Paul Holmgren Says There Are No Plans for Ilya Bryzgalov Buyout

Paul Holmgren Says There Are No Plans for Ilya Bryzgalov Buyout

Once the Flyers’ season goes
quietly into the night this Saturday in Ottawa, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will
still have seven years remaining on his contract at nearly $40 million. While
many are anticipating the front office’s use one of two compliance buyouts to
get out from under such a lengthy and expensive deal, the club’s general
manager claims that will not be the case.

Paul Holmgren spoke with ESPN’s
Pierre LeBrun about the Flyers’ disappointing season, touching on several of
the issues that his team faced this year, and answering difficult questions
about the future. Among the latter was what will happen to Bryzgalov in the
offseason after his terrible year between the pipes – at least statistically (.898
SV%, 2.84 GAA) – is over, especially in light of the trade for Steve Mason.

Bryz detractors will not be
happy to hear that Homer doesn’t think the netminder is going anywhere.

is a guy that we've liked. When the opportunity came up to make the trade for
him, it was the intention of having good goaltending," Holmgren said.
"I think right now with Ilya and Steve, we've got good goaltending moving
forward. Any talk of anything other than that I think is out of bounds."

The point, Holmgren said, is to protect Bryzgalov next season so he doesn't
have to play too many games.

"Ilya played a lot of games this year, but he's not going to play 82 games
next season," Holmgren said. "You need a guy that can go in. Steve's
a young guy still, he's had some success at an early age in our league. I think
working with (goalies coach) Jeff Reese he can
get back to a good level. He certainly has the right attitude about it. He's
been great since he's been here."

To be clear, I asked Holmgren if there was any basis at all to the speculation
of a Bryzgalov buyout.

"No," he said.

Obviously we’ve all heard
coaches and general managers say one thing then do another, so the fact that
Holmgren gave Bryzgalov a vote of confidence of sorts doesn’t necessarily mean
anything. One line of thinking as Tweeted by the Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi is although
management might have Bryz slated to return for now, minds could change if it
was later decided that $5.67 million cap hit could be better served someplace

Carchidi also suggests there
are others in the front office who wouldn’t necessarily agree with Holmgren anyway. As we’ve mentioned before though, Bryzgalov seems to have the ultimate
that of owner Ed Snider, who believes (probably justifiably) that the
goaltender has not been a huge part of the problem with the Flyers this season.

But, again, minds do change.
People say one thing then do another.

Obviously this is not over yet,
and even if Bryz is not “amnestied” during the offseason, the story won’t be
going anyway anytime soon. The Flyers can use their buyouts in the 2014
offseason as well, which means we might be monitoring whether the cosmonaut is
coming or going for another year.

>> It’s back to the
drawing board for the Flyers

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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.