Rating the Rumor: Eagles likely to trade Mychal Kendricks

Rating the Rumor: Eagles likely to trade Mychal Kendricks

A few weeks back, Jimmy Kempski for PhillyVoice reported the Eagles are “willing to move on” from Mychal Kendricks and anticipate interest trade for the veteran linebacker. Of course, this is not the first time we’ve heard that. Kendricks was also rumored to be on the block in 2015, instead going on to sign a contract extension after months of speculation.

Kendricks hasn’t been on stable ground since. He turned in a shaky performance as part of a bad defense in ’15, then fell out of favor under a new coaching staff last season, lining up for just 26.8 percent of the unit’s snaps.

With all of that in mind, it certainly makes sense to move on from Kendricks. The $1.8 million in salary cap savings his departure would create is barely actionable, but it was clear he was unhappy with his role last season. Furthermore, Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks are obviously better fits for Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s system, and three linebackers simply aren’t on the field all that often in today’s NFL.

[Rating the Rumor: Eagles 'In on' Alshon Jeffrey]

While the Eagles no longer require his services, one would imagine Kendricks would be an attractive option to teams in need of a linebacker. He only turns 27 in September and has manageable base salaries of $4.85 million in 2017, $5.85 million in 2018 and $6.85 million in 2019, according to OverTheCap.com.

More importantly, Kendricks is only two years removed from being considered one of the top playmakers at his position. In the three seasons from 2013-15, he was one of only four linebackers in the NFL to record at least 11.0 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Each of the other three went to the Pro Bowl during that period.

Yes, the ’15 campaign was a down year for Kendricks. True, he hasn’t looked the same since. There have always been legitimate knocks on Kendricks’ as a player, such as the fact that he is only 6-foot tall, or his seeming inability to stay healthy.

Yet if utilized properly, Kendricks can be a weapon in some defense, particularly a scheme that makes frequent use of his ability as a pass-rusher. He’s proven that much.

So if there’s interest around the league, and his contract isn’t an issue, why wouldn’t the Eagles be able to strike a deal? The savings from his release are so insignificant that it doesn’t really prompt action, which means the front office has time to find a partner. And while the return won’t be huge – probably no higher than a fifth-round draft pick – that’s more valuable to the Eagles at this point than somebody who can’t get on the field.

Given how much the Eagles like to trade, and how obviously disgruntled Kendricks is in his current situation, it seems only a matter of time before the situation is rectified. In all honesty, it’s the only path that makes sense.

Rating the Rumor: They better

Sixers now officially growing hyper-efficient big men on trees

Sixers now officially growing hyper-efficient big men on trees

Three weeks ago, even relatively devout 76ers fans could be forgiven for not recognizing the name Shawn Long. You might've recalled his pretty strong showing for the Sixers at Summer League last July, and if you were on the press mailing list for the Delaware 87ers -- lucky you -- you might have noticed him popping up in a lot of "LONG'S 22 HELPS SEVENS DOWN RED CLAWS" type headlines. But however D-League dominant-he was, it seemed unlikely he'd factor into a Sixers season where the team already had four young, high-upside centers on the roster. 

Then of course of those four bigs, one of 'em got surgery, one of 'em got traded and one one of 'em got hurt (and/or maybe just stinks). So with 20 games to go, Shawn Long was called up to the Sixers, posting 13 and seven in garbage time a blowout loss to the Bucks at home. That seemed likely to be the meaningless highlight of a nothing Sixers campaign for Long, but as Okafor keeps missing games with knee issues, Long has continued to be productive in picking up the slack. And last night, he had his best game of the season, posting 18 and 7 in just 19 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. 

Long's per-36 numbers, already decently absurd before last night's 117-107 Sixers victory -- just can't help ourselves beating these garbage teams -- are now downright hilarious: 25 and 14, shooting 67% from the floor, with a 28.5 PER The sample size is still too small (92 minutes) to mean anything considerable, and at this point in the season it's hard to trust any numbers being put up by anyone. But it's especially notable on these Sixers, who have seen such similar high-efficiency offensive production from Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and (most recently) Richaun Holmes before the beginning of Longsanity. 

It's hard not to start wonder if playing center on this Sixers team is kind of like being a running back for a team with an impenetrable offensive line, or being a ground-ball pitcher on a team with an all-Golden Glove infield. It seems like as long as our big can roll to the hoop, catch the ball and crash the boards off misses, playing with pass-first point guards like T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez in Brett Brown's increasingly coherent half-court offense ensures at least above-average production from our five-man. (Unless, of course, that center was taken with the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft, in which case such context doesn't seem to help a ton.) 

Or maybe the Sixers just have a better eye for young centers than Drake does for European slang he half-understands. Either way, the Sixers' ability to get such consistent contributions so far down their depth chart is one of the biggest reasons they seem practically certain to win 30 games one year after barely scrapping their way to double-digits. This season really just never stops being incredible for one reason or another, does it?

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

We thought T.J. McConnell learned.

Remember? Pouring water on Dario Saric is not a good idea?

Yeah, thought that was clearly understood after one Sunday in January.

But McConnell was at it again on Friday night after his buddy Saric poured in a career-high 32 points during a 117-107 win over the Bulls. Just like last time, McConnell struck during Saric's postgame interview with CSN's Molly Sullivan.

And, just like last time, Saric looked like he wanted to destroy his point guard.

Look at it unfold ...

But Saric remembered his mantra: Trust the Friendship.

For the postgame moment, watch below. For highlights from Saric's career night and the full interview, watch the video above.