On Kolb to the Cardinals...

On Kolb to the Cardinals...

The nice thing about the new team pages is we can comment on stories we otherwise might not have in the past. This is one of those. (As it turns out, it made the main page after all.)

We actually did post about Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald, and how the Cards' front office supposedly solicited the star's input on their quarterback situation several months ago. Legend has it Fitz lobbied for Kevin Kolb and other veteran signal callers, though the report was later refuted in its entirety.

But wouldn't you know it, the draft came and went, and Arizona failed to address the canyon-sized hole they have under center. I mean, they didn't draft ANYBODY, and Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton were their quarterbacks last year. That's quite the collection. Needless to say, if they weren't one of the prime candidates to trade for Kolb before, they certainly are now.

The latest bit of gossip comes from an Adam Schefter report on ESPN's NFL Live, where the newsman announced the Eagles' backup QB is destined for Arizona.

“Kevin Kolb is going to get dealt from Philadelphia, most likely going to be to the NFC West, and right now all signs point to Arizona.”

Schefter isn't exactly going out on a limb here--if the Cardinals aren't feeling desperate, they should be--but wow. All signs... that's, like, all of them. Or is it?

The Bulger Problem

The other name we keep hearing in Arizona, and the other allegedly mentioned by Fitzgerald, is former Rams QB Marc Bulger. Bulger finally washed out in '09 after years of injuries and playing on crappy teams. He wound up a backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore last season, his best days seemingly behind him.

Nonetheless, various reports are putting Bulger in Cardinal red via a verbal agreement, but that doesn't necessarily preclude them from the Kolb discussion.

At this point, the idea anybody would be relying on a 34 year old quarterback whose last and arguably only quality season was back in 2006 sounds absurd. Perhaps it's a sign of how hard up some teams are for passers, or maybe they are hoping Bulger can come in and be Kolb's backup next. It could be an emergency option too, in case they are unable to land Kolb for one reason or another. Whatever the case, Bulger as the planned starting quarterback on day one anywhere is more than a little hard to swallow.

Kolb for Peterson?

If this site had a Frequently Asked Questions section, "Why do the comments show up in reverse order?" would be followed by, "Will the Eagles exchange Kolb for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft?" The theory is Arizona management selected the top incoming cornerback prospect with a wink toward Philly's front office.

First off, let's be clear that I don't think this would be a good swap for the Cardinals, and seriously doubt they really had that in mind. Kolb is clearly worth a first round pick, but fifth overall? That's steep, especially when it winds up being arguably the best prospect in the entire process. Essentially, it's one player who might be a franchise quarterback for one who might be a future Hall of Famer?

Whether you think you can justify that or not, it may not even be possible. Under the rules in the expired collective bargaining agreement, each team is allowed a "rookie salary pool," or cap, based on where their selections were made. Basically, if those rules were to remain in place after all this lockout drama ends, the Eagles won't have a high enough ceiling to get Peterson signed. Sam from Igglez Blitz goes into greater detail on the topic.

The other possibility we hear is the Cards sign Peterson, then complete the transaction with Philly. Really, you think Joe Banner or any team president would let another team negotiate with a player for them? I guess (and I'm not clear on whether that would comply with the rule either), but it might be time to admit Arizona was simply taking the best player on the board, and this particular trade would be a stretch to say the least.

Seattle still in the Cards, and all the rest

Notice Schefter did leave for the possibility Kolb could still wind up elsewhere, and did specify in the NFC West. Since San Francisco snagged their quarterback in the second round, and the Rams are married to Sam Bradford, that pretty much leaves the Seahawks.

Seattle is definitely a sensible landing spot for Kolb, as they have been trying to transition away from Matt Hasselbeck. Some people might point out they were burned swapping seconds and sending a third rounder to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst last year, and that may very well be the case, but it wasn't necessarily a large enough investment to block a move for another quarterback.

In all honesty though, they may not be the only club remaining that can get involved. Most notably, the Dolphins did not replace Chad Henne as many thought they would. However, they have been tied to Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer. The Bills are weak under center, but may not be the most likely players due to the fact they are a perpetually rebuilding, small market franchise. And again, there are the Redskins, but I'm not sure the Birds would be as quick to send a young quarterback to the division rival.

So looking at the list of potential suitors, Arizona and Seattle still appear to be the most likely. It could also be some of the other teams haven't jumped into the fray simply because they are waiting for the lockout to end.

Whatever is really going on behind the scenes, we are hearing one team already has a 2012 first rounder on the table for Kolb. Andy Reid is naturally denying, but smoke equals fire. The Cardinals need a quarterback in the worst possible way, and the Eagles need to part with a quarterback in the worst possible way. It may be only a matter of time now.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”