How Much Does Danny Briere Have Left in the Tank?

How Much Does Danny Briere Have Left in the Tank?

Danny Briere has been the subject of trade rumors for thepast month, which I suppose in a way is actually a good thing for the two-timeAll Star. Theyve taken some of the focus off the fact that hes having hisworst season in the NHL since he was 21 years old.

Not that people havent taken notice of Brieres lack ofproduction, were just not sure everybody has taken stock of how bad it is. Hehas five goals and eight assists while supposedly centering the Flyers secondline, and even for a guy whos posted a career minus, a -13 through 26 games isugly in fact only five players have a worse ratio.

Perhaps most troubling of all is the shot percentage. Brierehas made 14.5 of the shots hes taken in his career, but this year that numberhas been slashed in half, down to a meager 7.2. That would easily set a newpersonal low.

Plus, now hes out indefinitely with a concussion, yetanother impediment to making a trade even if the Flyers could. Briere of coursehas the no-movement clause in his contract, so theres a chance he wasnt goinganywhere regardless, but not too many teams are going to be interested in aninjured player whos had virtually no impact this season.

At this point, the real question is whether or not Brierecan snap out of it. How much of his struggles are due to age and naturaldecline, and how much can be attributed to issues that can be fixed and smallsample size?

Sample size is something were going to be looking at for along time with relation to this season. You can extrapolate the numbers over afull 82 games, but a normal season has ebbs and flows. Briere could return tothe ice, get hot, and suddenly this discussion becomes moot.

Its also worth noting that the Flyers frustrations rundeeper than Briere, so its not necessarily equitable to single out one person.

And if were being fair about this, how much has the wristinjury he suffered while playing in Germany during the lockout affected hisshot? One week doctors are telling him not to take slap shots at practice, thenext week Briere is back in the lineup. Its certainly something that could betaking its toll even if Briere wouldnt necessarily admit it himself.

But then the writing was on the wall last year already. His16 goals and 33 assists were his fewest over a full season since 2002-03 whenhe was traded from Phoenix to Buffalo, and his 9.2 shot percentage was wellbelow normal, lowest since 98-99 actually.

Briere is 35. Its only natural for his ability to startfalling off.

Yet somehow he still turns it on during the playoffs. Brierescored eight goals in 11 postseason games last year, potting an incredible30.8 of his shots. Clutch performances are nothing new to Briere, but it wouldseem to fly directly in the face of an athlete-in-decline storyline.

Assuming Briere is still in Philadelphia after the tradedeadline passes on April 3, which is pretty much a given at this point, theorganization is going to have a tough decision to make in the offseason. He hastwo more years on his contract at 6.5 million against the cap money theFlyers could desperately use and regardless of whether he can bounce back, Breiresbest days are obviously behind him.

If hes not amenable to a trade, amnestying the contract is always on the table. One way or the other though, it might be time for the Flyers to consider moving on from Danny Briere.

If you hate the Nerlens Noel trade, you value him more than Sixers do

If you hate the Nerlens Noel trade, you value him more than Sixers do

I'll make the Nerlens Noel trade simple for you.

The Sixers don't think he's worth the money he'll be offered after the season.

He's a restricted free agent, and the Sixers don't anticipate matching the offer he'll receive, so they got what they could instead of letting him walk and getting nothing.

"I've often said I wouldn't make a bad deal," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday, "but yesterday I made the best deal that was available to us."

Mavericks president Donnie Nelson put himself in Colangelo's shoes, telling ESPN that the Sixers were in "an extremely difficult situation" and "did the best they could with the situation they had." He added that it was "hard for us" to give up Justin Anderson, whom he called "the critical piece."

Nevertheless, if you're fixated on the "bad deal" part of Colangelo's quote -- and judging from the reaction in our newsroom Thursday and on Twitter and on our site, plenty of you should be -- then you have a higher opinion of Noel than the Sixers do. 

And that's the point of contention. 

Maybe Nerlens turns out to be Dennis Rodman 2.0. 

If that's the case, Bryan Colangelo will be ripped like Larry Brown has been for choosing Larry Hughes over Paul Pierce (it will never end). The move will be grouped with Moses Malone for Jeff Ruland and Cliff Robinson, and the No. 1 pick (Brad Dougherty) for Roy Hinson. 

(Sixers fans would have broken Twitter had it existed in 1986. If your Sixer fandom survived those trades, then this one barely should elicit a shrug.)  

But Noel also may just be the next Samuel Dalembert.

It will take some time to answer that question, but critics of this trade are also asking about the timing of the deal.

Why not trade Noel earlier? If they weren't sold on him, they could have dealt him last year when free agency wasn't on the horizon and they had more leverage. 

Remember, circumstances were different at the end of last season. Joel Embiid had yet to play. Noel and Jahlil Okafor were their insurance policies -- and Okafor was recovering from a knee injury too. 

"We were plugging in Nerlens Noel as our starting center at that point," Colangelo said. "There was no other way around because the unknowns related to both Joel and Jahlil."

Plus, when Colangelo arrived last April, there were only two games left in the regular season.

"When I was brought in, he was already basically an RFA," Colangelo said. 

Then why not wait until after this season and possibly retain Noel at a decent price? Colangelo didn't want to take the chance.

"Him being a restricted free agent certainly affected how people approached that type of player," he said. "It was more or less the case with every conversation I had that that concern about what that contract might look like in the future was certainly a factor in people's apprehension to move forward."

Perhaps the biggest conclusion to draw from the deal is this: The fact that the Sixers traded Noel -- and were clearly also willing to trade Okafor -- is a sign of their confidence in Embiid's potential, and more importantly, his durability.

"That Joel has emerged as a transformational type of player, it certainly made the decision to possibly move Nerlens that much easier," Colangelo said.

The Sixers clearly are confident that Embiid will not be the next Greg Oden and will recover to be the player who -- as a rookie -- is averaging nearly a point a minute. 

Risky? Certainly. Crazy? We'll find out. 

That said, the Sixers are also asking you to remember Richaun Holmes, who, as Colangelo put it was "in the shadows last year as an emerging backup."

And he's still emerging. Holmes has shown promise on both ends of the floor and is more polished and versatile offensively than Noel. Let's see what the kid can do. Maybe he'll find a home backing up Saric at the four and Embiid at the five.

Speaking of backups, the Sixers clearly weren't satisfied with the offers for Okafor, who unlike Noel isn't facing free agency. So they held onto him. Good move; he's too young to give away. 

Now it's up to the coaching staff to convince Okafor that the best way to earn a starting spot anywhere is to play defense and actually hustle after a rebound or two. 

The coaching staff's other priority is Justin Anderson, the key piece in the Noel deal. Anderson gives the Sixers another solid wing defender to go with Robert Covington. But -- like Covington this season -- he's struggled from three. Anderson recently has shown signs of being the player worthy of the 21st pick in 2015. Brown and company must help him rediscover his shot and become the next Jae Crowder

But back to the beginning. Regardless of your opinion of Noel, remember this: The keystones of this team are Embiid and Ben Simmons. If they recover from their respective injuries and live up to expectations, then this team should -- with its wealth of assets and cap room -- be in position to complete "The Process". 

If not, then there's probably nothing Nerlens Noel could have done about it anyway.

Process behind Sixers’ Nerlens Noel trade as bad as deal itself

Process behind Sixers’ Nerlens Noel trade as bad as deal itself

As recently as December, Bryan Colangelo insisted the Sixers would not trade one of their centers just for the sake of clearing up the logjam in the club’s frontcourt. “I will not make a bad deal for this organization,” the general manager said.

What changed in the past two months?

On Thursday, Colangelo sent Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for a conditional first-round draft choice that in all likelihood will become a pair of second-round picks; Justin Anderson, a second-year prospect with nowhere near Noel’s upside; and Andrew Bogut, who may never even wear a Sixers uniform (perhaps the best case scenario, in all honesty). This is an objectively bad deal for the Sixers!

Sure, there are numerous explanations for the disappointing return on Noel. The NBA is well aware the Sixers have too many centers, so Colangelo was bargaining from a position of weakness. The Sacramento Kings didn’t do the Sixers any favors, either, by woefully short-changing themselves in the DeMarcus Cousins swap. And Noel will be a restricted free agent come July, creating the kind of uncertainty that tends to hurt value.

Yet none of those excuses justifies Colangelo’s decision, and the reason is very simple. There was absolutely nothing compelling the Sixers to make this move right now.

If Noel wasn’t gone at the trade deadline, then what? They risked losing him in free agency and winding up with nothing in return.

First, to that argument, the return the Sixers did get on Noel feels like nothing. Even a top-18 protected pick isn’t much of an asset to the franchise at this point, while two seconds are essentially meaningless. Bogut is, too, for that matter. Anderson is not without some promise, although his ceiling probably isn’t as high as Noel’s floor.

Nothing the Sixers accomplished here is going to help the team win a championship.

Of course, the fear that Noel would walk away and leave the Sixers with empty pockets is built on something of a faulty premise to begin with. That was only one potential outcome.

One possibility was also to make an actual attempt to re-sign Noel long-term. Another possibility was matching an offer sheet if those efforts ultimately failed. Another outcome still was a tepid market forcing him to accept the Sixers’ one-year qualifying offer.

By doing literally any of those things, the Sixers could have traded Noel at a later date. Even if Colangelo already determined the 22-year-old was not going to be part of the future, he could have waited to see if a better offer would materialize at a later date.

Any number of components would have changed over time. The Sixers could’ve dumped Jhalil Okafor, creating room in their frontcourt and restoring the organization’s bargaining power in the process. The market would’ve had a chance to reset after the disastrous Cousins trade made moving bigs for any semblance of value next to impossible. By merely holding on to Noel, the Sixers could’ve created the perception they just may want to keep him around, allowing the front office to raise the asking price.

An injury to a key player could've driven up Noel's value for a desperate team. His own development might've made him a more attractive piece around the league. Who knows, maybe Colangelo would've come to appreciate Noel's role with the Sixers in the meantime — just saying.

Would there be risks involved with that approach?

Not any greater than the risk of getting fleeced.

There’s little doubt that if Noel went on to sign an offer sheet in July and the Sixers didn’t match, the organization would be facing backlash as a result of that turn of events as well. While it’s a little difficult to accept that could’ve transpired, we can’t pretend the scenario didn’t exist.

Regardless, trading Noel for this package feels like a give-up move on the part of Colangelo. It seems like exactly the thing he promised he wouldn’t do, which was move one of the Sixers’ centers purely because they have too many.

To make matters worse, the timing of all of this suggests Colangelo allowed the trade deadline and Noel’s status as an impending restricted free agent to dictate his decision-making, which is a sin far greater than simply making a bad deal.

That’s the sign of a bad process.