New York Giants: Three Players Missing In Wednesday Practice

New York Giants, Mike Remmers, Minnesota Vikings

The New York Giants are currently preparing for their season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but not every member of the team is healthy. While the team will get Sterling Shepard back for the first week of the season after Shepard was injured early in training camp, they’ll also potentially be missing an important tackle as well as a rookie wide receiver and a tight end.

The team practiced as usual on Wednesday but right tackle Mike Remmers, who beat out Chad Wheeler for the job on the right side of the line, was absent with a back injury and illness. Darius Slayton, the team’s intriguing receiver prospect who some thought would find his way into the rotation this season, was also missing in addition to tight end Garrett Dickerson. Slayton was out with a hamstring injury while for Dickerson, it was a quad injury.

The team isn’t the deepest at the right tackle position which makes it somewhat concerning that Remmers is still having injury trouble. Chad Wheeler, the player that started out in a competition with Remmers and played much of last season at right tackle after the team finally moved on from Ereck Flowers, won’t be available for now after received waived/injured status and being placed on the injured reserve.

The Giants signed tackle Eric Smith off of waivers this week while making room by waiving Alonzo Russell and Brian Mihalik. It looks like Smith will be the top player in the rotation for now, but one can hope that Remmers will have a quick recovery and will be back in time to take a starting place when the team takes on Dallas this Sunday.

How Real are Playoff Hopes For The New York Knicks?

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks are about to enter training camp with nine new players on the fifteen man roster. During the offseason, the New York Knicks missed out on the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sweepstakes. However, the Knicks gained a young, talented, and improved power forward with a chip on his shoulder in Julius Randle.

The Knicks added the third lottery pick in the 2019 NBA draft in RJ Barrett and a second-round gem in Ignas Brazdeikis. The six other players added to the roster consists of Elfrid Payton, Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, and veteran Taj Gibson.

The new additions completely give the Knicks an entirely different aura and it will definitely show on the basketball court. It does matter that these guys are very excited to play under coach David Fizdale. Ladies and gentlemen, players admiration for their coaches should never be overlooked. These guys are ready to take on the identity of their coach right out the gate. Once the chemistry is gained, it will only mean bad news for the wide-open Eastern Conference. Knick point guard Dennis Smith Jr. wants nothing handed to him as he states his belief about the Knicks and their playoff aspirations.

The Eastern Conference possesses a few teams that could possibly make extra noise this season including the Knicks. Teams like the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, and the Toronto Raptors will be battling for leverage night in and night out against each other in the Eastern Conference. All of those teams just mentioned having their issues individually. Therefore, the New York Knicks chances in reaching the desired playoff goal whether it’s 8th-seed or higher is real even though most in the media won’t admit it. Some would say there isn’t a chance they’ll even come near a playoff birth. But the guys that sport the orange and blue thinks otherwise. Bobby Portis states,

“The naysayers, the haters, the people who are doubting us will say that we’re crazy as hell for saying that (the playoffs are a realistic goal),” Portis said. “We have a lot of pieces who can play. I think we’re loaded at every position; there are two-to-three players who could start at every position. When you have that much talent, that rises the competitiveness and improves the team as a whole.”

Most importantly, notice Bobby Portis talks about the deep depth of this New York Knicks roster at every single position. Having good depth in the Eastern Conference is crucial for success. Can David Fizdale and the coaching staff have the Knicks finish the season strong for an 8th or 7th-seed playoff appearance? The defense will definitely be the key for this group and they can definitely get hot during the second half of the season like the Miami Heat back in 2017 when they started slow but finished with a 41-41 record with Fizdale as the assistant coach. New York Knicks playoff journey will be televised under the bright lights of MSG.

New York Giants: Keys To Success Vs. The Dallas Cowboys

The NFL regular season is finally here. The New York Giants have their week one matchup coming up on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. in Dallas to take on the division-rival Cowboys. It will be of vital importance for the Giants to get off to a hot start this year, with the first four weeks arguably being the easiest stretch of games on the schedule.

The Cowboys were a playoff team last year. It will be a tough week one matchup on the road for the Giants. There are a couple of things the Giants need to focus on in order to win this game:

Protect Eli Manning

Eli Manning was sacked a career-high 47 times in 2018. The Giants have suffered through atrocious offensive line play for years but it looks like that might finally change in 2019. Dave Gettleman has made it his mission to rebuild the offensive line over the past two years and he has definitely succeeded to some degree.

No, the offensive line is still not the best in the league or even close to it, but they are definitely one of the league’s most improved units. The Giants added right guard Kevin Zeitler who will improve the Giants’ pass protection tremendously.

Zeitler allowed only 11 total pressures playing for the Browns in 2018 and will continue to be one of the best pass-blocking guards with the Giants in 2018. This will be important in week one against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have quietly gained one of the best pass-rushing defensive fronts in the NFL.

The Cowboys recently paid Demarcus Lawrence very handsomely. Lawrence has turned into one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, his two-year pass-rush grade (91.4) and two-year pass-rush win rate (19.4%) ranks fifth among the 60 NFL edge defenders with 500 or more pass-rush snaps since 2017.

Demarcus Lawrence recorded 14.5 sacks in 2017 and 10.5 sacks in 2018. He has also been known to poke lots of fun at Eli Manning on social media. The Giants’ new offensive line cannot allow Lawrence to keep disrespecting their quarterback. New York needs to make a statement in week one and shut down Demarcus Lawrence.

Be Prepared For Any Running Back

It is growing more and more likely that the Giants will have to face off against Ezekiel Elliott in week one. Up until this past weekend, the Giants were almost certain that Elliott would not have a contract by week one. But now, it seems almost certain that he will get the deal done with Dallas and play on Sunday.

The Giants know good and well what the NFL’s 2018 leading rusher is capable of. The Giants have faced off against Elliott only three times in the past three seasons (due to him missing one of the two contests each year). Elliott has totaled at least 70 yards in each of those three games and totaled over 100 yards in two of them.

The Cowboys’ offense runs through Zeke. So the Giants must be prepared to stop him. But what if Elliott does not play on Sunday? The Giants still need to be equally prepared for whichever running back does play. The Cowboys have one of the league’s best offensive lines, so any running back should produce behind it.

In fact, the Cowboys have a pretty talented backup running back that Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was admittedly a fan of. Pat Shurmur had this to say about Tony Pollard:

“He’s fast, has got really good instincts, good collision balance, he can catch the ball. So he’s got what you’re looking for in a runner. And it appears from what I’ve seen on tape and from what they’re saying that they’re really fond of what he’s done.” – Pat Shurmur, via NY Daily News

The Giants do have one of the best young defensive lines in the NFL. B.J. Hill impressed with 5.5 sacks as a rookie and Dalvin Tomlinson has been one of the league’s quiet superstars with his consistent run defense throughout his two-year career. The Giants also added Clemson hog molly Dexter Lawrence to the mix after drafting him in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

New York has already stated that they are preparing for Sunday as if Elliott will be there. This should mean they will be prepared if Pollard is the back, too. Regardless, the Giants’ defensive line will have a tough matchup against the Cowboys’ offensive line that features three All-Pros.

New York Knicks: Never forget Noah’s contract

The New York Knicks have had a lot of bad contracts in their day.  When people talk about them, Allan Houston, A’mare Stoudemire and Stephon Marbury come to mind.  Oh, we can’t forget Eddy Curry and Jerome James as well.

However, despite all of the bad contracts the Knicks have threw at players back in the day, there is one that takes the cake.

Joakim Noah’s contract with the Knicks is by far the worst contract in team history.

Phil Jackson gave Noah, 4 years, 72 million in the summer of 2016.  The season before he only played 29 games and was not good.  Noah was not the player he was when he signed this outrageous deal.

Noah was a defensive juggernaut.  He was the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-Defensive First Team and one second team.  However, in injuries started to plagued his career and his could not return to form.

So, what do the Knicks do?  The Knicks toss disgusting money at a injury-prone, aging center.  All Knicks fans were scratching their heads at this one.  His first season, he played 46 games, not contributing much to the team.  5 points, 5.2 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per.  He was more of a liability when present on the floor.

The following season, Noah was suspended for the first 20 games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy.  Then, only appeared in 7 games due to injuries.  In total, he only played 53 games for the New York Knicks.

All fans would love to pick Phil Jackson’s brain on this one.  Just when Knicks fans thought the days of bad contracts were over, the Noah contract happens.  Bad contracts will consistently haunt the Knicks.  The Knicks organization will not live down this contract for a long, long time.

This coming season, Noah, currently a free agent, is the 8th highest paid ‘unofficial’ Knick.  Noah will be taking up cap space on the Knicks until the 2021-22 season.  He will be paid 6.4 million this season and for the following two, all which is dead money.

When the Knicks could be in a market to sign a player, just remember that Noah is taking up 6 million plus, to have nothing to do with the team for the next 3 seasons.  Thanks Phil.

Former New York Knick Chris Childs Compares Dennis Smith Jr to Steve Francis

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

Former New York Knicks point guard, Chris Childs had an interview with a media company by the name of Knicksfantv recently. When discussing the playing style of Dennis Smith Jr., Chris Childs states,

“All Smith has to do is start studying the point-guard position because he’s more of a combo guard, a scorer and that’s fine. But he plays like Steve Francis too. They play the same, Stevie was a combo guard, they play a similar style, but if Stevie would’ve studied how to play the point guard position of how to be a point guard and how to direct and how to get people in position because you can always get points as a point guard, because you have the ball, but get the other guys involved early so they’ll have confidence late in the game when you need them in the fourth quarter. So once he understands that, greatness is up to him”.

The former tough Knick point guard also talks about the classic Kobe Bryant altercation which was quiet entertaining.

Dennis Smith Jr. has been working hard on different aspects of his game just like what any other 21-year old NBA player should be doing this offseason. The comparison to Steve Francis is definitely realistic, however, Smith must continue learning and understanding the point guard position.

The New York Knicks didn’t take a point-guard last draft of course because of RJ Barrett. However, the other reason was that the organization seem pretty high on Dennis Smith Jr. as point-guard of the future. Now if the Knicks picked second in last years draft, they might’ve selected Ja Morant, but RJ Barrett would’ve still been a strong candidate at the second pick. Bottom line is Dennis Smith Jr. has an opportunity to turn his career around for the better after being traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the New York Knicks and working on his point guard skills will be great for him in the long run. An improvement as a floor general from DSJ would benefit the Knicks tremendously, even possibly catapulting the New York Knicks into the NBA playoffs.

New York Mets: The 7-run Ninth Inning In Washington

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

Tuesday night’s collapse against the Nationals left Mets fans speechless and it was the final dagger put through what was a disappointing season. It felt like a collapse was incoming, but I did not believe it was actually going to happen.

How Did It Start?

The bullpen was garbage once Seth Lugo left the game. The Mets padded the lead to 10-4 in the top of the ninth, but it was not enough for the bullpen. Bringing in Paul Sewald was move that is hard argue with. A six run lead should have been plenty to protect for him, but he had absolutely nothing on the mound. He only managed to get one out and Luis Avilan needed to pitch.

Avilan is where it went down hill, in terms of Mickey Callaway’s decision making. He was going to face Juan Soto and Matt Adams, the two lefties. Which was good move if Justin Wilson was already used and the Nats were out of right handed hitters. There was no chance Adams was facing a lefty whether Avilan retired Soto or not, especially with Ryan Zimmerman on the bench. Wilson should have been in the game because he can get hitters from both sides of the plate out and has been the team’s second best reliever.

Disappointing Diaz

The entire 2019 season has been a nightmare for Edwin Diaz. He has been in the middle of the worst losses the Mets all season. When he seemed like he was back, he proved it was just a fluke. Diaz came in and allowed Zimmerman to double and then Kurt Suzuki to win it with a three-run walk off home run.

We will get to why Diaz should not have entered the game later on, but lets dissect the Suzuki at-bat. Diaz got ahead with a nasty slider which has become his best pitch again. He followed up with another great slider that just missed away, then one in the dirt. After that one he had no choice but to throw a fastball and missed inside with that one. Diaz threw his best slider with the 3-1 pitch and Suzuki swing right over it.

Going with the 100mph fastball was a good move, especially when it was up in the zone. He had a good swing at that one along with the next one which was a borderline pitch. It was not fooling him and it seemed a slider would be the correct selection based on how the others were thrown in the at-bat. Diaz decided to try to come at him with the 100 mph heat and Suzuki yanked it over the left field fence to in the game. It is understandable to not put the winning run on base, but it would be better to have Eaton hit with the bases loaded against Wilson instead of throwing a fastball that Diaz was not spotting well.

Thankfully Mickey Callaway Will Be Gone Next Season

Diaz should not have been in the high leverage in the season. He had looked so much better lately, but still was not ready for a big moment. Regardless of the name and their past, Justin Wilson is a better pitcher than Edwin Diaz right now. It is not a tough concept to understand especially for someone who was a pitching coach like Callaway. Wilson should have been in the game when Avilan entered and at that point they would have had to live and die with Wilson.

It is tough to see Diaz playing with the Mets in 2020 and they would be better served to avoid using him again this season. They are still in the Wild Card race but it is hard to see them bouncing back from this loss. If Diaz was an average reliever this season, we would be talking about the Mets holding onto one of the Wild Card spots.

Brooklyn Nets: Joe Harris Making the Most of His Team USA Experience

Brooklyn Nets, Joe Harris

Team USA might be lacking in big-name stars for the FIBA World Cup, but players like Brooklyn NetsJoe Harris is making the most of his opportunity in China. His experience overseas will pay dividends to come next season.

It’s not an understatement to say that this current Team USA squad battling for the gold medal in China is the most vulnerable roster in recent years. The group might lack superstar names, but it has allowed others an opportunity to make the most of. Among them is Brooklyn Nets’ sharpshooter Joe Harris.

The reigning three-point champion is heading into the final year of his contract, and the hope is that Harris and the Nets both have mutual feelings that he is a vital part of their long-term future. With the acquisitions of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan among others, Brooklyn’s championship window has never been wider.

Harris averaged 13.7 points on a stellar 47% shooting from beyond the arc last season, attempting around five threes per game (ProBasketballReference). He’ll need to have another strong season in 2019 to secure a long-term deal to stay in Brooklyn. Good news is that he’s getting the best practice overseas, competing for Team USA.

Getting Buckets Overseas

Team USA scraped by in an overtime victory over Turkey on Tuesday, signaling some concern given that it was a Group Stage matchup. Regardless, Joe Harris came to play and more than held his own in international competition. Then again, with the three-point line shorter overseas compared to the NBA, it’s no surprise that Harris continues to be a threat from deep.

Harris chipped in 11 points and five rebounds on 66% shooting from the three-point line. Team USA just staved off Turkey to the tune of 93-92, banking on last-minute free throws. Having ground out a close win, it’s safe to say that Joe Harris’ sharpshooting came in nicely.

KD Shows Some Love

Harris’ stellar shooting happened to also catch the eye of his new superstar teammate. The Nets’ posted Joe Harris’ performance and Kevin Durant was quick to show his support for his future teammate in Brooklyn. With Harris looking to secure a long-term future playing at Barclay’s Center, it can’t hurt to have the support of the franchise’s newest superstar.

Historically, players that have gone overseas to represent Team USA have seen the work pay off come time for the NBA’s regular season. Nothing is certain in the NBA, but there are high hopes that the same will be said for Joe Harris in 2019. He’ll undoubtedly benefit from his new superstar teammates, but don’t overlook how much his Team USA exposure will pay off as well. Harris is holding his own overseas, it will only be a matter of time before we see the same in Brooklyn next season.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks…Do Your Job!

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

Now, this title isn’t to say by any means that Sean Marks hasn’t done a stellar job since taking on the mantle of the GM of the Brooklyn Nets. From bringing in D’Angelo Russell to his draft choices over the years to being able to attract marquee free agents this summer, Marks has had plenty of room for error yet made very few.

He’s been applauded for what he’s been able to do in one of the toughest positions in the league, if not the toughest, and he’s been applauded for the culture that he was able to build.

That culture was not easy to establish. It was not easy to build. It took a lot of time and effort and dark times to create. Today that culture takes another hit this off-season. First with a new member of the Brooklyn Nets, Wilson Chandler, who was handed a hefty 25 game suspension from the NBA for indulging in PEDs. Let me say that Chandler does claim that he and his doctor did not know the substance was an illegal one.

Now we hear the news that Rodions Kurucs was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. The news was broke from the New York Daily News.

Kurucs allegedly screamed, “I am going to kill myself!” He allegedly put his hand around the woman’s throat and choked her, then forced her to march to his bed.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward allegedly pushed her on the bed, slapped her in the face twice, bit her lip and then picked her up and tossed her on the bed hard enough to hurt her ribs, the sources said.

She also suffered bruising to her ribs and face, according to prosecutor Wilfredo Cotto during the arraignment. Cotto said there are no pictures of her injuries, and noted the then-couple went to Las Vegas the next day.

Now let me say outright, as the details are laid out, this situation is horrific, disgusting, and completely UNACCEPTABLE! Every story has 3 sides. Kurucs’, his girlfriend’s, and the truth, but it’s hard if not impossible to think of any story that can excuse or condone these actions.

What is noteworthy and what I think has been glanced over in all this is what Rodions Kurucs yelled. “I am going to kill myself!” Those are not words without significant weight. That is something serious within itself. I don’t know what caused the argument or what led to the altercation between the two parties, but could Kurucs be suffering from some kind of mental illness or troubles? Could he possibly be suicidal? And possibly how could he have been provoked.

Via Stefan Bondy, the Nets made the following statement concerning Kurucs Saga:

After learning of the allegations against Rodions Kurucs, we notified and are assisting the League Office as they begin the process of gathering more information. The Nets organization takes allegations of this nature with extreme seriousness. While the investigation is underway and as we continue to learn more, we will refrain from commenting further.

Now, on one hand, it is always good not to overreact and be at the mercy of the mob. It’s better to get things right vs to appease the mob for its desire for a public execution.

On the other hand, the lack of response to the Chandler situation may give fans and eyes across the league the wrong idea. Either way, these allegations are BIG. Especially towards a young player who was a fan favorite and had a bright future ahead of him.

I hope the legal system gets things right. I hope the young lady involved is ok, even if it turns out she was the one to ignite this whole thing. Even if she was, doesn’t mean she needs to be harmed physically, just needs to face the law as justice demands. I hope Kurucs gets the help he potentially needs if he is indeed mentally ill. This is a reminder to Nets fans everywhere on humility.

Lastly, Sean Marks, you have tough decisions ahead. I hope you make the right one. It’s hard to imagine him cutting a player so beloved by the fans and his teammates, a player who was such a big part of our success last year, but no amount of talent excuses you from wrongdoing.

So Marks, do your job. Uphold the Culture!

UPDATE:

Via The Glue Guys:

Spoke to NYPD, they say Kurucs turned himself into police this morning. Kurds had an attorney with him. Police say Kurucs allegedly choked a 32 year old woman (that the Daily News says was his girlfriend)

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett eyeing “Rookie of the Year” award for 2019

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

While the early favorite for the 2019-20 NBA rookie of the year award is New Orleans Pelican, Zion Williamson, New York Knicks rookie, RJ Barrett shouldn’t be left out of the conversation.

New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett stated:

(Rookie of the Year) is definitely important. It is something I’ve been thinking about since I was a kid, so I thought the only way to do that is to work hard.

Barrett, who was selected third overall in the most recent draft by the Knicks, averaged 22.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 13.6 rebounds in his lone season with Duke. As the secondary option to Williamson with the Blue Devils, Barrett wasn’t able to fully show his potential. Without Zion taking over college basketball, Barrett would’ve likely been the unanimous first overall pick.

However, he fell several slots to a team that has prioritized building through the draft and youth players. The Knicks were unable to bring in any superstars this off-season, but they signed several veterans in Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton, and Bobby Portis.

While none of those names stand out like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, they will help the Knicks youth develop and refine their skills over the next season. Expecting the Knicks to be a playoff-contending team might be a stretch, but if Barrett can live up to his potential and produce enough to be considered for the Rookie of the Year award, they could be in a position to steal a spot in the postseason.

RJ Barrett will be a crucial cog in regards to the offensive production for the team, but the Knicks cannot rely on him to carry the squad in games. A priority moving forward should be to develop the rookies so they can play alongside potential signings in the future. The 6-foot-7 forward will hope to continue his offensive dominance in the NBA, but adjusting to the physicality and speed of professional players will be a challenge. Luckily, he has the mentors to help him reach his potential.

New York Yankees: Dellin Betances Throws to Hitters, Stanton Being One of Them

New York Yankees’ reliever Dellin Betances took a step closer to returning where he threw to live batters at Yankee Stadium Tuesday. Following the simulated game, Betances said that this is probably the best he has felt in the rehab process.

Betances threw 22 pitches during the live bullpen, flashing fastballs and offspeed pitches. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton was one of the hitters who faced Betances, who was fanned on an offspeed pitch of which he chased. Stanton then hit one into the gap in right-center. Other Yankee hitters that Betances threw against was Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade who both fanned against him.

Betances said he was happy about the way the ball was coming out of his hand and believes that his stuff is sharp enough to get big league hitters out. He’s encouraged that he will make a late-season comeback for the Yankees.

“I thought he looked really good,” said manager Aaron Boone. “It was really exciting today to see him throw the ball the way he did. I thought the command was good.” In regards to what’s next for Betances, Boone went on, “We’ll see how he bounces back tomorrow if everything goes well, then he could be out pitching maybe with (Luis Severino) this weekend.”

The 31-year-old has been sidelined all season dealing with a lat injury. His rehabbing has been inconsistent which has caused him to miss significant time. Teammate and impact pitcher Luis Severino has also not seen the field this season dealing with a similar injury. The return of both players would ultimately help the New York Yankees greatly as they seek their 29th Championship.