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Grading the Eagles' moves: Jordan Matthews traded to Bills

Grading the Eagles' moves: Jordan Matthews traded to Bills

Eagles get: CB Ronald Darby

Bills get: WR Jordan Matthews, 2018 third-round draft pick

There were reports the Eagles would be open to trading Jordan Matthews as far back as February, so it certainly comes as no surprise the club finally pulled the trigger. That being said, I’m not sure anybody could’ve anticipated quite this level of return.

A second-round draft pick from Florida State in 2015, Ronald Darby made 29 starts for the Bills in two NFL seasons. However, after a solid rookie campaign in which he was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team and Pro Football Focus’ Defensive Rookie of the Year, Darby regressed in 2016, apparently falling out of favor in Buffalo.

Darby went from a 78.3 opponents’ passer rating in coverage – 17th out of 79 qualifying players corners – to a 104.8 in ’16 – 69th out of 79. The Eagles are banking on a resurgence.

Cornerback was clearly the team’s greatest need, and there was a clamoring to do something. Darby is better than most, if not all of the suggested targets.

Darby is listed at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds. He has 137 tackles, 33 pass deflections and 2 interceptions in 29 games.

As for Matthews, there are many who were critical of the fourth-year wideout. He was miscast as a No. 1 receiver, dropped too many passes and was pushing Nelson Agholor down the depth chart. After the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, and with Mack Hollins and Marcus Johnson also having strong training camps, the Eagles could afford to part with somebody.

There’s no denying Matthews’ production – 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons – or work ethic. Unfortunately, he was in the final year of his contract, and there was a logjam at the position.

From all of those perspectives, the trade makes sense. The fact that the Eagles had to throw in a third-round pick is where the deal loses some of its luster.

Darby is under contract for two more years, which is perhaps where the Bills get off asking for more out of the swap. Otherwise, they’re comparable talents – both former second-round choices, both stellar production early in their careers, and both coming off of down years. In that sense, you could make the case this should’ve been straight up.

The pick hurts the deal, but doesn’t ruin it. Of course, even a down year for Matthews was 73 receptions, 804 yards and 3 touchdowns, so he’ll likely continue to produce regardless. Whether it will have been worth it or not depends entirely on whether Darby rebounds and becomes a consistent starting cornerback for the Eagles.

If Darby does that, this grade could be substantially better – and nobody will care about that third-round pick.

Grade: B

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

You can't really fake it at an All-Star Game, especially one where people are actually trying. There's no lucking your way into a couple open shots and a couple generous foul calls and all of a sudden rolling your way to a 30-plus-point game; there's no isolating one defensive mismatch and exploiting it to make yourself look like '01 Shaq. Generally speaking, an All-Star Game shakes out as it should: The best shine the brightest, and those who aren't ready yet fade into the periphery with extra motivation to step things up for next year. 

And that's why it's so awesome that Joel Embiid, a mere 75 games into his NBA career, unquestionably belonged on the biggest stage with the biggest names last night. Playing for Stephen Curry's squad, JoJo posted 19 points on 8-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and two blocks, and a +5 rating for the night — the only positive plus/minus for the Steph starters. 

Out of context, those numbers may not sound particularly impressive for an All-Star outing, considering the final score of 2017's game was 192-182. But thanks to increased financial and personal motivation in this year's game, the competition was ratcheted up, and though the final score was still a robust 148-145 — Team LeBron emerging victorious — no one player really went off in this one, with Team Stephen being led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard (21 each). Consider that JoJo's 19 outpaced both teammates James Harden (12 points on 5-19 FG) and Curry himself (13 on 4-14 FG) — only two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. 

And what's more, down the stretch it was Embiid who seemed most ready to rise to the moment. With minutes remaining and his team up one, Embiid posted up LeBron James — LeBron James!! — for an easy bucket, and with the score tied and under a minute left, he got stuck isolated on the perimeter against Paul George, and still ended up blocking George's shot to win the possession back for his team. Had his squad been able to hang on in this one, he would've been able to mount a fairly compelling case for MVP, which would've made him the first player since at least the 20th century to win top honors in his first All-Star appearance. 

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and Team Stephen coach Mike D'Antoni might get most of the blame as to why. With his squad up one and Team LeBron inbounding out of a timeout, D'Antoni opted for some incomprehensible reason to bench Embiid, his best defensive player — which, somewhat unsurprisingly, resulted in LeBron scoring quickly and easily at the basket to go up one, and then DeMar DeRozan throwing the ball away at the other end. Embiid entered for the final possession, with his team needing a three to tie, and he had a chance to hoist one, but understandably passed to Curry, who drove his way into traffic and ended up not even getting a shot off. Team LeBron won, and James took home his third MVP. 

Frustrating finish, but it can't ruin what came before: Joel Embiid squaring off against the best the NBA has to offer, and proving himself a factor. (Also nailed a three and then blocked a Russell Westbrook drive at the other end, btw, so that beautiful random feud lives on.) He got as good as he gave — LeBron drilled a triple in his face immediately after JoJo took him down low — but he was in the mix, and a crucial part of his team's successes and failures. It should be the first of many such All-Star starring roles for Embiid, and hopefully the last for some time that doesn't also include him being flanked by Process Truster in Arms Ben Simmons. 

But even if it isn't — even if nothing good ever happens again with Joel, and we look back at this All-Star Game 25 years from now as the high point of this career — it still would have all been worth it. It was worth it when the team went 10-5 two Januarys ago. It was maybe worth it when Embiid gave his first-ever post-game interview following a Sixers win. 

That's what people will never understand about The Process, and that's what makes nights like this so gratifying. Franchises go decades, entire generations, without getting a moment to feel this way about one of their players, and even getting the chance to feel it about one of ours is worth seasons of sacrifice. JoJo lives, and somewhere in the bowels of the Staples Center last night, Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie had to be there and be smiling. Hope he enjoyed the Fergie national anthem as much as I did, as well. 

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

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SB Nation/Twitter

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

Updated at 12:50 a.m.

Early Sunday, a video surfaced on social media that appeared to put Sixers’ guard JJ Redick in an extremely poor light. Redick has since responded to clear up the situation.

Here’s what happened:

At about 8 a.m., a post appeared on Reddit showing a screenshot and caption alleging that Redick said a racial slur during a video from NBA players wishing Chinese fans a Happy New Year. The video caused a huge uproar on social media. If you wish to see the video, it is located here, at the top.

On the surface, without a response, it looked odd from the start. Redick, who we have come to know as a well-spoken individual who is typically very appreciative of basketball fans, isn’t someone you’d expect this from, let alone with a camera pointing directly at his face with an NBA microphone in front of his lips.

He offered this response on his official Twitter account, saying he was tongue-tied and had no intentions of saying what he did on the video.

Fans reacted on both sides of the issue, some still asking for an apology and others taking Redick for his word. 

On Sunday night, Redick followed up with a longer statement on his Twitter and Instagram, where he further explained himself and indeed issued an apology.

Please read. Thank you.

A post shared by JJ Redick (@jjredick) on

Early Monday, Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin tweeted a statement saying that he spoke with Redick and believes the Sixers' guard didn't say a racial slur.

With the All-Star Break going on, Redick won’t be available for a few more days for the media to ask him about this. There’s a chance this story will continue into next week.