The Morning Extras: What Is Andre Iguodala?

The Morning Extras: What Is Andre Iguodala?

Superstar, either now or on the verge of becoming one? An All Star caliber player stuck on a crappy team? Potential supporting cast member for a contender? Simply a role player? Or, perhaps, just another guy altogether? The only thing we seem to be all in agreement over is Iguodala is no superstar. If the debate in the comments is any indication though, even Sixers fans who follow this team closely haven't been able to reach a consensus.

One thing is certain, and that is Iguodala seems to be falling out of favor around the league. ESPN's Bill Simmons released his annual Top 40 Trade Value column last week, and even with a dozen or so honorable mentions on the list, the face of the Sixers is nowhere to be found. That's only a drop in the bucket. In the newest edition of Sports Illustrated, a poll of 173 NBA players named Iguodala one of the most overrated players in the league.

If you need any more proof than fellow NBA-ers ranking him one of the most overrated players—you know, the guys who actually step on the court with Iguodala—you're probably beyond convincing. The insinuation isn't even he's a bad player, but nobody outside Ed Stefanski and a pocket of fans seem to think of him in terms of having All Star ability, as evidenced by his inability to sniff the All Star game (who the hell is David Lee?).

To be fair, the poll came up with some odd choices. The same number of people who thought Iguodala is overrated consider LeBron James overrated. It's not scientific, the condition of being overrated. The difference is LeBron is going to compete for a championship, while the Sixers are struggling to even sneak into the playoffs as the eight seed. Nobody cares what you are, as long as you win.

In my own estimations, Iguodala falls somewhere in between this spectrum. He clearly is no superstar. That much is painfully obvious by the Sixers' constant positioning below .500, but he can help a good team. Unfortunately that's not going to be here anytime soon, which once again begs the question: why do they insist upon clinging to this guy?

LINKS

• For the right amount of money, Julius Peppers can be an Eagle. Many are warning though that he takes too many plays off. That never prevented Randy Moss from greatness. [SI.com]

• Clark Judge believes hiring special teams coach Bobby April will have one of the greatest impacts of any assistant coaching hire this off-season. Imagine DeSean now... [CBS Sports]

• The bidding has ended for Joe Paterno's autographed spectacles. The glasses sold for $9,000. Very strange collectible... [ESPN]

• Brad Lidge can begin throwing off the mound. It's a new year. Let's see if he an reclaim some of his '08 magic. [Phillies Files]

• While he remains with a contender after signing with the Yankees, Chan Ho Park's gamble didn't pay off. The reliever accepted a deal worth less money when nobody stepped up to beat the Phillies offer or give him a chance to start. [Crashburn Alley]

• On the lighter side, the Phillies are up to their usual spring training antics. [The Zo Zone]

• Asking the question who should be between the pipes for the Flyers. My vote is Leighton. [Philly Burbs]

• The best take you will ever read on the Tiger Woods press conference. [SB Nation]

COMMENT OF THE DAY

ill give ed wade as much shit as the next guy (i still remember the time i sat near him at a game in DC near the end of the 2006 season when the phillies were in the hunt for the wild card and i said "ed, are we gonna make the playoffs this year?" and in the most laconic, dispassionate way replied "well, we'll see"...it was not the vote of confidence i wanted from him at the time), but he deserves credit for putting together most of the nucleus for the 2008 WFC.

still this was the guy who landed in a tree when he went skydiving...

- Poster Nutbag

Always felt the timing of Ed Wade's firing was off. Doubt they get over the hump without a general manager who could a) pull off a decent trade at the deadline, and b) identify productive contributors on the free agent/waiver garbage heap. At the same time, they only decided to part with him once things really started turning around.

Of course, it's reasonable to wonder how responsible Wade was for assembling that core, and how much of it was actually Mike Arbuckle.

THE BONUS: "BUDDY COP" MOVIES

This is in reference to the steaming pile of manure Die Hard bad-ass Bruce Willis will appear in along side Tracy Morgan beginning this Friday. By the way, who coined the phrase buddy cop movie? It's stupid. We're now taking suggestions for what these films should really be called (redundant cop movies?).

My personal favorite: Starsky and Hutch. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are great together. Throw in a dash of Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell, plus Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, and you've got yourself a classic. This never really seemed to catch on all that much, but on the topic of overrated versus underrated, this is a very under-appreciated film. It's on AMC with a fair degree of frequency, so check it out.

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Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

Avalon, N.J. -- Joel Embiid has been waiting since 2014 to make his NBA debut. Two years later, the former third overall pick is nearing that day.

“I feel a hundred percent,” Embiid said Saturday at the Sixers Beach Bash. “I’m ready to get started. My summer has been great. We’ve been working out a lot this past summer, just getting some runs in. I’ve gotten a chance to play a little bit against the guys.” 

Embiid’s pro career has been sidelined by injuries, undergoing two foot surgeries in as many years. The first was to repair a stress fracture in his right navicular bone. The second, a bone-graft operation on the same bone. 

The 7-foot-2 big man has been rehabbing since then, traveling as far as Qatar in the process. This offseason Embiid was cleared for monitored, five-on-five drills. He joined the Sixers during the Las Vegas Summer League to continue his recovery away from game competition.

“It’s been really tough,” Embiid said. “The main thing is, I haven’t gotten a chance to get on the court and play, or help my teammates, or play in front of Sixers fans. I look forward to it and I can’t wait.”

Embiid said he “definitely” plans to be a go for training camp. He expects there will be a transition period once cleared to play given the length of his rehab, but notes he is a quick learner. Embiid also anticipates having restrictions, but has not discussed the specifics with the Sixers. 

“Probably,” he said. “But I think the restrictions would probably be about the fact that I haven’t played in two years. It’s not going to be about because people are worried that I’m going to re-injure myself, which I don’t think is going to happen.”

One player who is eager for Embiid’s return is rookie first overall pick Ben Simmons. The two have been friends since high school. They easily gel off the court, and plan to do the same in games. 

“He has great footwork, he has great touch, so I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Simmons said, continuing, “Off the court, we’re like brothers. We have fun.” 

Embiid has been present with the Sixers for games and practices. He has had numerous conversations with head coach Brett Brown about his days on the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff and how the organization achieved success with fellow big Tim Duncan, one of Embiid’s basketball role models. 

With an abundance of bigs, the Sixers will have to determine how they share the floor. For Embiid, who can also knock down long-range shots, he plans to fill whatever role the coaches outline for him.

“I think I’ll take a couple threes, but I’ll do what’s best for the team and whatever I’ll feel comfortable doing,” he said. “Obviously they’re going to need my presence inside and that’s what I’m going to do. But when I’m open, I might fire some threes.”

After a series of setbacks, Embiid is enthusiastic about the thought of making his NBA debut. 

“It feels great,” he said. “Especially after the past two years, I haven’t been able to do what I love. It just feels great.”  

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

NEW YORK – It wasn’t easy leaving the only professional organization he’d ever been part of, but new Phillie A.J. Ellis, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade Thursday, is coming to terms with it.

“To find out that the trade went down, it was hard,” Ellis said upon reporting to his new club Saturday. “It was so immediate and sudden, really hard to say goodbye to a lot of relationships I had been blessed to forge for more than a decade.

“But the waves of emotion are getting farther and farther apart, which is a good thing.”

Ellis, 35, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and rose to the majors with them in 2008. With the Phillies, he will serve a similar role to the one he played with the Dodgers – backup catcher. Ellis wasted no time getting to know the pitching staff he will now work with. He arrived at Citi Field early Saturday afternoon and caught Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff in their between-starts bullpen sessions.

Ellis said “Eichorn” when referring to Eickhoff. He’s forgiven. It’s been a whirlwind week.

“See?” he said. “I’m still learning names.”

Ellis, who served as the personal catcher for Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, was blindsided by the trade.

“When I was summoned to the ballpark, that’s never really a good thing, especially when the front office wants to meet with you as far as where you’re at with the club, you know some kind of transition is happening,” he said. “The first 12 hours were definitely the hardest.

“But to arrive here and arrive in the clubhouse, meeting the staff, I’m starting to feel re-energized, refilled with a sense of purpose as to why I’ve been placed here, and why this is where I need to be at this time. I’m excited about that.

"I know I have huge shoes to fill. Carlos Ruiz is such a fixture in the Phillies organization. The work that he’s done here behind the plate, you can’t fill. This guy is a world champion catcher who has been back there for so many great baseball memories. So it’s up to me to do my part to fill the void.”

Manager Pete Mackanin thought about putting Ellis in the lineup Saturday night then had some mercy when he figured facing hard-throwing Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard might not be the best indoctrination for a guy who just flew cross-country. Ellis is likely to start Sunday afternoon’s series finale and catch Vince Velasquez.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t asked to make a contribution to Saturday night’s game. Mackanin said he wanted Ellis to speak with the Phillies hitters about the weaknesses the Dodger pitchers tried to exploit.

“We talk to them about this stuff all the time, but it might help to hear it from an outside source,” Mackanin said.

Ellis left a first-place club for a rebuilding team. That’s not easy. He has come to terms with that. He likes the young talent on the Phillies’ roster and hopes to help it come to flower.

“Guys are playing for their careers,” he said. “Guys are playing to make their mark in this game and create a winning franchise once again in Philadelphia. 

"You see the talent, you see their desire to learn, their desire to get better. You just know the youth on this staff, the talent level on this staff. And if I can in some short time here impact some wisdom on those guys, share some of the wisdom along the way that I’ve picked up from some great mentors I’ve had in my time in the game, I need to pay it back, from what all has been given to me.”

Ellis hit just .197 with a .285 on-base percentage in 53 games for the Dodgers this season. That’s one of the reasons the Dodgers acquired Ruiz – to get more production from their right-handed-hitting backup catcher. Ruiz had a .369 on-base percentage at the time of the trade.

Phillies’ general manager Matt Klentak was “adamant” that Ellis come back on the deal because he wanted someone who could fill Ruiz’ void on (behind the plate) and off (with clubhouse leadership) the field. Ellis’ time with the Phillies might be short. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and his playing time might be scant as September unfolds. The Phils will probably add prospect Jorge Alfaro to the catching mix sometime during that month. Management seems eager to get a look at him while still getting No. 1 catcher Cameron Rupp the game reps he needs.

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Carson Wentz isn't playing on Saturday night against the Colts, but the No. 2 overall pick might have a chance to play in the preseason finale on Thursday, which has been the hope all along. 

Wentz went through a lengthy pregame warmup -- about an hour -- on Saturday as his teammates prepared to face Andrew Luck and the Colts. Long after Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel went into the locker room, Wentz continued to throw. 

This week's pregame warmup was much more intense than the one he was put through last week in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, he dropped back to throw and looked smooth throwing on the run, even across his body. Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo put Wentz through the hour-long workout on Saturday. Leaving the field after the workout, offensive coordinator Frank Reich agreed that Wentz looked good. 

The real test will be the X-ray, because no matter how good he feels or how much he lobbies, he'll need to be cleared before he's allowed to return. Shortly after the injury, Wentz said practice would be determined by his pain tolerance and game action would be determined by medical personnel. If he doesn't play against the Jets, it could be a while before Eagles fans get to see their quarterback of the future. 

Another hurdle is the short week of practice thanks to a Thursday game coming after a Saturday game. 

"It's interesting because next week we only got really two days of practice," Doug Pederson said earlier in the week. "We'll see. We'll evaluate him through the weekend. [We’ll] take him on this trip and work him out a little bit when we get to Indy [Indianapolis], and then again next Monday and Tuesday. We've got to at least get a day's work with him in order for him to go in the game next Thursday."

Along with Wentz, there are several other Eagles who won't play against the Colts: Aaron Grymes, Alex McCalister, Joe Walker, Jordan Matthews, Isaac Seumalo and Mike Martin.