We should put Thaddeus Young's name in trade rumors more often

We should put Thaddeus Young's name in trade rumors more often

You never know how players are going to react to trade rumors. Sometimes the ego-bruising involved in being mentioned in them at all takes a while to recover from, as might the disappointment of such a deal ultimately not coming to fruition. The latter seemed it could have been a particular worry for our fed-up power forward Thaddeus Young, who reportedly asked for a trade several weeks ago, and was included in talks of an Omer Asik deal with Houston that never materialized before the Rockets' self-imposed Dec. 19th deadline came and went.

All credit to Thad, though, since rather thank going in the tank post-Asik deadline, the no-deal appears to have had the exact opposite effect on him. In the four games since Dec. 19th, Thaddeus Young has simply been one of the best frontcourt players in basketball, with numbers that are almost beyond belief: 27.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.5 SPG, and all on 55% shooting and 65% from three. The numbers of his last four performances--in which the Sixers went 2-2, by the way--have raised his season averages to about his career norms, nullifying the uncharacteristically slow start he was off to this season.

The most staggering part, of course, is the three-point shooting. Thad has never shot over 35% for a season, and has generally been seen as a subpar outside shooter for his career, but he's been so friggin' hot these last four games that he actually hit ten three-pointers in a row at one point. Ten in a row! That's two more total than he made the last three seasons combined! In a season of super-unlikely happenings...well, it still might not crack top five for this dumbstriking Sixers team, but it's probably top ten at least.

Perhaps just as incredible for Thaddeus, though, were the back-to-back 30-point, ten-rebound games in road losses to the Bucks and Suns. Not only were they the very first two 30-point, ten-rebound games of Thad's six-plus-season NBA career, but they mark the first time that a Sixer has had back-to-back 30-point/ten-board games since Charles Barkley back in 1992, and only the second time that any player has had two such consecutive games this NBA season. (Though remarkably, both Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant have done it in the handful of days since--good players.)

It would appear that rather than sulk his way through what might be his final days as a 76er, Thaddeus Young has instead decided to force the Sixers' hand by raising his trade value to unforeseen heights with his super-awesome play of late. Don't think I can be a stretch four? Fine, Thad says, HERE'S TEN GODDAMN THREE-POINTERS IN A ROW I'M EVEN BANKING 'EM IN I CAN'T EVEN MISS WHEN I WANT TO. Production slipping a bit? Fine, Thad says, HERE'S ALL OF THE POINTS AND REBOUNDS TAKE 'EM I DON'T EVEN WANT 'EM ANYMORE. If he really wants to be traded, this is just about the constructive way Thaddeus could hit us over the head with that point.

So, who wants to leak the reports that Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes have demanded to be packaged together in a trade? We could use some ET hot shooting streaks and weird big-man triple-doubles.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration --- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos.

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Latest on a fatal traffic crash in Arizona involving a Dallas Cowboys bus (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

Four people were killed when a Dallas Cowboys bus collided with a van in Arizona.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr says all the fatalities in the Sunday crash were passengers in the van.

Mehr didn't say what led to the crash on U.S. Highway 93 in western Arizona.

Dallas Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple says the bus had no players, only staff members on board. They suffered "bumps and bruises."

According to the Department of Public Safety, the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman.

The bus was en route to Las Vegas for an afternoon fan event where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

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6:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the Dallas Cowboys says passengers on a team-owned bus escaped serious injury in a collision with another vehicle that killed at least one person in Arizona.

Team spokesman Rich Dalrymple says people on the bus suffered only "bumps and bruises" in the Sunday crash on U.S. Highway 93.

Dalrymple didn't say if any players or staff were onboard the bus.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, in western Arizona.

The agency said it was a fatal crash but couldn't immediately confirm the number of people killed.

The bus was heading to an afternoon fan event in Las Vegas where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.