Right now, the Philadelphia sports scene is anything but boring.
Right now, the Philadelphia sports scene is anything but boring.
For better or worse, thereâ€™s a myriad of topics that are being discussed throughout the Delaware Valley regarding our four major professional teams. After a memorable season, what will the Sixers do this summer to improve the team? Are the Phillies actually getting better? Are the Flyers still two years away from being two years away?
Hereâ€™s a few observations from the last week. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
-The Sixers have been looking forward to the summer of 2018 for years now. Whether they are acquired by free agency or a trade, anything less than the addition of one (or preferably two) all-stars on the team will be considered a disappointment, as this team will not contend for an NBA title the way it is currently constructed.
Last July, I openly supported the possibility of LeBron James coming to Philadelphia. However, that was before any of us saw the team play this season. While thereâ€™s work to be done, bringing in James would be the worst thing this team could do. His style is similar to Ben Simmons, and the chemistry Joel Embiid and friends are developing would be drastically altered. Whether itâ€™s intentional or not, it becomes the LeBron show, and thatâ€™s not going to change.
In short, it isnâ€™t beneficial for the Sixers, who would have to accommodate James (not to mention the detrimental effect it would have on the growth of the team). Furthermore, chances are Jamesâ€™ stay in the city wonâ€™t likely be very long. The Sixers are better off signing younger players such as Paul George while trying valiantly to land Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs. Even though this Sixers team is quite young, they wonâ€™t always have the cap space to afford every player, so their time frame to win isnâ€™t as big as you might think.
As expected, the Sixers received the 10th pick in this yearâ€™s NBA Draft Lotteryâ€”and it might have hindered their chances of packaging this pick in a possible deal with San Antonio for Leonard, because the pick might not be high enough. Although the potential is there, Markelle Fultz is still a big question mark for the team. It most certainly would be a risk for the Spurs to take him in a possible deal, and it wouldnâ€™t be enough to land Leonard, even if the Sixers threw in the 10th pick. San Antonio would almost surely pass on Robert Covington, whose playoff performance was less than spectacular (although it was recently revealed that Covington had surgery on his left hand). Would the team have to part with Dario Saric? San Antonio wonâ€™t get fleeced like the Sixers did for Wilt Chamberlain, or like the Phillies did, when they traded Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling.
Leonard is a perfect fit for the Sixers, the San Antonio connection Brett Brown has is also a plus, and Philadelphia can afford him with their cap space and still sign another free agent.
That being said, some concerns that need to be addressed. For starters, how healthy is Leonard? Second, you donâ€™t hear of many disgruntled players in San Antonio. Were there other factors besides his health that limited him to just nine games this past season? Despite the perceived acrimony, Leonard wonâ€™t come cheap, and select number of NBA teams can possibly offer a better package to the Spurs than the Sixers. Teams likeâ€¦..the Celtics.
Speaking of the Celtics, theyâ€™re way better than anybody gave them credit for. At times, they made the Sixers look like absolute amateurs during their playoff matchup. Barring injury or unforeseen circumstances, expect them to be the bane of the Sixersâ€™ NBA Finals aspirations for years to come, because frankly, theyâ€™re currently a much better assembled team than the Sixers areâ€”by leaps and bounds. How good is Boston? This team is scary good, and theyâ€™re going to the NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Having them back next year will be a nightmare for opposing teams, and Bryan Colangelo must get creative. We haven’t even talked about how tough the Western Conference is.
-Are the Phillies the real deal? Itâ€™s beginning to look that way as the weeks go by. They arenâ€™t exactly in the same class as the Astros or Yankees right now, but the team is exceeding expectations. The Gabe Kapler hate seems to have died down (again), Aaron Nola is becoming the ace of the staff (which also includes a resurgent Jake Arrieta), Nick Pivetta is dealing, and the pitching seems to be less of a concern than it was coming out of spring training.
-The Phillies might want to get creative if they plan on acquiring Orioles infielder Manny Machado before free agency. Rumor has it that several injury-riddled teams are inquiring about his services now. To complicate matters, heâ€™s apparently expressed desire to play for the Yankees. Do you really want him to go to the Yankees?
-Speaking of the Orioles, if you think Ryan Howardâ€™s contract was bad, Iâ€™ve got two words for you: Chris Davis.
-Nick Williams was an exciting player last year and I looked forward to seeing what he would be able to accomplish over the full course of a season. Yes, Kapler has inherited a surplus of outfielders, but he somehow has to find time for him.
-Did someone on the Eagles make a deal with the devil last year? The Birds, who generated very little (if any) negative press in 2017, have had three players on their offseason roster facing some form of legal action. Truth be told, the only Eagle who has technically played a game for them on this list is Jay Ajayi. Michael Bennett was recently acquired and Daryl Worley was released following his arrest. Either way, none of this is what you want coming from a notoriously tight-knit squad, whose team chemistry played a tremendous role during their Super Bowl run.
-As a Flyers fan, are you embarrassed that the Las Vegas Golden Knights are several wins away from playing in the Stanley Cup, while your team hasnâ€™t sniffed the second round of the NHL Playoffs since Joe Blanton was in the Philliesâ€™ starting rotation? If not, you should be. First it was Tampa Bay, then Carolina, and now possibly Las Vegas? Yeah, yeah, itâ€™s a great story for the NHL, but how many more expansion teams will get to experience championship bliss before the orange and black hoist the Cup again?
Joe Vallee is the co-founder of Philly2Philly.com. He’s a drummer, loves tomatoes, and is a co-author of three books: A Snowball’s Chance, No Curveballs: My Greatest Sports Stories Never Told, and Snow On The Barb Wire.
Contact Joe Vallee at firstname.lastname@example.org
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