Priced to Move? Examining the Flyers Options as Trade Deadline Approaches

Priced to Move? Examining the Flyers Options as Trade Deadline Approaches

The Flyers are a lot like a car accident right now. Don’t
worry! Everybody is a little shaken up, some minor bumps and bruises, but
otherwise okay. The vehicle on the other hand…

Now the insurance company needs to assess the damage. It
still drives, although they suspect something is out whack with the suspension because
the ride is no longer very smooth at all. Fixing it might be as simple as
replacing the defective parts. Either way the insurance might want to total the
automobile based on the damage to the exterior alone, even if the driver prefers
to get it back on the road because some of the features are cool and might be
hard to find.

Then again, maybe it would be best not to get those crooks
involved at all, instead try to get little things fixed over time.

My apologies in advance if the metaphor runs too deep, but the Flyers
are in no-man’s land both in the standings and with regard to what they should
do at the upcoming trade deadline one week from today on April 3. They certainly
haven’t looked like a playoff team, much less a viable contender, but there is
a ton of talent on the roster, and it’s been proven time and time again anybody
can get hot and win the Stanley Cup as long as they get in the tournament
first.

So the debate is whether they should get the work done – buy
– or total it and start looking for something new – sell.

No matter what happens over the next four games, buying is likely
an option that only people within the organization would consider a reasonable solution.
The team is flawed, has been inconsistent all season, is constantly up against
the salary cap, not to mention would still be on the brink of missing the
playoffs when everything was said and done.

And at what cost do the Flyers acquire this magic cure-all?
Sean Couturier? Brayden Schenn? Would they mortgage the future for a ride that
could just wind up stranded by the side of the road anyway?

Selling is sort of a pipe dream, too. Who is the front
office able to move that will give the franchise the cap relief necessary to
make big changes in the offseason? Danny Briere was the obvious choice, and
there was said to be some interest around the league, but the obvious concern
is he would use his no-trade clause – plus now he’s out with a concussion.

What other high-priced trade chips are available that
somebody else would actually want? Scott Hartnell? Ilya Bryzgalov? Face it, the
Flyers are stuck with that old jalopy.

There was a third option though: fix it as they go. In other
words, do nothing. You and I both know it would take everything in the organization’s
power to stand pat at the trade deadline, but unless the absolute right deal
pulls on to the lot, it might make more sense to stick with the fixer-upper.

Why overreact to between 30 and 35 games of a shortened
hockey season? HockeyBuzz’s Bill Meltzer made a salient point as the Flyers
went into their five-day break last week, saying it would be “utterly asinine”
to reverse course on their current direction given the sample size and nature
of a shortened season.

Here's the No. 1 thing to keep in
mind: The Flyers have played two months of hockey. The season started on Jan
19. Today is March 20. In a normal season cycle, the Flyers would have played
fewer than their current 30 games after two months. In a legitimate full
season, it would be December, and we'd be still be several weeks away from the
statistical halfway point of the schedule.

What the Flyers’ brain trust needs to realize as the
deadline approaches is that while there are a handful of established veterans
in that locker room, the core of this team is young and still developing.
Couturier, both Schenns, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and even Claude Giroux
are all 25 years old or younger. Matt Read is 26, and there are a bunch of
kids in their system such as Tye McGinn, Scott Laughton, Marc-Andre Bourdon,
Erik Gustafsson, and Brandon Manning that can have a major impact in the near future.

Should the Flyers really add a spoiler on to the back end of
their whip at the expense of putting the rest of it up on blocks? Should they start thinking about trading in a few of the classics for significantly less than blue-book value so they can start saving for something new? Or should they ride it out with the parts they have and worry about restoring the finish over time?

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Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

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Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points, and the Chicago Bulls handed San Antonio its first road loss after a 13-0 start, hanging on to beat the Spurs 95-91 on Thursday night.

San Antonio fell one win shy of matching the NBA's best road start set by the Golden State Warriors last season. The Spurs cut an 18-point deficit midway through the third quarter to four in the closing minutes, only to come up short.

Kawhi Leonard scored 24 for San Antonio. Patty Mills added 16 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers. Former Bull Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game in Chicago since signing with San Antonio in the summer, but the Spurs lost a road game for the first time since Oklahoma City knocked them out in the Western Conference semifinals last season.

Jimmy Butler scored all of his 13 points for Chicago in the second half. Rajon Rondo added 12 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, and Chicago picked up the win after dropping three in a row and six of nine.

The Spurs hadn't dropped a regular-season road game since Denver beat them on April 8 (see full recap).

Scoreboard malfunction, quiet crowd don’t stop Wizards’ rally
WASHINGTON -- Overcoming a sluggish start in front of a sparse, silent crowd and with a malfunctioning scoreboard, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Nuggets 92-85 on Thursday night, thanks mainly to Bradley Beal's 26 points and Denver's season-high 29 turnovers.

John Wall scored only 15 points one game after a career-best 52, but nine came in the fourth quarter for Washington, which trailed by as many as 14 in the first half.

With starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay inactive because of what the team said was a sprained right ankle, the Nuggets went 5 1/2 minutes without a point in the fourth quarter.

In that final period, they had 10 of their turnovers and shot 1 for 14 on 3-pointers -- including 0 for 4 in one last-minute possession (see full recap).

Gasol, clutch free throws lift Grizzlies over
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol scored 36 points and Toney Douglas made two free throws with less than a second left to give the Memphis Grizzlies an 88-86 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Douglas finished with 11 points, scoring the game's final six points to seal Memphis' fifth straight victory.

Gasol was 13 of 24 from the field, including 4 of 6 from outside the arc. But Douglas, signed by Memphis this week because of injuries, took over down the stretch. The guard scored on a 19-footer with 34 seconds left, then converted two pairs of free throws in the last 20 seconds.

CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 24 points, and Damian Lillard had 19 on 6-of-18 shooting. Evan Turner had 15 points and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

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Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- Joel Embiid shot just 5 for 15 from the field and the Sixers … wait … the Sixers won. 

Surprising? Actually, that’s just how the Sixers envision finding success.

It’s not about Embiid having a relatively quiet night on offense with 14 points, especially going 0 for 5 from three. It’s about other players getting involved and taking the burden off the rookie. Embiid has proved he can do a lot of things, but carrying a team each night in his first season isn’t what the Sixers have in mind. 

“I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Nik Stauskas said after the Sixers beat the Pelicans 99-88 (see Instant Replay). “Obviously there are a few guys in the NBA like a LeBron (James), KD (Kevin Durant) or Steph (Curry) that can single-handedly win a game throughout the entire season. But most of the teams are going to rely on bench players to step up and make shots and make plays. I think that’s when we’re most effective.”

Embiid entered Thursday night averaging 24.3 points and shooting 48.9 percent in Sixers wins (three games played). His 14 points against the Pelicans were his fewest in a victory this season. He also grabbed seven boards with four blocks and three steals. Embiid was a game-high plus-27, which Brett Brown called "massive."

Instead of being powered offensively by their centerpiece, the Sixers received solid efforts from the starters and reserves. Ersan Ilyasova scored 23 points (along with eight rebounds) for the second straight game. Sergio Rodriguez chipped in 16 points and eight assists. Off the bench,  Stauskas hit three treys en route to 14 points while Dario Saric scored 10 points with five rebounds as the team snapped an overall eight-game losing skid and a 23-game road losing streak. 

Embiid’s teammates attribute their success to the fact he is such a focal point of the opponents’ defense. In comparison to the beginning of the season when Embiid was getting stifled by double-teams, he has been learning how to pass out of them. Embiid expects to see two defenders every game and has been making adjustments to create opportunities for others to shoot rather than committing turnovers. 

“We’re not standing around a lot and just focusing on what Jo can do,” Robert Covington said. “Jo is making great moves to find guys that are open. He’s willing to pass. We’re starting to build the chemistry that everyone’s been looking for.”

Ilyasova has noticed a change in the flow of the offense and has capitalized on defensive mismatches when opponents swarm Embiid. 

“We just share the ball well,” Ilyasova said. “I find myself open. Obviously Joel does a great job of as far as when there is a double-team, just kicking out. When I see the open look, I try to knock that shot down.” 

This style of play is mutually beneficial for both Embiid and his teammates. Just because Embiid is passing out doesn't mean he's not getting his looks. Oftentimes, dishing out of a double-team allows him to get a better look on the next touch. 

“It’s a team effort," Covington said. "We’re doing so much as a unit that we’re not just focusing on just get Jo the ball and let him do his thing. He’s getting the ball, he’s surveying the floor and then he’s making his moves. He’s reading the defense really well. He’s doing a lot of [kicking out]. Then we find him a lot of re-posts and finding the open shot and making it easy for him to find the easy bucket.” 

Embiid is capable of scoring 20-plus in spite of his 28-minute restriction. The Sixers are making strides, though, by finding ways to win when he isn’t the running up the scoreboard. 

“I think there’s no doubt Jo is our best player and our offense is going to revolve around him most of the time,” Stauskas said. “But we’re playing our best when he’s posting up and kicking out to guys and they’re hitting threes or we’re taking pressure off him by making plays and the defense can’t just be solely focused on him. In a game like tonight, that’s kind of what you saw.”