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Cora gets new deal from Red Sox through 2021 season

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Alex Cora brought a new voice and culture to the Boston Red Sox that helped propel them to their latest World Series title. The Red Sox rewarded him for bringing home a championship in his first year with the team by giving him a new contract with an additional guaranteed year through the 2021 season. The deal containing the extension was announced Wednesday by Boston also includes a club option for 2022. In his rookie season as a major league manager, Cora guided the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 victories and the team’s fourth championship in 15 seasons. He finished second in the AL Manager of the Year voting announced Tuesday. “We have consistently been impressed by Alex at every turn,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, ability to connect with our players, and his incredible instincts and decisiveness led us to an historic championship season. We know we are in good hands and could not be more pleased to know he will be with us for the foreseeable future.” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was in search of new direction for the club when he fired former manager John Farrell after back-to-back Al Division Series losses in 2016 and 2017. After the historic regular season, Cora then steered Boston past the 100-win Yankees and Astros in the AL playoffs before downing the Dodgers in the World Series. “For me, 2018 was not only historic, but it was special as well, both on and off the field,” Cora said in a statement. “We have a great appreciation for our accomplishments this past year, but now our focus moves forward to the season ahead and defending our World Series title.” During Boston’s run Cora got the best out his young talent, led by AL MVP favorite Mookie Betts. They shined in player-centric approach in which Cora encouraged an aggressive hitting mentality, lots of hit-and-runs and active running of the bases. Cora also the most out of his pitching staff, which included clutch performances in the postseason by Chris Sale and David Price. Neither pitcher had logged a playoff victory as a starter prior to this season. Price had a tough time acclimating to Boston’s rugged sports environment during his first two seasons of the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed in 2015. He’s found a groove late in the season, pitching the clinching Game 5 of the ALCS to help the Red Sox advance. “Just his demeanor. It doesn’t change,” Price said last month. “I know it’s easy to not change when your team wins 108 games in the regular season. But he hasn’t changed one bit.” A member of the Red Sox’s 2007 World Series title team as a player, Cora was the bench coach on Houston’s 2017 championship team. He learned from manager A.J. Hinch that being close to players would be beneficial. “Talking to players is not bad, having a relationship with players is not bad,” Cora said in describing his managerial philosophy. “Doing that, you’re going to get the best out of them. People may think that crossing that line is not helpful, but I see it the other way around, and I lived it.” Cora became the first manager from Puerto to guide a team to a championship. It came more than a year after Hurricane Maria devastated island, prompting Cora during initial contract negotiations last October to ask the Red Sox to help his people with relief efforts. Ownership responded by sending a chartered plane full of supplies. Days after winning the World Series, they again obliged Cora’s request to take the trophy to his hometown of Caguas, Puerto Rico......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 15th, 2018

Eovaldi agrees to $68 million, 4-year deal with Red Sox

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Nathan Eovaldi’s marathon relief performance in Game 3 of the World Series is a moment that will resonate in Red Sox history. Boston rewarded him with a $68 million, four-year contract. “We’re very happy to have Nathan back with us,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in a statement as the deal was announced Thursday. “He did a tremendous job for us last season, playing a significant role in helping us win the division and the World Series. His performance in the postseason was outstanding, both as a starting pitcher and as a reliever.” A 28-year-old right-hander who has had a pair of Tommy John surgeries, Eovaldi was acquired by Boston from Tampa Bay on July 25. He went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA down the stretch. He made four starts against the Yankees, going 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA, and beat the New York in Game 3 of the AL Division Series, when he gave up one run in seven innings. In six postseason appearances, including two starts, Eovaldi went 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA, a .185 opponent’s batting average, 16 strikeouts, and three walks Eovaldi pitched one inning of relief in each of the first two games of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He entered Game 3 in the 12th inning and threw 97 pitches over six-plus innings, preventing the bullpen from enduring additional stress. Boston lost the game when Eovaldi surrendered an 18th-inning home run to Max Muncy, but his performance inspired his teammates. Manager Alex Cora credited Eovaldi’s effort with being one of the catalysts that helped Boston win its fourth World Series title in 15 years. At the premiere of the Red Sox’s 2018 season highlight video, Eovaldi got the biggest cheers when his name was mentioned, with the crowd chanting “Bring him back!” “Nobody’s going to remember who won that game. Everybody’s going to remember Nate Eovaldi,” Cora said. Eovaldi is part of a projected starting rotation that includes Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez. Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery in 2007 when he was a junior in high school and his second in August 2016 while with the Yankees. He was let go by New York after the season and signed with Tampa Bay, a deal that guaranteed $2 million in 2017 and included a $2 million option for 2018. He had arthroscopic surgery late in spring training to remove loose bodies in his pitching elbow and did not make his season debut until May 30 — his first major league game since Aug. 10, 2016. Boston earlier reached a $6.25 million, one-year contract with first baseman Steve Pearce, the World Series MVP. Remaining unsigned players who became free agents after winning the Series include closer Craig Kimbrel, left-hander Drew Pomeranz, right-hander Joe Kelly and second basemen Brandon Phillips and Ian Kinsler......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Middle 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Middle 10 * * * 11. TORONTO RAPTORS 2017-18 RECORD: 59-23; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: Coach Nick Nurse; G Danny Green (acquired from Spurs); F Kawhi Leonard (acquired from Spurs) LOST: Former coach Dwane Casey; G DeMar DeRozan (traded to Spurs); F Alfonzo McKinnie (waived); C Jakob Poeltl (traded to Spurs) RETAINED: G Fred VanVleet (two years, $18.1 million) THE KEY MAN: Nurse. The former Raps assistant has extensive G League head coaching experience. But the NBA isn’t just about a coach’s Xs and Os acumen. We know Nurse can do that. But an NBA coach has to have command presence in a locker room not only full of millionaires, but full of Alpha males who have their own very strong opinions on how they should be used and how their teammates should help them. Nurse will have to show he can put his own stamp on a team that will have some new faces while still having extremely high expectations. THE SKINNY: You may well think Toronto should be higher, based on Leonard’s standing as a top-five player in the league when fully healthy. No matter what you think of DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, no one can realistically say he’s better than “The Klaw” when both are 100 percent. But, of course, we don’t know if Leonard’s 100 percent. And, trading DeRozan, who’d been the franchise’s biggest advocate during his nine seasons there -- and who had led the team to its greatest extended run of success ever -- is not a transaction without consequence for the Raptors. He helped get the best out of Kyle Lowry. He could help recruit free agents. And, the circumstances of his departure have not helped the franchise’s reputation. Still, this is a talent-based league, and Leonard has it. His and Green’s presence on the perimeter gives Toronto the chance to be a switching defensive monster -- and will help the Raptors be able to match up better with the likes of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in a late-May playoff matchup, as long as the Raptors’ young core in which it believes so strongly continues to play as well in reserve as it did last season. 12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: Coach Mike Budenholzer; G Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trevon Duval; F Ersan Ilyasova (three years, $21 million); C Brook Lopez (one year, $3.32 million); F Pat Connaughton (two years, $3.2 million); LOST: Former interim coach Joe Prunty; G Brandon Jennings (waived); F Jabari Parker (signed with Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: G Eric Bledsoe. His departure from Phoenix early last season was messy. But once he got to Brewtown, Bledsoe solidified the Bucks at the point, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in 71 starts. At 28, Bledsoe faces the last year of his contract and will have to show a new coach he’s capable of running things long-term and playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo through the meat of his prime. THE SKINNY: Budenholzer’s arrival should coincide with an improvement in the Bucks’ defense, something that former coach Jason Kidd could never quite accomplish. Ilaysova’s return for a second tour in Milwaukee should help, with his celebrated charge-taking skill and Lopez’s still-substantial size a double-boon to Milwaukee’s interior D as the Bucks were bottom 10 last season in points allowed in the paint (47.4 per game). If the paint becomes a little tougher to traverse, the Bucks should finally able to use their substantial length on the wing to get back to create deflections and turnovers, and get out in transition, where Antetokounmpo and Friends do their best work and their most damage to the opposition. They’ll do so 41 nights a year for the next couple of decades in the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new arena that will open in early September with a concert and should pump new revenues into the Bucks’ bloodstream, giving them more financial wherewithal to keep “The Greek Freak” surrounded with high-quality talent. 13. UTAH JAZZ 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Grayson Allen (No. 21 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jarius Lyles; G Naz Mitrou-Long LOST: F Jonas Jerebko (waived) RETAINED: G Dante Exum (three years, $33 million); F/C Derrick Favors (two years, $37.6 million), G Raul Neto (two years, $4.4 million); F Georges Niang (three years, $4.9 million) THE KEY MAN: C Rudy Gobert. He’s a monster presence, the hub of the Jazz’s defensive wheel and the reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And he has to take a step back in Utah next season for the Jazz to take the next step forward. He has to understand what Utah has in Donovan Mitchell and let that kid eat. Nobody in the league can do what Gobert does defensively. So embrace that and concentrate on that -- take the Draymond Green attitude about being the “defensive guy” on a great team (not that Jazz fans want you to do anything that Green does). Gobert’s handsomely paid and the DPOY award found him in Salt Lake City; there’s no small-market bias at work here. So let Mitchell and Joe Ingles carry the shooting/scoring load, let Ricky Rubio orchestrate, and snuff out opponent dreams at the other end, night after night. It’s what you were born to do. THE SKINNY: My God, Mitchell had a great rookie season. And Utah brought most of the band back from last season to provide advice and consent for him again, re-signing Favors, Exum and Neto each on very reasonable contracts. Doing so leaves Utah over the cap, still comfortably under the tax, and with nothing on the books that should raise an eyebrow financially. (Utah’s front office should handle my checking account for a while.) Anyway, no reason to expect any backsliding next season with the crew returning, though coach Quin Snyder will surely miss the counsel of his longtime friend Igor Kokoskov, off to run the Suns. 14. ATLANTA HAWKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Lloyd Pierce; F Justin Anderson (acquired from 76ers); G Kevin Huerter (No. 19 pick, 2018 Draft); C Alex Len (two years, $8.5 million); G Jeremy Lin (acquired from Nets); F Omari Spellman (No. 30 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trae Young (No. 5 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Mike Budenholzer; G Antonius Cleveland (waived); G Damion Lee (signed with Warriors); F/C Mike Muscala (traded to 76ers); G Dennis Schröder (traded to Thunder); G Isaiah Taylor (waived) RETAINED: C Dewayne Dedmon (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: GM Travis Schlenk. The second-year executive will be judged on how well Atlanta uses its trove of Draft picks -- three firsts this year, three firsts next year, two firsts in 2022 -- the next few years. And, ultimately, the Hawks will live or die by whether Young or Luka Doncic becomes the bigger NBA producer. Schlenk’s chances of completing the rebuild may well ride on that. THE SKINNY: The Hawks’ roster teardown is nearing completion, but the renovated Philips Arena will come online faster than the team, which now needs Young to live up to all the hype after his one season at Oklahoma. He has incredible range and great potential, but he’ll be challenged every night to stay in front of the legion of great points in this league. Pierce, the former Sixers’ assistant, is going to have a very tough time melding all the newcomers with the small core of players who survived, including John Collins, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre' Bembry and Taurean Prince. 15. LA CLIPPERS 2017-18 RECORD: 42-40; missed playoffs ADDED: C Marcin Gortat (acquired from Wizards); G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 pick, 2018 Draft); F Johnathan Motley (acquired from Mavericks); F Mike Scott (one year, $4.3 million); F Luc Mbah a Moute (one year, $4.3 million), G Jerome Robinson (No. 13 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Austin Rivers (traded to Wizards); C DeAndre Jordan (signed with Mavs); G C.J. Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Avery Bradley (two years, $24.9  million); C Montrezl Harrell (two years, $12 million); G Wesley Johnson (picked up player option); G Milos Teodosic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Tobias Harris. He was the key tangible piece of the Blake Griffin trade last season (the intangible being the unprotected first from Detroit in the deal that eventually became Gilgeous-Alexander after a Draft night trade with Charlotte). And Harris played quite well in his 32 games with the Clips, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds per game. Those numbers could each well go up in a contract year and with few others outside of Lou Williams on the roster that can go get their own buckets. THE SKINNY: Amazing, but true: the Clipper player with the longest current tenure is … Wesley Johnson, who came aboard in 2015. “Lob City” is in the history books and change will be the norm here for a while, including next summer, when the Clippers expect to be a free-agent destination. The Clips did what they could with that not-insignificant restriction, but the best stuff was in the Draft, winding up with a potential long-term point in Gilgeous-Alexander and a two in Robinson that rocketed up the pre-Draft charts. Bradley’s on a very team-friendly and controllable contract, as is Patrick Beverley, whose modest 2018-19 salary isn’t guaranteed until January. Those two and Mbah a Moute can give coach Doc Rivers hope that he can get some stops on the perimeter, because while Gortat is still willing defensively and still takes a bunch of charges, he is not Jordan when it comes to rim protection. 16. BROOKLYN NETS 2017-18 RECORD: 28-54; missed playoffs ADDED: F/C Ed Davis (one year, $4.4 million); F Jared Dudley (acquired from Suns); F Kenneth Faried (acquired from Nuggets); G/F Treveon Graham (two years); F Rodions Kurucs (No. 40, 2018 Draft); F Dzanan Musa (No. 29 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shabazz Napier (two years, $3.7 million) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Suns); F Dante Cunningham (signed with Spurs); C Dwight Howard (waived); G Jeremy Lin (traded to Hawks); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Hornets); G Nik Stauskas (signed with Blazers); G Isaiah Whitehead (traded to Nuggets) RETAINED: G Joe Harris (two years, $16 million) THE KEY MAN: Co-owner Joseph Tsai. The Alibaba executive and billionaire has 49 percent of the team, and can buy majority control from Mikhail Prokhorov by 2021. Until then, they’ll run the team jointly, so no matter Prokhorov’s ups and downs, Brooklyn’s financial spigot should never run dry. Tsai reportedly has designs on expanding the Nets’ brand further in China, just as Prokhorov believed the Nets had global reach. They didn’t, at least not the post-KG and Pierce squads. THE SKINNY: If you love Ed Davis like smart people who know basketball do, Brooklyn makes the top half by bringing the ex-Blazer in on a short deal. If he plays great, he’ll cost the Nets a pretty penny in 2019, but Brooklyn has to take chances on guys who can outperform their contracts. The only thing the Nets couldn’t do was take on more ’19 salary when they’ll be in line to potentially add two max players. Won’t be easy to lure the elites, but Brooklyn also has accumulated enough assets to be able to make uneven trades for salaries if need be. In the interim comes next season, with coach Kenny Atkinson needing to continue to develop diamonds in the rough like Graham, who Cleveland wanted and who will help the Nets at multiple positions. 17. CHICAGO BULLS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: G Antonius Cleveland; C Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chandler Hutchison (No. 22 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jabari Parker (two years, $40 million) LOST: F Jerian Grant (traded to Magic); G Sean Kilpatrick (waived); G Julyan Stone (waived); F Noah Vonleh (signed with Knicks); G Paul Zipser (waived) RETAINED: G Antonio Blakeney; G Zach LaVine (matched four year, $78 million offers sheet from Kings) THE KEY MAN: G Kris Dunn. As the 24-year-old will be every season he’s in Chicago. The Jimmy Butler trade in 2017 yielded the pick that became Lauri Markannen, and he’s also a key piece to the Bulls’ future. But Chicago won’t ever get elevation again if Dunn doesn’t become an elite point guard in a league full of them. He showed signs last season that he could be just that, most notably a December in which Dunn averaged 14.9 points and eight assists, and the Bulls went 10-6. But a concussion in January derailed Dunn’s progress and his production fell sharply the rest of the season. THE SKINNY: Can Parker play the three, as the Bulls insist he can? There isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting so, and Parker’s hypothesis that he isn’t getting paid to play defense does not provide much comfort. But the Bulls will try him there alongside Markannen and rookie Carter Jr. in what would be a huge frontcourt. Almost $20 million annually for LaVine going forward is also a stretch, but less of one if LaVine comes all the way back from his 2017 ACL tear with a full training camp and season. Carter may be more important to the Bulls’ hoped-for resurgence than Parker and LaVine; the Duke big man has that much potential. 18. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 2017-18 RECORD: 43-39; lost in first round ADDED: C Thomas Bryant; G Troy Brown (No. 15 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jeff Green (one year, $2.5 million); C Dwight Howard (two years, $11 million); G Austin Rivers (acquired from Clippers); G Issuf Sanon (No. 44 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Marcin Gortat (traded to Clippers); F Mike Scott (signed with Clippers) RETAINED: G Jodie Meeks (picked up player option); C Jason Smith (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Coach Scott Brooks. Entering his third season in Washington, Brooks keeps saying he wants the Wizards to defend and play fast. But he has to follow that up with action, especially when and if John Wall doesn’t provide the on-ball defense Washington needs to have any chance to unleash a still-potent fast break. Wall is 27 and, if healthy, in his prime. The team takes almost all of its cues from him; when he’s locked in, the Wizards can compete with anyone. But when he’s indifferent, so are they -- as evidenced by their horrible record against bad teams. Brooks has to demand Wall’s best, or be ready to limit his minutes. THE SKINNY: NBA protocol almost demands you hate the pickup of Howard, such is his current perceived valued among many after multiple stops the last few seasons. The guess here is that Howard won’t hijack the Wizards’ locker room, as he had been accused of while in with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, especially. Howard’s skill set can help Washington, which fell off defensively last season. But there’s also not much sense he’ll be a significant pick-me-up in D.C., either. He can’t stretch the floor and he’s not especially potent finishing in pick and roll, either. But the Wizards should at least be deeper off the bench with Green, who played well for the Cavs last season, and Rivers, who gives Washington legit guard depth along with Tomas Satoransky. 19. SACRAMENTO KINGS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: F Nemanja Bjelica (three years, $20.4 million); C Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick, 2018 Draft); G Yogi Ferrell (two years, $4.1 million); G Ben McLemore (acquired from Kings); F Deyonta Davis (acquired from Grizzlies) LOST: G Garrett Temple (traded to Grizzlies) RETAINED: G Iman Shumpert (picked up player option); C Kosta Koufos (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Harry Giles. The Kings traded for the one-and-done forward on Draft night 2017 and redshirted him, feeling he needed a year to fully recover from the multiple knee surgeries he’d undergone the last three years. Those surgeries stopped his top-five Draft potential in its tracks, before and after a year at Duke. But Giles is back on the floor, having flashed his skills during NBA Summer League, as Sacramento gushed about his progress. If the 20-year-old is ready to roll come October, he could be an enormous boost. He’ll have to at least become a contributor, lest folks remind the Kings they passed on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and O.G Anunoby to trade for his rights. THE SKINNY: Bagley III has superstar potential, and he better become one, or the Doncic Stans among the Kings’ fan base will have aneurysms. The Kings were all over everyone, seemingly, this summer, dropping sheets on Zach LaVine, almost doing the same with Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker, and going after unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja. All well and good, and getting Bjelica out from under Philly and prying Ferrell from Dallas were decent late July pickups. But it will be Bagley III who’ll be under the microscope. His skill sets are prodigious and he’s been working out feverishly all summer. And he wants to make a mark in restoring the Kings to where they were on the floor during the Webber Years. He worked out for them. He’s enthusiastic about them. That counts for something. 20. HOUSTON ROCKETS 2017-18 RECORD: 65-17; lost in Western Conference finals ADDED: G Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.5 million); G De'Anthony Melton (No. 46 pick, 2018 Draft); F Vincent Edwards (No. 52 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Trevor Ariza (signed with Suns); Luc Mbah a Moute (signed with LA Clippers); C Chinanu Onuaku (traded to Mavs) RETAINED: C Clint Capela (five years, $90 million); G/F Gerald Green (one year, $2.3 million); G Aaron Jackson (picked up team option); G Chris Paul (four years, $159 million) THE KEY MAN: Jason Biles, Joe Rogowski, Keith Jones and Javair Gillett -- the Rockets’ athletic trainers, sports performance and rehab staff. Their only mission next season, should they decide to accept it, is to get Paul through an 82-game regular season and a two-month playoff slog without breaking or pulling anything of importance that keeps him out of key games. Of course, should any of the staff be unsuccessful, the Morey will disavow any knowledge of their employment. Good luck, men. THE SKINNY: We have not yet included Carmelo Anthony, who will be signing in Houston any minute now. When he’s officially on the roster, he’ll certainly help, and we all saw that even Houston can go through extended scoring droughts in the playoffs. Having Anthony around should alleviate that. The Rockets may have had the best signing of the summer, keeping the 24-year-old Capela locked up long-term for $18 million per -- incredible value these days, given the way salaries are skyrocketing. But that was mitigated by the losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were crucial to the switching defense Houston employed and perfected by the playoffs, which threw sand in the gears of the Warriors’ impenetrable offense and would likely have propelled the Rockets to The Finals if Paul hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 5. Ennis and Carter-Williams will help some in that regard, but they don’t have the resume of Mbah a Moute and Ariza -- which means they sometimes won’t get the benefit of the doubt from refs that the old heads do. Houston’s still the clear number two to Golden State in the West, but the gap between the Rockets and the best of the rest has closed. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Top 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Top 10 * * * 1. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (acquired from Sixers); G Hamidou Diallo (No. 45 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devon Hall (No. 53 pick, 2018 Draft); F Kevin Hervey (No. 57 pick, 2018 Draft); F Abdel Nader (acquired from Celtics); C Nerlens Noel (two years, $3.7 million); G Dennis Schröder (acquired from Hawks) LOST: F Carmelo Anthony (traded to Hawks); F Nick Collison (retired); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Magic); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Celtics) RETAINED: G Raymond Felton (one year, $2.3 million); F Paul George (four years, $136.9 million); F Jerami Grant (three years, $27.3 million) THE KEY MAN: G Andre Roberson. This is real simple: with Roberson on the court last year, OKC’s opponent offensive rating was 99.2; when he was off, it was 110.7. The Thunder was a near-elite defensive unit when Roberson played and was awful when he didn’t. His Real Defensive Plus-Minus, per ESPN.com, was 4.34, second only to Utah’s Rudy Gobert (5.06). So when Roberson ruptured his patellar tendon in late January, the Thunder’s ability to use George as a weakside defender who could freelance and use his length to create deflections and turnovers (because Roberson had the strong side absolutely locked down) went away. Any chance the Thunder has next season to compete at the highest levels in the West will depend on the 26-year-old Roberson’s recovery and return to the lineup. THE SKINNY: None of us -- none -- thought George was going to stay in OKC. And we all thought Sam Presti and the Thunder were crazy for trading for him last year, because it was just going to be a one-year rental and he was going to be off to the Lakers in 12 months, and OKC would have nothing to show for its deal. But George’s presence helped convince Russell Westbrook -- also long rumored to eventually head back to Cali -- to sign a long-term deal with the Thunder. And OKC’s acquisition of Carmelo Anthony helped convince George that the Thunder was all in on competing. And even though OKC went out in the first round of the playoffs to Utah, its year-long courtship of George and his family paid off when PG-13 spurned L.A. once and for all to stay in the 405. Anthony ultimately wasn’t a good fit, but he brought back Schroder, who will give Billy Donovan a dynamic scorer off the bench that can give Westbrook a blow and keep OKC’s offense from immolating when Westbrook is on the bench, a common malady the last two years. The Thunder has been relevant in an incredibly small market now for almost a decade. With George and Westbrook and Steven Adams and, now, Schroder, all signed up through 2021, that remarkable run will continue for some time. 2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS 2017-18 RECORD: 35-47; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Beasley (one year, $3.5 million); F Joel Berry II; F Issac Bonga (No. 39 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jeffrey Carroll; F LeBron James (four years, $153 million); C JaVale McGee (one year, $1.4 million); G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (No. 47 pick, 2018 Draft); G Rajon Rondo (one year, $9 million); G Lance Stephenson; F Mo Wagner (No. 25 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Thomas Bryant (waived); G Tyler Ennis (waived); F/C Channing Frye (signed with Cavs); C Brook Lopez (signed with Bucks); F Julius Randle (signed with Pelicans); G Isaiah Thomas (signed with Nuggets) RETAINED: G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (one year, $12 million); G Travis Wear THE KEY MAN: F Brandon Ingram. The third-year man should be the major beneficiary of James’ presence going forward. Driving lanes previously clogged with defenders should now be runway clear. Opponents who previously could close out strong on Ingram will now have their attention elsewhere. Ingram need only look at James’ last stop: per NBA.com/Stats, among players leaguewide who appeared in at least 60 games last season, three Cavaliers -- Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Cedi Osman -- were among the top 20 in the league in lowest frequency of having their closest defenders within two feet of them, meaning James created many wide open looks for teammates all season. Ingram vastly improved his range last season over his rookie one, shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers. But he only attempted 1.8 threes per game last season. That number will surely skyrocket in 2018. Ingram must ready to take advantage. That will make him that much more deadly as a driver. THE SKINNY: Team president Magic Johnson was tasked with landing a whale in free agency, and he and GM Rob Pelinka bagged Moby Dick in James. Their subsequent free agent moves once Paul George opted to stay in Oklahoma City were all short-term plays with an eye toward the promising 2019 free agent class, which include the likes of All-Stars Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and DeMarcus Cousins. But that doesn’t mean Lake Show ’18 isn’t going to be the rip-roaringest circus this side of your standard Ozzy Ozbourne tour. What’s the over-under on the first time Rondo cusses out coach Luke Walton, or when we hear of a “spirited practice” that is code for “Lance ‘bowed ‘Bron in the neck and Walton sent everyone home”? The Lakers could be in The Finals or out in the first round, but what they decidedly will not be is boring. 3. DENVER NUGGETS 2017-18 RECORD: 46-36; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Porter Jr. (No. 14 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Thomas (one year, $2 million); F Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41 pick, 2018 Draft); C Thomas Welsh (No. 58 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Nets); F Wilson Chandler (traded to 76ers); F Kenneth Faried (traded to Nets); G Isaiah Whitehead (waived) RETAINED: G Will Barton (four years, $53 million); G/F Torrey Craig (two years, $4 million); C Nikola Jokic (five-year, $147.7 million contract extension) THE KEY MAN: G Jamal Murray. Denver ended all pretense that the full-time point guard job wasn’t his last season and his second-year numbers were very encouraging. Among regularly playing (60+ games) floor generals, per NBA.com/Stats, Murray’s .577 True Shooting Percentage ranked only behind D.J. Augustin, Kyrie Irving, Darren Collison and Kyle Lowry. No one doubts the still-just-21-year-old Murray can fill it up, and that the Nuggets don’t need a classic ball distributor to light up the Pepsi Center scoreboard. But they do need to get more credible defensively. So does he. THE SKINNY: A great offseason for the Nuggets, who did what they said they would -- keep Jokic off the market next summer -- while clearing roster spots and minutes with two trades, and simultaneously reducing their luxury tax bill for 2019. (The Chandler trade to the Sixers also created an enormous $12.8 million trade exception for Denver through August of 2019.) Jokic should anchor one of the most athletic starting quintets in the game -- along with Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, the re-signed Barton (penciled in for now as the starting three) and Paul Millsap. the Nuggets didn’t add much at the defensive end, which was their Achilles’ heel the last couple of seasons and the main reason they didn’t make the playoffs in 2017-18. Denver opted to strengthen a strength by bringing in Thomas, who’ll be in prove-it mode next season on a short deal with a coach that he knows from their Sacramento days in Mike Malone. Look for Malone to unleash Thomas on second units throughout the West. Porter Jr. was worth a flier at 14; he was the consensus likely first pick in the Draft a year ago, before his back injury took him out of all but a couple of games in his one season at Missouri. Denver can give him the entire year to rehab from two surgeries, the latest last week, and reset his clock for 2019-20. 4. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2017-18 RECORD: 58-24; won NBA Finals ADDED: C DeMarcus Cousins (one year, $5.3 million); F Jacob Evans (No. 28 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jonas Jerebko (one year, $2.1 million); G Damion Lee LOST: C JaVale McGee (signed with Lakers); C Zaza Pachulia (signed with Pistons); Head of Physical Performance and Sports Medicine Chelsea Lane (went to Hawks) RETAINED: F Kevin Durant (two years, $61.5 million); F Kevon Looney THE KEY MAN: Brett Yamaguchi, Director of Game Operations/Entertainment, Oracle Arena. One doesn’t envy Yamaguchi, whose tasks will be twofold next season: create lifetime memories for the loudest and most loyal fanbase in the league, as the Warriors play their final season at Oracle Arena (aka Roaracle) -- they’re moving into the Chase Center, their tony new digs across the Bay in downtown San Francisco, come 2019-20. And, provide atmosphere and sizzle that will help coach Steve Kerr keep his veteran core from being bored out of its collective mind during the regular season while it waits for the playoffs and a chance at a three-peat. THE SKINNY: So, sure, the best team in the league adds one of the top two or three big men in the game in Cousins. But that’s the ancillary benefit of having such a dominant organization; everyone wants to figure out a way to get to the Bay. Cousins took less money to do so; now he can take his time rehabbing his torn Achilles tendon. If that means he’s not all the way back until All-Star, who cares? The Warriors will roll Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko out at the five in non-Death lineups until Cousins is ready. Meanwhile, Kerr has to keep his vets, but especially Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston, off their feet as much as possible during the regular season so they’ll be good to go from April through June. Losing Iguodala for the bulk of the 2018 Western finals was almost the Warriors’ downfall. 5. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 2017-18 RECORD: 22-60; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kyle Anderson (four years, $37 million); G Jevon Carter (No. 32 pick, 2018 Draft); F Omri Casspi (one year, $2.3 million); F Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 4 pick, 2018 Draft); C Dakari Johnson (acquired from Magic); G Garrett Temple (acquired from Kings) LOST: C/F Deyonta Davis (traded to Kings); G Tyreke Evans (signed with Pacers); F Jarell Martin (traded to Magic); G Ben McLemore (traded to Kings) RETAINED: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff THE KEY MAN: G Mike Conley. It’s no secret how vital Conley is to the franchise, so a return to form is vital for the veteran point, who’ll be 31 on opening night and who missed 70 games last season with a heel injury. Next season will be the third of Conley’s five-year, $150 million deal signed in 2016; remember when so many people thought the world would end when a small market like Memphis invested so much in him? Well, Conley has already dropped to fifth in the league in salary among point guards, behind Stephen Curry Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry. He’ll fall even further down the list next season, when John Wall’s massive extension kicks in, and Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker each get new contracts that could leap his. THE SKINNY: Memphis couldn’t have had a worse 2017-18 if it tried, and the Grizzlies compounded their on-court implosion by not trading Evans when everyone in the league -- seemingly, except for them -- knew he was going to walk in the summer if they didn’t. But, the Grizzlies’ front office recovered in a big way, selling the 18-year-old Jackson that he would fit right in despite not working out for the Grizz before the Draft, then doubling up on “Grit And Grind 2.0” by taking Carter, college basketball’s fiercest on-ball defender, in the second. Ownership was willing to let the front office use the full mid-level exception on Anderson, who isn’t the sexiest pickup to many fans but whose defensive numbers in San Antonio were outstanding. Temple is the ultimate good vet and locker room guy who will get a chance to play for Bickerstaff after the Kings opted to go with their young guys and he was likely out of the rotation. GM Chris Wallace was adamant that the Grizzlies could rebuild again around the aging Conley and Marc Gasol and that they wouldn’t trade Gasol after the latter’s difficult relationship with former coach David Fizdale. They did, and they didn’t. 6. PHOENIX SUNS 2017-18 RECORD: 21-61; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Igor Kokoskov; F Trevor Ariza (one year, $15 million); F Darrell Arthur (acquired from Nets); C Deandre Ayton (No. 1 pick, 2018 Draft); F Mikal Bridges (No. 10 pick, 2018 Draft); F Richaun Holmes (acquired from 76ers); G George King (No. 59 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elie Okobo (No. 31 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former interim coach Jay Triano; F Jared Dudley (traded to Nets); C Alex Len (signed with Hawks); G Elfrid Payton (signed with Pelicans); G Tyler Ulis (waived); F/C Alan Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Devin Booker (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: Ayton. Let’s not bury the lead here: he was the first pick overall for a reason, because he has franchise-turning capability. The Suns don’t need singles or the occasional double any more; they need someone to put them back on the map with big, sweaty, nasty four-baggers, night after night. (cc: mixed metaphor police.) It’s been a minute since Amar’e Stoudemire was at his destructive best, and the list of impactful bigs in franchise history is thin: Connie Hawkins, Alvan Adams, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Stoudemire. Ayton has a chance to be as good as any of them, and better, and he’s a potential stash of Kryptonite down the pike to the Warriors dynasty. THE SKINNY: There’s the makings of a Jazz-like reimaging of the franchise in short order. Kokoskov not only comes from Utah’s staff, but has significant coaching chops outside of Salt Lake City. He’s been coaching since he was 24, and that was 22 years ago. He’s coached both around the world and around the NBA as an assistant and development maven, and he’ll be great at bolstering the confidence of the Suns’ young guys -- including Bridges, a mature and solid rook with collegiate titles from Villianova who’ll be able to grow quietly outside the huge media shadow cast on Ayton. Kokoskov will also make things a lot easier for Devin Booker offensively. But GM Ryan McDonough was also smart enough to surround the kids with some solid vets, starting with Ariza, who will help the Suns again become acquainted with a long-honored NBA concept called “defense.” 7. DALLAS MAVERICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kostas Antetokounmpo (No. 60 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jalen Brunson (No. 33 pick, 2018 Draft); G Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, 2018 Draft); C DeAndre Jordan (one year, $22 million); C Chinanu Onuaku (acquired from Rockets); F Ray Spalding (No. 56 pick, 2018 Draft); F Ding Yanyuhang; LOST: G Kyle Collinsworth (waived); G Seth Curry (signed with Blazers); G Yogi Ferrell (signed with Kings); F Doug McDermott (signed with Pacers); F Jonathan Motley (traded to Clippers); C Nerlens Noel (signed with Thunder) RETAINED: G/F Wesley Matthews (picked up player option); F Dirk Nowitzki (one year, $5 million) THE KEY MAN: CEO Cynthia Marshall. The former AT&T executive was put in charge after Sports Illustrated’s explosive story last February detailing a toxic workplace for female employees on the team’s business side, with sexual harassment rampant and no relief forthcoming from the supervisors who should have provided it. Marshall has been fast at work changing the business side culture, as separate investigations of who was responsible for allowing the previous environment to fester wind down. After their results are made public, it will be Marshall who will have to both enact their recommendations and sell the public that owner Mark Cuban’s organization has been fumigated for good. THE SKINNY: Dallas is banking that the 19-year-old Doncic is not only the real deal, but that he can come out of the gate in the NBA after starring in Europe and immediately give the Mavs a boost. There’s a large body of work suggesting Doncic will do just that, and accelerate the Mavs’ rebuild. Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s improvements should also speed up, and Jordan’s presence should start to close the sieve that has plagued Dallas’s defense the last couple of years. Losing both Curry and Ferrell will hurt the Mavs’ guard depth, though, and Brunson won’t be able to work in slowly. 8. INDIANA PACERS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Tyreke Evans (one year, $12 million); G Aaron Holiday (No. 23 pick, 2018 Draft); F Alize Johnson (No. 50 pick, 2018 Draft); F Doug McDermott; C/F Kyle O'Quinn LOST: C Al Jefferson (waived); G/F Glenn Robinson III (signed with Pistons); G Lance Stephenson (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Cory Joseph (picked up player option); F Thaddeus Young (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Kevin Pritchard, president of basketball operations. He’s been instrumental in putting this team together -- first as Larry Bird’s assistant, but on his own the last year-plus since Bird left. Now Pritchard will have to deal with not just the expectations last season’s surprising turnaround season will create with fans, but with the incessant calls and texts one receives when one has a team in which six players among the team’s core are on one-year deals and free agents next summer. It is extremely difficult for a team so constituted to stay unified and keep pulling on the rope together. Human nature is human nature, and players (and their families, and their agents) need reassurances they’re part of the organization’s future, just like any drone from Sector 7G would. It’s hard to think about sacrificing minutes and shots when almost players are judged by are their numbers. Nate McMillan, meanwhile, is only concerned, as any coach is, with the game in front of him, tonight. Pritchard’s phone will rarely have an hour off next season. THE SKINNY: What does a team that surprised so many last season need? More depth, because there aren’t going to be a lot of nights off going forward. The Pacers filled in nicely with a bunch of under-the-radar players, getting Evans after a bounce-back season in Memphis and O’Quinn after good years in New York. McBuckets is running out of stops to show he can be a key contributor in the NBA, but everything is tailor made for him to succeed here: he’ll have all the space in the world playing alongside Victor Oladipo, Bogdanovic and/or Myles Turner, depending on the lineup. Holiday was very good value at 23 in the first round. And Oladipo is on his grind. The Pacers are as big a threat as anyone to Boston’s assumed ascension in the post-LeBron East. 9. NEW YORK KNICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 29-53; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach David Fizdale; G Mario Hezonja (one year, $6.5 million); G Kevin Knox (No. 9 pick, 2018 Draft); C Mitchell Robinson (No. 36 pick, 2018 Draft); F Noah Vonleh (one year) LOST: Former coach Jeff Hornacek; F Michael Beasley (signed with Lakers); C/F Kyle O'Quinn (signed with Pacers); F Troy Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Ron Baker (picked up player option); F/C Luke Kornet; C Enes Kanter (picked up player option); THE KEY MAN: F Kristaps Porzingis. It’s unlikely Porzingis will play much, if at all, next season, as he rehabs his torn ACL suffered in February. New York will be extremely cautious with a timeline, and in Porzingis’ absence, if more losing brings more figurative ping pong balls the Knicks’ way … well, they won’t complain about that, either. None if it matters if “The Unicorn” doesn’t regain his form, though. So much of the Knicks’ 2018-19 improvement, or regression, will take place off camera. THE SKINNY: Fizdale won’t have a mandate to try and win with a veteran team in his first season in New York, as was the case in his year-plus in Memphis. So he can implement his position-less/fitness regimen with the young Knicks without looking over his shoulder. New York’s planning for 2019, when it hopes to strike in a big way in free agency, but that doesn’t mean next season won’t be important. Knox will have a lot of light on him, especially after playing well during NBA Summer League, but the Knicks truly believe Robinson will make some contributions this season with his significant physical gifts. Both must continue changing the narrative in Gotham that the team’s new braintrust is rebuilding the brand the right way -- slowly, and correctly. Hezonja was a good low-cost flier for New York who’ll give Fizdale some small ball options. Hezonja came on strong the second half of last season for the Magic, who hadn’t picked up his third-year option and were hamstrung in what they could offer him as a result. 10. SAN ANTONIO SPURS 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: G Marco Belinelli (two years, $12 million); F Dante Cunningham (one year, $2.5 million); G DeMar DeRozan (acquired from Raptors); C Jakob Poeltl (acquired from Raptors); G Lonnie Walker IV (No. 18 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chimezie Metu (No. 49 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Kyle Anderson (signed with Grizzlies); G Danny Green (traded to Raptors); F Kawhi Leonard (traded to Raptors); F Joffrey Lauvergne (signed with Fenerbahce); G Tony Parker (signed with Hornets); G Brandon Paul (waived) RETAINED: C/F Davis Bertans (two years, $14.5 million); G Bryn Forbes (two years, $6 million); F Rudy Gay (one year, $10 million) THE KEY MAN: Coach Gregg Popovich. There is no way to tell, nor is it really anyone’s business, how Pop will cope with the loss of his wife Erin, who died in April during the Spurs’ first-round series with Golden State. But the NBA grind is an unforgiving one, and Popovich is adding Olympic team coach duties to an already taxing schedule. He knows best how he’s doing and you can only hope he listens to himself when or if he needs time away. THE SKINNY: Backed up against it with Leonard’s still-murky insistence for a divorce, the Spurs did as well as could be expected in getting a four-time All-Star who’ll play with a huge chip on his shoulder next season. DeRozan will certainly help San Antonio extinguish the offensive droughts that came when teams loaded up on LaMarcus Aldridge defensively. LA was sensational for long stretches last season, making second team All-NBA for the second time in his career. Belinelli, rookie Walker and Poeltl should lengthen San Antonio’s bench significantly and reduce the Spurs’ dependence on nightly brilliance from 40-year-old Manu Ginobili, if he comes back for a 17th season. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Pirates bolster rotation, add Tampa Bay’s Archer at deadline

By Will Graves, Associated Press PITTSBURGH (AP) — The surging Pittsburgh Pirates are intent on making a run at a playoff spot. The Pirates bolstered the front end of their rotation at the non-waiver deadline on Tuesday, adding Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer while sending the Rays a couple of coveted prospects in outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named. Archer, a two-time All-Star, is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA in 17 starts this season for the Rays. The 29-year-old gives the Pirates a significant jolt in experience in a rotation that includes three starters - Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove - 26 or younger. The move is the second significant trade by the Pirates ahead of the non-waiver deadline. Pittsburgh acquired Texas Rangers closer Keone Kela early Tuesday for left-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hearn and a player to be named. The trades came at the end of a torrid 15-4 run by the club that pulled Pittsburgh within 3½ games of a wild-card spot heading into a two-game set with the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. Pittsburgh, which was the only team to not sign a free agent during the offseason despite parting with established stars Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, assumes the remaining $2,049,731 in Archer’s $6.25 million salary. Archer receives a $500,000 assignment bonus for the trade. His deal includes a $7.5 million salary for 2019, a $9 million team option for 2020 with a $1.75 million buyout and an $11 million club option for 2021 with a $250,000 buyout. The Pirates, who have been reluctant to part with young prospects in recent years at the deadline, gave up a pair of promising talents in Meadows and Glasnow. Meadows, a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, hit .292 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 49 for the Pirates after making his major league debut on May 17. The 24-year-old Glasnow dominated as a starter in the minors but struggled as a starter during his first season-plus in Pittsburgh, going 2-7 with a 7.69 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) in 2017. The Pirates moved Glasnow to the bullpen this season with better results. The 6-foot-8 right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 34 appearances. ___ AP Baseball Writer Ron Blum contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2018

Osuna sent to Astros by Blue Jays for Giles in closer swap

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Swapping a closer with on-field problems for one with off-field troubles, the World Series champion Houston Astros traded Ken Giles to the Toronto Blue Jays along with a pair of pitching prospects for Roberto Osuna on Monday. Houston also sent right-handers David Paulino and Hector Perez to Toronto as part of the deal, a day before the deadline for trades without waivers. The Astros lead the AL West, but were set to begin a series at Seattle having lost a season-high four in a row. They also acquired reliever Ryan Pressly from Minnesota last week. The 23-year-old Osuna is eligible to pitch in the big leagues starting Sunday after a 75-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy. He has made six scoreless one-inning appearances in the minors since July 14, the last three at Triple-A. Osuna has not pitched in the majors since May 6, two days before he was put on administrative leave when he was charged with one count of assault in Toronto — which remains pending. "This has been exceptionally difficult," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on a conference call. "... This was a negotiated agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association." Astros pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. voiced disdain for domestic abusers in March when video leaked of former Astros prospect Danry Vasquez beating his girlfriend. Vasquez was released by Houston following an arrest for the incident in 2016. KRIS-TV in Houston obtained and aired the video, which showed Vasquez, still partly in uniform, hitting his girlfriend in a stairwell at Double-A Corpus Christi's stadium. "(Middle finger emoji) you man," Verlander tweeted. "I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. You deserve all that is coming your way!" "This is the reality of domestic violence," McCullers wrote. "It's always brutal, always sickening. We must fight for the victims, video or not. He should be in jail. If you need help, find it. People care." Osuna is 0-0 with nine saves in 10 chances and a 2.93 ERA in 15 games this season. He was an All-Star last year, when he went 3-4 with 39 saves and a 3.38 ERA. The right-hander would be eligible to pitch in the postseason, unlike players suspended under the drug policy this year, such as Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano, who is ineligible. Osuna lost 89 days' pay, which comes to $2,536,022 of his $5.3 million salary, and the suspension delayed his eligibility for free agency by one year until after the 2021 season. "The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. In a statement released by Houston, Osuna said: "I thank Jeff Luhnow and the entire Astros organization for believing in me. I will not let them down." The 27-year-old Giles is 0-2 with 12 saves and a 4.99 ERA this season, and was currently in the minors. Giles punched himself in the face this season while heading to the dugout after giving up a three-run, ninth-inning homer to the Yankees' Gary Sanchez on May 1. He was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on July 11, a night after the hard-throwing righty appeared to curse at manager A.J. Hinch when he lifted him from the game. Atkins said Giles has shown "he's willing to be accountable for those actions." "It's unfortunate," the GM said. "I'm sure that contributed to him being available." The 27-year-old Giles had 34 saves in 38 chances with a 2.30 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings for the Astros last season. Houston won its first World Series title, but he struggled in the postseason. He allowed two runs in three innings against Boston in the AL Division Series. He surrendered three more runs, taking the loss in Game 4 of the League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, and allowed five runs in a pair of World Series appearances against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Giles entered Game 4 in the ninth with the game tied at 1 and allowed all three batters he faced to reach base. Giles took the loss and did not appear again in the series. Giles has a $4.6 million salary and is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. The 24-year-old Paulino is 2-1 with a 6.25 ERA in nine games with the Astros this year and has a 4.67 ERA in seven games for Triple-A Fresno and the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Astros. The 22-year-old Perez is 3-4 with two saves and a 3.73 ERA in 21 games at Class A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi. "This made sense for the organization from a baseball perspective," Atkins said. "We had the opportunity to trade Roberto for three players we're excited about." ___ AP Baseball Writers Ben Walker and Ronald Blum contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2018

High-priced, established pitchers could be on the move soon

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press From aces to closers, pitchers will be on the move this month. Teams trying to make a push for the postseason are always looking to add new arms. There are some big names available on the trade market who can make a difference in the starting rotation or bullpen. Here are 10 pitchers — five starters and five relievers — who could be changing uniforms before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline: COLE HAMELS: The MVP of the 2008 World Series and NLCS has been through this before, going from the Phillies to the Rangers in July 2015. Hamels has a career-worst 4.36 ERA and he's already allowed 21 homers, but he's a proven lefty who could benefit from pitching away from a hitter-friendly ballpark. Hamels has a 2.93 ERA in 10 starts on the road. Texas may have to eat some of his salary, however. His contract includes a team option for $20 million next year or a $6 million buyout. Hamels also has a no-trade clause for 20 teams. J.A. HAPP: Another former Phillies lefty, Happ is in the final season of his contract with Toronto. He had three rough starts leading to his first All-Star appearance but has been a consistent starter in baseball's toughest division for a few years. Happ is 10-6 with a 4.29 ERA and is averaging more than one strikeout per inning for the first time in his career in a season in which he's pitched at least 100 innings. MATT HARVEY: After rejuvenating his career in Cincinnati following his release from the Mets earlier this season, Harvey could find himself back in a pennant race. The righty is 5-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 12 starts. JORDAN ZIMMERMANN: He's 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 12 starts after an atrocious 2017 season. Zimmermann has the highest strikeout percentage of his career (23.6 percent) but he's owed $50 million over the next two seasons, so the Detroit Tigers might have to pay some of his salary to deal him. NATHAN EOVALDI: Back on the mound after missing 2017 following Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi is 3-4 with a 4.59 ERA in nine starts for the Rays. The righty was roughed up in his final start before the All-Star break but pitched well in his previous three starts. He is only making $2 million this season, so he's a cheap option for budget-conscious teams. ZACH BRITTON: The hard-throwing lefty had 120 saves between 2014-16 before injury cut his season short in 2017. He's back healthy and hasn't allowed a run in 13 of his 15 appearances. Britton is making $12 million this season, and the Baltimore Orioles will have plenty of suitors. BRAD HAND: A two-time All-Star, Hand is signed through 2020 with a team option for 2021 and will be one of the most pursued relievers. He has 24 saves with 65 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings, and the San Diego Padres will be asking for a lot in return. RAISEL IGLESIAS: The Reds have no urgency to move a 28-year-old closer who won't become a free agent until 2022, but Iglesias can net solid prospects in a trade. He has 19 saves and a 2.36 ERA. JOAKIM SORIA: After returning to closing, Soria is having his best season since 2015 in his first year with the White Sox. He has 14 saves and a 2.75 ERA for a team that should be a seller. KYLE BARRACLOUGH: He has a 1.28 ERA and nine saves for Miami in 44 appearances and is under team control for multiple years, so the Marlins will get plenty of calls for the tough righty......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2018

Moreland remains with Red Sox, agrees to $13M, 2-year deal

BOSTON --- First baseman Mitch Moreland has agreed to a $13 million, two-year contract to return to the Boston Red Sox and play for former teammate Alex Cora. "He's a great baseball guy," said Moreland, who was on the Texas Rangers when Cora made a brief appearance there in 2010. "He was a great teammate then, and I don't expect anything different from him as a manager." Moreland, 32, spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Rangers. The 32-year-old left-handed batter hit .246 with 22 homers 79 RBIs in his first season with the team last year. His home run total was just behind Mookie Betts (24) and Hanley Ramirez (23) on the Red Sox, who hit an AL-low 168 for the season....Keep on reading: Moreland remains with Red Sox, agrees to $13M, 2-year deal.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 19th, 2017

Here s what you can get for Messi s 700 million euro buyout clause

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — If a rival soccer team were to pay Lionel Messi's 700 million euro ($834 million) buyout clause, Barcelona could potentially buy nine of the 20 most expensive teams in the world. Or it would have enough to buy every player in Major League Soccer at the same time. It could even pay for 5 million Barcelona jerseys. The likelihood of anyone triggering the clause seems remote, especially considering that it wouldn't guarantee that the goal-scoring great would go anyway. But after Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona a record 222 million euros ($264 million) for Neymar, the team is clearly trying to scare off any potential candidates. Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said the club decided to more than double Messi's original clause of 300 million euros ($358 million) because of what happened with Neymar. Buyout clauses are not used in every country, but they are often put into effect to help protect clubs and give players the right to leave for a fee if they are not satisfied or want better deals. Here's a look at how far 700 million euros go in the world of soccer: ___ TOP CLUBS Nine of the world's most valuable soccer teams are worth less than the new clause on Messi's contract, according to Forbes. In its most recent rankings, only 11 of the top 20 clubs are valued higher than 700 million euros. Among the teams with a lower value are Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund. ___ MANCHESTER UNITED'S REVENUES The amount spent to trigger Messi's buyout clause would be almost the equivalent of what Manchester United generates in revenues in a year. The English club topped a recent ranking of soccer's biggest moneymakers released by accountancy firm Deloitte. It generated 515.3 million pounds (689 million euros) for the 2015-16 season. ___ ALL MLS PLAYERS The players in the 22 teams in Major League Soccer have a market value of 407 million euros ($485 million), according to specialized German site Transfermarkt.com, which analyzes transfers worldwide. ___ FIVE MLS EXPANSION TEAMS The current expansion fee being charged by MLS is $150 million (125 million euros), meaning that owners could start five expansion teams with the money they spend to acquire Messi. ___ BARCELONA'S SQUAD All other players in Barcelona's squad this season have a combined market value of 586 million euros ($698 million), according to Transfermarkt. Teams hypothetically could forget about Messi and just try to sign the rest of Barcelona's players for significantly less than they would have to spend on the Argentina forward. ___ HALF OF SPAIN'S PLAYERS The market value for players in half of the Spanish league's teams is worth 622 million euros ($741 million), Transfermarkt said, and that includes those in some traditional clubs such as Real Betis and Deportivo La Coruna. Messi's clause is 17 times bigger than the current market value for the entire squad of southern Madrid club Getafe. ___ STADIUMS Instead of signing Messi, teams could build state-of-the-art venues such as Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, which cost nearly 600 million euros ($715 million) and is one of the most expensive stadiums owned by a club in Europe. Barcelona rival Real Madrid is expected to spend 400 million euros ($476 million) to add a retractable roof and renovate its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. ___ SPONSORSHIP DEALS With the 700 million euros, Barcelona could afford to forfeit its current jersey sponsorship deal for more than 12 years. The club is receiving about 55 million euros ($65 million) a year from Japanese company Rakuten in an agreement valid until 2021. Manchester United is getting about 60 million euros ($71 million) a year for its record jersey sponsorship deal with Chevrolet. ___ JUST THE SHIRT The 700 million euros would be just enough for 5 million Barcelona jerseys at a cost of 140 euros ($167) each. The official replica costs 85 euros ($101), which would allow for a total of more than 8.2 million jerseys......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2017

Oladipo, defense shine in Pacers 105-87 victory over Bulls

CHICAGO -- Victor Oladipo scored 25 points, and the Indiana Pacers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 105-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. After giving up an average of 115 points during its losing streak, Indiana held the Bulls to 39.8 percent shooting in one of its stingiest defensive performance of the season. Bojan Bogdanovic made six 3-pointers and scored 22 points for the Pacers, and Thaddeus Young finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Bobby Portis led Chicago with 20 points and 11 rebounds in his second game of the season. Kris Dunn scored 16 points on 8-for-14 shooting, and rookie Lauri Markkanen had 12 points and 10 boards. Portis had 21 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday night's 119-114 loss at Toronto. He was suspended for the first eight games of the season after he punched teammate Nikola Mirotic during a preseason practice. Oladipo, who was acquired in the offseason deal that sent All-Star Paul George to Oklahoma City, continued his strong start. The 25-year-old guard was 11 of 20 from the field and finished with six assists, six rebounds and two steals. TIP-INS Pacers: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Indianapolis is in contention to host the All-Star game in 2021. Silver was in Chicago for Friday's announcement that the city will host the 2020 All-Star game. ... Domantas Sabonis (calf) returned from a two-game absence with eight points and nine rebounds. It was just the fifth time this season Sabonis and fellow center Myles Turner were active in the same game. Sabonis, who also came over in the George trade, averaged 13.5 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to the injury. Bulls: Robin Lopez followed his 10-for-11 showing in Toronto by missing his first six shots against the Pacers. He finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting. . Portis was greeted with mild applause in his first game at the United Center this season. PROPER PUNISHMENT Silver said the Bulls handled Portis' suspension for injuring Mirotic "the right way," and the league did not need to step in as a result. ENDORSEMENT FOR HOIBERG In a rare conversation with reporters following the All-Star game announcement, team president Michael Reinsdorf said he was happy with the direction of the Bulls' rebuild under coach Fred Hoiberg despite the team's 2-7 record coming into the day. "So far we're happy," Reinsdorf said. "When Zach (LaVine) comes back, that's going to be a big indication. Kris just came back from an injury. We have to see, but right now we're happy. The team is playing hard. Fred's got them playing hard. It's not going unnoticed." UP NEXT Pacers: Host Houston on Sunday. Bulls: At San Antonio on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 11th, 2017

Bledsoe has 20 points, 12 boards as Bucks beat Cavs 108-92

By Genaro C. Armas, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Eric Bledsoe had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Milwaukee Bucks shot 52 percent from three-point range in the first half of a 108-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Malcolm Brogdon scored 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Sterling Brown had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks, who rested Giannis Antetokounmpo on the second night of back-to-back games. He was ruled out about an hour before the game with neck soreness. Leading by 18 points at the half and by as much as 26 in the third quarter, the Bucks hardly needed their All-Star forward against one of the NBA's worst teams. Cleveland's Tristan Thompson had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added six rebounds, but left in the third quarter with a left foot injury. Jaron Blossomgame had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Larry Nance Jr. scored a team-high 16 points. The Cavaliers did manage to cut the deficit in half, to 13, with 5:40 left and the Bucks playing mostly backups. It was close enough that coach Mike Budenholzer put most of his starters back in the game until the closing minutes. Otherwise, the game was decided in the first half, when the Bucks — one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league — hit 11-of-21 from beyond the arc. Bledsoe was 4-of-5 from three-point territory, with all his attempts before halftime. Brown came off the bench to provide a spark in the first half, hustling all over the court to grab boards and defend. His transition dunk after a turnover with 2:08 left in the second quarter gave Milwaukee a 57-36 lead. It didn't matter much when the 6'10" Thompson was in the game, anyway. The Cavs were outscored 50-40 in the paint and out-rebounded 58-46, even with the high-flying Antetokounmpo missing the game for Milwaukee. The Bucks finished 15-of-36 (42 percent) from three-point range for the night. TIP-INS Cavaliers: G Matthew Dellavedova scored 11 points in 16 minutes in making his debut in second stint with Cleveland. A fan favorite in Cleveland, Dellavedova was acquired from the Bucks on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in a three-team deal that sent George Hill to Milwaukee. He played sporadic minutes this season for the Bucks. Bucks: Hill scored two points in 13 minutes in making his Bucks debut, often matched up defensively against Dellavedova. C Jason Smith, who was acquired from the Wizards in the same deal, went scoreless in four minutes in his first game with Milwaukee. ... G Pat Connaughton was inactive. UP NEXT Cavaliers: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Bucks: Visit Indiana Pacers on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News21 hr. 46 min. ago

Dwyane Wade set to reach 1,000 career games

LOS ANGELES --- Dwyane Wade never thought he would play 1,000 games. And he's unsure what the milestone will mean. Wade is in line to become the 15th active player to appear in 1,000 regular-season games, the milestone he'll hit assuming he plays Saturday night when the Miami Heat visit the Los Angeles Clippers. "I don't even know the significance of 1,000 games," Wade said. "I don't know if it's a big deal. I think it's just another number." The Heat might disagree with that. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn't know Wade was nearing the milestone until earlier this week, and got wide-eyed when told that Wade had appeared in so many games. "That's crazy to think about," Spoelstra sa...Keep on reading: Dwyane Wade set to reach 1,000 career games.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 8th, 2018

AP source: Cavs to re-acquire Dellavedova in 4-player trade

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers are getting back one of their championship pieces. A feisty one. Cleveland has agreed to a trade with Milwaukee that will bring popular guard Matthew Dellavedova back to the Cavs along with forward Johnson Henson and a pair of draft picks in 2021. The Bucks will get veteran point guard George Hill and forward Sam Dekker, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press. The swap is pending league approval and could be finalized Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams have not yet had the mandatory conference call with NBA officials. The first-round pick in 2021 is protected, the person said. Hill recently returned after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury, and the Cavs have been shopping him around for a deal. Dekker, who has also been sidelined, is returning to Wisconsin where he played in college. Both players were at Quicken Loans Arena preparing for a game against Sacramento before learning they were heading to Milwaukee. Dellavedova’s scrappiness endeared him to Cleveland fans during his three seasons with the Cavs, who didn’t re-sign the player known as “Delly” after winning the 2016 title. The Cavs are in transition after LeBron James left them as a free agent this summer, effectively ending Cleveland’s run as an Eastern Conference power. But the Cavs are thinking about the future and by moving Hill and Dekker, they’ve picked up more assets......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2018

Cardinals strike gold, get Goldschmidt from Diamondbacks

By Bob Baum, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals struck gold in their search for a big hitter, getting All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a multiplayer trade Wednesday. Eager to push for the playoffs after a three-year absence, the Cardinals sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, minor league infielder Andy Young and a 2019 draft pick to Arizona. A six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner at 31, Goldschmidt was among the top players available in the trade market. He hit .290 with 33 home runs and 83 RBIs last season and has often finished high in the NL MVP voting. “We’ve been busy this offseason working to upgrade our lineup, and today we are excited to announce the acquisition of one of the game’s premier players,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said in a statement. Goldschmidt has a $14.5 million salary next year, receives a $1 million assignment bonus for the trade and will be eligible for free agency after next season. The Cardinals have a history of acquiring top hitters and then signing them to long-term deals, including Mark McGwire and Matt Holliday. St. Louis went 88-74 and believed it needed a boost in the middle of a lineup that includes Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina to compete with the likes of Milwaukee and the Cubs in the NL Central. The Cardinals’ postseason drought is their longest 1997-99. Free agent slugger Bryce Harper has supposedly been on the Cards’ wish list, too, as the winter meetings approach this weekend. Last offseason, the Cardinals had worked out a deal with Miami for NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, but he refused to waive his no-trade clause. Arizona went 82-80 in the NL West and finished behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado, who both made the playoffs. The Diamondbacks, obviously in rebuilding mode, parted ways with a homegrown player who grew to be the face of the franchise but is nearing the end of an extremely team-friendly contract. The quiet slugger, an eighth-round draft pick out of Texas State in 2009, quickly moved through the Arizona minor league system and advanced to the big league club in 2011. In 2013, Goldschmidt hit 36 home runs and drove in 125. In 2017, he matched that home-run high with 36 and drove in 120. He is a career .297 hitter with 209 home runs, and was runnerup in the NL MVP voting in 2013 and 2015. Despite an awful start to last season, he bounced back to once again become a powerful force. Goldschmidt was the Diamondbacks’ franchise leader in slugging percentage and on-base percentage. “This was an extremely difficult decision given how much Paul has meant to our team both on and off the field. He represents everything it means to be a D-back, and we are very thankful to him for all that he has done for our franchise and our fans,” Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said. Weaver, a 25-year-old right-hander, was 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA last season. He was long rated among the top St. Louis prospects. The 24-year-old Kelly has played for the Cardinals in parts of the past three seasons, batting .154. He’s been highly regarded for his defensive ability. Young, 24, hit a combined .289 in Double-A and high-A ball. The draft choice that Arizona got will come after the second round, likely a pick somewhere in the high 70s or low 80s......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 6th, 2018

NHL adds Seattle as league s 32nd team, play begins in 2021

By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press SEA ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Seattle is getting a National Hockey League team. It will just have to wait a little bit longer to drop the puck. The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved adding Seattle as the league's 32nd franchise on Tuesday, with play set to begin in 2021 instead of 2020 to allow enough time for arena renovations. The as-yet unnamed franchise will be the Emerald City's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008. "Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Expanding to Seattle makes the National Hockey League more balanced, even more whole and even more vibrant. A team in Seattle evens the number of teams in our two conferences, brings our geographic footprint into greater equilibrium and creates instant new rivalries out west, particularly between Seattle and Vancouver." The announcement came a few moments after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan let the news slip at a watch party in Seattle, prompting cheers: "I got a call from a mole in the room and it was a unanimous vote. We're getting hockey." The decision was widely expected after the Seattle Hockey Partners group impressed the board's executive committee in October with a plan that had all the ingredients the NHL was looking for. Strong ownership led by billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a downtown arena in a sports-crazed city and a season-ticket drive that drummed up 10,000 orders in 12 minutes all cleared the way for the NHL to add another team less than three years after approving a franchise in Las Vegas. Seattle Hockey President and CEO Tod Leiweke joked that he'd have to throw out some Seattle 2020 business cards because of the pushed-back timing. But all sides agreed 2021 was the best time to start. "They've always felt that we should have a little more time to build the arena right," Bruckheimer said. "We wanted to bring it to 2020-21 because we want to get going right away, but it's not fair to the fans or to the players to not have a 100 percent finished arena when we start." The owners will pay a $650 million expansion fee, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to join the league just two years ago. Leiweke said arena renovations will cost $800 million and the addition of a state-of-the-art practice facility makes it a total investment of over $1.5 billion. "(That's) a few bits of change which aren't around anymore," Bonderman said of the spending. "Seattle is one of my favorite cities and it's a pleasure to be here. If it was someplace else, I wouldn't have done it." The NHL will also realign its two divisions in the West for the 2021-22 season: Seattle will play the Pacific, home to its closest geographic rivals like Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose, and the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division. "It was at the end of the day the simplest, most logical and least disruptive option we had available to us and I think it'll work well for the Coyotes," Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. The remarkable debut by Vegas in 2017, which included a run to the Stanley Cup Final, gave the league more confidence about moving forward so quickly. Seattle will benefit from the same expansion draft rules Vegas had. Its front office is expected to be led by Dave Tippett, a former coach who would lead the search for the club's first general manager and staff. Tippett signed on to the project because of a connection to Leiweke, a major force in delivering an NHL team to Seattle. Leiweke got his start in hockey with the Minnesota Wild. He also worked in Vancouver and most recently helped build Tampa Bay into a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Leiweke left the Lightning in 2015 to become the COO of the NFL and didn't have any interest in leaving the league office until the project in Seattle began to gain traction. Leiweke's job will be to capitalize on a market whose demographics have changed significantly since he left the NFL's Seahawks in 2010 after being largely responsible for the team hiring coach Pete Carroll. Seattle is the largest market in the country without a winter pro sports franchise and has seen an influx of wealth in recent years. Even when he was running the Seahawks, Leiweke believed Seattle was ripe for the NHL and the response to the season-ticket drive only strengthened that belief. "I woke up today thinking about the fans," Leiweke said. "What did they feel on March 1 when they put down deposits without knowing anything? No team name, an ownership group they didn't know very well, a building plan that was back then somewhat defined but fairly vague. Today is a great day for the fans and we owe them so much. That's why today happened." The NHL's launch in Seattle will show how starved fans are for another team. Basketball is embedded in the DNA of the region thanks to 41 years of the SuperSonics and a lengthy history of producing NBA talent. When the rain of the fall and winter drive young athletes inside, they grab a basketball and head for the nearest gym to play pickup games. Basketball courts and coffee shops seem to be on every corner, but ice rinks are scarce. A lot about Seattle is different from 2008, when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. The skyline is filled with construction cranes. Amazon has taken over an entire section of the city, joined nearby by satellite offices of Google and Facebook. The amount of wealth now in the Seattle market is part of the reason Tim Leiweke, Tod's older brother and the CEO of event facilities giant Oak View Group, has regularly calls the city one of the most enticing expansion opportunities in pro sports history. Seattle has become a city of transplants due to the booming local economy. A hockey franchise would provide those newcomers a team to rally around, much like what happened when the Sounders of Major League Soccer arrived in 2009 — the last team added to the city's sport landscape. The Sonics were the first, joining the NBA in 1967, followed by the arrival of the Seahawks in 1976 and Mariners in 1977 after construction of the Kingdome. There have been several attempts at solving Seattle's arena issues and landing either an NHL or NBA team in the years since the Sonics left, but none had the support of the city or the private money attached until now. Asked Tuesday about possibly adding an NBA team, Bonderman responded: "One miracle at a time." While Seattle basks in the news, it's not clear the NHL will be satisfied at 32 teams even with the new team providing balance between the conferences and a natural, cross-border rival for the Vancouver Canucks. Daly said recently that there's no magic number, even though no major North American sports league has ever grown beyond 32 teams. Houston, Quebec City and Toronto have all been touted as possible new homes someday, but they'll also have to wait. "We're not looking right now and I think for the foreseeable future at any further expansion," Bettman said. ___ AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 5th, 2018

UAAP Finals: UP Fighting Maroons vow to take Game 2

University of the Philippines point guards Jun Manzo and Diego Dario vowed to bounce back after their Game 1 loss to the Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball Finals. In the opening game of the series, Manzo tied his career-high with 19 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Dario on the other hand provided nine points and two rebounds. He converted three triples in the first half to keep them at pace with the Eagles. However, their efforts went down the drain as they ultimately bowed down to Ateneo, 88-79. UP also had to deal with Bright Akhuetie's absence during the middle of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth. Akhuetie suffered a strain after he hyperextended his left knee following a contact from Ange Kouame. "Siyempre pag wala si Bright kasi sa court, parang hindi namin makukuha yung rebounds. Nakita naman sa stats na marami silang offensive rebounds nung nawala si Bright. Kaya malaking kawalan talaga pag mawala si Bright sa amin," said Manzo. "Sa game kanina it was a big loss, like a few minutes na wala si Bright that is kind of a big loss, kasi sabi nga ni coach, Bright has a multiplier effect on the team so when Bright's there everyone gets better because all the defense is attracted to him," shared Dario. Looking at the silver lining, despite Akhuetie's absence, UP was able to keep within striking distance of Ateneo. "Yung lead nila parang hindi naman masyadong lumamang [ng todo]," said Manzo. Dario shared that Akhuetie's injury became their rallying point during those Akhuetie-less moments. "Gelo Vito talked to us when Bright got out. Sabi niya, we'll do it for Bright. Do everything to you know win this game to compete with Ateneo so that is what we did and I think we had a good fight against them," added Dario. Unfortunately, despite the gallant stand, Matt Nieto and Thirdy Ravena took charge in the end game, leaving UP with no reply. "[Nagkulang kami sa] end game execution. We had two turnovers I think in the last four minutes so we have to work on that, be more disciplined especially in the end game. When we're tired also syempre heavy minutes din yung iba they have to think and play through the fatigue," said Dario. The loss exposed UP's lack of finals exposure. The Fighting Maroons will just charge this to experience and will get back to the drawing board on Monday. "We just have to make adjustments. I told them to keep their heads up. As a senior I have to lead the team, we'll rest up," said the graduating Dario, "We have two days of rest, we were kinda beat up then so we have to rest tomorrow then we'll go back to training on Monday." "Masasabi ko lang yung team namin gutom kaya hindi namin papakawalan yung chance na binigay sa amin ng Lord. Next game, babawi talaga kami," closed Manzo. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2018

Cavs send Kyle Korver to Jazz for guard Alec Burks, 2 picks

CLEVELAND --- Kyle Korver is getting another shot with a contender. The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to trade Korver, one of the best deep outside shooters in NBA history, to the Utah Jazz, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday. In exchange for Korver, the Cavs will get guard Alec Burks --- and his expiring contract --- along with two future second-round draft picks, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the swap has to be approved by the NBA. The trade might not become official until Thursday. For Korver, Cleveland will get Utah's 2020 second-round selection along with Washington's 2021 second-rounder. The Cavs ...Keep on reading: Cavs send Kyle Korver to Jazz for guard Alec Burks, 2 picks.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

Naomi Osaka headed for big money with Japan, global appeal

By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka used a powerful forehand and a matching serve to win the U.S. Open against Serena Williams two months ago, soaring as high as No. 4 this season in the WTA tennis rankings. Off the court — on the marketing front — she has the same potential. Maybe more. "It's very, very rare to find a Japanese-born female athlete who appeals to an international audience," said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert and creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco, California. Serena Williams topped the Forbes list of the highest-earning female athletes this year at $18 million, almost all endorsements. Osaka appears to be the right woman in the right sport at the right time with the draw to overtake Williams. "What's more, tennis, especially women's tennis, is a sport that lends itself to a broad variety of sponsors: sporting goods, health and beauty, fashion, lifestyle, travel, personal care, you name it," Dorfman said. "And the sport's international following brings with it a large, loyal and affluent fan base. All the more reason why so many companies are lining up to sign her up." The big question is: Can she keep this up? Much has happened very quickly for her, notes former tennis star Chris Evert. "You know, it's going to be life-changing for her and very, very important," Evert said. "From what I see, she is very humble and from what I see, her parents are very humble people. Hopefully they won't go Hollywood on us. We don't want that to happen." Osaka's multicultural background — Japan-born but raised in the U.S. by a Haitian-American father and a Japanese mother — adds to her wide appeal, endearing her to fans in Japan and elsewhere. Her disarming charm, off and on the court, including how she handled the turmoil surrounding her win over Williams, is also winning people over. "She appeals to the young and old, men and women, everyone," said Shigeru Tanaka, advertising manager at Citizen, her sponsor since August. Tokyo-based Citizen Watch Co.'s 80,000 yen ($700) Naomi Osaka watch is selling out at stores in Japan, thanks to the exposure it got on her wrist at the U.S. Open. Citizen was quick to take advantage of her Grand Slam win, taking out a one-third page ad in the Yomiuri newspaper's extra edition report of her win. Companies won't say how much her contracts are worth, but they tend to be written so that if she keeps winning, her earnings will keep going up. If one company won't pay, another will just snatch her up, marketing experts say. Although Japanese baseball players like Ichiro and Shohei Ohtani are superstars, that sport doesn't have the global appeal of tennis. There are Olympians, but their appeal tends to come and go every four years. Japan is "just starving for a star," Evert said. Osaka has been wearing various Citizen watches in matches and in photo ops and has told reporters the first watch she got from her mom was a Citizen. She has also said her father drove a Nissan while she was growing up — another in a growing line of sponsors. Besides Citizen, Osaka has deals with instant noodle-maker Nissin Foods Group, Japanese badminton and tennis racket maker Yonex Co., and athletic-wear and sneaker giant Adidas. Nissan Motor Co. signed Osaka as its three-year "brand ambassador" in September. The deal was in the works for a while, but the timing couldn't have been better, coming right after the U.S. Open. The Yokohama-based automaker is mulling a "Naomi Osaka model" car. She is also getting keys to a silver GT-R sports car. Investing in Osaka enhances brand image for the long-term, said Masao Tsutsumi, general manager in charge of Osaka-related marketing at Nissan. He said her transformation from "every girl" to superstar parallels the automaker's commitment to technological innovation. "She also is such a nice person while being utterly professional," he added. Yonex has been supplying rackets to Osaka since she was 10, after receiving a letter from her mother. The Osaka effect is evident in the growing popularity of Yonex rackets among younger Americans, the company says. Appearing before Yonex employees in Tokyo, Osaka drew affectionate laughter by insisting on addressing the crowd in Japanese, though she managed only a few words, including "onaji," or "the same," says Nori Shimojo, the company's official in charge of tennis player service. At just 21, Osaka's got plenty of time to learn the language of her birthplace if she wants to. As for her sponsorship windfall, she is shrugging it all off. "I wouldn't really know because I have never been in this territory," she said during a recent tournament in Singapore. "For me, I just focus on my matches, and, I mean, like I'm a tennis player, so I just play tennis." ___ Sandra Harwitt in Singapore contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2018

Leaks reveal Man City deal to hide player costs from UEFA

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press GENEVA (AP) — Manchester City created a shell company for a commercial deal to disguise tens of millions of dollars in income from UEFA investigators, according to club documents cited by a German magazine. Der Spiegel cites internal Man City correspondence to show the team's holding company, state-backed Abu Dhabi United Group, paid the shell firm to "buy" player image rights from the club. The magazine reported that Man City officials detailed a long-term search for "creative solutions" to hiding expenses and evading UEFA monitoring of spending on players. Man City risked Champions League expulsion in 2014 if a UEFA club finance panel had found it had severely breached "Financial Fair Play" rules, designed to curb overspending on player costs. Critics say FFP protects storied clubs from ambitious rivals with new and wealthy owners. Der Spiegel is leading the Europe-wide publication of the "Football Leaks" documents. In recent days, European media have detailed plans shaped by Real Madrid for a breakaway European Super League kicking off in 2021, and how FIFA President Gianni Infantino has intervened in its independent ethics committee's work. Der Spiegel also reported last Friday that Man City threatened to destroy UEFA with legal action before reaching a 2014 settlement to forfeit 20 million euros ($22.8 million) in prize money. Man City has not disputed the authenticity of the documents, and said an "attempt to damage the club's reputation is organized and clear." Asked about what was reported in Der Spiegel, Man City manager Pep Guardiola said Tuesday: "Of course I trust the club, what they have done. Of course we want to follow the rules. UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League, they do what they have to do. Believe me, I'm completely honest, I don't know what happened, I'm a manager, focused on the pitch, the locker room." "I'm part of the club, I support the club," added Guardiola, who was speaking at a news conference ahead of City's Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. "We want to do what we have to do in terms of the rules." Since Man City was bought with Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth in 2008, a team long in the shadows of more glamorous Manchester United has overtaken its rival on the field. City achieved this spending more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) to win a first Premier League title in 2012. This rise coincided with UEFA creating rules — in consultation with the European Club Association — to limit spending within a club's ability to generate revenue. Der Spiegel cited Man City documents in which officials wrote: "Without significant additional revenues ... UEFA FFP compliance WILL NOT be achieved." City CEO Ferran Soriano complained in one memo that ECA members were pushing for the UEFA rules — which many thought could curb the rise of Man City and Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain. "We will need to fight this," Soriano wrote, according to the magazine, "and do it in a way that is not visible, or we will be pointed out as the global enemies of football." Man City apparently wanted to shift some costs away from the club and helped set up a shell company called Fordham Sports Management with two British investors. It was supposedly used as a vehicle to disguise payments to players for the right to use their image in marketing campaigns. Der Spiegel said this helped turn almost 30 million euros ($34 million) into revenue instead of a cost, for the purpose of UEFA's investigation of club accounts......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

Westbrook s 23 lead surging OKC past struggling Wiz 134-111

By HOWARD FENDRICH,  AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — Continuing their turnaround from a terrible season start, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their fourth consecutive victory by beating the struggling, booed-at-home Washington Wizards 134-111 behind Russell Westbrook's 23 points and 12 assists Friday night. From 0-4 to 4-4, the Thunder are clicking right now, led by Westbrook, who missed the first two games after a procedure on his right knee and sat out the final quarter of the rout at Washington. And even though OKC was the team playing on the second night of a back-to-back, it looked a lot fresher and more active than Washington, which was coming off a two-day break and finally got to see new center Dwight Howard make his debut. After missing all of training camp, every exhibition game and the first seven regular-season games with a sore backside, Howard started and immediately appeared to have an impact, scoring 13 first-quarter points. But soon enough, Washington got into its usual bad habits, the ones that have led to loss after loss so far: ineffective defense and low-effort rebounding. The Wizards have lost four games in a row to drop to 1-7, and spectators let the players hear their displeasure in the second quarter, jeering when OKC went ahead 61-40 on Jerami Grant's dunk on a pass from Westbrook. When Paul George made his third straight 3 attempt, a night after going 0 for 10 from beyond the arc, it made the halftime score 79-50, equaling the Thunder's record for most points in a half. An Oklahoma City team averaging 109 points this season was already at 110 after three quarters. George wound up with 17 points to surpass 10,000 for his career, and Grant scored 22. Howard had 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, three rebounds and four fouls in 23 minutes. When he was out of the game, he either laid down on his stomach on the sideline or stood. Bradley Beal scored 27 points, and John Wall had 19 points and nine assists, but Washington's pair of All-Star guards also combined for 12 turnovers. The Thunder went up by as many as 33 points in the third quarter and shot 57 percent for the game. They outrebounded the Wizards 38-30. None of that should come as a surprise, given that Washington began the night allowing an NBA-worst 122.4 points per game and averaging only 41.3 rebounds, 27th in the 30-club league. TIP-INS Thunder: Came in shooting 27 percent on 3s, but hit 47 percent — 15 for 32 — against Washington. ... George has complained of a nerve issue with his left foot, and coach Billy Donovan said George thinks it affects his defense. "There's times where he wishes he could push off a little bit better and move a little bit better — more to the extreme that he's capable of doing," Donovan said. "I think he still feels he's hindered by it." Wizards: Otto Porter Jr. played with a bruised big left toe and scored nine points in only 16 minutes. ... Brooks on Ian Mahinmi, who started at center while Howard was sidelined but now returns to a backup role: "His minutes are going to shrink quite a bit, but he has to be ready whenever he's called on." NEW SPONSOR The Wizards' jerseys had a sponsor's logo for the first time, part of a multiyear deal with an insurance company that also will advertise on uniforms for the WNBA's Washington Mystics and the G League's Capital City Go-Go. Nearly all NBA teams now have such a jersey sponsorship arrangement; the Thunder still do not. UP NEXT: Thunder: Host the Pelicans on Monday. Wizards: Host the Knicks on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018

BLOGTABLE: More concern over Rockets or Thunder?

NBA.com blogtable Who's in more trouble right now, the Rockets or the Thunder? * * * Steve Aschburner: Right now? “Right now” doesn’t much matter because it is, in fact, early. But what Houston is going through is more than a right-now problem. First, the switcheroo in its ratings -- essentially mirror images of last year’s, from a plus of 8.4 in 2017-18 to a minus 9.6 now -- is elevator-shaft stuff. Naturally, since James Harden has missed two games, the offense is sputtering. But the defense? That became an issue when Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute left in the summer. And given the expectations -- and four home losses by an average of more than 17 points -- PANIC CAN’T BE FAR AWAY! If I were Minnesota, I’d be on the phone constantly with Rockets GM Daryl Morey, because his team’s need for Jimmy Butler is growing by the day, presumably dragging the price right with it. Shaun Powell: Given that the stakes are higher in Houston -- nobody with a basketball pulse figured OKC would compete for a title this year -- the choice is easily the Rockets. They lost defensive coach Jeff Bzdelika, Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza and replaced those defensive specialists with Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams. They've gone from No. 7 in Defensive Rating to No. 24 this season, which might be the new normal for them this season. Not sure if the Rockets will be one game from the Finals again this season. John Schuhmann: After another ugly loss on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), it's got to be Houston, because, with the four-year, $160 million contract they just gave a 33-year-old Chris Paul, they're all-in on being a title contender. They've been without one starting guard or the other during this four-game losing streak, but they were 21-11 with one of the two and not the other last season. There are a couple of real concerns even when they're completely healthy. No. 1: They lost too much defensively with the departures of Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute and assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, and the player departures have forced them to play forwards that just aren't good enough on end of the floor or the other. No. 2: How good they were in isolation last season (setting a record, by a wide margin, for iso efficiency) was unsustainable. You can be sure that GM Daryl Morey won't stand pat and that the Rockets' roster will not be the same in March as it is now. Maybe they can add two-way talent by trading a bunch of picks (going more all-in than they already are), but that's easier said than done. Sekou Smith: The Rockets by a mile. Given the immense expectations that accompanied them into training camp, both internally and beyond, their early-season struggles dwarf those plaguing the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets tweaked what was beautiful team chemistry from a season ago for absolutely no reason at all. We will never know what might have happened in the Western Conference finals if Chris Paul hadn't gone down with a hamstring injury late in Game 5. And the Rockets made sure of it when they let perfect fits Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute go and added Carmelo Anthony. You can dive into the metrics all you want, but this is a chemistry problem that has nothing to do with crunching numbers. The Rockets sauntered into this season like a team that won something last season. That's a dangerous space to be occupy in a sport where the championship window for most contenders often vanishes quickly. The Rockets are searching for a quick fix (like a deal for Jimmy Butler in exchange for four first-round picks) in an effort to turn things around. They better hurry up and figure it out before the hole they've dug for themselves gets deeper......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2018