Smooth Criminals: Asante to Atlanta Done

Smooth Criminals: Asante to Atlanta Done

The Eagles got bilked, fleeced, hustled, swindled, shortchanged, and flimflammed, but reporting the crime won't change the fact that Asante Samuel is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
On Wednesday, the Birds agreed to send their four-time Pro-Bowl cornerback, a potential future Hall of Famer, to a conference rival in exchange for a lowly seventh-round pick. The Inq's Jeff McLane, who earlier broke the news Samuel agreed to a restructured contract with Atlanta, reported the Eagles had a deal in place with the Detroit Lions last August that would have netted second- and third-round picks.
Samuel had been on the trade block ever since the team traded for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signed Nnamdi Asomugha.

How We Got HereThe 31-year-old Samuel signed a six-year, $59 million dollar deal with Philadelphia in 2008. He intercepted 25 passes in 61 regular season and playoff games over four seasons -- nearly one every two games -- returning three for touchdowns. Despite having a down year in 2011 production-wise with just three picks, Samuel still charted as one of the best corners in the league according to sites like Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus.
A secondary featuring Samuel, Asomugha, and DRC was surprisingly ineffective though. All three are more comfortable lining up outside, so there was no way to get them all on the field at the same time without having at least one of them play out of position. Plus, the coaching staff wants to utilize more bump and run coverage on receivers, but Asante prefers an off-man style that allows him to sit back and read the quarterback.
His value plummeted in part because the Eagles lost whatever leverage they had when it became painfully obvious they needed to subtract a corner from the equation. Even though Samuel had the best season of the three, Asomugha is entering the second year of a $60-million deal that makes him difficult to move, and Rodgers-Cromartie is five years younger.
However, Samuel's contract was said to be the primary hang-up. He was scheduled to collect $21.4 million in base salary over the final two seasons. As part of the trade, Asante first had to agree to restructure. He'll receive $18.5 over three years from Atlanta -- roughly $3 million less than he was slated to earn over the next two.
To summarize, the Falcons obtain an elite playmaker at cornerback, with an additional year on his contract and a discount rate, in exchange for a low draft pick that has precious little chance of panning out, let alone turning into an All-Pro. The Eagles free up a large chunk of cap space, and simplify their depth chart.
How Bad Is the Damage?
While Samuel may be a textbook example of addition by subtraction, the Eagles are clearly getting robbed.
To some extent, they backed themselves against a wall. It would appear there really is no way for Samuel, Asomugha, and DRC to co-exist. Rodgers-Cromartie can also become a free agent next season, and the front office needs to get a better look at him before they decide whether or not he'll be part of their long-term plans. He was a major piece in the Kevin Kolb trade last summer.
Perhaps it would have been wise to hold on to Samuel for now anyway. While there is plenty the Eagles can do with the nearly $10 million they freed up -- extend LeSean McCoy, for instance -- they were by no means up against the cap. With 10 selections now in this year's draft, they weren't exactly hurting for the pick either. Had they held on to Samuel, maybe they could have got more out of a team that missed out on a corner in the draft, or even wait for a team to suffer a serious injury during training camp.
Because no matter how you slice it, management messed up by giving away a great player for next to nothing. Don't get me wrong, I thought a secondary with Samuel, Asomugha, and DRC would be practically impenetrable, too. The Eagles should have trusted their instincts last summer though, and unloaded Asante while the getting was good. Instead, they've been made to look like fools.
We know we'll being seeing Asante Samuel again when the Eagles host the Falcons in Week 8. We'll just have to hope we won't see him again somewhere down the road, maybe in January.

Best of NBA: Jaylen Brown, Celtics use 5-point possession to top Pistons

Best of NBA: Jaylen Brown, Celtics use 5-point possession to top Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jaylen Brown sank a 3-pointer from the right corner while being fouled with 37.6 seconds remaining, part of a five-point possession for Boston that lifted the Celtics to a 104-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.

The Celtics were down 96-95 when Brown connected while being fouled by Marcus Morris. Brown missed the ensuing free throw, but Detroit couldn't come up with the rebound, and Tobias Harris was called for a loose-ball foul. Marcus Smart added two free throws to put Boston up 100-96.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons, but he went 1 of 11 on free throws and was taken out for some key possessions toward the end to prevent Boston from fouling him.

Lakers crushed by Spurs in first home game since front office shakeup
LOS ANGELES -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs routed the Lakers 119-98 on Sunday in Los Angeles' first home game since Magic Johnson took over the franchise's basketball operations.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points for the Spurs, who have won four straight and nine of 11.

Pau Gasol added 15 points against his former team, and the Southwest Division leaders had little trouble with the Lakers, who have lost four straight and 15 of 19.

Five days after owner Jeanie Buss put Johnson in charge of basketball operations, the Lakers' dismal season still hasn't changed much, although new Lakers acquisitions Corey Brewer and Tyler Ennis got limited playing time.

Rookie Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 22 points as the Lakers fell to 19-41, ensuring their fourth consecutive non-winning season (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo scores 28 as Bucks hold off Suns
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, Tony Snell made a clinching 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds and the Milwaukee Bucks held off the Phoenix Suns, 100-96 on Sunday.

Michael Beasley added 17 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 15 as the Bucks swept the two-game season series with the Suns. Greg Monroe finished with 14 points and Snell had 13.

TJ Warren led the Suns with 23 points. Alan Williams scored a career-high 17 points and tied his season high with 15 rebounds, while Devin Booker added 15 points and Eric Bledsoe had 11.

Clinging to a one-point lead, the Bucks came out of timeout with Monroe inbounding the ball to Antetokounmpo. He dribbled the clock down before passing to Brogdon, who whipped the ball to Snell in the corner. Snell hit a 3 with a defender flying at him.

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in a trade including goalie Peter Budaj and an exchange of draft picks.

The Kings will pair Bishop with Jonathan Quick in a remarkable veteran goaltending tandem down the stretch of the regular season. Quick returned only Saturday from a 59-game absence with a serious groin injury.

The Kings gave up Budaj, junior defenseman Erik Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and another conditional pick. Los Angeles received Bishop and Tampa Bay's 2017 fifth-round pick.

Both teams are scrapping to get into playoff position over the next six weeks. The Kings (30-27-4) are just outside the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference, while the Lightning (27-25-8) are seven points back of a playoff spot (see full story).

Report: Wild get Martin Hanzal from Coyotes
A person with knowledge of the trade says the Minnesota Wild have acquired Czech center Martin Hanzal from the Arizona Coyotes.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Sunday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Details on the return to Arizona were not immediately available.

Hanzal was considered one of the top rental players available ahead of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has 16 goals and 10 assists in 51 games this season and 313 points in 608 NHL games, all with the Coyotes.

The move signals an aggressive approach from the Wild, who lead the Central Division and Western Conference by three points over the Chicago Blackhawks.