Why aren’t the Eagles trading for [Player Z from Mars]?

Why aren’t the Eagles trading for [Player Z from Mars]?

Two-time All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd is stuck in Buffalo playing on a one-year deal thanks to the franchise tag, and he seemingly wants out. The Eagles are desperate for so much as a capable safety, so why doesn’t general manager Howie Roseman pick up the phone and make that call?

The Cleveland Browns just shipped out running back Trent Richardson last week, and if the third-overall pick of the 2012 draft is available, why not freakish wide receiver Josh Gordon? Riley Cooper is a distraction and can’t get any separation from opposing corners anyway, so it seems somebody like Gordon could help.

It’s not uncommon for fans to look around the league and identify players that might better the team they root for. Some thoughts are better than others—you do realize Kennry Britt only has five receptions for 43 yards this season, right?—but there’s no question there are players on the trade block who might be able to help the Birds right now.

The Eagles have pieces they aren’t making much use out in the form of Nick Foles, Bryce Brown, and Vinny Curry for example, not to mention next year’s draft picks. So enough beating around the bush, just what is this front office waiting for?

While he isn't allowed to delve into specifics per league rules, Roseman did address some of these questions on Monday, as reported by Zach Berman for the Inquirer:

"I wouldn't say anything is a non-starter for us," Roseman said. "If there's an opportunity for us to improve our team now and going forward, we're open to doing that. I think it's hard to trade draft picks. We want to build this the right way. We want to get our own players. But to make a statement that we won't trade draft picks - if it makes sense, we'd be open to anything for our team."

"We want to keep our talented players on our roster," Roseman said. "We're not looking to move our players. We want to compete right now. We're trying to build it the right way, but we're trying to be competitive."

The problem with swapping for a player like Byrd or Gordon is they won’t come cheap. Teams want high draft picks in return, not players—all of Foles’, Brown’s, and Curry’s limbs put together aren’t worth as much as a second-round pick at this moment in time—which means the Eagles would have to give up one or multiple valuable selections to acquire a quality player.

Keep in mind the Eagles no matter what else Roseman said in that interview have a rebuilding mindset at the moment. Nobody thought the team was a Super Bowl contender coming into this season, and I doubt any of those potential moves would change many minds. Meanwhile, they need those picks next year to continue improving the roster.

Byrd, 26, and Gordon, 22, could improve the Birds now and for the future… in theory. But Byrd will be a free agent at season’s end, which means he could possibly be had without giving up picks, or he could potentially leave. Gordon meanwhile still has a lot to prove at this level, plus he violated the NFL’s drug policy and is one strike away from a one-year suspension—let's not forget Jeremy Maclin could be back in midnight green next season as well.

It’s a lot more complicated than making the call. There’s a good chance neither of those players will move for less than a second-round pick, and as it stands today, the Eagles could have a good one come April.

You’re just going to have to be patient, Eagles fans. Not that this season is over, but you have to look beyond these next 13 games and think where the roster could be one or two years from now after a couple of drafts and a little more free-agent spending. They have a better chance of getting back to being a perennial contender by staying the course than they do hauling off other teams’ unwanteds.

But hey, the NFL trade deadline is still over a month away, and Howie did say there aren’t any non-starters. So he’s saying there’s a chance.

>> Don’t count on any Eagles trade, Roseman says [Inq]

Robert Covington, Sixers show 'swagger' without Joel Embiid in comeback win

Robert Covington, Sixers show 'swagger' without Joel Embiid in comeback win

BOX SCORE

The Sixers began the season looking lost without Joel Embiid. Now they are finding ways to win when he is not on the court. 

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion in the second half of Friday’s 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers (see story). He was sidelined for the decisive 8:50 of the game (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers trailed, 81-78, when he subbed out for the second time because of the injury, and outscored the Trail Blazers, 15-11, from that point on.

So how was this team that battled with inconsistency and reliance on Embiid able to pull out a comeback win punctuated in the final seconds? Ask the Sixers and they’ll give varying answers, a sign they are getting the job done in multiple ways and aren’t relying on just one key to success.

The most glaring difference was the hero of the game. Robert Covington drained two three-pointers in the final 40 seconds. His trey from Dario Saric with 38.2 remaining cut the Trail Blazers' lead to just one, 91-90. With 4.5 to go, he nailed the game-winning three from T.J. McConnell to give the Sixers their eighth victory in 10 games (see feature highlight).

“That’s resilient Cov,” Nerlens Noel said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a good shot or a bad shot; he’ll pull it in your face. That’s the confidence he has and that’s the confidence we need him to have. He steps up and makes two big shots like that, that’s enough said. He won us that game.”

Critics have called out Covington’s up-and-down performance from three all season. (They’ve made their feelings known with loud boos at home games.) Covington shot 5 for 12 behind the arc on the night but his 2 for 3 performance in the fourth was what mattered most. 

“I am a fighter, that’s what I have been my whole life,” he said. “Just because fans are booing me at one point doesn't mean anything. I just keep working. I am not going to let that deteriorate my game. It goes in one ear and out the other.”

Without Embiid in the game, the Sixers had to rely on a total team effort. After he went to the bench, the final points were scored by a combination of Covington, Gerald Henderson, Noel, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and McConnell.

“Ball movement,” head coach Brett Brown said. “We had 25 assists out of 36 made baskets. It’s not like we’re going to give the ball to Damian Lillard (guard for the Blazers). That’s not who we are. Whatever we do, it has to be done by committee, by a group, by a team. It’s even more exposed when Joel isn’t in the game. They did that. Unlikely people ended up with the ball sometimes in unlikely spots. … You have to move the ball. That’s what the team has learned without Joel.” 

Several of the players on the court in critical moments were from the second unit. Since Brown locked in on his rotation, the reserves don’t have a drop-off in confidence from the starters. 

“It’s the mentality,” Covington said. “Everybody has that swagger about us right now because once Joel comes out, the next person steps in and fills that void. It’s a matter of that contagious feeling that trickles into the second unit that’s making us that much more valuable.”

Then there's always defense, the foundation of any solid NBA team and a focal point for the Sixers. Noel saw that as the difference-maker when subbing in and out. The Trail Blazers scored just two points in the final 1:56. 

"The second unit goes there and does a great job guarding the yard, not letting up easy baskets," Noel said. "The offensive side is fluid motion. Guys get shots, pick-and-roll, it opens up open threes for guys, driving lines, pump fakes, it’s a great unity."

Embiid liked what he saw from a distance. He will not travel with the team to their game on Saturday against the Hawks in Atlanta. 

"I’m just happy we’ve been closing out games, and the main thing I’m really happy [about] is they’ve been able to do it without me," he said. "That’s going to give us a lot of confidence when I’m missing back-to-backs. My teammates are going to have more confidence to come in and play the same way."

Joel Embiid feels 'great' after injury scare to left knee

Joel Embiid feels 'great' after injury scare to left knee

Of the nearly 20,000 people in the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, Joel Embiid was seemingly the least concerned when he came down and injured his left knee. 

Fans held their breath and the Sixers looked on anxiously as the standout big man got up in visible discomfort and limped off the court (see highlights). Embiid, however, wasn’t worried. 

“I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way,” he said after the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers (see Instant Replay). “I’m great. The knee’s fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good.”

Embiid ran off the court on his own, was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and was cleared to return to the game. He aggravated his knee again driving to the basket and this time, the team held him out to be careful.

“The review is that he hyperextended his left knee,” head coach Brett Brown said. “There was a minor tweak again, and for precautionary reasons only, the doctors did not allow him to return. There will be more information given as we know it. But quickly, that's what we know.”

Embiid understood the team’s decision to sideline him for the final 8:50 while the Sixers went on a comeback run (see feature highlight). He still finished the game with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double, five assists and four blocks in only 22 minutes.

“Obviously those guys, the front office, they care about my future, so they just shut it down,” Embiid said. “But I was fine.”

Embiid will not travel to Atlanta for Saturday’s game against the Hawks (pre-scheduled rest). He expects to be available for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Clippers. 

"You know how tough he is," Nerlens Noel said. "If it isn’t anything serious, he’ll be right back. At the end of the game, he was telling me was he was feeling great and there was no pain. He wanted to come back in the game … he’s a trooper. He always gives it his all and always plays hard."

Injuries to any player are worrisome, especially a franchise centerpiece with two years of rehab (foot) behind him. The Sixers have been methodical and cautious with his playing time. Embiid is on a 28-minute restriction and can play in only one game of a back-to-back series. 

The same player who is so closely watched, though, also plays with sky-high energy that doesn’t have a brake pedal. 

“You're concerned,” Brown said of seeing Embiid get injured. “It's clear to all of us that he plays with such reckless abandon. I think that we're all going to be seeing this and feeling this regularly. From flying into stands to stalking somebody in the open court to block a shot to the collision he often is in trying to draw fouls. That's just who he is. 

“I think that as he just plays more basketball and continues to grow, to not necessarily avoid those situations, just to perhaps manage them a little bit more. Right now, he's just a young guy that's just playing that doesn't know what he doesn't know and has a fearless approach underneath all that attitude.”

Fearless is an accurate description considering Embiid's trouble-free reaction to the awkward way his leg bent (he hadn’t seen a replay). 

“I kind of had that in college, too,” he said. “I think I’m flexible, so it’s supposed to happen.”