression.”

Ruf’s departure from the majors set the stage for Joseph’s immediate emergence. At the time of his May 13 demotion to AAA Lehigh Valley – and Joseph’s promotion -- Ruf was had a .158/.206/.193 slash line.
  
Since his Sept. 1 return to the majors after rosters expanded, Ruf has done what he can to make sure his possible final season in a Phillies uniform ends on a high note. On Friday night, he drilled a home run to left center off Mets reliever Josh Smoker in pinch-hit duty, the first time Ruf had gone yard since Oct. 1, 2015.

“It felt good,” Ruf said about ending his home run drought. “You just try to simply things and last night it worked out for me.”

Where Ruf will be next year is a more complicated matter, as the 30-year-old is out of minor league options. Japanese scouts were spotted at the games he played for AAA Lehigh Valley.

With Lehigh Valley, Ruf received an opportunity he’s never truly been able to get with the Phillies due to the longstanding presence of Howard: a chance to play every day and consistently accumulate plate appearances. He hit .294/.356/.529 in 390 trips to the plate for the IronPigs. 

Ruf has never made more than 300 plate appearances in a major league season and would struggle to crack that number if he remains in Philadelphia as a backup to Joseph, who will still be 25 on opening day next year.

“I learned [this year] that you can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Ruf said. “You’ve just got to keep working to get better every day, got to put up numbers no matter where you’re at in order to get to where you want. 

“Hopefully, wherever I’m at next year, I can do that.”