Gang's All Here: Spencer Hawes Accepts Qualifying Offer

Gang's All Here: Spencer Hawes Accepts Qualifying Offer

Amidst all the turmoil in the NBA right now, the Sixers continue to stay
far out of the fray, content to bring back the same group that made an
unexpected run at the playoffs last year. After re-signing Thaddeus
Young and Tony Battie (yes, really) since free agency began two days
ago, the team has now also secured their starting center from last
season, Spencer Hawes. Spence accepted the team's qualifying offer, of
just over four million dollars, to stay with the Ballers for another
year.

Extending Hawes the qualifying offer was kind of a no-brainer for the
size-depleted Sixers. Battie was the only other potential center on the
roster (unless you count Elton Brand, which, not really), and it's
unlikely the team would've found a starting-caliber big man for such a
reasonable price elsewhere.

Of course, whether or not Spence actually is a starting-caliber center
remains up for debate. He wasn't exactly a dynamo for the team last year,
averaging just 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 22 minutes a game, while
shooting 47% from the field and an abysmal 53% from the line (though
that was somewhat moot, since he only shot about one free throw a game)
and playing sporadically porous defense. Still, Hawes is young—though
he's already been in the league for four seasons, he's only 23—and he
has enough talent that, for a low price in a year where the team isn't
exactly expected to contend anyway, it's worth it for the Sixers to take
another look at what they have with him.

And generally, I like the team's strategy of getting the band back
together, while generally staying out of most trade and free-agency
discussions. True, this has been the team's strategy for pretty much
every post-season since they splurged on Elton Brand, Lou Williams and
Andre Iguodala back in '08, but it especially makes sense this year to
make consistency a priority, with such a short training camp and
pre-season.

“With the signing of Spencer, we now have our core returning - a group
that is very familiar with each other, their roles and Coach Collins’
system and philosophies," said
de facto team GM Rod Thorn of Hawes' signing. And though it's not
exactly the '83 squad that they're bringing back together, this group of
players does seem to click very well with each other and with Coach
Collins, a chemistry that only seemed to grow as the season went along.

Re-signing Young and Hawes aren't the kind of moves that put the team
over the top as a title threat, but they should stabilize the team and
make them a likely playoff threat, at the least. Until the team gets out
from Brand and possibly Andre Iguodala's contract and starts building
in earnest towards a group that may one day contend for a championship,
they should at least be a fun, competitive group to watch in the
meantime. We're looking forward to watching them this year, anyway.

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

With the NBA trade deadline nearly upon us — 3 p.m. Thursday — here is the latest on Jahlil Okafor. (We'll update this with news on Okafor throughout the afternoon.)

• The Bulls are still pushing to acquire Okafor, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Chicago has been one of the rumored destinations for weeks — in fact, the Bulls were reported as a suitor for Okafor before the Pelicans, Blazers and Pacers.

• What's the hold-up? According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls "have shown no inclination to this point of including" their first-round pick, along with a player, which is what the Sixers have been seeking for Okafor.

Johnson notes that forward Nikola Mirotic is available. Mirotic, 26, is a restricted free agent after the season. With Ersan Ilyasova traded to Atlanta Wednesday night, perhaps the Sixers could look at Mirotic as a backup four to Dario Saric. 

Mirotic's value is in his outside shooting — he's a 6-foot-10 forward who made 39 percent of his threes last season. But his numbers have dipped across the board this season and he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.

• According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Okafor's preferred landing spot is Chicago, his hometown.

• Obviously, it's not up to Jah — the Sixers will go with whichever offer is best.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles — big salary and all — for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).