Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia


Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIAWhen Kyle Korver first entered the NBA back in 2003 as a second-round draft pick from a small college in Nebraska, he joined a 76ers team led by superstar guard Allen Iverson. He appeared to initially struggle with the speed and athleticism of the game, but found his niche as a prolific spot-up shooter by his second season, and although he experienced four coaches in his four-plus seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, the sharpshooter was respected for his gradual all-around improvement and averaged a career-high 14.4 points per game in 2006-07, his fourth professional campaign.

Korver arrived in Philadelphia a couple years too late for the Sixers 2001 run to the NBA Finals, but he did get a taste of the playoffs in his second seasonlosing to current teammate Rip Hamiltons Pistons in 2005before getting traded to Utah early in the 2007-08 season. Another team removed from the Sixers now, Korver still reflects fondly on his tenure with his first team, though its a very different squad from the one he left, as only All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala and two youngsterscurrent reserve mainstays Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, a second-year player out of high school and a rookie with only one college season under his belt, respectivelyremain.

Its always good to be back in Philly, Korver told before the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, an arena thats changed its name since Korvers stint in town. Your first team you play with for a few years, you assume youre going to be there forever, the rest of your career and then, the reality of the business sets infree agency, trades. But its good to be back here. Theres still a lot of good people in the Sixers organization, a lot of the same people who were here when I was here and its good to see everybody.

They were the young guys when I was here. Now, theyre the leaders and I think, obviously the team has grown. Theyve grown as playersAndres an All-Star this year, Lou Williams has grown into an unbelievable scorerthings that you saw they could be and theyre happening now. Theyre really good guys, theyre really hard workers, so Im happy for them.

Iguodala, known as a student of the gameparticularly on the defensive end, as some observers believe hes the NBAs top perimeter defenderassessed Korvers development since leaving Philadelphia in a positive light.

Hes had a lot more NBA experience. Being with him in Philly, he was a younger guy. Now, hes a little bit older, hes one of the vets, so hes seen a lot. Hes seen the different coverages teams are going to throw at him. Defensively, they say hes a liability throughout his career, so hes been able to see what teams throw at him on both ends, said Iguodala. Hes been able to adjust and thats a big part of his career. When somethings thrown at you and they say you have a weakness, how do you adjust? And I think hes been able to do a great job of adjusting to that and keeping himself a threat on the court, and not being a liability on defense.

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures of rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a measly seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Just when it appeared like Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was entering his final half-season as the team's unquestioned starting quarterback, the last month happened.

Trubisky's play has steadily improved over the last five games and reached what may have been his watermark moment in Week 14 against the Cowboys. He completed 74% of his passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns while adding a season-high 63 rushing yards and a score on the ground. It marked the second week in a row that Trubisky's completed over 74% of his passes; he connected on 76% of his throws a week earlier against the Lions.

Trubisky's recent success is a far cry from the mentally broken player he was after the first month of the season. He has his confidence back. In fact, he's playing with more confidence than he's ever shown as a pro. His recent success is a direct and obvious result of his evolution between the ears.

The Bears were circled as a team that was likely to be in the quarterback market this offseason because of how terrible Trubisky looked early in 2019. And there's still a chance that GM Ryan Pace will look to add some healthy competition to the roster, but if Trubisky continues to play well, that competition will be for the backup job. 

It's also worth noting that one of the more appealing quarterback targets this offseason probably won't make it to the open market. Titans starter Ryan Tannehill continues to enjoy a remarkable comeback season and appears destined to sign a long-term extension with Tennessee sooner than later. After Tannehill, the discount quarterback rack includes names like Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota, players who a month ago would've been viewed as marked upgrades over Trubisky.

It doesn't feel like that's the case anymore.

Barring a massive regression from Trubisky over the next three games, it's starting to feel like he's winning back Chicago's confidence one game at a time. 

With all that in mind, here's the updated Bears QB Big Board entering Week 15:

Bears QB Big Board (Dec. 12, 2019)

1. Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
previous: 2 (Dec. 3)

2. Andy Dalton (Bengals)
previous: 1 (Dec. 3)

3. Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
previous: 3  (Dec. 3)

4. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
previous: 4 (Dec. 3)

5. Marcus Mariota (Titans)
previous: 5 (Dec. 3)

6. Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
previous: 6 (Dec. 3)

Outside looking in (list cut down to three)...

-Jake Fromm (Georgia)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

-Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

- Cam Newton (Panthers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

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