Brooklyn Nets coaching candidates revealed

New York Knicks, Ime Udoka

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are candidates to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Charania says that Nets owner Joe Tsai wants a “full-scale head coaching process to identify the best partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff and players.” The process will begin after the Nets’ season concludes.

Kidd played seven and a half seasons with the New Jersey Nets and coached the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013-14 NBA season. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after one year, where he coached for three and a half seasons. Kidd is in his first season as an assistant with the Lakers.

Udoka was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-19. He joined Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2019.

Lue was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2011-13, the Clippers in the 2013-14 season and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-16 before being promoted to head coach in January 2016. Lue’s Cavs won the 2016 NBA championship. The head coach was fired six games into the 2018-19 season and rejoined the Clippers coaching staff in 2019.

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA in 2007. He was the head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2003-07. Beforehand, he was an assistant for the New York Knicks from 1989-96. He then became the team’s head coach in 1996, a position he’d hold until 2002.

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson and promoted assistant Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach in March.

The Nets, 34-36, are 6-2 under Vaughn and 4-2 in the NBA bubble. They recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re playing without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Walt Disney World.

New York Giants’ OC Jason Garrett details approach, offensive line, more

New York Giants, Jason Garrett

New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett held his first press conference of training camp on Tuesday afternoon, giving some details on his approach and first impressions of the team. He quickly dives into Daniel Jones, the second your passer for the Giants, who posted 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2019. Subsequently, Garrett was on the other side of the field for the first two times against Jones, but he will be coaching him in 2020 and beyond.

Of course, having Saquon Barkley on your side is much more advantageous than facing off against him. Garrett made sure to comment on how difficult it was to tackle him and stop him in the running game.

Let’s take a look at what Garrett had to say in his first press conference of the year.

Tweets and quotes by Dan Salomone of the New York Giants:

  • Jason Garrett on Saquon Barkley: “We had to try to tackle him in Dallas and all of our energy was put on that.” Like Daniel Jones, Jason Garrett praised Saquon’s approach. “Talk about a first-class person.”
  • Jason Garrett on OL Coach Marc Colombo: “Just a natural leader.”
  • Jason Garrett: “I love the game. I love every part of the game as a player and coach.” He said he and his wife felt coming to the Giants was too good an opportunity to pass up.
  • OC Jason Garrett on first impressions of Daniel Jones from preparing to go against him last year: “Playing as a rookie in the NFL is a challenge. Playing quarterback as a rookie quarterback is a real challenge…There is no question: He is a football guy.”
  • Jason Garrett on Daniel Jones: “The thing you just like so much about Daniel is his approach…He’s a ball guy. He works very hard at it…That’s what you get most excited about.”
  • What will the offense look like? Jason Garrett says they certainly have a system that has been around for a long time, but it evolves. The one thing is they want to attack defenses in different ways.
  • Jason Garrett says he’s learned a lot from Joe Judge and others in the organization. “That’s my mentality. I have my notebook open every day.”

New York Giants: What makes Julian Love such an exciting player on defense?

New York Giants, Julian Love

When the New York Giants drafted Julian Love in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft, most saw him as purely a cornerback. However, in his rookie season, Love played multiple positions, starting at strong safety after Jabrill peppers went down with a hip injury in week 12.

Similar to baseball, the Giants have developed Love like a utility player. His ability to play multiple positions and fill in due to injury makes him valuable.

The New York Giants should be excited about Love:

The issue, Love isn’t a depth player; he has the talent to be a starter. The former Fighting Irish corner played 97% of the Giants’ defensive snaps in the final five games of the campaign. He racked up 35 tackles, five tackles for a loss, one quarterback hit, one interception, three passes defended, and one forced fumble.

According to PFF, Love was the ninth-best safety in the box over the final six weeks of the 2019 season. He allowed just 19 yards on 80 coverage snaps. In an ESM exclusive interview with him this summer, he detailed how he would often move too close to the line of scrimmage as a free safety. It was clear that his rookie campaign was used as a developmental one, allowing him to gain his sea legs at multiple positions. This gives the Giants starting level talent behind players like Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, slot CB, and CB2.

With corners DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal set to miss the 2020 season, Love could compete for a starting role at CB2. His 4.55 40-yard dash at the Combine was a bit slow for a boundary corner, which convinced the Giants to develop him elsewhere. However, he played primarily corner at Notre Dame, so he has the experience to fill in if need be.

ESPN released a list of their top 25 young prospects, in which Love made the cut.

ESPN’s Rivers McCown stated regarding Love:  

“One of the youngest players on the list, Love was an easy middle-of-the-field pick for the Giants in the middle rounds of the draft, and one of the few players who showed Dave Gettleman recognizes that the passing game exists. Love essentially didn’t break the lineup until Week 12 but played almost all the Giants snaps from Week 13 to the end of the season. Over that span, we have Love credited with 21 targets into his coverage, of which he allowed just 72 yards and one touchdown. He moved from cornerback to strong safety to replace the injured Jabrill Peppers.

Coming out of Notre Dame in 2019, Love was regarded as a very safe fit as an NFL slot corner with great coverage instincts. The combine caused his draft stock some damage because he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, just under the 4.6 mark that draftniks generally consider a corner too slow. That was the main grievance that took him out of the top two rounds despite breaking up 39 passes in his final two seasons for the Irish.

With the selection of Xavier McKinney in the second round, the Giants have the makings of a good nickel or dime set with Love, McKinney and Peppers. We don’t exactly know what Love is going to technically be called, be it safety or corner, but he’s going to play in the middle of the field and he’s going to cause havoc.”

New York Yankees: Things are looking up for James Paxton

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees currently have a couple of question marks in the rotation. One of them is J.A. Happ, who has struggled in his two appearances so far in the season, mostly with command. The other one is James Paxton, as the Big Maple has been showing diminished velocity since his first start of the season.

However, Paxton, who allowed eight runs (six earned) in his first two starts against the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox, was miles better in his last turn versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

He dominated the Rays offense for six innings, but Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone chose to leave him for the seventh and allowed a couple of home runs.

“It’s a tough one,” Paxton said to “It was going really well until the seventh inning rolled around. I made a few bad pitches and they made me pay, which is too bad. That last inning was unfortunate.”

A welcome sight for the Yankees

He could have left with six scoreless frames but instead had to settle for 6.1 innings of three runs. However, and despite the fact that the Yankees ended up losing, the 11 strikeouts were a net positive, and his fastball velo, while not in the 95 mph range like last season, started to creep up.

In his first two starts, his fastball was around 91.8 mph. Against the Rays, it averaged 92.3 and touched 93.9. Things are starting to look better.

“Seeing their swings early, I could see I had some good ride on the fastball today,” Paxton said. “Getting those foul balls, getting those swings and misses definitely gave me the confidence to keep going back to it.”

Right now, Paxton and the New York Yankees are scheduled for a rematch against the Sox. Will his fastball continue to creep towards the 95 mph mark?

The time has arrived for Anders Lee to step up for the Islanders in the postseason

New York Islanders, Anders Lee

When the New York Islanders named Anders Lee captain before the beginning of last season, they did it for a reason.

Lee was a leader. He had a presence about him, and his teammates respected him.

He was also bestowed the “C” for another reason — he’s one of the organization’s most important players.

But something has eluded Lee, and it even goes back further to before he was handed the captaincy.

It’s that next level playoff performance.

The Islanders and their fans have been waiting for Lee to have that bust out moment in the postseason for a long time now.

Back 2015, when the Isles faced the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, Lee was scratched for games six and seven of the series. Head coach Jack Capuano had benched him in place for 12th forward and veteran, Colin McDonald.

The Islanders went on to lose that do-or-die seventh game against the Caps and recording just 11 shots on goal for the entire game. 

The following year, Lee went down with a leg injury just a few games before the playoffs began. The setback forced him to miss the postseason, and the organization’s first playoff series win in 23 years.

And even last spring, he went ice cold against the Carolina Hurricanes after having three points in four games in the Isles’ sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round.

His start to this postseason hasn’t been much to write home about either — pointless in four games despite ten shots on goal.

All of those previous experiences, and his play so far in the tournament, make it even more crucial that he finally delivers for against the Capitals this round.

The second and third lines did most of the damage against Florida. Even more so, the Isles offense was very good in general with his linemates — Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal — finding their groove again.

The latter makes things even more critical for why receiving a huge series from Lee could go a long way in helping the Isles move on to the next round.

Take, for example, what’s on the other side: Alex Ovechkin.

It’s not even up for discussion how much the Caps are going to lean on him the entire series and in the biggest moments.

Well, the Isles are going to need to do the same with Lee, but even more.

And we’ve seen in the past Lee is up for that challenge. This time, he needs to do it again while taking it to another degree.

What that means is he is better than Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Kovalchuk, and T.J. Oshie, for that matter. What that means is he is that bull in front of the opposing team’s cage and making goalie’s lives a nightmare. He earned that reputation around the league, even if it wasn’t the same this year as from years past. And what that means is he playing up to level a team’s captain needs to be at when it comes to the postseason.

That doesn’t have to be scoring a million points. But it does involve being the player who is the one who creates those big moments or is in the mix somehow.

The Islanders will need certain things to break their way if they want to be one of the Elite 8 a few weeks from now.

One of them is Lee stepping his game up to a level we haven’t seen from him yet in his career. He’s had chances in the past and been unsuccessful. Now comes another one starting tomorrow where he can elevate his status.

It’s Anders Lee’s time, and it’s now where he needs to arrive.


MLB is reportedly considering a bubble for the playoffs and the World Series

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been implementing a “bubble” layout to protect their players from potential exposition to COVID-19, at least in theory. And while some players have spoken up saying the arrangement can be mentally exhausting (some say they can’t escape basketball 24/7) it seems like MLB is considering adopting it for two key instances of the 2020 season.

According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, MLB is actually thinking about implementing that measure for the playoffs and the World Series. That would require further negotiations with the players’ association, almost surely.

MLB has had three unpleasant COVID-19-related developments with three different teams this season. First, the Miami Marlins violated some protocols and social distancing recommendations and that resulted in almost two thirds of the active roster testing positive for the virus at one point. The team missed more than a week of action but eventually returned.

Then, some St. Louis Cardinals players allegedly went to the casino in the second week of the season, and that resulted in 10 players testing positive and the red birds season is still on hold. They have only played five games while most teams already passed 15.

Ignoring MLB-recommended protocols

And this week, it was reported that Cleveland Indians pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger went out with friends, violating team rules and MLB health protocols and prompting the club to force a quarantine for both players.

The bubble is something that MLB could consider to limit the players’ decision to go out or violate the protocols. ESPN’s Jeff Passan confirmed Shaikin’s report.

According to Passan, MLB is probably leaning more toward a multi-city plan for the rounds leading up to the World Series, instead of trying to do it in one location throughout. Since there are no fans in attendance, it is something that makes sense.

Passan explained that the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Cardinals and Marlins “illustrated how a similar scenario could upend the playoffs.” Southern California, Chicago, and New York are reportedly options.

New York Knicks hire Kentucky’s Kenny Payne as assistant coach

New York Knicks, Kenny Payne

The New York Knicks have officially made the first formal hire to new head coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff on Tuesday, as they have agreed to terms with former University of Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne.

Payne, 53, was rumored to the Knicks for months due to his strong relationship with Knicks president Leon Rose and Knicks executive vice president/senior basketball advisor William Wesley. Now he has officially left the collegiate ranks to coach in New York, his first NBA coaching stint.

Payne spent the last 10 years at Kentucky alongside one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, John Calipari. He was named the associate head coach in 2014 and is largely credited with developing stars who played for the program, such as Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Bam Adebayo. The Knicks are hoping Payne will be able to assist in the development of their young players, especially Kevin Knox, who Payne coached when Knox played for Kentucky.

Here’s what New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau had to say about the new addition to his coaching staff:

I’m thrilled that Kenny has joined my staff as an assistant coach. He has an outstanding ability to forge relationships with players and improve their skills. He knows what it takes to win and has learned from one of the best coaches there is in John Calipari. Kenny will be a tremendous addition to our organization.

During Payne’s Kentucky tenure, the Wildcats advanced to the Final Four four times and won the National Championship in 2012. He played a role in leading Kentucky to a 38-0 record in 2015, the first time a team accomplished that feat in college basketball history. Payne was also vital to Kentucky’s recruitment process, which finished in the top three nationwide every year.

Before coaching at Kentucky, Payne spent five seasons as an assistant at the University of Oregon. During his time there, the Ducks made two NCAA Tournaments, including one Elite Eight appearance in 2007 and a Pacific-10 Tournament title.

Here’s what Payne had to say about his time at Kentucky and his new job with the Knicks:

I want to thank John Calipari, Eli Capilouto (University of Kentucky president), Mitch Barnhart (athletic director) and the University of Kentucky for allowing me to be a part of a special program for the last 10 years that truly epitomizes winning basketball. I am a better coach and leader of young men today because of my time in Lexington under the legendary Coach Cal.
I now take the next step in my basketball journey and fulfill my dream of coaching in the NBA. I’m beyond grateful and excited for the chance to work for such a prestigious organization as the New York Knicks under the leadership of Leon Rose, Scott Perry, William Wesley and Tom Thibodeau, who I have such great admiration and respect for.

Payne played four years for the University of Louisville, from 1985-1989, and was a member of the 1986 NCAA National Championship team. He was selected 19th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1989 NBA Draft and played four seasons for them (1989-1993) before going to play overseas.

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton injury update is semi-positive

New York Yankees, Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

It was only a matter of time before New York Yankees star slugger Giancarlo Stanton picked up another injury. This spring, Stanton suffered a calf strain, which kept him out for weeks. What was diagnosed as a grade-1 issue became much more serious, and Stanton still hasn’t taken any reps in the outfield.

Despite his lack of defensive action, Stanton still managed to go down with a hamstring injury on Saturday evening. As the slugger slid into second base, he felt something in his left leg, which subsequently led to him hobbling a bit and leaving the game.

Stanton played in only 18 games and five playoff games during the 2019 campaign. Having left a minimal impact on the team, the Yankees still managed to make the ALCS and record over 100 wins. So far this season, the Yankees have lost Luis Severino and Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery. Prior to the MLB shutting down operations, both Aaron Judge and Stanton were expected to miss Opening Day, but luckily they had months of extra time to recover.

Here’s the latest update on the New York Yankees slugger:

A grade-1 hamstring injury shouldn’t keep them out for too long, but as we saw with his calf injury, Stanton’s recovery process oftentimes takes weeks. Before going down on Saturday, Stanton was hitting .293 with a .585 slugging percentage. His 12 hits over 41 at-bats earned him a .453 on-base percentage, the highest in his entire career, despite a much smaller sample size.

It was clear that Stanton was regaining his form, and this is a significant blow to his rhythm and consistency in this campaign. However, we can only hope for the best and that the injury heals efficiently.

UFC: Matt Frevola – Roosevelt Roberts targeted for September 12th

UFC, Matt Frevola

The UFC is close to finalizing a fight that was supposed to take place earlier this year. Per MMA Junkie, lightweights Matt Frevola (8-1-1) and Roosevelt Roberts (10-2) are scheduled to fight on September 12th.

These two men were originally supposed to fight back in April, but of course, the UFC schedule got screwed up with the pandemic. Finally these two men are ready to square off. While Roberts, says there’s nothing personal, he see’s red when it comes to Frevola.

UFC Lightweights looking to break through

After Roberts beat Brok Weaver at UFC on ESPN 9, he said that he just wants to go up and start fighting Frevola whenever he sets his sights on him. The cancellation of their April fight was frustrating for Roberts.

While it was frustrating for Roberts, 2020 has been very frustrating for the UFC‘s Frevola. The Steamrolla was set to fight Roberts in April, but that got pushed. Then he was supposed to fight in June, but a cornerman’s positive COVID test cancelled that fight.

Because of these cancellations, it’s been almost a year since Frevola has made the walk in the UFC. After fighting to a draw with Lando Vannata at the end of 2018, Frevola had a solid 2019 with two wins over Luis Pena and Jalin Turner.

Roberts made a big statement with his win over Brok Weaver in May. He turned around three weeks later to fight Jim Miller and that fight didn’t go well. Miller locked up an arm bar early to submit Roberts.

This is a big fight for both of these lightweight contenders. A win for either man should get them closer to getting a top fifteen opponent inside the UFC‘s lightweight division.


New York Yankees: 2 players who could be used as trade bait at Aug. 31 trade deadline

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees are only 15 games into the 2020 regular season, but in a revised and shortened year, the trade deadline will occur on August 31.

What does this mean? Teams won’t likely be as active as in previous years, given the small sample size from their players and the vast desire for pitching.

Ultimately, paying the premium value for players who started a short season on fire could be a reason for price gouging. Selling high on a small sample size is not how the Yankees want to move forward with their salary, especially after signing Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million deal last off-season.

Ultimately, most teams are in need of pitching, specifically for the Yankees, starting pitching. Manager Aaron Boone elected to pass over J.A. Happ for a start this week, given his awful performance this year, so far. Over two starts, he currently holds a 10.29 ERA with three strikeouts and eight runs allowed. With his contract expiring after the 2020 season, it is almost guaranteed that the Yankees will move on from him.

That leaves the door open for James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka to potentially receive extensions.

However, staying silent is the best method of negotiating. Giving other teams leverage in your trade plans can increase prices for some players and draw others to a quiet market.


Can Jordan Montgomery be the pitcher the Yankees need? 

The Yankees are making a mistake with DJ LeMahieu

Domingo German could pitch in 2020, but how? 

Here are two players the New York Yankees could potentially part with at the deadline:

1.) Miguel Andujar

Andujar has struggled this season so far, posting a .071 batting average with just one hit over 14 at-bats. His transition to left field has been a bit bumpy, as expected, but he is still getting used to the position. Given he is coming off a torn labrum and having just a handful of at-bats doesn’t justify his performance, the Yankees could utilize him to add to the starting pitching rotation. It is also possible they look for a relief pitcher, as they lost Tommy Kahnle for the entire season to Tommy John surgery.

With Miggy struggling at the plate, they would be selling him on a low, which isn’t the likely course of action given the potential we all know he holds. With his inability to play third base on a consistent basis, and his lengthy transition to the outfield, selling him for a proven commodity might be a good move at this point. The Yankees sent him down to the alternative training site in favor of Clint Frazier, who also holds value in this scenario.

2.) Clint Frazier

Frazier hasn’t earned a single rep this season, but the Yankees pulled him up over the weekend to give him an opportunity in left field. Frazier is a serious offensive threat, with one of the fastest bats in baseball. His defense is the problem, as he logged a .963 fielding percentage and three errors in 2019. However, at the plate, he earned a .267 BA with 12 homers and 38 RBIs.

Ultimately, Frazier has shown development in immaturity this off-season. His desire to put his head down and work was obvious, but despite his efforts, Boone elected to place him on the taxi squad.

Boone mentioned that he would be a starter on any other team, but the Yankees simply had too many players in front of him.

“Difficult. Clint is ready to be an impact player in this league, there is no doubt in my mind.” Just unfortunately for him he is blocked by a lot of good outfielders. Unfortunately with options and our situation right now Clint was the odd man out, but that doesn’t make it any easier because he has done everything, from a work standpoint, from a focus standpoint. It is hard when you are sending down a big-league player who you know is ready to produce.’’

He will finally earn his chance to become a regular player in a condensed season. The Yankees have been rotating the left-field position with Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Andujar up to this point. But Frazier has a perfect opportunity to prove his worth and steal Andujar’s limited reps. Nonetheless, his value might even be greater than Andujar’s, which could give the Yankees some leverage in a trade scenario.

Giving him some deserved at-bats the next few weeks could be a ploy to increase his stock.