What a Judge's Decision Means to the Eagles and Trading Kolb

What a Judge's Decision Means to the Eagles and Trading Kolb

The first big step toward resolving the NFL lockout was taken on
Wednesday, when a Minnesota court heard arguments for a "preliminary
injunction" in the players' antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Basically, Judge Susan Nelson is being asked to lift the lockout because
the players—who are no longer unionized—believe the lockout is illegal
under antitrust laws, and will suffer "irreparable harm" if they are not
allowed to work. It's all here in this handy guide.

While Judge Nelson might be sympathetic to the cause of the players, admitting they appear to present a strong case,
she didn't seem to have Kevin Kolb's interests in mind. The court did
not make a decision at the hearing's conclusion, instead taking the case
"under advisement," and although a decision will be reached soon, Judge
Nelson said it would come in a couple of weeks. The NFL Draft begins on
April 28.

The date of the draft is important because assuming the Eagles intend
to trade Kolb for picks in 2011, the lockout first must end. A couple
of weeks, in its most literal translation, suggests a ruling will come
no less than eight days prior to the draft. Under that best case
scenario, it would give the front office precious little time to hammer
out a deal, and that's if the judge has reached a decision by then, or
sides with the players in the first place. Oh, and one more obstacle:
the league will appeal when the lockout is blocked, which could delay
the process for weeks.

So that means the Eagles are stuck with Kolb?

Not necessarily. Nobody really knows what is going to happen. The
players could win their injuction, and the court could end the lockout
even with an appeal pending. While that would leave only a small window
for the Eagles to negotiate a trade before the draft, it still should be
enough time to get something done. Plus, despite the fact that teams
can't officially swap players, there is no reason why they couldn't take
calls. The Inquirer's Jeff McLane reported two weeks ago that one team
at least has already offered a first round pick.

Should the lockout continue through the draft, the Eagles can still
unload Kolb before the season begins. It may not be ideal, but the
Eagles could accept draft picks in 2012. The fact of the matter is, they
are in a position where both Kolb and Mike Vick are scheduled to become
free agents next year (if this thing is over by then), and in lieu of
reaching an extension with one or the other (also impossible right now),
the club risks watching somebody walk away for nothing.

Even in the event of a protracted lockout lasting deep into summer,
the Eagles are in a position where they should strike a deal. There are
concerns over a player's trade value, particularly a quarterback, if
training camps open up late and teams are scrambling to get ready for
the season. Also, once the draft has been completed, fewer teams will be
in the market.

Not to say those factors wouldn't have any impact at all on Kolb's
value, but they don't completely preclude making a fair trade. The fact
is, there aren't enough available starting-caliber quarterbacks already
in the league or in the draft, so there will be teams looking to fill a
need there. In particular, clubs that employ a variation of the west
coast offense still make sense, because it wouldn't take as long to get
Kolb up to speed.

For instance, one increasingly interesting landing spot for Kolb
could be Cincinnati. Carson Palmer insists he is finished there, and
frankly, he is no longer very good. New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden
is installing a timing-based west coast offense, and former Eagles
quarterbacks coach Jay Urban recently joined the staff. That seems like a
comfortable fit for everybody, and with the extra picks from a
potential Palmer-to-Miami trade (or wherever), they could boldly skip
quarterback early in the draft and outbid the rest of the league later
for Kolb's services.

There are an endless array of possibilities, but most important, the
ongoing lockout and lack of an immediate ruling on the injunction in the
antitrust case have not vanquished the Eagles' options just yet. With
every day that passes, the chances of winding up with an extra first
round pick in this year's draft decrease, yet even that is not quite
lost. For now, we wait on the courts.

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.