Happy Fourth of July!

It’s Independence Day! Go eat some hot dogs, eat some more hot dogs, and thank the soldiers who make all of it possible (with a mouth full of hot dog)! I’ll just leave you with one of my favorite 4th of July related videos.

Hooray America!


 

Graham Left Wanting S’more Changes the NFL Landscape

Jimmy Graham

#GrahamToPhilly2016

Jimmy Graham, the all-world, freak of nature crap my pants if I saw him in an alley tight end for the New Orleans Saints lost a major grievance hearing. This is truly fascinating news for the league landscape.

Tight end is the defining position for this era of football. The combination of size, speed, strength, and coordination that the modern tight end possesses is a skill set unlike anything to ever take the field. Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski—the league is overrun with physical specimens that have changed a once marginalized position into a centerpiece offensive threat.

Naturally, Chip Kelly is on this trend like a Columbian drug-sniffing dog. Brent Celek, James Casey, and most importantly, Zach Ertz are players that are constantly moved around the formation in hopes of creating a strategic advantage. In short, it’s a very effective strategy. Kelly’s offense was second in the league in overall production and produced more big plays than anyone else. The tight end position was a strong, yet more silent partner in that process.

So, now that Jimmy Graham has officially been ruled a tight end for franchise tag purposes I’m expecting a trend that will occur throughout the league and effect the Eagles specifically. Essentially, the tight end position will near extinction.

Read the rest of this entry

Chatting with Derek Bodner

nba-draft-lottery3In case you missed it, we have Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers and Draft Express with us on Around the Cooler to talk Sixers.

Specifically, we go into Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel playing together, tanking 2014-15, possible free agent targets and more!

You can check it out below or listen to the entire podcast here!

 

Welcome to the Free Agency Midnight Bonanza!

Hextall will be overseeing his first free agency as a GM

Hextall will be overseeing his first free agency as a GM

Yes, folks, the NBA and NHL free agency periods begin tonight at midnight and noon respectively and Twitter may very well implode as a result.

In general, the start of free agency is so much fun because it’s the closest you get to fan fiction. Among tonight’s story lines you’ll most likely see things like “Carmelo has great talks with Bulls—looking like frontrunner”, “Nashville aggressively pursuing Paul Stastny” and “LeBron James kidnapped by Cleveland, brainwashing inevitable.” There’s so much hope and chaos that it’s nearly impossible to not get sucked in as fans bases live and die by the second, breathless as their teams negotiate with the next franchise savior.

However, as much as LeBron coming to Philly makes sense in my untidy bubble, it’s not going to happen. Nor are the Flyers making any big signings until they can unload Vinny LeCavalier. Instead, the Sixers and Flyers will follow the stars a different way—as scavengers rather than suitors. It’s not glamorous, but it’s for the best.

Let’s start with the Flyers. First off, they’re the only team in the league that is currently over the salary cap. Now, while that’s not illegal at this point of the year it matters in a few months. They’re going to need to reduce salary eventually and throwing lots of money at star players is not going to do that. Plus, Ron Hextall has made it abundantly clear with the Scott Harntell move that the Flyers will be more cap conscious moving forward. There’s young talent on this roster that needs to be cultivated and signed-long term.

So, what moves will they make? Back-up goaltender is the most likely position for the team to make noise with, which in itself suggests that they’ll be dull. In addition to Ray Emery, who backed up for the Flyers last year, Jonas Hiller, Thomas Greiss and a whole slew of others will be available to back up Steve Mason. As we discovered during Mason’s playoff absence, back-up netminders matter.

Outside of that, the Flyers could throw some shit at the wall for 4th line forwards and camp fodder defensemen. Offensively they have too many forwards as is which is in part why LeCavalier has been such a disaster. They’ve also got six defensemen under contract for this upcoming season including Andrew MacDonald, who the team signed through 2020, and Kimmo Timonen’s 39 year-old bag of bones. If they resign restricted free agent Erik Gustafsson then they’re really reaching for talent.

Given the team’s mission to unload LeCavalier and his salary, the Flyers will be waiting for the market on centers to thin out so that a team like Nashville returns to the bargaining table. That is far and away the Flyers top priority heading into this free agency period. Get it done, Hexy.

Sam Hinkie

He’s reading your mind right now…and laughing

For the Sixers, they’re in a tough boat as well with signing players. Specifically, they’re so appallingly bad that even Brett Brown has admitted that no one wants to come here. If the Sixers were to bring any players aboard, they’d have to grossly overpay for their services. Given Sam Hinkie’s track record, there’s better odds that you’re bitten by Luis Suarez.

What the Sixers will do is continue to buy low on players with potential (a la James Anderson last year) and try to work their way into three team deals. The free agent frenzy that GMs are in has hit an all time high as LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Love, and more could be had. The Sixers conveniently pay bottom dollar and would be able to absorb any and all bad contracts in exchange for picks, projects, and a misfits like Tony Wroten. So while the Sixers won’t be involved in any major rumors, you can guarantee they’ll be sniffing around them.

At this point, the best fit and most commonly tossed around name will be Chandler Parsons of the Rockets. Parsons is a young, talented swingman that has connections with Hinkie from Houston and is likely to be shipped out of town if the Rockets can land a star to compliment Dwight Howard and James Harden. At 26, Parsons length, shooting ability, and likely reasonable contract from a sign-and-trade makes too much sense to ignore. His name will pop up frequently.

But like I said earlier, the Sixers have more cash than Scrooge McDuck so I’m going to dream for now too….#LeBronToBrotherlyLove

 

Prior to Belgium Match US Soccer Gets Another Victory

So much of my life spent on this game...

So much of my life spent on this game…

Amidst all of the madness of the US playing playing Belgium tomorrow at 4 pm I’d like to drop a side piece of information regarding the MLS. Kaka, who is a former Brazilian World Cup member and cover man to FIFA ’11, will likely be joining Orlando City FC in 2015.

Haven’t heard of Orlando City FC? It’s because they haven’t played yet. The club will begin playing games next season in the MLS as will New York City FC.

Like I mentioned on Around the Cooler a few weeks back, New York City FC has added Spanish forward David Villa and Frank Lampard of Chelsea. Together these moves will added some serious buzz to the 2015 year and boost the league’s prestige.

If you’d like to read more about Kaka’s move to Orlando you can check it out here!

Around the Cooler 6/29/14: Tip Not Included

Payton MCWHere’s what we’re talking about:

  • NBA insider Derek Bodner stops in to talk Sixers draft with us.
  • The Flyers hosted a draft too! How much do we like Hextall so far?
  • Cab fares, tipping, and the Wooder Cooler wooder cooler

Follow us on our iTunes Stream, Right Click to Download, or play on your mobile device!

What are you talking about around the Wooder Cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Theme done by the amazing Matt Schwalm

——————————————

Follow us on Twitter: @TheWooderCooler

Follow our crew: @ItsVnceQuinn     @BoydOnSports    @Turtle94     and Special Guest  @DerekBodnerNBA

 

Joel Embiid’s Past Makes the Future Truly Bright

EmbiidNotSure_crop_exactDespite my unabashed enthusiasm, not everyone is on the Joel Embiid train. Spending a year of fantasizing about a cheerleader only to find out that your cheerleader was arrested and will not be out of jail for another year isn’t easy for some people to get over–even though a hottie is waiting for them.

However, Jordan Conn of Grantland is much better with words than I am and if you have the ability to 1. read and 2. feel things you’ll be as inspired about Embiid’s potential as I was by this story on Conn’s trip to Cameroon. Conn provides an excellent look into the basketball culture of Embiid’s homeland, the rawest stages of his development, and why he’s now such a thrilling prospect for the Sixers.

Check it out here! It’s an aboslute must read for Sixers fans.

Sixers 2014 Draft Recap: THE CHOSEN PEOPLE

embiidFollowing a putrid, soul-crushing season for the Sixers they’ve delivered a another punch to the gut. They will most certainly tank again in 2014-15. I love it. Why?

Sam Hinkie is Moses a day after the Exodus. It’s hot as hell, his people don’t have a place to call their own, and they’ve were beaten to a pulp in what was considered to be the best of recent times. The trip to a title as a fan and general manager will not be easy. However, while I know as a fan that the journey will be long and painful the important thing is that I’m following someone who is committed to getting me to my destination.

Hinkie is on a mission and if he’s willing to wait a year or two for more young talent to join the Sixers then I’m willing to wait too. They took Joel Embiid and Dario Saric because in the distant future of 2019 when the President is a female Russian cyborg and popcorn comes from a squeeze tube the pair will hopefully be part of the best players that the NBA has to offer.

In other words, Hinkie did not settle in this draft for the sake of the now. Would having a Gary Harris play alongside Michael Cater-Williams and Nerlens Noel for his rookie season make me feel warm and fuzzy like I ate a teddy bear with a fever? Sure. I’d love to see a young core of four or five players gutting it out every night. But when it comes down it, you have to pick the guys who will become the best players.

So while patience may be wearing thin and your channel may flip to HGTV (don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone) there should be comfort found in the uncompromising commitment to fulfilling a goal according to the plan. This road has been laid out from the start. There have been no true surprises and so I’m going to relax. We’ll get to the promised land eventually.

After all, we’re the chosen people.

 

 

 

Broken Up From Trading Hartnell? Nah.

So long, Hartsy

So long, Hartsy

Scotty Hartnell has been dealt to Columbus for R.J. Umberger and a 4th round draft pick in 2015. It was a surprising move, something most fans didn’t expect to see, but I’m certainly not too broken up about it.

Hartnell was frustrating to watch because he performed well during his tenure, but was very inconsistent. That is not the type of play you need from a top-line winger. You also have to consider that his lack of skating ability made him a liability on the ice and that he often let his emotions get the best of him, which led to costly and unnecessary mental errors.

As a result, I think Hartnell would have been better suited as a third line winger. In that case, he would have complemented Matt Read and Sean Coutourier instead of bearing the responsibility of a top line containing two of the most talented forwards in the league.

Interestingly enough, it’s been said that Umberger is the same player as Hartnell, but with less skill. I’m not sure how that can be said when he’s so much more versatile than Hartnell. I think a more fair comparison would be a player like Max Talbot, but with more talent. He can play any forward position, and, more importantly, he can play the penalty kill. With the likely departure of Adam Hall, Umberger will probably fill that role as a defensive forward on the PK to support Giroux, Coots, and Read.

In the long run, the Flyers shaved two years of salary and added a draft pick, which makes the move more appealing. When Umber’s contract expires in 2016 Brayden Schenn, Coutourier, and Michael Raffl will be free agents. Not to mention we have young guys that will be playing for the Orange and Black in the next few years that hopefully develop into solid NHL players—guys like Scott Laughton, Sam Morin, and Shane Gostisbehere.

Hextall said from the start that his goal was to build the team with young talent through the draft and player development. This move fits that mentality and puts us in a better place to build a long-term contender.

Overall, it’s worth it.

LeBron James has 3 Paths. Sixers May Be the Best One

LeBronLeBron James to Cleveland is a fantasy. It’s the bedtime story that you read to your kids so that they can believe in heroes and unicorns and endless dollar dog nights. However, the reality of the situation is ‘The Decision’ happened, Cleveland still sucks, and their owner is a clueless buffoon. The Cavaliers are a hilariously bad choice for the King at this point in his career.

So where should LeBron go? There are three realistic possibilities.

1. LeBron leaves Miami to build a new Super Power

Given the aging of Dwyane Wade (Yes, that’s how you spell it) and lack of depth, LeBron sees his legacy fading in Miami and hits the road to form a new perennial contender. While he’ll be heavily courted by all 29 other teams, two teams truly stand above the rest: Houston and Chicago. Both towns offer a large market, depth on the bench, and the star power to form another Big Three.

 

You can read the rest of the article over at CBSPhilly!

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