Andrew Bynum gets quite a welcome in Philly

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Andrew Bynum gets quite a welcome in Philly

From Comcast SportsNet
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- He heard the roar from hundreds of Philadelphia 76ers fans chanting "An-drew By-num! An-drew By-num!" the moment he stepped into the National Constitution Center. Andrew Bynum instantly felt at home in Philadelphia. He enjoyed his first days in the city so much, Bynum made it clear he wouldn't mind playing in that No. 33 Sixers jersey for more than a season. "My first experiences here have been so great," Bynum said, "I'm really leaning toward making this my home. With that proclamation, Sixers fans erupted. The superstar the organization and their fans craved since Allen Iverson split actually loved them back. Imagine the sounds he'll hear after some clutch fourth-quarter buckets over a deep playoff run. Wearing a Sixers T-shirt, Bynum made his first appearance Wednesday since he was acquired last week from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a four-team megadeal. Former Philadelphia All-Star Andre Iguodala landed in Denver and Orlando shipped Dwight Howard to the Lakers as part of the trades. The Sixers scrapped the usual ho-hum press conference and turned Bynum's arrival into a full-blown pep rally that included moving the location from their arena to just a few hundred feet away from the Liberty Bell. The event was open to the public and fans arrived early to greet Bynum and Jason Richardson -- and plunk down 30 bucks for some hot-off-the-presses Bynum T-shirts. "It makes me super-excited," said Bynum, who never stopped smiling. The Sixers have every reason to feel giddy over this deal and what this means for the long-term future of the franchise. For years, Philadelphia has been mired in the middle of the Eastern Conference, only busting out last season under new ownership to advance to the second round for the first time in nine years. But the glow of that achievement soon faded once management realized the team had maxed out with veterans Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Lou Williams. Iguodala was traded, Brand was amnestied and Williams was allowed to walk in free-agency, freeing up some needed dollars to make a move this big. Bynum is the All-Star, the franchise player, expected to soon help the Sixers win their first championship since 1983. Only 24, the New Jersey native won two championships with the Lakers. But in Los Angeles, the offense ran through Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Bynum is The Man for the Sixers. "Obviously, there's a lot of pressure," Bynum said. "I want to be ready for it." Consider this: Until last week, Kwame Brown was listed as Philadelphia's starting center. That's called an upgrade. But once the hoopla and "Beat L.A.!" chants quieted down, two questions loomed in the building that honors the U.S. Constitution: Would Bynum put his John Hancock on a possible-five year contract extension; and how will his achy knees respond to treatment next month in Germany? Bynum is set to make 16.1 million this season in the final year of his deal. If he waits until after the season, Bynum can sign a five-year deal worth nearly 102 million. No other team could offer Bynum as many years or as much money. "I enjoy Philly, I'm from here, I don't see anything wrong," Bynum said. "I don't see any problem why I wouldn't want to stay here." Bynum is set to have injections of plasma-rich platelets that supposedly stimulate healing in arthritis-affected areas in both of his knees. Bryant, his former teammate, has credited the therapy with dramatic improvement in his own troublesome right knees and an injured left ankle. Sixers president Rod Thorn said Bynum and his surgically repaired knees checked out fine after a lengthy physical on Tuesday. "You've got to take calculated risks sometimes," Thorn said. "Players of his level don't come on the market every day." Bynum is coming off his best NBA season after averaging career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while making his first All-Star team, starting for the West. He was the NBA's third-leading rebounder and 20th-leading scorer, while also ranking sixth in the league with 1.93 blocked shots per game. Bynum also avoided the injuries that have dogged him throughout a seven-year career since the Lakers made the New Jersey high schooler the youngest player ever drafted in 2005. Bynum played in 60 of the Lakers' 66 regular-season games, missing four due to suspension. Ah yes, that suspension. Bynum may be the best center in the East, but he brings a touch of baggage that shouldered him with a reputation as being a handful, as well as a monster rebounder. He was busted three years ago partying at the Playboy Mansion posing with a girl on his shoulders during his rehab from a torn knee ligament. Bynum served a four-game suspension this season for his vicious fouls against J.J. Barea in the Lakers' final playoff game last spring. He's has declined to participate in certain team huddles, sitting down the bench by himself. He once slapped hands with opposing fans while taking a long time to leave the court after he was ejected from a game last season in Houston. "I think somewhere along the line, maybe he said a couple of immature things here and there, but everybody has," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "I'm sure he'd be the first one step up and say, Hey, I messed up.' The unfortunate thing in life, when you make a mistake like that, it's one video replay from living it again." The Sixers would prefer more replays of Bynum's 30-rebound game like he had last season against San Antonio. Except for some minor tinkering with the deep bench players, the Sixers should be finished with their roster overhaul. They added Bynum, Richardson, Brown, Royal Ivey, Dorell Wright and Nick Young to a team counting on returners Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young to help make that second-round exit the start of something big, not a one-season wonder. With one season left on his deal, Thorn is still calling the shots, even as the organization spent the summer interviewing general manager candidates. Thorn will remain with the team next season as a consultant and the Sixers would like to have a succession plan in place. "That will happen over the next year but it's going to depend on who we can to terms with and who's out there," owner Joshua Harris said. "There's nothing imminent right now. Rod's still the GM of the team." Thorn drafted Michael Jordan in Chicago. He's the executive who traded for Jason Kidd in New Jersey and turned the Nets into winners. His boldest move with the Sixers is his best one yet.

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Best unrestricted free-agent shooting guards to help Wizards back up Bradley Beal

Best unrestricted free-agent shooting guards to help Wizards back up Bradley Beal

John Wall and Bradley Beal were uniform in their message about where the Wizards were lacking in 2016-17, and it was the backups in a 49-win season. 

In a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards relied on Beal for 45 minutes and Wall, who shot 0-for-11 in tthe second half, for 44. 

Yesterday, it was point guards. Let's focus on the shooting guards behind Beal today. Coach Scott Brooks was in a bind with Marcus Thornton earlier in the season, who was an unreliable shooter and a loose cannon on defense. After a disastrous road trip to begin 2017, Thornton didn't play the next 21 games before being traded. Rookie Sheldon Mac (name legally changed from McClellan) had his moments but Brooks played him out of necessity. He didn't believe he was ready and often Mac was out of position such as going over the top of screens on non-shooters like Rajon Rondo.

None of the ball-handling point guards, Trey Burke and Brandon Jennings, were big enough to play the two spot. And the one player who was, 6-7 rookie Tomas Satoransky, was too raw and not a good enough shooter yet.

Brooks resorted to using forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Otto Porter in small lineups in Beal's spot but ideally a true two-guard would occupy it. 

The Wizards don't have a lot of cap room so whoever they bring in has to be relatively affordable and willing to accept a backup role. If they require starters' minutes or money, they're not viable option with Beal firmly in place.  

Here are some options...

5. Ian Clark (Warriors): How much of what you see out of the fourth-year guard is because he plays on the best team in the West? He appeared in 77 games, averaged 15 minutes and 6.8 points while shooting 37.4% from three-point range. At 26, he's by far the youngest on this list and likely has the highest ceiling while the others have reached theirs. Clark earned just $1 million and his departure isn't going to make or break Golden State. What kind of player would he be if he played 22-24 minutes per game? It's all an educated guess and if he's available he's worth asking about because he could be the least expensive, too.

[RELATED: Top free agent point guards who could help Wizards, Wall]

4. Tony Allen (Grizzlies): Offensively, he's always a liability. The worst defenders on the opponent end up marking Allen who isn't strong off the dribble especially when having to change directions or pulling up. But he sure can defend, even at 35, and take on the toughest assignment every night. Allen doesn't need the ball to change the tone of a game and is content with getting his buckets off hustle plays and in transition. He played for $5 million though he had injury issues in averaging 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds. The 6-4 guard only shot 27.8% from three but 46.1% overall as he got most of his offensive going to the rim..

3. Tyreke Evans (Pelicans/Kings): Good size at 6-5 but not the most efficient shooter. Evans has been a point guard and can score, though the 2010 Rookie of the Year had a hefty $10.2 million pricetag. He hasn't won anywhere and posted averages of 10.1 points and just 40.5% overall shooting. He was a starter in his first seven NBA seasons before adapting to a sixth-man role. How much he'd cost and if he values starting or winning would be the key areas to figure out. He shoots jsut 30% from three for his career but has improved.

2. Kyle Korver (Hawks/Cavs): The 6-6 shooter averaged 10.1 points and shot 45.1% from three-point range even though he's slowing down as he usually has been an above-average defender. Still, at $5.2 million he could be a worthwhile commitment despite being 36. Korver can be a spot starter in the event of injury to a player such as Beal or give him a break on nights when he doesn't have it going. 

1. J.J. Redick (Clippers): Good size at 6-4, a fantastic shooter and worked tirelessly to make himself into a credible defender since turning pro 11 years ago. Redick made $7.3 million, averaging 15 points on 43% shooting from three-point range in 78 starts. Redick is lethal on catch-and-shoots. He made a career-high 47.5% from three a year ago. But he's 34 next month and will probably command a nice raise because shooters of his caliber are needed on every team worth its salt. Of course, a chance at a championship could convince him to take less or playing next to Wall might be incentive enough. Redick has been a starter since joining the Clippers in 2013 after being a reserve every season before that. 

[RELATED: Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title]

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Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Trent Murphy enjoyed the best season of his NFL career in 2016, delivering nine sacks for the Redskins. The excitement took a blow in the offseason, however, as the NFL suspended the former Stanford star for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Murphy will miss the first four games of the Redskins season, and the news devastated Murphy. 

"It was extremely disappointing to find out. It’s kind of like a gut-wrenching feeling," he said. "Took me by total surprise."

He spoke Wednesday for the first time since the suspension became official in April. With an early bye week for Washington, the four-game punishment will actually mean Murphy does not take the field for the Redskins until Week 6 against the 49ers.

A second-round pick in 2014, Murphy registered only six sacks his first two seasons in the NFL before last season's breakout performance. Six of his nine sacks came in the first seven weeks of 2016, and Murphy's production slid late in the year as he battled a serious foot injury. 

Without Murphy for the first month, the Redskins will lean heavily on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. All three players logged more than 400 snaps last season in pass rushing situations, with Kerrigan going nearly 500 snaps. The team also added outside linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second round of the 2017 draft, he could push for playing time right away, especially with Murphy unable to suit up. If he remains healthy, Junior Galette could also be an option at edge pass rusher, though after missing the past two seasons the Redskins would be smart to limit his offseason work.

For Murphy, the time off will hurt but he will remain focused on football.

"I kind of moved on the only way I could, which was just to get back to work," he said. "The people that are closest with you know your character, know where you come from, they’ll always be by your side. My team has rallied around me, they’ve been very supportive so I’m just going to do the best I can to recover from this."

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