Don’t want Kevin Durant. Don’t care what Screamin’ A has said about him, including the positively laughable statement that he, the Overbearing Voice of Nonsense, would take the Oklahoma City forward, a 6-9 beanpole of a roller-coaster ride between money stroke and choke artist, ahead of player for all ages LeBron James.
Don’t even care what someone “local” who actually has displayed a lot of sense at times, WIP sportstalk’s Brian J. Haddad, has said about him, either, such as Durant being the type of “whale” the 76ers need to land in the free-agent market, the kind of star who could ignite a nothing-to-something rebuild by Philly’s NBA franchise.
Just not a fan. At all.
So, thanks, but no thanks to KD coming to town.
For all the success he has enjoyed as a pro, and there has been plenty for him to enjoy, individually and as part of a team, winning four scoring titles on his own and being a key factor in the Thunder reaching one NBA Finals (2012) and four Western Conference Finals (2011, ’12, ’14 and ’16), Durant just does not give off any clutch, “killer” or winner vibe.
Yeah, great scorer, better defender than credited with being, but he’s just paper-thin soft. Just like the guy being compared to him and pushed as a viable for the Sixers with the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft. Which is yet another reason why you’d never see me touting Brandon Ingram as the guy they should take.
Can’t stomach the idea of one KD type on their roster. Absolutely shudder at the possibility that two of them may exist on it when camp for the 2016-17 season opens in the fall.
Not for nothing, but the Sixers have an opportunity now to create their own identity, with their own players, and, frankly, that prospect, as daunting as it may be for most of us to consider after three years of tanking, is much more appealing than paying Durant more money than he’s worth to do what we already know he’ll do, which is, ultimately, come up short.
He’s not held back in OKC. Heck, if anything, his game is highlighted by playing with another star, and his burden is alleviated for the same reason. Sorry, rip Russell Westbrook all you want for being a crazy man out on the court, but he gets the ball to KD in some wonderful, easy-to-bucket situations most of the time and then takes over at others.
If you ask me, he’s the far better player on the Thunder. KD had been for a while, perhaps even the first 4-5 years of their pairing in the Big Friendly, but Westbrook’s “force of nature” drive/talent has been too dynamic to play second fiddle. Not just in OKC, either.
Put it this way, Golden State’s Steph Curry was a worthy MVP this season, unanimous or not. He had no biz being honored as such last season, though, ahead of Westbrook.
But back to KD …
His arrival, if it ever occurred in Philly, would be met with wide-eyed hope leading to wild proclamations … and result in a lot of disappointment. He is a supplemental piece. An often electric supplemental one due to his ability to rack up points, but supplemental nonetheless.
He is not a foundational-type entity, the guy you get in place and then start putting supplements around him. Just doesn’t have that kind of all-around game. Never did. Never will.
If he’s not scoring, he’s not factoring.
Sorry, have seen enough of those one-dimensional players in town.
So, spare me on signing another, and while we’re at it, spare me on drafting another, too.
Drifted from the sport a long time ago. So can’t claim a special connection to the sport he played, or for the team he played … but, push come to shove, truth being told, Rick MacLeish was an all-time favorite athlete of mine.
If anything, his talent on the ice, what we witnessed here in Philly for 12 seasons, was enough to teach me to recognize what happens beyond the hype to see what was real. Loved Bill Barber. Loved Bernie Parent. Loved Bobby Clarke most of all. But, really, when the city’s NHL franchise was at its best, no one was better than MacLeish. No one.
He was the first Flyer to score 50 goals, had another with 49 and five more with at least 30, and, without a doubt, was a critical figure in the team winning Stanley Cups in 1974 and ’75 and cultivating a love affair with hockey fans and beyond around here forever.
Has there ever been a more majestic display of speed, power and focused brilliance than MacLeish racing from one end to another, his dark hair flowing in the breeze with each leg push against the ice, setting up just inside the blue line, getting hold of the puck and then whipping it past the goalie with a pin-point wrist shot?
Today, unfortunately, all we have of MacLeish are memories. Felled by multiple illnesses, he passed away at 66 on Monday … and many will feel a sense of loss.
That playoff push by the 2016 Phillies, it ain’t gonna happen.
Sorry to burst any bubbles out there.
By all means, anyone bleeding pinstriped red should thoroughly enjoy every single sign of progress this group shows, and, frankly, wouldn’t be out of line to bask in the glow of an absolute revelation being unearthed in center field.
But a postseason run?
With reality slowly starting to rear its often ugly head courtesy of cold slaps to the face on visits to Detroit and Chicago, the fact of the matter is the Andy MacPhail-led reclamation project we’re watching here isn’t going to be a quick fix and never was meant to be.
For all the poking fun done here at mismanagement that may go on with the pro sports franchises in Philly, it’s still hard to ignore when “organization” and “plan” somehow find themselves magically coexisting under the same roof.
Put it this way, even the good moves former GM Ruben Amaro made seemed to reek of panic-ridden or ego-driven mass tossings of shit against the wall to see what would stick. Not so under the new regime, which appears to have the patience to realize that this “rebuild” is going to – gulp – take time and the wherewithal to – double gulp – actually take that time.
Hard to believe, sure, but that is possible.
No, seriously …
Cutting through the David Puddy “gotta support the team” dedication, only two legit everyday players reside on the current roster, third baseman Makeil Franco and the aforementioned blossoming star, Odubel Herrera. First baseman Tommy Joseph may turn out to be, and, if you really want, go ahead and argue the case for good ol’ country boy catcher Cameron Rupp, too.
Everyone else, uh, no … and that’s coming from someone who actually likes Freddy Galvis a little bit and appreciates the unlikely half-decent production from outfield afterthought Tyler Goeddel.
Oh, and, umm, Cody Asche would not be an upgrade anywhere, either. So, just cut out that rationalizing crap.
Perhaps Aaron Altherr would be, but let us digress …
The pitching? Yo, if you got average-everything Aaron Nola as anything higher than your No. 3 in the rotation, you ain’t going many places far beyond .500. The Phillies have one starter with serious stuff in Vince Velasquez and a relief corps that still seems to be doing solid things with smoke and mirrors.
So, it truly has been an amazing stretch leading up to Memorial Day. That they go into play today, the Saturday before the holiday, at 26-22 defies all logic, especially considering they’ve been outscored by 35 runs thus far this season.
But the massive, no-support-for-the-pitching chinks in the armor are starting to show, as evidenced by two straight series losses, including one to lowly Atlanta, followed by Friday afternoon’s undressing at Wrigley Field by a Cubs squad just going along at cruise control.
With 11 of the Phillies’ next 15 games against two of the best clubs in Major League Baseball, five more against the NL Central-leading Cubs starting this afternoon and six with NL East-leading Washington, consider that the calm before the storm.
Positives? Yeah, there will be a few … along the lines that this is a developing team and it still needs help everywhere.
For your own sake, just be pleased should the team eclipse 70 wins, which would be a nice jump from last season’s bottom-feeding effort of 63, and be happy to claim Herrera and Velasquez as all-stars.
Better days, including those in the postseason, are ahead. Just not this year.
By all means, anyone bleeding pinstriped red should thoroughly enjoy every single sign of progress this group shows, and, frankly, wouldn’t be out of line to bask in the glow of an absolute revelation being unearthed in center field. But a postseason run? Puh-leeze … With reality slowly starting to rear its often ugly head courtesy of cold slaps to the face on visits to Detroit and Chicago, the fact of the matter is the Andy MacPhail-led reclamation project we’re watching here isn’t going to be a quick fix and never was meant to be. For all the poking fun done here at mismanagement that may go on with the pro sports franchises in Philly, it’s still hard to ignore when “organization” and “plan” somehow find themselves magically coexisting under the same roof. Put it this way, even the good moves former GM Ruben Amaro made seemed to reek of panic-ridden or ego-driven mass tossings of shit against the wall to see what would stick. Not so under the new regime, which appears to have the patience to realize that this “rebuild” is going to – gulp – take time and the wherewithal to – double gulp – actually take that time.
ESPN shared a report Friday with our sports-loving society that the 76ers are entertaining offers for Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
Gee, can you imagine that?
After removing tongue from cheek, you almost have to wonder if we’re living in some reverse fish bowl here, where the outside masses are oblivious to the obvious. Seriously, like, umm, ya know, who the hell didn’t know the Sixers were doing that, or at least contemplating the idea of doing that?
Not for nothing, but the moment those guys were drafted they were seen as bargaining chips for whatever the unsettled franchise wanted to do for years to come. Neither player was, nor should be, seen as a building block to a team, especially a team that wants to do something other than take runs at single-season records for lameness in NBA annals.
Both are serviceable, useable pieces at the highest level, and that ain’t bad. That makes them commodities, either for the Sixers to use them in their own rotation or to trade them for others deemed a better fit for that rotation.
They are legit pros … with unchangeable limitations that will forever keep them at a level far below transcendent and far above bush league.
Noel will never have much of an offensive game, lacking the physical frame and natural tools to develop one, especially in the post. Unless he plans on spending every waking moment of his existence eight in the weight room or eating steak and pasta the next decade, he’ll be the pogo stick he is right now … and, frankly, if he did become beholden to bulking up he’d loose the electric, jumping-jack, shot-blocking athleticism that gives him any real value right now anyway.
Okafor is the opposite, far less gifted athletically, but skilled offensively, possessing an array of interior moves and, truth be told, a pretty nice mid-range shot. But his immaturity showed on the court and off, and he is a major liability on defense.
They displayed the same pluses and minuses in high school and college. Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change. They are who they are as players.
Coach ’em up all you want, it ain’t gonna matter.
Wasn’t a fan of the Sixers drafting either of them … at all, never mind No. 6 overall in 2013 (Noel) and No. 3 overall last year (Okafor). Neither represented a game-changer/difference-maker in my mind, mainly because their flaws were so painfully apparent, and certain to be easily exposed at the NBA level.
Both “bigs,” each standing 6-11, neither is really a center and neither is really a power forward. They’re both 4-5 tweeners. Funny thing is, it seems their skills combined would provide a cohesive one-two punch inside, with the one dominating this end of the floor and the other dominating that end … and, yet, when paired together this season, they were a dud. Nothing special, if even beyond borderline mediocre.
However, they are assets as individuals. They do have talent that could blend with certain teams. Look at the conference championships going on right now. You don’t think Noel coming off the bench to energize Golden State’s defense would be viable? Or Okafor getting off his keister to supercharge Cleveland’s offense would be possible?
Indeed, if anything, these two are quality pieces for teams already in the title mix, or close to getting there. Their value is in being specialized, where their exacting skills can be utilized at certain times.
With the Sixers, right now having no set plan in place on what they are or want to be, their value is limited here. The team isn’t ready to fill in gaps because it has crater-sized holes to focus on first.
With massive question marks being viewed as answers to boot.
Yeah, waiting to see what they have in Joel Embiid at center and with the No. 1 pick in next month’s NBA Draft would help determine which guy, Noel or Okafor, holds more value in a trade than he does as a member of the Sixers.
But one of them will have to go at some point regardless.
Presenting, in pure Dave Zinkoff style, YOUR Philadelphia 76ers front line ...
Age: 22 Height/Weight: 6-11, 228 College: Kentucky Drafted: Sixth overall, 2013 (selected by New Orleans and traded to Sixers) Highlights: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2015), First-Team All-SEC (2013), SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2013), SEC Rookie of the Year (2013) NBA stats: 142 games played, 133 games started, .490 field-goal percentage, .600 free-throw percentage, 10.5 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game, 1.8 steals per game, 1.7 blocks per game Notable: Missed the entire 2013-14 season while recovering from knee surgery required from an injury sustained in college. He averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in his one year at Kentucky. Still clings to belief that the hi-top fade will come back in style.
Age: 20 Height/Weight: 6-11, 275 College: Duke Drafted: Third overall, 2015 Highlights: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2016), Consensus First-Team All-America (2015), Member of NCAA champion (2015), USBWA National Freshman of the Year (2015), ACC Player of the Year (2015) NBA stats: 53 games played, 48 games started, .508 field-goal percentage, .686 free-throw percentage, 17.5 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game, .4 steals per game, 1.2 blocks per game Notable: Suffered tear in the meniscus of right knee that sidelined him the final two months of the season. He averaged 17.3 points (on .664 shooting from the floor) and 8.5 rebounds per game in his one year at Duke. Was named National High School Player of the Year by multiple outlets in 2014.
New Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich (right), seen here with first-round draft pick Carson Wentz, has made it clear that competition will be part of the team's makeup, including at the quarterback spot.
by Jack Kerwin | ydkjack1.gmail.com
Starting to wonder …
Did the Eagles have a better offseason than we were led to believe?
Forget the player transactions, focus on the coaches. Seriously.
Not for nothing, but after two days of listening to the straight-shooting out of the mouths of new coordinators Jim Schwartz (defensive) and Frank Reich (offensive), it’s like a cloud of uncertainty has been lifted.
Yeah, sure, concerns remain about first-year head coach Doug Pederson and, frankly, just what the team will be able to accomplish out on the field. But at least the BS is over. No more “time’s yours” crap or rat-a-tat-tat, machine-gun, say-nothing verbal assaults.
Thank the mother-effin football gods. Hallelujah.
Pederson, indeed, still may stumble over his thoughts and words while trying to blend corporate and coach speak into one semi-coherent sentences, all the while making sure not to offend a quarterback, a GM, an owner, a fan base, you name it. But that’s OK. He has not one, but two legit right-hand men who clearly have the cojones to handle the heat and, frankly, either seems wholly capable of running the show himself.
Of course, Schwartz already has had the pleasure anyway.
What a breath of fresh air it was to hear him overstep his bounds Tuesday before reporters to discuss the team’s quarterback situation, specifically in regard to rookie Carson Wentz, whom ruler of all things midnight green Howie Roseman moved most of heaven and earth in order to select with the No. 2 pick overall in last month’s NFL Draft.
After initially slapping the clamps on himself, stating it was not his place to talk on such non-defensive side of the ball things, Schwartz went ahead and did so anyway, sharing how he and his staff handled things in Detroit after the Lions took Matthew Stafford No. 1 in 2009.
In short, let him compete for the starting job right out of the chute and if he earns it, give it to him.
What a refreshing change that would be compared to the pressure-free, cocoon-like existence Pederson and Roseman had been professing as be the plan for Wentz this upcoming season, not to mention anointed ad nauseam starter Sam Bradford and backup Chase Daniel.
High-fives were in order for Schwartz after that. Then Reich one-upped him Wednesday.
Somebody pinch me …
In a 10-minute, tour de force of endearing openness and admirable toughness, with a kicker of charming self-deprecation tossed in at the end, the longtime NFL backup quarterback and one-time author of the greatest comebacks in pro AND college football history managed to completely obliterate the concept that Wentz will remain ensconced in bubble wrap throughout 2016 while learning how to play QB at the highest level through some sideline osmosis.
The job of directing the Eagles’ offense is Bradford’s no matter what. Competition will not be part of the equation. Can’t rock the boat of such delicate athletic geniuses.
You could hear Reich trying to catch himself from bursting into guffawing laughter, disgusted at such namby-pamby, self-defeating-to-all silliness.
While he kept his comments in check to the point where he didn’t bury Pederson or Roseman for being over-protective wussies, he was crystal clear in stating his belief that there are no guarantees at any position, including the team’s most talked about one, and that, in pure Herman Boone-ese, “the best player will play.”
In short, any “order” stated up to this point could change … on merit.
Imagine that, performance mattering more than fragile egos. Will wonders ever cease?
Not for nothing, but after two days of listening to the straight-shooting out of the mouths of new coordinators Jim Schwartz (defensive) and Frank Reich (offensive), it’s like a cloud of uncertainty has been lifted. Yeah, sure, concerns remain about first-year head coach Doug Pederson and, frankly, just what the team will be able to accomplish out on the field. But at least the BS is over. No more “time’s yours” crap or rat-a-tat-tat, machine-gun, say-nothing verbal assaults. ... Thank the mother-effin football gods. Hallelujah.
Ryan Howard was batting a MLB-worst .159 entering today's game at Detroit.
by Jack Kerwin | ydkjack1.gmail.com
It’s gotten to the point of being cruel.
Actually, it’s gone beyond that.
Seriously, it has …
For years, used to think the Phillies were clinging onto their past by keeping well-beyond-their-prime guys such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, forever hoping that the fountain of youth would emerge in the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, spritz a little special water on the fellas and take them all back to better times.
It was a sad and pathetic tact by the club, and it was positively misleading to a hero-worshipping fan base that couldn’t possibly have had the wherewithal to grasp that those days, with those guys, were over … long ago.
Felt pretty bad about it all, watching and listening to so many kid themselves for the last half decade. But not anymore. Just neck hair-raising, blood-boiling pissed off now.
The reality of how far this farce has gone is crystal clear at this point. Having been able to unload two parts of the terrific trio that came to symbolize arguably the greatest run in the franchise’s mostly dreadful history, the Phillies, circa 2016, have been left with the ultimate anchor to any rebuild, a contractually bloated human albatross who served as the main driving force to that 2008 title and the most deadly one to the team’s demise since … and, thus far, they’ve been too gutless to take the hit and say that’s it.
This isn’t about showing Ryan Howard some respect or giving him yet another chance or even just saving his feelings anymore. We’ve gone far past legit concern or rationalization by now.
Now, this is about one thing, and one thing only now: saving face – the organization’s face, not the one belonging to the most lethal star in its annals.
Fearing any public backlash for unloading the one-time Ruthian-like slugger, or even, heaven forbid, have him take a well-earned seat on the bench while someone, anyone, other than him man first base, they’ve continued to run the guy out there daily as a way to show just how bad he is anymore … and how good they are because, look, they’re standing by him. They’re not turning their backs on him.
Hey, they love him just like you do, the ones who have supported the guy from one of the all-time, four-year power displays in Major League Baseball from 2006 through 2009 right up until now, five years into a decline that has grown steeper each year, so severe of late that Howard is in danger of tainting his own legacy.
Yeah, sure they do. What a croc …
If they could, the Phillies would put it this way: You know, fans, we’re all set to go full-bore on this “new team” concept here, but we’re not going to green light Howard’s exit until you say it is OK.
In other words, it’s on you. Not them.
They won’t pull the damn trigger and put this poor old war horse out of his misery until the masses have spoken and made it clear that no matter how they feel about the guy, it’s finally time for him to go.
Not a moment too soon, ya know. Don’t wanna rush things.
Are you sure? Maybe think it over some, huh?
Yo, Phillies, especially that analytics-loving braintrust of GM Matt Klentak and President Andy MacPhail running the front-office show, how about you do the right thing, show some compassion and make the move that should have been made by the previous regime 2-3 years ago, when it was apparent Howard’s days as a serviceable player were done?
Enough with the delays. Enough with the last-ditch opportunities to show he can DH. Enough with the mind-numbing excuses to let him finish the season. Enough with the damn PR already.
Just end it.
Because, at this point, anything else would be continuing the cruelty.
LATE WAKEUP CALL
For all those just getting on board with the “Ryan Howard must go” train, regardless of concern or disdain for him or his play, got one question:
Yo, what the eff took you so long?
Not for nothing, but the wheels have been in motion on this for seven years. Seriously. This isn’t some new-fangled, caught-off-guard, knee-jerk deal. Howard has been going downhill the moment the 2009 World Series ended, first from rarified Hall of Fame power-hitting air to solid run-producer status in 2010-11 and then, following an Achilles tendon tear, to off a freakin’ cliff.
People, c’mon. Stop with the rationalizations. Stop with the excuses. He hasn’t been a valuable commodity, outside the minds of Phillies fans longing for the glory days, or even a serviceable player for five years now.
Frankly, it’s been embarrassing. His one “saving” grace, the one that kept hope alive, a 2014 campaign in which he drove in 95 runs while popping 23 homers at the age of 34? Take the red-pinstriped glasses off.
That was bad, Dave Kingman-type bad. Took the guy 648 plate appearances to rack up those OK numbers, which, frankly, were dwarfed anyway by others such as his MLB-leading 190 strikeouts, .223 batting average, .310 on-base percentage (are you kidding me for a power hitter?!!!) and .380 slugging percentage (positively pathetic).
His numbers the two years prior to then and two years after then equally sucked, or sucked even worse depending on your parameters.
Here is the reality with Howard, 2004-2009 vs. 2010-now:
In 118 less at-bats during the former, he registered 70 more hits, 107 more runs scored, 79 more homers and 127 more RBIs while posting a batting average 38 points higher than he has in the latter entering this afternoon’s series finale in Detroit.
In the former, an average year was .280 batting average, 78 runs, 37 homers, 107 RBIs. In the latter, an average year has been .242, 51, 20, 73 – with the additional “bonus” of diminished defensive capacity. The fact of the matter is, Howard has been a liability … for a long time.