Tagged in: philadelphia

James Harden’s new deal with Philadelphia 76ers includes player option for 2023-24 season

Philadelphia 76ers free agent star James Harden is returning to the franchise on a new two-year, $68.6 million contract, including a player option for the 2023-24 season, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

The deal guarantees Harden $33 million for next season and the chance to decline his $35.6 million player option and negotiate another free agent deal next summer, sources said.

Harden, who had declined a $47.4 million player option for next season, delivered the 76ers salary-cap flexibility with his pay cut for 2022-23 — allowing them to sign free agents P.J. Tucker and Danuel House by using the midlevel and biannual exceptions, and facilitating the ability to get De’Anthony Melton in a draft night trade with Memphis.

Harden — a 10-time All-Star and a six-time first-team All-NBA guard — told Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey that he wanted to do his part to fortify the team’s roster and give it a better chance to fight for a championship. And declining that $47.4 million player option could also give the organization flexibility to make deals once this coming season is underway.

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The franchise is hopeful Harden’s commitment to winning will include him returning to preseason training camp in better physical condition than he played in both Brooklyn and Philadelphia last season.

Harden, who turns 33 next month, averaged 22 points and 10.3 assists across 65 games with the Nets and Sixers.

Brooklyn traded him to Philly in February as part of a blockbuster deal that included Ben Simmons joining the Nets. For the fourth time in five years, though, the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

Harden spent only a year in Brooklyn, after his wildly successful eight-year run in Houston ended near the start of the 2020-21 season, when he was sent to partner with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Nets for a significant package of draft assets and players.

After a second-round loss to the Milwaukee Bucks two years ago, Harden’s relationship with the Nets deteriorated in the wake of Irving’s inability to play in New York due to the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In Philadelphia, Harden was reunited with former Rockets general manager Morey, and they worked together to find a way to keep Harden a Sixer on this new deal and improve the franchise’s roster this summer.

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Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper had three pins inserted in fractured left thumb, but he’ll ‘be back’ in lineup this season

Bryce Harper has three pins in his left thumb, a cast on his left hand and an unyielding belief that he will return from injury this campaign to try and lead the Philadelphia Phillies to their first playoff appearance in 11 years.

“I’ll be back,” Harper said.

With those three words, Harper injected the franchise and the fan base with genuine expectations that the reigning NL MVP will play again at some point this season — and with a hope the Phillies will still be in the wild-card hunt when he returns.

Harper declined to put a timetable on when he could he return to the lineup as the feared designated hitter in the middle of the order who led the team on a summer surge and put Philadelphia in the thick of a real pennant race.

“I don’t want to give anybody a timetable because I don’t know,” Harper said. “If I knew a specific date that I’d be back, I’d tell you. I just don’t think it’s fair to anybody. I’ll be back when I’m ready to go.”

Harper was injured last month when he was hit by a 97 mph pitch from San Diego Padres left-hander Blake Snell.

Harper had pins inserted last week and will need them in the thumb for at least another three weeks. He is in a cast and unable to throw or do much of a workout.

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“I don’t want to hope or think about anything,” Harper said. “I just want to go day by day and be back when I can, whenever I feel healthy, whenever that is to help this team win. Granted, if we’re out of it, I’m going to come back and play no matter what, just so I know that I can go out there and play the game. I don’t want that to be my last day playing this year. No matter what the outcome, I’m going to come back and I’ll be playing.”

The 29-year-old Harper, who signed a $330 million, 13-year deal with the Phillies in 2019, is hitting .318 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .985 OPS. Harper talked Tuesday before the Phillies were set to open a three-game set versus Harper’s former team, the Washington Nationals.

Philadelphia is 4-3 in Harper’s absence and entered Tuesday only one game back of the final NL wild-card spot.

“I hate sitting there watching,” Harper said.

Harper had already surrendered his spot in right field earlier this season because of because of a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his throwing elbow. He last played the field at Miami on April 16. Harper did not have a scheduled checkup on the elbow last week because of the surgery but he stated it could happen in another two weeks.

“I’m not going to rush the elbow,” Harper said. “If it feels good, I’m gonna go. I want to play out there, I want to be out there, I want to be helping this team.”

Harper said he did not expect to travel with the Phillies — who have the longest playoff drought in the National League — on an upcoming nine-game road trip that opens Friday in St. Louis and included stops in Toronto and versus the Marlins.

“I don’t really feel the need for me to go anywhere, especially with appointments for the next two weeks with the doctors,” he said. “If I didn’t have those appointments, I’d be going on this road. After the break, I’ll be kind of a little more open to going on the road and travel and get the things done I need to.”

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Ex-New York Giants CB James Bradberry reaches one-year deal with Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles took a big step in filling out their secondary, agreeing to a one-year contract with cornerback James Bradberry, the team revealed Wednesday.

The deal will pay him $7.5 million, including $7.25 million guaranteed, and has another $2.5 million in upside, bringing the total possible value of the deal to $10 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Eleven teams reached out about Bradberry after he was released by the New York Giants on May 9, with that number being whittled down to three before Bradberry chose the Eagles, according to Schefter.

He is anticipated to slide right into a starting role opposite Darius Slay, creating what on paper looks like a formidable cornerback trio with Bradberry, Slay and slot corner Avonte Maddox.

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The Eagles were in need of another starter after Steven Nelson signed with the Houston Texans this offseason. General manager Howie Roseman previously indicated such a move could come after the draft, when the team and veteran free agents had a clearer idea of what the roster would look like.

The Giants released Bradberry after not being able to find a trade partner for the veteran cornerback.

The move for the Giants was more about the money than an indictment of the player. Bradberry, 28, had been set to make $13.5 million this season and would have counted $21.9 million against the Giants’ cap.

Bradberry was one of just five players on the current Giants roster to make a Pro Bowl in their careers. He was their top cornerback last campaign and made the Pro Bowl in his first year with the Giants in 2020, when he had a career-best 79.8 Pro Football Focus grade. He has graded in the 60s all the remaining years of his career.

He had a career high with four interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles this past season.

Bradberry spent the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers and has 15 interceptions and 82 passes defended in his six NFL seasons.

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Philadelphia Eagles sign Olympic hurdler and former Oregon Ducks WR Devon Allen to 3-year deal

The Philadelphia Eagles signed Olympic hurdler and former Oregon Ducks receiver Devon Allen to a three-year contract  last Friday.

Allen, 27, hasn’t played football since 2016 when he was with the Ducks. He put his football career on hold to pursue track and field and has done quite well in that pursuit, concluding fifth and fourth in the 110-meter hurdles in the past two Olympics.

Allen caught the attention of scouts at Oregon’s pro day earlier this month when he ran an unofficial 4.35-second 40-yard dash. That led to a visit with the Eagles and then eventually a three-year deal, which is a standard contract for undrafted free agents.

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He suffered a pair of knee injuries at Oregon and appeared in a total of nine matches over his final two seasons.

His first year at Oregon was his best, as he had 41 receptions for 684 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 16.7 yards per catch.

A three-time national champion in the 110-meter hurdles, Allen told reporters at Oregon’s pro day that he intends to compete at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in June and the World Athletics Championships in July before turning his attention to football.

“I’m going to put football on the back burner for now,” he stated, via the Oregonian. “I wanted to come to pro day and announce that I’m taking this seriously. The goal is to get ready for Worlds, compete at Worlds, win, break the world record, and then July 18th when Worlds is done, go to camp the next week.”

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Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash: Ben Simmons won’t make season debut in regular season, also likely out of play-in games

Brooklyn Nets swingman Ben Simmons will not be making his season debut in the regular season as he continues to deal with a herniated disk issue in his back, Nets coach Steve Nash said after Monday’s practice.

Nash added that while he remains hopeful that Simmons will return at some point in the playoffs, he would be “shocked” if Simmons played in the Nets’ play-in game next week.

“He’s not running, so yeah,” Nash said. “I don’t see him [being ready]. I would be shocked.”

After requesting a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers last summer, citing mental health concerns, Simmons was ultimately dealt to the Nets just before the trade deadline in February but has not been able to play because of ongoing issues with his back.

Nash said that Simmons actually made progress Monday by being able to shoot and starting to do some work with resistance bands, but the organization still has no idea when, or if, Simmons might be able to play this season.

“I mean that’s a big progression just to get here,” Nash said. “So he was doing nothing on the floor. But obviously he clearly started strengthening and doing some light shooting. So super positive on one hand; on the other hand, it’s not like … we’re expecting him in the lineup in the next week.”

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Nash said recently that he wouldn’t have a problem with Simmons making his debut in a playoff game even if he hadn’t played all year.

He also made it clear Monday that the Nets would take every precaution before putting him back on the floor.

“If he had played 65 games, this year and we’re going into the playoffs, and he had a few weeks’ injury, maybe [you’d think about rushing the normal progression],” Nash stated.

“But, I think in this situation, we got to put his health and safety first and make sure that we’re certain he’s ready to play and contribute. And the other part is he hasn’t played basketball, so you don’t know what kind of Ben you get. And he hasn’t been in an NBA game for, you know, nine to 10 months.”

Simmons’ teammates and coaches have repeatedly said he stays in good spirits in his new surroundings, but they just don’t know when he’ll be able to return to the floor.

The Nets currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 40-38 record. Nash demurred when asked how realistic it would be to think Simmons could come back and play in the first round if the Nets were able to advance that far.

“We’ll see,” Nash said. “I don’t want to get too far down the road, like, I don’t want to walk through the next five weeks with you guys and guessing — you guys saw where he is today. He’s doing some increased strengthening, some increased mobility stuff, a little bit of shooting and that’s it.”

As far as the rest of the Nets’ injuries, Bruce Brown went through Monday’s practice and is expected to play Tuesday versus the Houston Rockets after missing Saturday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks because of a non-COVID illness.

Guard Goran Dragic (health and safety protocols) remains in Atlanta, and it is unclear when he’ll be able to return.

Nash also admitted that the Nets have discussed the chances of shutting down guard Seth Curry for the last four games of the regular season as he keeps to deal with left ankle soreness.

“That’s the position we’re in, is do we try to sit him?” Nash said. “Does him sitting for a week help? Or is he right back in the same boat anyway? And how important is it for us to try to creep up into the seven, eight spot? So we’re weighing all those things and it’s kind of more daily than it is making a decision.”

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LA Clippers’ Paul George practices with team for first time since December

Paul George participated in his first LA Clippers practice in more than three months Thursday as he tries to return prior to the start of the postseason.

The Clippers said George, who has not played since Dec. 22, is in the next phase of his rehab program as he recovers from a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He remains out for Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

George was cleared for practice after participating in a 4-on-4 drill with minimal contact against Clippers coaches on Sunday.

“He is doing good,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said prior to Thursday’s practice. “He hasn’t felt any pain so that is a positive thing. Just working on his conditioning and just making sure he can continue to go through the minimal contact without having any issue. So as of right now, it hasn’t been a problem.”

Around the All-Star break, George was seen shooting with his left hand from short range on the team’s practice court. Earlier this month, George was seen shooting with his right hand.

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The Clippers, who are in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, could get some much-needed reinforcements for the play-in tournament.

Norman Powell, who has been limited to three games after being acquired before the trading deadline, has begun shooting on the court with the team this week. Powell, who had a fracture in a bone in his left foot, has yet to be cleared for contact practice, Lue said.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Clippers (36-38) hope to reduce the minutes for veterans Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum before the play-in tournament

Lue said his preference is to see any of his injured players return for at least one regular season game before the postseason begins. The coach also said Monday that if any of the injured Clippers are medically cleared to play in the postseason, they’ll play.

So while the Clippers have not provided an update on Kawhi Leonard, who continues to work his way back from a torn right ACL injury suffered last June, Lue is keeping the door open for Leonard, George and Powell even if they don’t return by the end of the regular season.

“Hell yeah, I keep it open,” Lue said Monday. “… To hit the playoffs going at 100, from zero to 100, that is pretty tough. But if the medical guys say they are cleared and they are able to do that, that is totally up to them.”

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Minnesota Vikings reach deal with free agent linebacker Jordan Hicks

The Minnesota Vikings have reached a deal with free-agent linebacker Jordan Hicks, the team revealed Tuesday.

Terms were not released, but multiple reports said the two-year deal was worth $12 million.

The Arizona Cardinals released Hicks last week in a move that saved the team $6.5 million on their salary cap. Hicks, who turns 30 in July, has started 51 consecutive matches, the third-longest active streak among all NFL linebackers.

He played at a high level last season, registering 116 tackles and four sacks, but the Cardinals made the move to give fellow inside linebacker Zaven Collins, drafted in the first round last year, more playing time.

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The Vikings already have veteran middle linebacker Eric Kendricks on their roster, but new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has said he plans to use both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Hicks thrived in the Cardinals’ 3-4 and wore the green dot on his helmet, which signaled he was calling defensive plays.

Hicks signed with the Cardinals in 2019 and posted more than 100 tackles in all three seasons with Arizona, including a career-best 150 his first year there.

He spent the first four campaings of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 draft.

He missed 21 regular-season games due to a variety of injuries during his time with the Eagles but didn’t miss a game (all starts) in three seasons with the Cardinals.

Hicks has career numbers of 638 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

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Chicago Bears continue search, interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson

The Chicago Bears interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns executive Glenn Cook for their vacant coach and general manager jobs on Wednesday.

The positions opened Monday when the Bears fired former coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the heels of a 6-11 season. Pederson led Philadelphia to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship following the 2017 season. He was 42-37-1 with two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020 and getting fired.

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Pederson and Nagy are friends from their time working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Cook has spent six years in Cleveland’s front office. He was the Browns’ assistant director of pro scouting from 2016 to 2019 and their vice president of player personnel the past two seasons, working with executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry.

Cook also served as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2011 and 2012) and a pro scout with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2015).

He was a linebacker at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2008. He also was drafted by baseball’s Chicago Cubs in the 46th round in 2009 and played 34 matches for their rookie league team that year.

The Bears landed at the No. 7 spot in the NFL draft after their season, but that pick belongs to the New York Giants from a trade.

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Bucs beat Panthers 41-17, earn No. 2 playoff seeding in NFC

Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took care of their own business, the defending Super Bowl champions permitted themselves to become scoreboard watchers.

Sunday’s 41-17 rout of the Carolina Panthers set a franchise record for regular-season victories, and the win — coupled with the Rams losing to the 49ers in overtime — also gave the Bucs (13-4) the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.

Tampa Bay will host Philadelphia in the wild-card round next week. Earning the No. 2 seed ensures a second home game in two weeks if the Bucs beat the Eagles.

Tom Brady’s not looking ahead, though.

“It just felt good to win today. Whatever happened with other teams, you can’t ever control any of those things. Even for the next game. … you’re worrying about two games from now. I’m not worried about two games from now, I’m worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles,” Brady said.

“I don’t care if the Rams would’ve won … that’s alright, we’ve still got the Eagles and that’s going to be the biggest game of our season,” Brady added.

“If we win, whoever we play, wherever we play, we’re still going, and that’s what we want to do.” Brady topped 5,000 yards passing for the second time in his career, joining Drew Brees as the only players in NFL history with multiple 5,000-yard seasons.

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“We had to do what we had to do,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had seven receptions for 137 yards.

“That’s what really matters,” Gronkowski added. “We did what we had to do, and the rest took care of itself.”

Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns before taking the last half of the fourth quarter off, finishing with a career-best 5,316 yards passing and a Bucs single-season record 43 TD passes for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Mike Evans caught two of Brady’s TD passes, giving him a club-record 14 scoring receptions this year.

He also became the first player in NFL history to start a career with eight consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

Tampa Bay broke the club record for victories in a regular season set in 2002, when the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl for the first time.

Carolina (5-12) finished on a seven-game losing streak that leaves coach Matt Rhule’s future in question. The Panthers are 10-23 in two seasons under the former Temple and Baylor coach, who signed a seven-year contract to move to the NFL in 2020.

The Panthers wasted a chance to go up by double digits, turning the ball over on downs at the Tampa Bay 1 before the Brady turned the game around with an eight-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minute of the first half.

Completions of 37 yards to Evans, 19 yards to Gronkowski and 24 yards to Breshad Perriman helped Brady move into position to give his team a 10-7 halftime lead with a 1-yard TD pass to Le’Veon Bell.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter built the lead to 17-7. Evans caught TD passes of 3 and 20 yards, and receiver Scotty Miller scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Bucs.

Darnold completed 29 of 42 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Panthers, who fell to 0-4 against Tampa Bay under Rhule and have been outscored 150-63 by their NFC South rival in those matches.

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Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash says ‘good chance’ Kevin Durant exits COVID-19 protocol this week

While Kevin Durant could be rejoining the Brooklyn Nets later this week when they are back in New York, Steve Nash says Kyrie Irving will need between a week and two weeks to ramp up before making his season debut.

Durant and Irving stay in health and safety protocols and are not with the team in Los Angeles, where the Nets play the Clippers on Monday night. But the team returns to New York after the match, and the Nets could have Durant and center LaMarcus Aldridge out of protocols and back with the team when they play Philadelphia on Thursday.

“I think there’s a good chance Kevin will be,” Nash stated after the team’s shootaround about whether Durant will be back with the team when it gets back home. “With Kyrie, I’m not so sure, but it’s coming. He’s already been [in protocols since Dec. 18]. … He’s got to be getting close.”

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Aldridge entered health and safety protocols on Dec. 14 along with five other Nets. The other five — James Harden, James Johnson, Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry and Jevon Carter — were all cleared and played in the Nets’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas.

Durant and Irving went into protocols on Dec. 18. The day before, the Nets announced Irving would be returning to the team to play on a part-time basis. Because of New York City’s vaccine mandate, Irving is not allowed to play in home games at Barclays Center or at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.

Since the point guard has not practiced on a regular basis with the team since early October in training camp, Nash says it will take Irving time to ramp up. The Nets have yet to see Irving on a court since deciding to bring him back into the fold because he went into health and safety protocols.

“It’s hard to say, but I would say probably somewhere between a week and two weeks,” Nash said of the ramp-up. “He’s obviously been isolating so that kind of puts another layer to the ramp-up. It’s not like he’s been working out so probably I’d imagine it’s going to be closer to two weeks once he comes out of protocols. We’ll just have to see how it goes, though, because we have to evaluate him from a physical and performance standpoint and a basketball standpoint as well.”

After concluding this two-game trip in Los Angeles, the Nets only have two road games in their following nine games after Monday’s game at the Clippers. They play at Indiana on Jan. 5 and then at Chicago on Jan. 12.

If Irving doesn’t play in those games, the Nets could have him at Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 17 for the start of a four-game road swing.

Harden stated on Saturday that having Irving back, even on a part-time basis, “will be huge for us.”

“Hopefully we can get him back full-time,” center Nic Claxton said. “But it’s definitely gonna be scary hours [with Irving back]. I think he’s gonna break the game for us, and make things easier for everybody on the court. And I’m just, I’m ready to get my brother back.”

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