Sixers-Pistons: Win Tonight, Figure Out Other Stuff Later

Sixers-Pistons: Win Tonight, Figure Out Other Stuff Later

Questions about for the post-break Sixers going into their game tonight
against the Pistons in Detroit. How will they make up for the absence of
Spencer Hawes, expected to be out for another two weeks with his
strained achilles? Will Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner be given more of a
role in the offense, after Collins lost some confidence in both over the
course of the season's first half? Will the team make a move—any
move—at the trade deadline?

All worthwhile questions. But tonight, only one really matters: Can they beat the Pistons and dust this f'ing losing streak?

Five
losses in a row have done a number on our confidence in this team, to
the point where even a game against the 11-24 Pistons in Detroit seems
cause for genuine concern. And to the Pistons' credit, they finished the
first half of the season a whole lot stronger than we did, going 7-4 in
their last 11 games, albeit against significantly crappier competition
than the Sixers' tough last three weeks. The Sixers are still the much
better team, and the two games between the two squads so far this season
has shown as much, but the Ballers need to show that tonight, and start
to turn this season back around.

As is often the case with this team, the player I'll most have my eye on
tonight is Evan Turner. I wanted so badly for ET to have himself a good
outing at the Rising Stars game—to boost his confidence and show to his
coach and himself that he can hang with the best young players in the
game—and he did, putting up a near triple-double and looking like one of
the most skilled players on the court. Coach Collins isn't exactly
going to be blown away by a performance in a defenseless exhibition
game, but hopefully this'll at least show him how much Turner still
wants to be (and has the capability to be) great, and maybe that'll help
persuade him to stop cutting his minutes so damn much.

7:30 tip from the Palace at Auburn Hills. Thunder come to town
Wednesday, which could be another measuring stick game for this team,
but if they can't even beat the lowly Pistons off a nearly week-long
break...well, let's cross the bridge when we don't come to it.

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).