The700Level

No excuse for how Sixers handled draft night trade of Mikal Bridges

No excuse for how Sixers handled draft night trade of Mikal Bridges

To be perfectly honest, I can’t tell you a whole lot about Mikal Bridges, other than he’s a Villanova product and two-time national champion. I can’t tell you a thing about Zhaire Smith. And an unprotected first-round pick in 2021 is so far away, it could really be anything, or change hands three more times until then.

I don’t know if the Sixers were winners or losers at the NBA draft after trading Bridges to Phoenix for Smith and the Miami pick. Nobody knows that. We all have our opinions, but we don’t know.

The only thing anybody can say for certain is the organization should be embarrassed, no matter how this plays out on a basketball court.

The Sixers should be embarrassed, but not because the front office took a risk or made an unpopular decision. Love it or hate it, the trade was made with a clear vision, and it took courage for Brett Brown the interim general manager to give his OK, realizing it wasn’t necessarily the best move for Brett Brown the head coach in the immediate. Fortune sometimes favors the bold.

No, the Sixers should be embarrassed for pulling a bait-and-switch on Bridges, a 21-year-old kid and Philadelphia hero, while he was on live TV talking about how ecstatic his mom was he would be playing pro basketball in his hometown. Draft night trades are the norm in the NBA, so why would an NBA team put a young man and his family in that position less than 30 minutes after the selection was made?

Especially when, all the while, Brown was still fielding offers for Bridges.

“The phones were active and we knocked back an incredible deal where we would lose him,” Brown said after the conclusion of the first round. “We didn’t rate it to be a godfather type of deal, something that would impact the franchise to the level that it would have to in order to trade Mikal, who we valued very much.

“Then Phoenix came in and offered a 2021 unprotected [first-round pick], plus our 1B in Zhaire, who we valued very highly, and you’re in a position that you’re on the clock and you have a decision to make.”

The Sixers should be embarrassed by the latest in an increasingly long line of public relations blunders. If this were the only example of the organization’s ineptitude, it would be unfortunate, but forgivable. Instead, it was par for the course.

This is the same organization that took its sweet time ousting Bryan Colangelo amid a bizarre social media scandal mere weeks ago; that never convincingly explained the mysterious circumstances that led to Markelle Fultz sitting out most of his rookie season; that has frequently and publicly feuded with Joel Embiid over playing time; that was previously caught hiding major Embiid injury information from fans; that has a medical team constantly under fire for its inability to quickly and accurately diagnose injuries; that just endured years of bad PR for tanking, until it finally reached a point where the league allegedly stepped in and had to force Sam Hinkie out. Did we miss anything? Probably.

No, I don’t think we’re making too much about a press conference. Too often for far too long, the Sixers have come off as dysfunctional in far too many arenas, and it can't be endearing to the likes of LeBron James, other top-tier free agents and available veteran players or even the organization's own stars.

At least one person in the building seemed to understand how sensitive a situation this was.

“I live in this city with you all,” said Brown. “I watch Villanova. I love (Bridges’) mom. I love his college coach. There’s a human side of this that’s really kind of hard to explain.

“The emotion of what we have all been through has been painful, but what’s best for the organization and how do you win a championship? And since I’ve looked at you all, I haven’t pivoted out of that once. So, the torment of trying to do my job in the very limited role in the moment I have as general manager versus the role that I have as head coach of this program, it’s a toggle, and this is where we arrived.”

Too bad Brown apparently didn’t have a chance to convey that to members of the Sixers' staff before they prematurely started the victory parade.

“All of those emotions and all of those facts happened in a 20-, 25-minute window,” Brown said.

A 20-, 25-minute window is all the Sixers need to make an awkward situation worse. Brown, the fans and, most of all, Bridges and his family all deserved better on Thursday night.

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Jimmy Butler trolls Magic during free throws in Sixers debut

Jimmy Butler trolls Magic during free throws in Sixers debut

Oh you’ll fit in, Jimmy. You’ll fit in just fine. 

It looks like Jimmy Butler is already having fun in his first game as a Sixer, trolling Orlando Magic guard D.J. Augustin while shooting foul shots Wednesday.

If you watch the video below, it looks like Butler tries to join in on the Magic’s camaraderie as they high five Augustin in between shots.

It’s pretty amazing, even if Butler got left hanging. 

For the record, Augustin made all three of his free throws, so it looks like Butler didn’t faze him enough. 

We look forward to seeing Butler and Joel Embiid in what could be a beautiful battle of the trolls. 

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Around the NFC East: After gut-punch vs. Dallas, can Birds catch Washington?

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USA Today

Around the NFC East: After gut-punch vs. Dallas, can Birds catch Washington?

The Eagles woes this weekend weren’t just confined to Sunday night; everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong, at least as far as the NFC East is concerned. But hey… Jimmy Butler!

Here’s what happened, and what’s happening, this week in the NFC East… and get your popcorn ready, ‘cause this one is going to be salty.

New York Giants (2-7)

ICYMI: No one will blame you for opting-out of Monday Nights Giants/Niners Battle-for-the-Ages. 80-year-old Eli Manning led the Gmen on a game-winning touchdown drive (going 6-for-9 for 69 yards… double nice), giving the Giants their 5th win in 25 games. Meaningless production and an irrelevant result? Sounds like Vintage Eli to me.

Spin: Hooray for Giants fans who want to pretend like a win against Nick Mullens is some sort of significant accomplishment. The MNF crew was even scouting college quarterbacks for the Giants during the broadcast! This remains the final chapter in the odd and strangely-successful story of Eli’s career, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthy of your attention.

What’s Next: 162 days until the NFL Draft.

 

Washington (6-3)

ICYMI: After a flurry of significant injuries and with a tricky opponent on the dockett, Washington seemed set up for a trap game. Instead they completely shut down the perplexing FitzMagic, beating the Buccaneers 16-3. This game had nothing but field goals until the 4th quarter, but for Washington, it’s a quality win on the road that helped extend their lead in the division. So, that stinks.

Spin: With the easiest-schedule remaining of everyone in the NFC East, plus a two-game lead, Washington is the clear and obvious frontrunner to win the division and have the honor of being beaten at home by Carolina on Wild Card Weekend. It’s at the point now where, if Washington somehow doesn’t win the division, it should be considered a criminal choke job that should cost some dudes their employment.

Silver lining? This team is still owned by Dan Snyder, they have one of the oldest rosters in the league, and their offensive-minded head coach has built a yawn-inducing offense.

In short, their long-term prospects for growth and success are equivalent to that of the fidget-spinner.

What’s Next: Houston, Dallas, Philly. If a collapse is coming, it seems destined to start soon.

 

Dallas Cowboys (4-5)

ICYMI: C’mon… we all know you didn’t miss it.

Spin: The Sword of Damocles seemed set to drop on Dallas Sunday night, and the Iggles failed to cut the thread. As a result, the vultures circling around the jobs of both Jason Garrett and Dak Prescott will have to find a new target, at least for another week. 

And hey, maybe that’s a good thing for Birds fans. The Cowboys didn’t win Sunday because of the play of Dak or the offensive-creativity from Garrett. Neither is worthy of Eagles-fans fear. So if the short-term pain of Sunday night results in another five years of Garrett and Prescott, it may end up being worth it. Maybe.

Zeke is only 23 though. That isn’t great.

What’s Next: With Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and the Birds on the schedule the next four weeks, the Cowboys season should be decided within a month. Try not to read the tea leaves on Garrett or Prescott until then.