The700Level

The Untankable Philadelphia 76ers

The Untankable Philadelphia 76ers

A week and a half ago, it looked like the Philadelphia 76ers' season was over. OK -- in competitive terms, the season was actually over a whole lot earlier than that, basically ever since the Sixers' medical staff first started pumping helium into Joel Embiid's knee in late January. But this season was never really about being competitive anyway, it was about being fun, and after back to back blowout losses at home to the middling Pistons and Bucks -- following two season-ending, spirit-crushing injuries and one permanently unjustifiable trade -- it looked like the WFC was officially closed for funness.

But the Sixers would not be permafrowned so easily. On a four-game road trip, they went 1-3, beating the Lakers, taking the Blazers to OT, and leading the NBA-best Warriors for most of the second half. And last night, upon returning to Broad Street to host their old friend Nerlens Noel and his new-look Dallas Mavericks squad, they won by an unthinkable 42 points -- the largest margin of victory in either direction for a Sixers game this season, and their most supersized W since the Gordan Giricek era. And it was fun-un-un-unnnnnn. 

Let's start with this: It was a "bad" Dario Saric game, and he still ended up with 10-7-5, a steal, a block and no turnovers in 26 minutes. He was one of seven Sixers to end in double figures, including Robert Covington scoring 18 on eight shots, Sergio Rodriguez putting up 13 on a perfect 5-5 shooting night, and Richaun Holmes pitching in 17 in 19 minutes. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot hit double digits for the third straight game and finished an unthinkable +40 for the night. Justin Anderson tied a career high with a game-best 19 against his former squad, including a putback dunk that left even the Flight Squad stupefied. 

But first and foremost, the game was won on the defensive end. T.J., TLC and RoCo proved a devastating combo against the Mavs' wings, absolutely smothering the perimeter and allowing virtually no separation or penetration. Dirk Nowitzki flared up from the outside early, but still ended with just 10 for Dallas, and he was by far the high man in their starting five, with the other four combining for just 18 points and one lone three-pointer accounted for among them. The Sixers took off in the third quarter and just kept going, running Dallas straight out of the gym. 

Needless to say this was not what anyone expected from the evening -- least of all poor Nerlens, who was given a nice video tribute a day after buying cheesesteaks for the entirety of the Delaware Valley, and had a spirited exchange of mutual appreciation with the Philly Phaithful in the building last night. But he certainly would've expected to log more than 18 minutes during his big homecoming game, and despite playing the most competently of any non-Dirk Mav (9-5-3 with a block and steal in his limited PT), he was unable to stave off garbage time and sat most of the second half. 

What's more, the loss almost certainly knocks Dallas out of playoff contention, dropping them to 29-39, four games behind the surging Denver Nuggets with a long, tough road trip still to go. Sorry, Nerlens -- looks like Philly's gonna keep you out of the playoffs this season one way or the other. Hopefully, we can give you a kind of honorary Process Ring when this team is winning in the finals five (or 105) years from now. In the meantime, we wouldn't say we've moved on just yet, but it looks like we've playing the field again -- and playing to win -- at the very least.

Rating the Rumor: Should Eagles trade for LeSean McCoy?

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Rating the Rumor: Should Eagles trade for LeSean McCoy?

Given the Bills’ apparent willingness to trade talent for draft picks, is an Eagles reunion with running back LeSean McCoy a possibility?

Such speculation is quickly becoming the talk of the town, despite the absence of any credible reports the Bills are shopping McCoy – or the Eagles are asking. Then again, it isn’t difficult to connect the dots on this rumor.

Recent moves suggest the Bills are already waving the white flag on 2017. Buffalo sent wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Rams and cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles last week, and while those swaps brought back players as well, the keys to those deals were the picks. The Bills obtained cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round choice for Watkins, and wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a third-round selection for Darby.

Buffalo has clearly entered rebuilding mode, and would no doubt listen to offers for anybody and anything that’s not nailed down. That includes McCoy, who doesn’t sound too thrilled anyway about spending the end of his prime with a team that’s borderline tanking.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ running back situation is far from settled. We touched on that in some detail. In summary, LeGarrette Blount’s preseason exposed his shortcomings, Wendell Smallwood has yet to play in an exhibition game this summer, and Darren Sproles isn’t an every-down back. Though it certainly could all work out, right now, there’s cause for concern.

McCoy would alleviate those concerns in an instant. The five-time Pro Bowl selection is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns, so he can still ball. There’s no question as to fit, either – McCoy became the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher in 2014, largely in an offensive scheme almost identical to that under current coach Doug Pederson.

In fact, McCoy never wanted to leave the Eagles in the first place. He was traded to Buffalo by the previous regime. It’s likely he would welcome the opportunity to come back and play for a team with the likes of Alshon Jeffery and Carson Wentz.

Here comes the downside.

Would the Eagles be as quick to welcome McCoy back? He’s 29 years old, and though he’s shown no signs of slowing down, decline is right around the corner. And what do the Eagles have to trade for an aging running back? The club has already dealt its second- and third-round picks in 2018 in the Wentz and Darby deals, respectively. Will they dip into their stash of 2019 choices, or send a No. 1?

McCoy won’t come cheap, either. The Bills would have to eat nearly $8 million in bonus money in a trade, for starters. And if they were able to swing a third-round pick for Darby with two years left on his contract, and a second for Watkins with one year left, what can they leverage for one of the top five backs in the NFL with three years remaining on his deal? For all we know, it might take a No. 1.

The Bills might be rebuilding, but they certainly aren’t giving these guys away.

There’s no question McCoy can be had for a price. And even if a platoon with Blount, Smallwood and Sproles works out just fine, McCoy would be better.

But at what cost? Probably not one the Eagles are willing to pay. Not with McCoy’s 30th birthday approaching next year. Not with the stock of draft picks already depleted. Not with so many options already on the roster.

McCoy rumors are good fodder for talk radio and blogs. A trade would improve the Eagles’ outlook tremendously for 2017, and possibly beyond. As far as practicality is concerned, however, such a thought is probably more fantasy than reality.

Rating: We can dream…

Eagles players react to the solar eclipse: 'Oh, dude. It's so cool.'

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Eagles players react to the solar eclipse: 'Oh, dude. It's so cool.'

Everybody was talking about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catch the solar eclipse on August 21 throughout the entire United States of America. That included the Philadelphia Eagles players at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia.

The Eagles shared a behind the scenes video of their players enjoying and discussing the eclipse.

Some players had deeper thoughts than others.

Beau Allen was the eclipse reporter for the day.

Responses ranged from, "It’s amazing. Absolutely phenomenal," to "moving."

"Oh, dude, it’s so cool," was my favorite.

Carson Wentz was too busy video taping to comment on the eclipse. Thankfully, he was not driving. Maybe it's because he got his eyes fixed this offseason and didn't want to do any damage.