As The Union Turn: Le Toux Possibly Heading to Another Country, Only It's Not England

As The Union Turn: Le Toux Possibly Heading to Another Country, Only It's Not England

Update: No 'possibly' about it. Le Toux has been traded to Vancouver.

When news broke last week that Sebastien Le Toux was headed to England for a trial with Bolton the reaction was generally positive. Yes, there was disappointment, but Union fans were genuinely happy that the face of the franchise was being given an opportunity to play in one of the best leagues in the world.
Moreover, Union fans took solace in the fact that the Union would likely receive a hefty transfer fee in return for Le Toux's services, which, presumably, they'd reinvest in the club. However, as so often happens in world soccer, the transfer never materialized. The transfer with Bolton, that is. 
Late Monday afternoon, multiple reports surfaced that the Union, faced with a glut of forwards on the roster, were in discussions to sell Le Toux to Vancouver. Kerith Gabriel of Philly.com and Scott Kessler of The Brotherly Game cited sources indicating talks between the clubs were ongoing. [Update: Sportsnet's Irfaan Gaffar is saying the deal appears done, and Seba is headed to Vancouver, per Ives Galarcep.]

I surmise that Union fans will be a bit less understanding of a Le Toux trade to Vancouver than they were the potential transfer to Bolton. It's one thing to see your team's most popular player move on to bigger and better. It's quite another to see him traded within the league.
The Le Toux rumblings came on the heels of the Union officially announcing that they'd released starting goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who is set to rejoin Deportivo Cali, the club with whom he started his professional career.
What does this mean for the Union? Well, Gabriel reports that the Union are keen to secure a permanent transfer for Roger Torres from America de Cali. I don't have a good sense as to how much that would cost, but the Union would have some serious coin at their disposal by releasing Mondragon and trading Le Toux. 
Their combined 2011 guaranteed compensation totaled $575,666.67. Factor in the cash sure to come back from Vancouver in any Le Toux deal and you've got money to play with.
The Union have had two All-Stars in its short two-year existence. One (Mondragon) is already out of the door. A second (Le Toux) may not be far behind.
If the Le Toux trade does go down then March 31st should be an interesting day - the Union are scheduled to host Vancouver at PPL Park.
Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo, US-Presswire

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."