Philadelphia 76ers Rumors

Philadelphia 76ers trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Atlantic Notes: Sullinger, Early, Sixers

February 26 at 4:28pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Jared Sullinger has not met conditioning goals in an interview today on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub in Boston, as Brian Robb of Boston.com transcribes (Twitter link). Sullinger suffered a season-ending stress fracture in his left foot on Sunday. Ainge said that he has addressed Sullinger’s conditioning issues “many, many times,” and was not impressed by the results this season. “All of our players have met conditioning, body fat, goals set by trainers, and Jared has not met them,” Ainge said. Sullinger told reporters Wednesday that he plans to use his rehab from a left foot fracture and the offseason to transform his body.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With only 26 games left, it’s getting late for Knicks rookie forward Cleanthony Early to prove his worth, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Early is one of four Knicks with a guaranteed deal for next season, but it doesn’t mean he definitely will return, especially if his salary helps facilitate a trade, Iannazzone noted. Early, the No. 34 pick, has struggled, and he missed six weeks after undergoing right knee surgery in November.
  • The Sixers saved a little less than $2MM when they claimed Thomas Robinson off waivers, as Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com writes in an Insider-only story. Robinson’s contract takes them over the NBA’s minimum team salary. Prior to the claim, they had been set to have to distribute any shortfall from that amount among their players, but the 76ers now pay only the balance of Robinson’s salary, Pelton notes.
  • Dumping productive players prior to the NBA trade deadline has become an increasingly popular tanking strategy, and is a problem that the league needs to address, Filip Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. Bondy notes that the deals the Knicks have made this season are a good example of the practice. “It’s been going on for a while, that particular instrument,” said Rod Thorn, NBA president of basketball operations. “More now, because we have so many teams under the cap. Five, six years ago, there were only a handful under the cap. Now half the teams or more are under the cap, and it puts them in position to gain an asset by taking a player that a team is trying to get rid of. There are more trading partners.”

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Carter-Williams, Anthony, Nets

February 25 at 8:28pm CST By Dana Gauruder

Michael Carter-Williams believes that Sixers coach Brett Brown did not approve of the trade that sent the point guard to the Bucks, according to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. The 2013/14 Rookie of the Year award winner felt it was solely a front office decision by GM Sam Hinkie, the story continued. “I think the ultimate thing that it comes down to is coach Brown coaches and Sam does the moves,” Carter-Williams said. “I think that’s what it comes down to and I think that’s the agreement and that’s all I really know. I think that if it was up to coach Brown, I don’t think I would have been moved, to be honest.” Carter-Williams was still surprised because he felt he was in the team’s long-term plans along with lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, Cooney added in a tweet.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Derrick Rose‘s injury history was a major reason why Carmelo Anthony chose to stay with the Knicks rather than signing with the Bulls when he was an unrestricted free agent last summer, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Anthony, who is out for the season with a knee injury, told friends last summer that there was no guarantee he would win a championship in Chicago because of Rose’s recurring health issues, according to Berman. Rose could miss the remainder of the season after suffering another knee injury.
  • Kevin Garnett mentioned the uncertain ownership situation surrounding the Nets when he spoke about his decision to waive his no-trade clause and join the Timberwolves, notes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.
  • Isaiah Thomas could be the long-term answer for the Celtics as their starting point guard, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com speculates. Thomas, who was traded by the Suns to Boston last week, has three years left on his contract and it could be more sensible to have him start alongside Avery Bradley and move rookie Marcus Smart to a sixth-man role, Forsberg adds.
  • Knicks coach Derek Fisher is having a hard time adjusting to being a first-year coach of one of the league’s worst teams after playing for winning teams throughout his career, according to Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “I’m not comparing this to any other time in my basketball career. This is the first time I’ve been in this position,” Fisher said to Knicks beat reporters.

Pacific Notes: Knight, Perkins, Kerr

February 25 at 4:31pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Suns were already planning to a hard push for Brandon Knight in free agency before they traded for him at last week’s deadline, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who writes amid a chat with readers. Phoenix was willing to trade the rights to the Lakers’ top-five protected first-round pick to Milwaukee for Knight, but the Bucks decided instead to take a package that included Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in what ended up a three-way deal, Ford adds.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • It was tough for Kendrick Perkins to turn down former coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but a pitch from LeBron James was too tempting to pass up, notes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “He was real honest with me,” Perkins said of Rivers. “He told me, ‘I think your best two situations right now is either us or Cleveland.’ So I was like, ‘Doc? Or I have a chance to go play with The King [LeBron James]. Doc? The King? Uh, I choose The King.”
  • New Kings assistant coach Vance Walberg is being counted on to bring creativity to Sacramento’s offense, which is something the team was looking for when it fired former coach Mike Malone, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
  • The hiring of Steve Kerr as coach was the final ingredient needed to change the Warriors from a one-and-done playoff team into a title contender, Chris Ballard of SI.com writes. Ballard also runs down how GM Bob Myers constructed the rest of the team’s roster, which is currently an NBA best 44-10.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Clark, Garnett

February 24 at 8:13pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Sixers waiver claim of Thomas Robinson will drop the Nuggets to approximately $2.6MM beneath the NBA’s salary floor, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). This means that Denver would have to pay its players the difference between their team salary and the league’s minimum amount if the team doesn’t raise its payroll above the salary floor prior to the end of the season.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz have assigned Ian Clark to the Idaho Stampede, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. This will be Clark’s first trek of the season to Idaho.
  • At the press conference welcoming Kevin Garnett back to the Wolves, Garnett discussed what led him to waive his no trade clause so that he could return to Minnesota, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. Garnett said, “I figured if LeBron James can go home, [expletive], why can’t I?
  • Garnett relayed that he had no desire to become a coach when his playing career was over, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets. “Heeeeell no. A coach is what I won’t be … you can’t pay me enough to coach,” Garnett said.
  • The veteran big man says that he is in it for the long haul with the Wolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press relays (Twitter link). Garnett says he wants to become part of Minnesota’s ownership and help the team claim an NBA title.
  • Garnett declined to commit to playing beyond this season, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link). KG said that he would listen to what his body tells him and seek his family’s input before deciding his future, Kyler adds.
  • The BlazersSteve Blake said that he plans to exercise his player option for 2015/16 worth $2,170,465, and that he is hoping to play another “year or two” after that, Jabari Young of CSNNW.com writes. “I’ve thought about it for sure,” said Blake of retirement. “I know I’m in the back stretch, that’s why it’s so important for us to be so good. I want a championship really bad and I’m hoping we can get to that level. I only have a few years left to try and get it.”

Sixers Claim Thomas Robinson, Release Frazier

February 24 at 5:39pm CST By Chuck Myron

5:39pm: The Sixers have claimed Robinson and released Frazier, the team announced in a press release.

4:33pm: Chances are slim that Philly will waive Robinson, a league source tells Windrem, noting that he wouldn’t be playoff-eligible for another team if he hits waivers again after Sunday (Twitter link).

4:23pm: The league has informed the other teams that the Sixers have indeed claimed Robinson off waivers, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link).

4:20pm: A league source suggests to NetsDaily’s Robert Windrem that the Sixers don’t have much interest in Robinson and simply did the move to reach the salary floor (Twitter link).

4:15pm: Philly’s initial plan is to keep Robinson and take an “extended look” at him, a league source told Wojnarowski for his full story.

4:04pm: The Sixers have claimed Robinson and released Frazier, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Philadelphia has yet to make a public announcement, however. If the team has indeed let go of Frazier, he immediately becomes a free agent and isn’t subject to waivers, since he was on a 10-day contract.

3:53pm: Philadelphia has indeed submitted a claim, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link), so he’s poised to join the team after the top of the hour.

3:27pm: The Sixers are likely to claim Thomas Robinson off waivers from the Nuggets, spoiling Brooklyn’s deal to sign him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). That’d be a boon to Denver, which would have his entire salary of more than $3.678MM wiped from its cap, rather than simply the amount that Robinson agreed to relinquish in their buyout deal. It would also send the Sixers over the $56.759MM minimum team salary, meaning they wouldn’t have to pay their existing players the difference between their team salary and the minimum. Philadelphia would have to waive a player to make the claim, since it has a full 15-man roster, though Tim Frazier is on a 10-day contract. The deadline to submit a claim is 4pm Central time.

Robinson had reportedly agreed to sign a 10-day contract with the Nets, though Wojnarowski wrote that the Nets were expected to eventually sign him for the rest of the season. The former No. 5 overall pick went from the Blazers to the Nuggets in a deadline-day trade. He’s been set for unrestricted free agency this summer ever since Portland declined the fourth-year team option on his rookie scale contract this past fall. The Sixers would be unable to re-sign him to a starting salary of more than the approximately $4.66MM value of that option if they claimed him off waivers.

The Nets have reportedly been interested in bringing back Andray Blatche, so missing out on Robinson would seemingly reopen that possibility, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Still, a league source tells Tim Bontemps of the New York Post that the Nets have no immediate plans for their lone open roster spot, which Robinson was expected to fill (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Kirilenko, Perkins, Young

February 24 at 2:29pm CST By Chuck Myron

Recently released Sixers forward Andrei Kirilenko hinted that his NBA career is over in comments he made after joining CSKA Moscow, as Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net relays.

“I am glad to be back to my favorite team, where I played in the beginning of my career, then in the middle of it,” Kirilenko said. “It’s great that I got this chance and I was happy to use it. I understand that the time has come to think about quitting as a pro player and in my opinion it is better to do it in my dear club’s uniform.”

It would have been hard to imagine such an abrupt ending for the 34-year-old in 2013, when he turned down a player option worth $10.219MM from the Timberwolves, but it’s been largely downhill for him since he signed a discount deal with the Nets that summer. Here’s more news related to Eastern Conference teams:

  • The Cavs aren’t signing Kendrick Perkins with the thought that he’ll have the same sort of role he played this season for the Thunder, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. Instead, he’ll simply be an “insurance policy” in case another big man is unable to play, Lloyd writes. Cleveland is set to ink Perkins today once he clears waivers.
  • A desire for more athleticism helped prompt the Nets to swap Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young, who’s ecstatic about having been sent to Brooklyn, as Newsday’s Roderick Boone details. Young has an early termination option worth as much as nearly $10.222MM for next season.
  • The deadline trade that sent Isaiah Canaan to Philadelphia thrust him into a chance at significant playing time for the first time in his career, and coach Brett Brown is impressed so far, as Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders examines. Canaan, like many on the Sixers roster, nonetheless has little job security, since less than $758K of his minimum salary is guaranteed for next season.

Financial Impact Of Deadline Trades: Atlantic

February 24 at 9:59am CST By Chuck Myron

Last week’s trade deadline was a dizzying affair, with 39 players and 17 teams involved in a dozen trades, including a trio of three-team transactions. The day had wide-ranging effects on the salary structures of those 17 teams, and we’ll examine the aftermath for each of them in this multipart series.

Today we’ll look at the Atlantic Division, where every team except the Raptors entered the deadline with a sub-.500 record, and every team except the Raptors took part in a trade. The salary figures listed here denote this season’s salaries, though we’ll also discuss salary for future seasons.

Boston Celtics

In: ($13,488,606)

Out: ($16,282,865)

The Celtics went from a team salary that put them in danger of crossing the tax threshold as the season began to one that dipped below the $63.065MM salary cap after the deadline, demonstrating just how active Celtics president of basketball operation Danny Ainge was not just at the deadline but all season long. Boston is still technically over the cap, since Ainge has elected not to renounce his exceptions, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link), and a cupboard already bursting with trade exceptions got a little more crowded with last week’s deals.

The team acknowledged the creation of a $7.7MM trade exception when it formally announced the Tayshaun Prince trade. To be precise, that exception is worth the equivalent of Prince’s $7,707,865 salary. That means Boston used previously existing exceptions to take in Jerebko’s $4.5MM salary and Datome’s $1.75MM pay. Jerebko could have gone into the $12,909,090 Rajon Rondo exception or the $5MM Brandan Wright exception, and Pincus estimates that it went into Wright’s (Twitter link). Datome would have fit into either of those, although he and Jerebko wouldn’t have both fit within Wright’s exception. The Celtics also had a $2,439,840 Austin Rivers exception that would work for Datome, and that’s the one Pincus estimates that they used.

Ainge and company can create a smaller new exception worth the difference between the salaries for Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas, which comes to $1,336,394. They also had the option of sticking Thornton’s salary into the Rondo exception so that they could create a $7,238,606 exception for Thomas, but the release from the Celtics made no reference to that, and there’s a logical reason. The Celtics have only about $40.4MM in commitments for next season against a projected $68MM cap, motivation to officially open cap space and chase free agents. Doing so would wipe out all of their trade exceptions, rendering moot the value that could be gained by eating part of the massive Rondo exception to make new exceptions that expire at next year’s deadline instead of this coming December.

However, Pincus suggests the Celtics are unlikely to open that cap room this summer (Twitter link). That $40.4MM doesn’t include a cap hold for the C’s own pick or the one the Clippers owe them. It also doesn’t take into account anyone salary the team might acquire around draft time using its trade exceptions. Boston wouldn’t have to officially renounce its exceptions until after the July Moratorium, at which point many marquee free agents have often already made their decisions. Few stars clamor to join a team in a cold-weather city with no other discernible star on the roster, so Ainge may be better served staying above the cap and using his exceptions to scour the trade market, where players have less control over their destinations. His decision to take on Thomas for the expiring contract of Thornton and add nearly $6.913MM to next year’s commitments as a result is further hint that the Celtics won’t go under the cap this summer.

So, the Celtics would have had some motivation to have bitten into the Rondo exception last week to buy themselves a little extra time to make deals next season, but keeping that exception intact to see if they can shake loose a trade candidate with an eight-figure salary was probably too tempting.

Brooklyn Nets

In: ($9,660,869)

Out:  ($12,000,000)

The Nets gave up future cost certainty for a tax break this season and a fairly useful trade exception, but that exception isn’t quite as valuable as it might otherwise have been, thanks to Brooklyn’s recent success. The league considers it likely that Young will receive his $250K bonus for playing on a postseason team, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That’s because the Nets made the playoffs last season, even though they were a game out of the final postseason spot at Thursday’s deadline. That’s money that he certainly wouldn’t have seen if he’d stayed with the last-place Timberwolves. So, Young costs that much more to Brooklyn than he did to Minnesota, meaning the trade exception the Nets can reap from the difference between Garnett’s salary and Young’s is $2,339,131 instead of $2,589,131, as Pincus notes (Twitter link).

Brooklyn can still save that $250K from counting against its luxury tax payments if it misses the playoffs, but the Nets have already shrunk their tax bill considerably from the record amount of more than $90MM they paid for last season. The Garnett-for-Young trade figures to have saved the Nets almost $6MM in tax payments on top of the more than $2.3MM it saved them in raw salary. They’re now in position to pay only about $20MM in tax this season, though the final tax numbers won’t be known until season’s end.

Still, the Nets will almost assuredly pay some sort of tax this season, setting themselves up to pay the onerous repeater rate next season if they’re still a taxpayer at the end of 2015/16. Young’s early termination option will be worth nearly $10.222MM if he’s still on the roster and the Nets make the playoffs next year and $9.972MM if they miss. Either way, it would be a significant addition to an already stacked payroll. The Nets will have nearly $86MM in commitments if Young and Lopez opt in, and that would put the team over the projected $81MM tax line for next season.

Philadelphia 76ers

In: ($12,066,482)

Out: ($2,807,376)

Only GM Sam Hinkie‘s Sixers could make three trades that net $9,259,106 in additional payroll for this season and still wind up almost $4MM shy of the $56.759MM minimum team salary. That’s nonetheless where Philadelphia stood after the deadline, and while a few more moves like this weekend’s waiver claim of Ish Smith would help the team make it up to the salary floor, the Sixers are on track to miss that mark. There’s no real penalty, of course, since the only consequence is that the Sixers would have to distribute the difference between that amount and their team salary to their players, which would seem like a just reward for their patience amid the team’s rebuilding.

More significantly, Philadelphia took on an eight-figure salary commitment for next season with JaVale McGee on the books for $12MM in 2015/16, and no buyout deal on the way. Isaiah Canaan, the other player the Sixers traded for, has a partial guarantee of nearly $758K. Philadelphia parted with Michael Carter-Williams‘ rookie scale salary of close to $2.4MM for next season, bringing the total addition to next year’s payroll to $10,358,780. That means the Sixers have more than $53MM committed against a projected $68MM salary cap, and with as many as four first-round picks, Philadelphia won’t have tons of cap space like it did this year, when Hinkie used it to take on unwanted salary from other teams at the cost of draft picks and other future-focused assets.

New York Knicks

In: ($3,282,057)

Out: ($1,662,961)

The Knicks had to use one of their existing trade exceptions to make their deal with the Rockets work, since Alexey Shved‘s salary exceeds the 125% plus $100K of Pablo Prigioni‘s that New York, as a taxpaying team, would otherwise be allowed to take in. The assumption here is that team president Phil Jackson and company took Shved into the $3,637,073 exception leftover from their offloading of Raymond Felton to the Mavs this past summer, rather than their $5,982,375 J.R. Smith trade exception. Going that route would virtually wipe out the Felton exception but allow the Knicks to retain the full value of their Smith exception, which is larger and expires later. However, it’s still uncertain just what direction New York went.

There’s a slight savings involved for next season, since Shved is on an expiring contract while Prigioni is due a $290K partial guarantee. However, that savings is muted if Jackson and company envision retaining Shved’s Bird rights, since he has a larger cap hold than Prigioni. The trade adds nearly $2.429MM to New York’s tax burden this season, and while owner James Dolan has never shown any skinflint tendencies, the Knicks could have saved a bundle more than that if they’d shed an amount of raw salary not far removed from the $1,619,096 they took on. Thanks in part to Amar’e Stoudemire‘s forfeiture of $2.5MM, as Pincus shows on the Knicks salary page at Basketball Insiders, New York entered the trade deadline with a team salary for tax purposes of close to $79.694MM, or only about $2.865MM away from going under the tax line. If the Knicks had shed that amount of salary, no Herculean task, they could have avoided paying the repeater rates next season in the event that they once more become taxpayers.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Andrei Kirilenko Signs With CSKA Moscow

February 24 at 7:37am CST By Chris Crouse

TUESDAY, 7:37am: The deal is official, the team announced. It runs until the end of the season.

MONDAY, 4:55pm: Kirilenko has cleared waivers, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today hears (Twitter link). That removes the hurdle for him to sign with the Russian team.

SUNDAY, 11:24am: Andrei Kirilenko will sign with CSKA Moscow once he clears waivers, a team official from CSKA Moscow tells David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twiiter link). Kirilenko is expected to sign a contract that runs through the summer of 2015, according to Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net.

Kirilenko hasn’t played an NBA game since November 13th and had been suspended by Philadelphia after he failed to report to the team when it acquired him in a trade from the Nets on December 11th. The 34-year-old had been away from the team tending to a medical issue involving his wife’s pregnancy, which was resolved last week when she gave birth to her son.

As soon as the Sixers acquired the forward, there were rumors of him being released but GM Sam Hinkie informed him that the team did not intend to make such a move. Philadelphia held onto Kirilenko, hoping that he could be used as a trade chip but no deal materialized. The Sixers waived the Russian forward on Saturday and it is unlikely any team claims him.

And-Ones: Embiid, Johnson, Spurs, Thomas

February 24 at 12:16am CST By Zach Links

The Sixers were willing to trade rookie center Joel Embiid for a high draft pick, according to Mark Heisler of Forbes.com. Philadelphia drafted Embiid third overall last June, but he had offseason surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot and has yet to take the court for the Sixers. Philadelphia was unable to work out a deal for Embiid, but did send reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to the Bucks in a three-team deal that brought back the Lakers‘ top-five protected first round pick for this year.

There’s more news from around the league:

    • The Rockets announced that they have recalled Nick Johnson from the D-League, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (via Twitter).  Johnson’s assignment was his fourth trip down this season, as our assignments/recalls log shows.  The 22-year-old guard has seen time in 18 games for the Rockets this season, averaging 3.1 PPG and 1.3 RPG in 10.3 minutes per contest.
    • Some people, like Charles Barkley, aren’t so wild about analytics.  However, Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express News writes that the Spurs are undeniable proof that analytics can help to build a tremendous roster.
    • New Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas did his best to squash rumors that he was unhappy with his role while with the Suns, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets.  “The guy that complained, you seen it in the media. I didn’t say anything,” Thomas said.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: AK47, Prince, Blatche, Bass

February 23 at 6:14pm CST By Zach Links

Andrei Kirilenko said he doesn’t understand why the Sixers kept him for more than two months, waiving him only this weekend instead of cutting him soon after they traded for him in December, as he told Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express (translation via Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net). He said he didn’t hear anything from Sixers brass for two weeks following the trade, and the forward confirmed that he went on unpaid suspension when he refused to report.  Here’s more from the Atlantic..

  • The Celtics promised Tayshaun Prince that they would buy him out but reneged when they traded him to the Pistons, a source told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.  The Clippers, he adds, were likely disappointed when Prince was shipped to Detroit.
  • The Nets don’t have any other moves planned at this time and they’re not willing to eat any of their current contracts to make space for Andray Blatche, according to Robert Windrem of NetsDaily (on Twitter).
  • While his role in Boston has fluctuated, Brandon Bass told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that he would “definitely” be open to signing a new deal to stay with the Celtics.  “If I’m wanted back then yeah, I would want to be back for sure,” said Bass. “It’s been a blessing for me to be here four years, to finish out my contract here. I’m excited about that. Hopefully everything will continue to go in a positive direction.”   Bass is earning $6.9MM in his walk year.
  • A chance to get on the floor was among the many reasons Gigi Datome was excited when he learned that he had been traded to the Celtics, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes.
  • 76ers GM Sam Hinkie is stockpiling second-round picks because, out of a handful, he figures to hit on at least one, as Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.  “We will not bat 1.000 on every single draft pick,” Hinkie said. “We have them by the bushelful in part because of that, because we don’t have any hubris that we will get them all right. We’re not certain we have an edge over anyone else. We’re not certain we have an edge at all. That’s OK. It’s a hard league, with 30 teams trying to clamor to the top of the same mountain.” The GM continued his polarizing rebuild plan at this year’s trade deadline when he moved Michael Carter-Williams for draft considerations.
  • New Nets acquisition Thaddeus Young is motivated by the death of his mother and the promise of making a playoff push, Lenn Robbins of BrooklynNets.com writes.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.