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OK, *now* Ben Simmons should really be an All-Star

OK, *now* Ben Simmons should really be an All-Star

Wow, the East has been a bloodbath since lineups were announced for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game two weeks ago. Since then, three of the conference's reserve selections — the Cavaliers' Kevin Love, the Wizards' John Wall and Tuesday night, the Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis — have suffered sidelining injuries that will render them unable to participate in All-Star festivities. The two East replacements so far have been the Pistons' Andre Drummond and the Heat's Goran Dragic. And now, following the KP injury, it might finally be Ben Simmons' turn. 

To be honest, I didn't think Simmons should have been an All-Star this year — at least not initially. His offense was a little too erratic, he went silent for long stretches of games too often — his surface numbers were there, and his defense was awesome, but he just didn't seem to have a pronounced-enough effect on whether the team won or lost for me to believe he was one of the 12 best players in the East this season. (The team's 2-8 record with him and no Joel Embiid undoubtedly played a part in that as well.) Which was fine; he's a rookie, with many appearances likely to come, and Embiid was already named a starter. No need to rush the All-Star Process Takeover. 

But now, I think it's time to let the Fresh Prince in. It was fine to give the first reserve spot to Drummond (having a career year on a playoff-contending team) and the second to Dragic (having a pretty meh year on a team that should but doesn't have an obvious All-Star, and overdue a lifetime-achievement selection). But now we're out of clear candidates on good teams — unless you really wanna make a belated case for Bucks wing Khris Middleton or recent East arrival Blake Griffin — and at this point, Simmons would have a legitimate gripe if he was again snubbed. 

That's in large part because since he was left out the first time, he's been playing some of the best basketball of his young career. In the two weeks since reserves were announced, he's averaging 18-7-7 on 62% (!!) shooting with a steal, a block and just two turnovers, playing some of the East's most productive, efficient basketball. Thanks to a tough schedule (and a dumb L in Brooklyn), the Sixers have only gone 4-4 over that stretch, but his growth has been just undeniable, and his aggressiveness has finally gotten to where it needs to be in the half-court — last night was the only game over that stretch where he didn't take double digits' worth of shots. 

The Sixers may or may not objectively deserve two All-Stars overall — they're back to one game over .500, at 26-25, with their 115-102 victory over the previously surging Washington Wizards — but at this point, it's hard to deny that they have two of the 15 best players in the East this season. Will the East coaches finally recognize this, or is Simmons gonna have to play with a chip on his shoulder for the rest of the season? Hell, given how his last few weeks have gone, maybe we should be rooting for the latter. 

Eagles' trading Ronald Darby seems unlikely

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AP

Eagles' trading Ronald Darby seems unlikely

The Eagles paid a reasonably high price to acquire Ronald Darby last August, sending a third-round draft choice and Jordan Matthews to the Bills in exchange for the cornerback.

So why is it all offseason there were rumors the Eagles might turn around and flip Darby? And why is it, even as training camp approaches those rumblings persist?

Darby is the Eagles’ most accomplished cornerback in many respects. Despite missing eight games last season, his three interceptions were tied for the most among the team’s returning players, while only Malcolm Jenkins received a higher grade from Pro Football Focus in the secondary. In terms of pedigree, Darby is a second-round talent with sub-4.4 speed and a nose for the football – the kind of game-changing ability you can’t teach – and, except for Jalen Mills, he’s the only proven corner on the roster.

Yet, the feeling Darby is on the trade block has been hard to shake. After months of speculation, but little concrete evidence to back it up, perhaps it’s worth exploring the legitimacy of the idea.

The rumor appears to have originated from an appearance by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on 97.5 The Fanatic on March 6. At the time, Mortensen said he would be surprised if the Eagles didn’t add a third-round pick in April’s draft, and believed they would move a defensive back to pick up the extra selection.

Though Mortensen never singled out Darby by name, he was the logical choice. The 24-year-old’s contract is scheduled to expire at the end of the 2018 season, and given the Eagles’ salary cap restraints and depth at cornerback, re-signing him long-term might prove challenging.

There’s been a lot of noise about the possibility of trading Darby ever since, but no strong or definitive report indicating the Eagles ever attempted to do so.

If the Eagles were to deal a corner, Darby does make the most sense. Mills is under contract through 2019, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas through 2020, and recent fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox through 2021. DeVante Bausby has also emerged as a rising prospect under contract for the foreseeable future.

Then again, if the Eagles are serious about repeating as Super Bowl champions, there’s no reason they should be aggressive in trying to dump Darby. A strong argument can be made he’s their best cover man, and set to play the ’18 season for a cool $1 million.

Who’s to say the Eagles wouldn’t make a concerted effort to sign Darby long-term after this season, either? Cornerback is clearly a position the team values. Mills has his limitations – not to mention his contract comes up soon – while Jones, Douglas and Maddox are all relative unknowns at this point. By the end of the ’18 campaign, Darby might be the only certainty of the bunch.

Right now in particular, remove Darby from the equation, and almost everybody else is nothing more than a projection. It’s difficult to imagine the Eagles taking such a huge gamble when there’s still so much at stake this season.

More on the Eagles

Watch Eagles’ Jake Elliott lip sync Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’

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Jake Elliott/Instagram

Watch Eagles’ Jake Elliott lip sync Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’

You never thought you would see the Eagles win a Super Bowl. 

You probably also never thought you’d see the Eagles’ Super Bowl kicker hanging out with the Cat in the Hat and Guy Fieri and taking on Queen Latifah in a lip sync battle. 

Go ahead and cross both off the list. 

While we knew Jake Elliott did a lip sync battle against Queen Latifah on the Carnival Horizon as a part of the ship’s naming ceremony, we hadn’t seen the battle. Until now. 

Elliott took on Whitesnake’s hit song “Here I Go Again." 

The moves are OK. That wig is pretty good. Wonder if it’ll fit under his helmet this season. 

From Enrico: Shoulda done A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?”

Golf clap. 

Anyway, not bad a bad effort out of the kicker. By the way, this Whitesnake song came out in 1982 — 13 years before Elliott was born. 

He might have done a song performed by Whitesnake, but earlier in the day, he was a part of a motley crew (crue). 

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