With Free Agency Underway, Eagles Should Act Fast and Trade Samuel

With Free Agency Underway, Eagles Should Act Fast and Trade Samuel

Just taking a gander at EaglesCap.com, which is an excellent site/research tool that projects the franchise's cap situation with a fair degree of accuracy, the Birds have slightly less than $10 million to work with as free agency opens. (The number is probably significantly less after today's Todd Herremans extension.)

Now that's after DeSean Jackson signs his franchise tender for $9.5 million, as is expected soon. However, the team presumably would like to re-sign Evan Mathis, along with a couple of their own guys, and the fans wouldn't mind if management picked up a middle linebacker along the way, maybe even one or two role players. Cash also must be set aside for incoming rookies... oh, and LeSean McCoy might be interested in a slice of the pie as well.

So it seems there may not be enough of less than $10 million to go 'round. The Eagles have a few of areas where they can cut costs though, and the contract that looms largest on the books right now is that of one Asante Samuel.

Samuel has been on the trading block since last summer when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha to a huge deal. However, there wasn't as much urgency to move Samuel last year because is salary was still manageable.

Samuel's base salary balloons to $9.4 million this season though, then $11.4 in 2013, the final year of the deal. Basically, if the Eagles can move him, they would have twice as much cap room.

And while he continues to play at a high level, the truth is the defense has outgrown its need for Samuel. That's not to say they have somebody who can replace his knack for baiting opposing quarterbacks into interceptions, but Nnamdi Asomugha will be under wraps for awhile, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a starter on just about any other club.

The Eagles also have prospects in Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes, as well as proven nickel corner Joselio Hanson.

In fact, while losing a player with Samuel's ability doesn't improve their overall talent by any stretch, at least the coaches wouldn't be required to invent ways to get all three Pro-Bowl corners on the field. DRC fared much better on the outside than in the slot, and all of the experimentation with Asomugha exposed him. Both players would be more comfortable at their traditional positions.

It might be cliche, but this is addition by subtraction 101 -- especially if it frees up money for the front office to improve the team elsewhere.

The only potential hang-up is another team may not be so eager to take on Samuel's salary either. That probably causes a dip in his value, but $9.4 million is not an outrageous sum to pay a premier corner, the type who quarterbacks don't even want to look at. Plus, it helps that hos salaries aren't guaranteed, so if things don't work out, his new team is off the hook in one year.

Ask any fan if they would rather the Eagles hold on to Asante Samuel, or create an additional $10 million in cap space and receive a mid-round draft pick in exchange, and most would tell you it's a no-brainer -- but how quickly they move to part with Samuel could dictate how aggressively the Birds can play this free agent period.

Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova excited to see family in adopted hometown of Milwaukee

Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova excited to see family in adopted hometown of Milwaukee

Traveling to Milwaukee means a return to where Ersan Ilyasova began his NBA career.

Twelve years later, it also means a return to his family when the Sixers visit the Bucks on Monday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
 
Ilyasova planted roots in Milwaukee during his seven seasons with the Bucks, who drafted him in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. Though he has played for four teams since the Bucks traded him to the Pistons in the summer of 2015, Ilyasova has maintained a home base in the city he adopted after coming to the NBA from Europe.

“I kind of grew up there,” he said. “It’s a lot of time spent.”

Ilyasova’s lengthy tenure with his first team - which doesn’t always happen in the NBA - afforded him and his family the time to make Milwaukee their home.

His wife and three young children (daughters ages eight and five years old and son age three years old) have remained there while Ilyasova has moved around the league frequently. He has been a member of the Pistons, Magic, Thunder and Sixers in a matter of two seasons.

“It’s a huge thing,” Ilyasova said. “I haven’t seen the girls for two months now - a lot of Skype and FaceTime. I see my son, he flies back and forth with my wife.”

The Sixers flew to Milwaukee on Sunday from Washington, D.C. after Saturday night's loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center. Ilyasova planned to stay at his house and catch up on the time he has missed while being away from his family. This includes missed time during the holidays while the team was on a west coast road trip.
 
“It’s always really exciting,” Ilyasova said. “They’re counting the days when I will come. They’re all excited to come to the game.”
 
Another highlight of being back in Milwaukee? A home-cooked meal.
 
“They’re already preparing it,” Ilyasova said. “It’s duck with apples in it.”

Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo the next Josh Hart? Jay Wright believes so

Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo the next Josh Hart? Jay Wright believes so

NEW YORK — It’s hard to imagine higher praise from Jay Wright.

“I think he can be a Josh Hart,” Wright said. “I really do.”

Donte DiVincenzo is only two months into his redshirt freshman season at Villanova, and his coach is already comparing him to one of the heroes of last year’s NCAA championship team and a 2017 National Player of the Year candidate.

That’s pretty wild stuff, but it’s hard to argue with Wright.

The last two games have been a coming out for DiVincenzo, a Wilmington, Delaware native who played high school ball at Salesianum.

After scoring 20 points and shooting 5 for 17 in Villanova’s first four Big East games, DiVincenzo was 4 for 6 for 10 points with four rebounds and three assists Tuesday in a win over No. 15 Xavier at The Pavilion. On Saturday at Madison Square Garden — with his teammates all struggling from the field — he shot 7 for 10 from the field and 3 for 5 from three-point range for a career-high 19 points to go with three rebounds and two assists in the Wildcats’ win over St. John’s (see game recap).

Hart as a freshman? 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 21 minutes per game.

DiVincenzo so far as a freshman? 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23 minutes per game.

DiVincenzo has been so good in these last two wins that, even coming off the bench, he’s played the third most minutes on the team – 31 ½ per game.

Josh Hart-esque.

“I talked to him about that before,” Wright said. “Just what impresses us so much about Josh is that he’s just complete. He does everything. There’s nothing on the basketball court he doesn’t do, and I think Donte can be that kind of player, too.”

On Saturday at the Garden, Villanova got off to another slow start. Ten minutes into the game, the Wildcats were shooting 2 for 12 from the field and 1 for 7 from three-point range and trailed by six.

It sure seemed DiVincenzo sensed how badly the Wildcats needed an offensive lift, because he proceeded to make four baskets in a five-minute stretch, including two confident looks from 3.

Those 10 points keyed a 16-6 run that gave ‘Nova the lead for good.

But DiVincenzo, echoing dozens of Villanova players from years past, said he never thinks offensively.

“No, not at all,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure offensively at all. Just focus on defending and rebounding. If the shots are falling for me, great. But if they’re not, just get back and focus on those two things.”

DiVincenzo is a freshman but did play in eight games last year before breaking his foot and sitting out the rest of the year. He did travel with the Wildcats and was on the bench during the NCAA title run.

Now, he’s the biggest surprise on the No. 3 team in the country. Villanova takes a 17-1 record and 4-1 Big East mark into a game Monday night at The Pavilion against Seton Hall, their first meeting since the Pirates beat the Wildcats in last year’s Big East title game.

Think about it.

‘Nova is down two players who Wright expected to be huge parts of this year’s team — title game hero Phil Booth, who's hurt and not expected back this year, and Amari Spellman, whom the NCAA ruled ineligible.

“We’re trying to get to a certain level of play,” Wright said. “We’re trying to figure ourselves out here. We thought we were going to be one kind of team earlier in the season and we lost a couple guys. We like our team, but we’re still trying to figure it out. We’re not a finished product yet.”

In six Big East games, DiVincenzo is averaging 8.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

No Villanova freshman has averaged 8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in conference play since Lance Miller in 1990.

Overall, DiVincenzo is eighth among Big East freshmen in scoring, seventh in minutes, rebounding, assists and three-point shooting.

And trending upward.

“We’re really excited about him,” Wright said. “He’s doing everything for us. He’s playing point, he’s playing two-guard, he’s playing the three, he’s rebounding, defending, and that’s the kind of players you like to have.

“He’s only a freshman, and he works hard at it. Those two (DiVincenzo and Hart) compete against each other at practice, and he’s got the same competitiveness, so it’s exciting for us. We’re really fired up.

“And you’ve got to do it in games. We all know it’s going to come sometimes, but you’ve got to do it in games. Do it in the Garden? Against a tough aggressive team? Did it in the Xavier game? That’s big-time.”