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Swap Kings: Sixers ride Sac pick to No. 3, what is Hinkie may never die

Swap Kings: Sixers ride Sac pick to No. 3, what is Hinkie may never die

Generally, I consider myself to be pretty in tune with the Process and its many practitioners. That's not to say I always agree with the prevailing Process viewpoint, but usually I can at least guess with reasonable accuracy what said perspective is going to be -- how a trade or signing will be perceived, whether a former player will get booed or cheered upon return visit, if we'll pretend to have opinions about a second-round selection, and so on. After four years of Trusting this thing, you'd hope you develop a pretty good instinct for it. 

Tonight, though, I was definitely off. After the Philadelphia 76ers jumped up from 4 to 3 via Sacramento Kings pick swap, I looked around the Rights to Ricky Sanchez Lottery Party expecting the moment's disappointment at not getting 1 or 2 to give way to overwhelming gratitude, if not outright ecstasy, as the many implications of the moment had a chance to settle in for the TTPers in the crowd. But it never came. Instead, as fans filed out of Xfinity Live, everyone still seemed to be mid-negotiation -- weighing jumping up to 3 against not getting 1 or 2, and landing the Kings pick swap vs. not having the Lakers pick convey. (LAL slid up to no. 2, a climb sure to jump-start a generation of conspiracy theories.)

It's understandable for Sixers fans to feel mixed emotions about what transpired on Tuesday. But then again... c'mon. 

As much bargaining as I did with myself going into the night, there's two words you could have told me before the draft that would have made all other worldly concerns irrelevant: Pick Swap. That's it. After that, I'm good. You mean we're going to use our 10% chance of the Kings jumping into the top three -- roughly the chances of the Celtics and Spurs meeting in the finals this year -- and thanks to a comically one-sided trade we made with Vlade and Vivek two years ago at the height of Hinkiemania, we're going to jump into the top three for the fourth straight year? We're really gonna look at that and say "OK, what else?" 

It feels pretty bizarre to say, but I had no idea Process Trusters had gotten this spoiled. Perhaps this is the greatest accomplishment of the lottery party -- after three years of making it past the commercial break, capped by our One Shining Moment of landing at No. 1 in 2016, we've actually become entitled as a fanbase when it comes to lottery night. Now, simply not sliding down even further (as I'd convinced myself we were finally due for) is far from good enough. We want the pick swap, and we want it to get us all the way to No. 1, with a top-five Lakers pick to complement -- and anything less is a "Yeah, but..." Tsk, tsk. 

Personally, I think the night was a damn miracle. Yes, we only moved up one spot -- though really, when you consider the Sixers were most likely by far to finish at no. 5 (and in fact did land there with our own pick), we really moved up two. And yes, we have to wait another year for the Lakers pick, and they'll have another top-two pick to improve around in the meantime -- though if you think Lonzo Ball in his rookie season is gonna be the difference between L.A. winning 26 games and L.A. winning 41 games, I have some $500 sneakers to sell you. And yes, we probably aren't going to get Markelle Fultz -- though he probably would have chafed behind guaranteed starter T.J. McConnell in the rotation before long anyway.

But guys. GUYS. Guyyyyyyyyyyyyyys. We got the friggin' pick swap. Pick Swap! If you had to sum up the final two years of the Process in just two words, it would undoubtedly have been "pick swap." When it came time for the Lottery Party faithful to articulate their evening's greatest desire, it wasn't "LA-KERS PICK!' or "NUM-BER ONE!" that we chanted -- even though both were actually more likely outcomes. No, it was "PICK! SWAP! PICK! SWAP! PICK! SWAP!" And it should have been. And we got it. And it was beautiful. 

So, what for the Sixers at No. 3, then? Well, Josh Jackson seems like a strong bet -- a two-way wing with major potential on both sides of the ball, assuming he can get his jump shot sorted. UK guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox will certainly get extended looks, as will Duke wing scorer Jayson Tatum. And even though it's considered preordained to the point of him already being penciled into the draft's Wikipedia page, don't rule out Lonzo Ball as a possibility either. Remember, we Knew the Lakers were gonna pick Jahlil Okafor two years ago, too -- sometimes, reality just ends up outweighing the narrative to an unignorable degree. 

And one last note on the Lakers: Yeah, I wanted the pick this year, too. It would've been nice to have it, to know that it was ours, and that nothing was gonna come along in the next 12 months to potentially ruin it. But it's not going away. We have it next year, and we have it entirely. Remember how annoying it was to root for the Lakers to lose, lose, lose, and then no you've lost too much now you need to win, win, win, wait maybe lose a couple BUT DAMMIT DON'T LOSE THAT MANY GAHHHH? Well, now it's gonna be easy: We want the Lakers to lose in October, in April, and in all months in between, as frequently and as discouragingly as possible. That, my friends, is gonna be fun -- even if Paul George does decide he wants to jump ship to a 26-win team for some reason. 

So yeah, the Sixers should have some options, and all of them seem like pretty good ones. The Sixers will add a top-three pick this summer to a core of Joel, Ben, Dario and RoCo, they still have all the cap space in the known universe this off-season, and then in the next two drafts, we own totally unprotected picks from two teams that haven't drafted outside the top ten since 2013. And now, forever and always, we have Pick Swap, the final validation for Our Once and Always Dark Lord. And if all that's not enough to make you one smilin' Sixers fan this week, then I have to ask if we were even trusting the same process all these years.

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 2: Mychal Kendricks up, LeGarrette Blount down

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 2: Mychal Kendricks up, LeGarrette Blount down

Carson Wentz was impressive in the Eagles’ second preseason contest against the Bills on Thursday. While he did not look sharp early in the game, the way he was able to bounce back and finish strong was very encouraging.

Wentz missed two of his first three passes, badly overthrowing the intended receiver on both plays. He scrambled for a short gain on another play where he easily could’ve unloaded the football for a bigger chunk. Not coincidentally, the Eagles failed to record a first down on their opening three drives.

That easily could’ve been it, but Wentz went back out for a fourth series and played better, completing five of his last six attempts for 45 yards. The drive ended with a fumble, but Wentz showed resilience.

Sometimes we forget Wentz is a second-year quarterback. There are still going to be ups and downs this season – stretches of series and perhaps even games where he doesn’t find his rhythm. However, he also showed an ability to let it go and stop pressing here when the game didn’t get off to the start everybody would hope.

While not his best evening from a numbers standpoint, Wentz’s stock is still very much on the rise. Unfortunately, not too many of his teammates on offense could say the same after this effort.

STOCK UP

Mychal Kendricks
Preseason or not, Kendricks was everywhere. The sixth-year linebacker saw extensive playing time, finishing with two tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and one interception. The crazy part is the numbers don’t really do the performance justice. Kendricks was rushing the passer, providing sound coverage and just generally in position to make plays. One good outing may not translate into more snaps come the regular season, but Kendricks managed to rebuild some confidence in his ability. Who knows, it may have been enough to entice a team to make a trade offer the Eagles can’t refuse.

Ronald Darby
This should go without saying, but Darby was impressive in his Eagles debut. In fact, the most disappoint aspect of his night may have been when he dropped a likely pick-six. He of course made up for it later with a 48-yard interception return. Darby’s speed and instincts were on display for both plays. He was patient and in sound position, as opposed to some overly aggressive ballhawks that gamble, and had the athleticism to close on the football and finish the play. If this preview was any indication of what’s to come, Darby could feast behind the Eagles' front four.

Corey Graham
With Ron Brooks nursing a hamstring injury, the Eagles used Malcolm Jenkins at nickel cornerback and brought in Graham to play safety. That could also be a package the Eagles go with depending on the match-up, with the 32-year-old defensive back showing he still has something left. Graham finished with five tackles, at one point coming up from his spot at safety to make a nice stop in the backfield. He hit hard and demonstrated some value on special teams. Signed two weeks ago, it’s clear Graham has already overtaken Terrence Brooks and Jaylen Watkins on the depth chart.

Corey Clement
Clement has been the most productive running back on the team through two preseason games. The undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin rushed eight times for 34 yards and one touchdown versus the Bills, and his 24-yard carry is the Eagles’ longest of the summer. Yet, the area where Clement has been most impressive is in the passing game. He’s shown some ability as a receiver, but more important, he’s been willing and effective in pass protection. Given all the issues in the Eagles' backfield, Clement is going to have a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster should this continue.

Alshon Jeffery
It was only two receptions for 24 yards, but with that, Jeffery was able to provide a glimpse into why the Eagles have kept him in bubble wrap this summer. His 14-yard slant was especially exciting. While the grab was as easy as it gets in the NFL, Jeffery showed a little explosiveness after the catch. Everybody talks about the highlight-reel catches, but Jeffery is an all-around weapon who can get it done on short and intermediate routes as well. This was a nice preview that should leave people wanting to see more.

STOCK DOWN

LeGarrette Blount
Through two games, Blount has 17 yards rushing. To put that in perspective, he also has 15 yards receiving. In Blount’s defense, the offensive line has not given him much room to run. At the same time, the 30-year-old back doesn’t look like a great fit for the offense. He’s slow to the corner, he’s not really a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, and he’s not great in pass protection, either. Add a drive-killing fumble to Blount’s preseason resume as well. With Clement’s emergence, Blount’s roster spot might be up for grabs, especially if Wendell Smallwood can show anything.

Lane Johnson
Johnson played poorly, with the caveat that he was starting at left tackle rather than the right. Of course, Johnson is the emergency option there, so it’s not as if he gets a pass. There were at least three plays where the fifth-year lineman was beaten badly, resulting in a run getting stuffed in the backfield, a quarterback sack and a holding penalty. He was only in for 18 snaps. It’s not as if this was the first time Johnson played the position, either. Granted, Johnson would no doubt improve if he were on the left full-time, but in a pinch, he’s still a little scary.

Matt McGloin
The Eagles won’t feel the need to carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Most of McGloin’s passes down the field are errant at best, with too many balls being forced into double coverage. One such attempt resulted in an easy interception on Thursday. McGloin simply doesn’t have the arm strength to get away with those mistakes. He doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket, either, a combination that tends to result in a lot of check downs. Fortunately for the Eagles, Nick Foles is healthy and expected to play next week.

CSN's Jim Salisbury suffers unfortunate (but hilarious) pregame injury

CSN's Jim Salisbury suffers unfortunate (but hilarious) pregame injury

The Phillies are having a rough week on the West Coast. They've dropped four straight games to bad teams in the Padres and Giants, but they haven't been quite as unlucky as CSN Phillies insider Jim Salisbury, who last night suffered an unfortunate injury that we can laugh at only because he's OK.

While the Giants were taking infield practice prior to Friday's game at AT&T Park, Salisbury was being interviewed outside the visiting dugout by a San Francisco reporter. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, a Gold Glover last season, uncorked a throw to first base that sailed a bit wide, bounced, and ... hit Jim in the worst of all spots.

It's really a video you need to see for yourself (up above).

Crawford clearly felt enough guilt to send Salisbury a parting gift.

Make sure to ice today, Jim.

Hans Moleman could not be reached for comment.