NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION ROUND UP ZION, DURANT, ANTHONY TOWNS

Zion-Williamson-Luke-Maye-022019-getty-ftr

Newark Star-Ledger reports as the NBA season comes down the stretch, Madison Square Garden won’t be preparing for playoff basketball.

Instead, a look ahead to the NBA Draft lottery and 2019 NBA Draft will dominate conversation in New York and around a franchise that desperately needs luck (both in the draft and free agency) this coming summer.

If the Knicks do land the top choice, two Duke freshman could be there for the choosing: Athletic freak Zion Williamson and smooth forward R.J. Barrett.

Dime Magazine reports in the latest 2019 NBA mock draft from Tankathon, Williamson (despite a scary knee injury in the recent Duke vs. North Carolina game) went No. 1 in simulations. Barrett, the less-heralded Blue Devil, went No. 2.

While the Duke Blue Devils got relatively good news when the diagnosis on Zion Williamson’s knee injury came in, the superstar freshman reportedly won’t be able to take the floor the next time the team suits up.

Williamson was ruled day-to-day with a knee sprain that he suffered in the opening minute of Duke’s loss to North Carolina, and according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium, the injury is expected to hold him out for this weekend’s showdown with Syracuse.

Marcus Smart would enjoy basketball a lot more if modern NBA players hooped the way it was done in the ’60s and ’70s. Smart says the League today is too “cute” and lacks the type of physical play he thrives on. The 24-year-old Celtics fan favorite re-upped in Boston on a four-year, $52 million extension last summer. Continue Reading By 

Karl Anthony Towns

The Minnesota Timberwolves may be without Karl-Anthony Towns in their first game back from the All-Star break on Friday, as the big man was involved in a car accident the day prior. Continue Reading By Steve DelVecchio

Cyrus Saatsaz | Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Cyrus Saatsaz | Wikimedia Commons

The New York Rangers held their 25th anniversary celebration for their legendary 1993-1994 championship team. When the 1993 season started, the Rangers were an organization and fan base that was experiencing a 54-year Stanley Cup drought stretching back to 1940.

When analyzing how this team was built, it’s clear that it was based around a few things. Among them was young talent in goaltender Mike Richter, drafted in 1985 by the Rangers, as well as defenseman Brian Leetch, selected ninth overall by the team in the 1986 draft.

However, the biggest acquisition was Mark Messier, when he was traded to the Rangers from the Edmonton Oilers in 1991. Before this, Messier was a five-time Stanley Cup champion in Edmonton and a league MVP, as he was a key player along with Wayne Gretzky. Even when Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, two years later, Messier captained the last of those championship teams. Continue Reading By Sean McCarthy-Coyle

Damian Lillard, J. Cole, Blazers

The NBA loves itself some J. Cole. The seven-time Grammy-nominated rapper frequently mixes in basketball references to his songs, whether about his own playing days as a teenager in North Carolina or name-dropping some of the game’s biggest stars. Asked on Friday who was his favorite rapper during a takeover his team’s Twitter account, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard answered simply and succinctly. Continue Reading By 

shaq bang lil jon

Photo: GETTY IMAGE

You’d think someone like Shaquille O’Neal would be content with being one of the most dominant basketball players of all time, but if you’ve ever felt the urge to buy car insurance because he told you to, you know he’s a man of many talents.

In the early 90s, Shaq burst onto the scene in a big way and immediately established himself as a force to be reckoned with—but I’m not talking about his performance on the court.

In 1993, the world was treated to Shaq Diesel, a rap album filled with some surprisingly hot tracks that actually managed to land on the charts. Continue Reading By 

Photo: USA Today

Finally, we’ve arrived. The stretch run of the 2018-19 NBA season is here, and with it come the games that will define the campaign and change the landscape of the upcoming postseason.

The final 20-plus games of the year are going to be thrilling to watch unfold, as teams will be fighting and jockeying for position, with some hoping to earn a spot that will allow them to host a playoff series or two, and others just hoping to qualify for the playoffs, period.

Obviously, some organizations lucked out in having the toughest part of their schedule early in the year, when they were as close to full health as possible. Others, however, have the misfortune of facing a buzzsaw to close the season, one that could knock them out of postseason contention altogether. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Basketball Insider

The day after the trade deadline passed, LeBron James had some interesting things to say about the arms race that was going down between the Eastern Conference titans.

“They know they ain’t gotta go through Cleveland anymore,” James said. “Everybody in the East thinks they can get to the Finals because they ain’t gotta go through me.”

It’s notable that the Lakers are currently toeing the line between making the playoffs and playing the lottery odds. That does, however, beg the question: What if LeBron stayed in Cleveland?

Now if that had happened, then a lot of things would probably be different for the Cavaliers right now. There’s no telling if they would have kept the pick the Nets owed them, or if they would be playing Kyle Korver, George Hill, and J.R. Smith right now.

It would have added another intriguing wrinkle to what has been the tightest formerly-five-currently-four-man race going on at the top of the Eastern Conference in quite some time. Whether you agree that Cleveland would still be the frontrunner in the East with James, there doesn’t really appear to be a clear-cut favorite to represent the East anymore. Plenty of fans and analysts would give their takes on who stands out among the pack, but there’s no consensus pick. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Taurean Prince finished the 2017-18 season with an offensive fury. In his last 17 games during that campaign, he averaged 19.9 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting from the floor and 39.5 percent from beyond the three-point line. A massive leap from his previous statistics, there were plenty of questions as to what to make of it. It was certainly a small sample size. Also, there were not a ton of good offensive players on the roster with whom he would need to compete to earn scoring opportunities. However, many observers took some optimism about the future of the then second-year wing. “Would Prince enter the 2018-19 season as the team’s best player?” was a frequently debated question as the roster was reformed over the offseason. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I never looked that happy walking up to one of these when I owned it. Worst effing car I ever had. I’d gotten it second- (or third- or eighth-) hand. It had a few… idiosyncracies. Like:

  • It was ugly. Like a giant sat on an AMC Pacer. Girls were NOT impressed when you pulled up next to them in this car. Smooth.
  • It smelled like cat pee when the Colorado weather was warmer than 80 degrees.
  • None of my friends could drive it, as the stick configuration was upside down of EVERY OTHER CAR ON THE PLANET, and having first be down-and-to-the-left seemed to be tantamount to nuclear fusion.
  • The backseat had existed once, but someone had done something pretty drastic back there an owner or two back, and now it was suitable for non-flat storage.
  • The stereo had a short in the dash. When the music stopped, I could get it going again by punching the top of the dash as hard as I could. It had happened often enough it had developed a soft spot. Continue Reading By  

The Rockets will sign former first-round pick Terrence Jones and rookie guard Chris Chiozza to 10-day contracts to bring them up to the required roster size of 14 players, a person with knowledge of the agreements said on Thursday. Both had been playing in the G League and will be assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Houston Chronicle

After being injured in his last game before participating in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend, Rodions Kurucs sat for Thursday’s 113-99 loss to the Trail Blazers. Considering the Nets are 24-17 when Kurucs plays and a gaudy 18-11 when he starts, but now are just 6-13 when he doesn’t get on the court, his absence was conspicuous — and more than a little curious. NY Post

Portland’s Enes Kanter, who had been persona non grata at the Garden and stuck on the Knicks’ bench, had 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and nine boards in his Blazers debut. “The last time I got a win, I think it was almost two months. Winning feels good again,” said Kanter, who was used in just three of his last dozen games for the Knicks and hadn’t won since Jan. 4. “I’m just happy to go out there again, going out there and playing with my teammates. I’m trying to make everyone better.” NY Post

For the first time in his life tonight, DeRozan will play a road game in Toronto. He still isn’t quite sure how to feel about that. “At some point, I know it’s going to hit me,” DeRozan said Thursday night during a free-wheeling 25-minute, standing-room only news conference at the Spurs’ hotel. So much has happened since July 18, when DeRozan was traded to the Spurs in a summertime blockbuster that sent Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Great White North. Express News

With Clint Capela back in the starting lineup after missing 15 games following thumb surgery, the Rockets went from not having enough centers to not having enough playing time for the centers they have. That allowed them to experiment with a lineup they had not used this season, with Kenneth Faried playing at power forward where the Rockets had been looking at options for a backup for P.J. Tucker. Houston Chronicle

NEWS & NOTES FROM THE MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Now that Manny Machado’s 10-year, $300MM deal with the Padres has been announced, Bryce Harper and agent Scott Boras have a definitive bar to attempt to clear as they seek a record-setting contract of their own. Yesterday’s slate of rumors on Harper had a series of updates on how the Phillies, Nats, White Sox and Giants view the former NL MVP now that Machado is off the board. Here’s a look at the latest chatter on “Harper’s Bazaar” as the long, drawn-out saga inches toward a resolution… From 


​The San Diego Padres stunned the baseball world by signing superstar Manny Machado to the ​largest free agent contract in U.S. sports history earlier this week.

It appears that despite the monolithic deal, they’re not out on the offseason’s other top free agent, Bryce Harper.

According to Jon Heyman, the team’s ownership will meet on Friday to determine whether or not they plan to pursue Harper. It seems like a long shot, especially considering they’re a small market team that has shelled out big bucks in two consecutive offseasons for free agents, but they seem determined to field a truly competitive team in 2019. More From 

 


The Padres have formally announced the signing and confirmed the terms of the contract (10 years, $300MM). To clear room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Dinelson Lamet was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Per Heyman, the deal will pay Machado $30MM annually and contain a six-team no-trade clause (Twitter links). Technically, the first season of the deal is paid out in the form of a $10MM salary and a $20MM signing bonus — that latter of which is not subject to the same level of taxation as Machado’s actual salary. Machado will play third base in San Diego. From 


 

Though Spring Training is underway, let’s move on to our 15th team payroll projection. Below find the links to the earlier posts in this series.

Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels
Atlanta Braves
New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs
New York Mets
San Diego Padres

Today, we look into a club whose rebuild earned a World Series win, yet who finds itself with a rotation in flux: the Houston Astros.

This year’s team has been assembled by general manager Jeff Luhnow, who took the reins in Houston in December 2011, shortly after Crane’s purchase was finalized, after nearly a decade running the Cardinals’ scouting department. Luhnow utilized his drafting prowess over his first few drafts to add stars like Carlos CorreaLance McCullers Jr., and Alex Bregman, with others such as Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker close to contributing. Infamously, Luhnow also whiffed on a pair of number one overall picks in right-hander Mark Appel and left-hander Brady Aiken, though Luhnow salvaged his losses by flipping Appel to Philadelphia as a minor piece in the Ken Giles trade and recouping a compensation pick for Aiken going unsigned that became Bregman. From 


Duke star Zion Williamson sustained a Grade 1 right knee sprain and will be listed as day-to-day moving forward, the school announced. The injury news comes as a sigh of relief for Williamson, who exited the game shortly after suffering the injury on Wednesday. From Arthur Hill


The NBA has submitted an official proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would lower the draft-eligible age from 19 to 18, according to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.

The NBPA and executive director Michele Roberts planned to review the proposal on Monday at a post-All-Star break meeting, Sam Amick adds.

Both the NBA and the NBPA have held extensive discussions on lowering the age throughout the season, but two significant hurdles remain in the way: Commissioner Adam Silver wanting player-agents to provide medical information on prospects for NBA teams, and the league wanting to mandate that players attend and give some form of participation during the pre-draft combine, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. To this point, the NBPA has pushed back against both of these ideas. From JD Shaw


After some up-and-down play in the early going this season, the Warriors have looked like their old selves over the last several weeks, winning 18 of their last 21 games to cement their spot atop the Western Conference. While there was never any doubt that Golden State would be the team to beat in the West, it remains unclear which conference rival will be the Dubs’ biggest threat this spring.

The Nuggets and Thunder currently have comfortable holds on the second and third seeds in the West and are in good position to capture home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. However, both squads are unproven in the playoffs — Oklahoma City hasn’t won a postseason series since Kevin Durant‘s departure in 2016, and Denver hasn’t even made the postseason since 2013. Led by a pair of MVP candidates in Nikola Jokic and Paul George, the Nuggets and Thunder are formidable, but neither team looks like a lock to advance to the Western Finals. From Luke Adams

 

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

It’s been pretty quiet around Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds of late, but TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that “interest has intensified” over the last couple of days. LeBrun speculates that the Flyers’ recent streak of success may have quelled the Simmonds market as the team became re-focused on a playoff push, but he feels the results of their next few games will ultimately determine if and when Simmonds is dealt. More likely than not, the impending free agent power forward will be playing elsewhere by Monday.

Even after the Charlie Coyle acquisition, many believe that the Boston Bruins are not done. TSN’s Darren Dreger applauded the trade, but noted that the Bruins did not have to give up much and are likely still in the market for another scoring forward. The Bruins announced this evening that center Trent Frederic has been assigned to the AHL and winger Peter Cehlarik has been recalled, further enforcing the idea that Boston prefers to play Coyle at third-line center. That would still leave a hole on the second line next to David Krejci. Dreger names New York Rangers Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes as among those the Bruins are targeting to further help out their secondary scoring. From 


There’s a very good chance that, in the end, the Los Angeles Kings will have traded Tanner Pearson, a first-round pick who scored 144 points for them and helped them win a Stanley Cup, for nothing, zip, nada, zero.

Think about it. The Kings dealt Pearson three months ago to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Carl Hagelin, a player who missed 20 games with a knee injury and scored all of one goal and four assists in 22 games for them. That brings us to Thursday when the Kings turned around and dealt Hagelin to the Washington Capitals, a team that will instead use him as the utility player he is for another playoff run, then either allow him to leave as an unrestricted free agent or have him re-sign on a minimal offer. And the Kings get in return a third-round pick and, if the Capitals win two playoff rounds and Hagelin plays in half of those games, an additional sixth-round pick. More From 



NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

A year ago, 24 of the league’s 32 teams made changes to at least one of their head coach, offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator spots, and many of those hirings turned into major stories throughout the 2018 season. New head coaches Matt Nagy and Frank Reich led the Bears and Colts, respectively, to the postseason during their first go-rounds in charge, while new Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur leveraged his one-year stint as a play-caller to become the next Packers head coach.

Which new coaches could make a similar impact this year? We may have to wait to find out, but there are certainly plenty of candidates. The full breakdown of 2019’s major coaching changes from around the league is below:

Head coaches:

Offensive coordinators:

Defensive coordinators:

Special teams coordinators:

Other 2018 OCs, DCs with new jobs:

  • Atlanta Falcons: Hired former Chiefs DC Bob Sutton as a senior assistant.
  • Cleveland Browns: Hired former Cardinals DC Al Holcomb as run game coordinator/linebackers coach.
  • New York Jets: Hired former Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter as running backs coach.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: Hired former Dolphins DC Matt Burke as a defensive assistant.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Hired former Bengals DC Teryl Austin as a senior defensive assistant/secondary.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Hired former Broncos DC Joe Woods as passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Hired former Jets DC Kacy Rodgers as defensive line coach.
  • Washington Redskins: Re-assigned former OC Matt Cavanaugh as a senior offensive assistant. From Dallas Robinson

    The 2019 NFL Draft is fast approaching, but a lot can change in terms of players’ stocks before it arrives in late April. As teams get closer looks at the top prospects at the NFL Combine in late February and pro day workouts in March, some will rise or fall on draft boards around the league.

    For now, here is a look at the best 100 players available in the 2019 NFL Draft regardless of position, and how high each might be selected based on team needs, position scarcity and other factors. See the List From Vinnie Iyer

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE OFF SEASON NEWS

Trade talk has gone quiet around the league in recent weeks but, in Faulk and Skinner, the Canes are dangling two players who could turn pretenders into contenders. Continue Reading by Matt Larkin The defending Stanley Cup champions have re-signed restricted free agent forward Tom Wilson to a six-year, $31MM contract extension. This salary over this amount of … Read moreNATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE OFF SEASON NEWS

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE OFF-SEASON NEWS & NOTES

There has been speculation around Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty for months, with a trade out of town being the most likely final scenario for the scoring winger. Recently though there had been some who wondered if the Canadiens would re-open talks for an extension, something that now appears completely off the table. Marc Antoine Godin of The … Read moreNATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE OFF-SEASON NEWS & NOTES

NHL NEWS-STANLEY CUP FINALS

With the series tied 1-1, Washington carries the momentum into Game 3 and got a boost Friday when center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who left Game 2 with an upper-body injury in the first period, took part in an optional practice. Brooks Orpik took a slash from Vegas Golden Knights forward Erik Haula in the waning seconds of … Read moreNHL NEWS-STANLEY CUP FINALS

PGA DRAWS INTEREST WITH TIGER IN THE HUNT

Tiger Woods Sunday Birdies at the Honda New York Yankees have been looking for rotation depth all off season. Aaron Boone was asked about the chances of pitchers like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn joining the rotation. “At this point I don’t see those guys as realistic options … it’s my understanding that those guys aren’t … Read morePGA DRAWS INTEREST WITH TIGER IN THE HUNT