New York Giants: Darius Slayton still listed as limited on latest report

The New York Giants need all the weapons on offense they can get when they face Washington in their next game. The team is still hunting for their first win and is missing both Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley – and while Shepard is set to return to practice this week and was working out with trainers recently, he won’t be back in time for the Washington game.

Therefore, any more injuries on offense will put the Giants into an especially bad spot going into this game. Unfortunately, it looks like they still have to deal with one at an important spot. Wide receiver Darius Slayton was listed as injured on the team’s most recent injury report.

Top wide receiver in question

Slayton is participating in practice but thanks to a foot injury, that’s only limited participation. That’s not great news right now for the Giants because Slayton is by far their top receiver. Slayton not only has a pair of touchdowns but has significantly more receiving yards than the players that are behind him on the list – Evan Engram and Golden Tate. Thanks to his injury, Sterling Shepard only has 76 yards despite being projected as one of the receiving leaders.

Perhaps more importantly, Slayton possesses good chemistry with quarterback Daniel Jones. With Jones under enough pressure right now, the last thing he needs is having to play an upcoming game without his favorite target in the passing game.

Still, the fact that it’s only midweek rather than later in the week is a reason to have some hope in this case. There’s still time for Slayton to shed the limited designation and return to playing at full speed before the Giants take on Washington on Sunday.

But will the receiver be in top shape for that matchup given the injury trouble that’s present now? That’s something we might not know until the Giants take the field and look to avoid an 0-6 start.

Happy Birthday Jazmine Jones; Four fun facts about the New York Liberty rookie

Jazmine Jones, New York Liberty

Having turned 24 on Thursday, the New York Liberty rookie recently wrapped up a strong freshman campaign in the Bradenton bubble.

If the 2020 season was any indication, the New York Liberty might’ve found lasting franchise contributors at both the top and bottom of the first round of the most recent WNBA Draft.

Eleven picks after the highly publicized selection of Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu with the top overall pick, the Liberty closed things out by acquiring Jazmine Jones with the 12th and final choice of the opening proceedings. That pick was obtained in the historic trade that sent franchise face Tina Charles to Washington in a multi-team deal.

A rebuilding campaign for the Liberty inside the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble was pacified by the performance of Jones. The newly-minted 24-year-old, who celebrated her birthday on Thursday, wound up becoming one of the Liberty’s most consistent silver linings, appearing toward the top of almost every major rookie stat, including the freshman league-lead in steals (1.4 per game). Her efforts led to a nomination for the WNBA’s official All-Rookie team, the first New York representative since Brittany Boyd and teammate Kiah Stokes made it in 2015.

“Jazmine works extremely hard. She really wants this,” veteran forward Amanda Zahui B has said of Jones. “She really wants to be great. She goes hard at practice and she’s very vocal. She’s a great leader.”

“The main thing about Jaz is her energy,” head coach Walt Hopkins added. “When she brings her energy, no matter what, she brings us a lot. It’s defensive, it’s toughness, swagger. Jaz has been huge for us.”

In honor of Jones’ special day, ESM has four facts about the former Louisville Cardinal…

She’s a Criminal Justice Major

Jones’ off-the-court accolades as a Cardinal were just as illustrious as the ones she earned on the hardwood. In addition to countless courted conference honors, Jones was named to the ACC’s All-Academic team twice, including her senior campaign. She majored in criminal justice, and, upon choosing Louisville over Floridian rivals Florida State (the Tallahassee native was offered a Seminoles scholarship in eighth grade) and Miami, revealed to the Courier Journal’s Jonathan Lintner that she wanted to take up a different kind of defense through a job in the FBI. 

2020 Was a Throwback to Her High School Days

Jones was the first player with the “SG” initials (shooting guard) attached to her name chosen in April’s draft. However, the early injury to the touted point guard Ionescu forced her into territory unchartered since her high school days at Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School.

When Ionescu was lost for what was eventually the year in just her third WNBA game, Jones was called upon to take her spot. She responded with six consecutive games in reach double-figures and some tenacious defense that got the attention of her veteran WNBA peers.

“She really wants to be great,” Zahui B said. “She goes hard in practice and she’s very vocal. She is a great leader, so for her stepping up and playing the one, which is not really her position.”

Jones wound up averaging 10.8 points per game, one of only four full-season rookies to do so.

No One Has Played More Games as Louisville Cardinal

Louisville has produced some strong players from its women’s basketball program. The Liberty have recently taken to painting their new Brooklyn borough maroon, as Jones is one of three former Cardinals chosen over the past two drafts. Asia Durr, the second overall pick from 2019, missed the bubble endeavor after testing positive for COVID-19, but Jones was joined by Kylee Shook, who chosen immediately after her as the first pick of the second round.

Jones joined an illustrious list of Cardinals chosen in the first round, joining Durr, Angel McCoughtry, and Shoni Schimmel. The ongoing health crisis cut things short, but Jones also became the program’s all-time leader in games played, passing Schimmel and Myisha Hines-Allen.

It’s Hard to Keep Up With the Joneses

It feels like Jones was destined to make some sort of difference in the athletic world from the very start, as sports runs through her blood. Her father Reginald is a former Florida A&M Rattler, while one of her sisters, Gigi Thomas, foreshadowed her success on the hardwood at both Appalachian State and Jacksonville. Her brother, Reginald Jr., earning 60 tackles over four seasons on the defensive line for Florida International’s Golden Panthers.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Cris Cyborg overwhelms Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 249

Tonight, Bellator MMA returned with some solid action. In the main event of the evening Cris Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC) was looking to defend her featherweight crown against Arlene Blencowe (13-7). Cyborg entered the cage as a sizable favorite to successfully defend her Bellator crown.

When the fight got underway, it was very apparent that Blencowe wasn’t intimidated by the Bellator champion. Both fighters exchanged leg kicks early. Halfway through the first round, Cyborg forced Blencowe against the fence and took her down.

Cyborg was able to get to the mount position and land big shots. However, Blencowe was able to survive to see the second round. Cyborg opened the second round with a blistering pace that had Blencowe staggered. It appeared Blencowe was nearly out on her feet, then Cyborg took her down.

Once on the ground, Cyborg was once again able to work her way to the mount position. Blencowe did a decent job at defending the strikes, but in doing so, she gave up her back. Cyborg flattened Blencowe out and locked in the rear naked choke for her first career submission victory.

Bellator 249 Fallout

There is no questioning the fact that Cris Cyborg is the best female fighter that Bellator has on the roster. She’s one of the greatest of all time and if it wasn’t for someone named Amanda Nunes, she would likely be considered the greatest to ever do it.

Arlene Blencowe was just out of her league at Bellator 249. I will give her credit in the fact that she didn’t back down and she didn’t appear afraid when she stepped into the cage. However, none of that mattered in the end as she was just another Cyborg victim.

After this victory, you start to really wonder what’s next in Bellator for Cris Cyborg. She could always have the rematch with Julia Budd. However, a fight with Cat Zingano down the line is likely for the Bellator champion. I don’t see her losing her title anytime soon.

The New York Rangers agree to terms with Tony DeAngelo

After recently re-signing Alexandar Georgiev, the New York Rangers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

It’s a two-year pact carrying an average annual value of $4.8 million, reports TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

DeAngelo tallied 15 goals and 53 points in 68 games with the Rangers during 2019-20. The 24-year-old established career-highs in several categories last season, including goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, and games played.

Selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round (No. 19) of the 2014 NHL Draft, DeAngelo has scored 105 points (24 goals, 81 assists) in 200 regular-season games with the Rangers and Arizona Coyotes.

The Sewell, N.J., native tied for fourth among NHL defensemen in goals and points, and tied for ninth among defensemen in assists, power-play assists, and power-play points in 2019-20. He also became the first Rangers defenseman to record at least 50 points in a season since Brian Leetch in 2001-02.

 

 

 

New York Jets: RB Le’Veon Bell signed by future opponent Kansas City

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

It didn’t take long for former New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell to find a new home, as the defending champs offered a one-year deal.

Le’Veon Bell’s name was not long for free agency. Less than 48 hours after the New York Jets granted his release, the running back has agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Though Bell will not be available for Kansas City’s Monday late afternoon tilt against Buffalo on Monday (5 p.m. ET, ESPN), Kansas City is set to take on the Jets on November 1 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Bell commemorated his move by sharing his image photos shopped in Chiefs gear.

Kansas City (4-1) has enjoyed the services of first-round rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back this season (10th in the NFL with 344 yards rushing), but have appeared to add themselves a very solid depth option in Bell. The rusher earned a pair of first-team All-Pro nominations and three Pro Bowl invites during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-17) and ran for 5,336 yards in a black and yellow uniform. He inked a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets after sitting out the entire 2018 campaign due to a contract dispute.

Through a series of alleged misuse and injuries, Bell was never able to regain his elite form with the Jets. He ran for only 789 yards and three scores last season, a full-season career-low. Bell partook in two games this season, partially sidelined by a hamstring injury that led to a stint on the temporary injured reserve. His final Jets showing came in a Week 5 return, when he ran for 60 yards on only 13 carries in a 30-10 defeat to Arizona.

Though the return on Edwards-Helaire has been strong in the early going, the Chiefs have struggled to fill the void left behind by Super Bowl hero Damien Williams, who opted out of the 2020 season. Current reserves Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson have united for 67 yards on 17 carries.

As for the Jets, Bell’s release carries $19 million in a dead money cap hit over the next two seasons, including $15 million this year.

The Jets (0-5) will partake in their first Bell-free game on Sunday late afternoon against the Miami Dolphins (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Knicks Draft Watch: What is the value of the top two picks?

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

LaMelo Ball has added more fuel to the fire when he said on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby Show Wednesday that he has spoken to only two teams thus far: the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.

The 6-foot-7 point guard has been on top of the Knicks’ Draft Board since May according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Meanwhile, Ian Begley of SNY recently reported that some NBA teams believe that the Knicks have been trying to move up in the Draft.

If the Knicks have their eyes on Ball, what could move the needle for them to get to the top of the Draft?

 

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, executives around the NBA believe the Minnesota Timberwolves will shop the top overall pick for a win-now player. The Warriors are also in the same boat, hoping that they could snag a key piece to augment the loss of Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala.

But ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks believes the value of the Wolves and Warriors’ top two selections have decreased relatively owing to the unpredictability of this Draft class.

“I don’t believe you can get an All-Star back. It’s a lot different compared to last year,” Marks told Empire Sports Media.

Last year, Zion Williamson was the consensus top pick. This year, it’s unclear.

Ball, swingman Anthony Edwards, and big man James Wiseman have routinely figured out on top of several Mock Drafts and Draft Boards.

Trading draft picks have been tricky. Because there’s an unknown variable involved.

Revisiting past trades involving top picks might give us a better appraisal of the Timberwolves and Warriors’ picks.

The last time the No. 1 pick was traded happened in 2017 with the Philadelphia 76ers moving up from No. 3 to select Markelle Fultz. In return, the Celtics received the No. 3 pick (Jayson Tatum) and a future first-round pick which turned out to be Romeo Langford, last year’s No. 14 selection.

The following year, another Draft Day trade involving a top-three pick had a major impact. The Atlanta Hawks traded down from No. 3 to No. 5 to get an additional draft pick and selected sharp-shooter Trae Young.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, went on to pick Luka Doncic, who finished in the top five of the MVP balloting this season. The additional draft pick which the Hawks got in the trade turned out to be Cam Reddish, last year’s No. 10 selection.

Those cases, however, don’t apply to the Knicks, who are at the bottom half of the lottery. For the Knicks to move up into the top two, they will have to give more compensations than what the 76ers and the Mavericks have sent out.

The Knicks have the Draft capital, having six first-round picks starting next year until 2023 to choose from to add to their current No. 8 pick in a trade package. But they don’t have the win-now player which both the Timberwolves and the Warriors seek in a trade.

The last time an All-Star was involved in a trade for a No. 1 pick occurred in 2014 when the Cleveland Cavaliers sent No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love in a larger three-team trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

In addition to Wiggins, Minnesota also received Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, and a trade exception while the 76ers got Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved, and a future first-rounder which turned out to be Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (24th pick in 2016 NBA Draft).

As complicated as it is to pull off a multiple-team trade, it’s the more plausible way for the Knicks to convince ironically the Timberwolves or the Warriors to part way with their picks.

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with Alexandar Georgiev

The New York Rangers have announced that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.

The Ruse, Bulgaria native was signed by the Blueshirts as an undrafted free agent on July 19, 2017. Georgiev is the only Bulgarian-born player in NHL history. He is expected to provide the 1-2 punch in net along with Igor Shesterkin.

Georgiev has appeared in 77 career games over parts of three seasons (2017-18 – 2019-20), all with the Rangers, posting a 35-31-7 record, along with a 3.00 GAA, a .913 SV%, and 4 SO. Georgiev holds the Rangers franchise record for saves in a game that the team won (55 – February 10, 2019, vs. Toronto), and he also holds the franchise record for saves by a Rangers goaltender in his NHL debut (38 – February 22, 2018, at Montreal). He ranked second among NHL rookie goaltenders in appearances (33) and saves (966), and ranked fourth among NHL rookies goaltenders in wins (14) during the 2018-19 season.

The 24-year-old appeared in 34 games with the Rangers this past season, posting a 17-14-2 record, along with a 3.04 GAA, a .910 SV%, and 2 SO. He established career-bests in several categories in 2019-20, including appearances, games started (32), and wins, and he led Rangers goaltenders in all three categories during the season. Georgiev won 13 games in which he made 30 or more saves this past season, which was tied for the sixth-most in the NHL. He posted a 13-5-1 record in 19 road appearances in 2019-20; his 13 road wins were tied for the fifth-most in the NHL during the season, and his .921 SV% on the road was tied for the ninth-best in the NHL (min. 10 road appearances). Georgiev posted a six-game road winning streak from November 23, 2019, at Montreal to December 28, 2019, at Toronto, and his six-game road winning streak was tied for the third-longest by a Rangers goaltender in franchise history (trailing only Mike Richter (eight games in 1996-97) and Dave Kerr (seven games in 1934-35)). Georgiev also tied for ninth among NHL goaltenders (min. 23 appearances) in SV% while shorthanded this past season (.888).

 

 

 

 

Yankees: Trevor Bauer debunks feud with Gerrit Cole, signing could be possible

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are short on true difference-makers in the rotation. Outside of Gerrit Cole, the other true top-of-the-rotation arm, Luis Severino, is injured and probably won’t return before June 2021. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ will be free agents, and while Deivi Garcia, Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt and Jordan Montgomery are certainly talented, they are still not on Cole’s level.

As the New York Yankees are looking for answers in the rotation, one notable arm is hitting the market after the World Series: Trevor Bauer. Since his Cincinnati Reds were eliminated in the Wild Card round, he has been writing on Twitter at virtually every team to engage with fans and offer his services.

Bauer, a strong candidate to win the NL Cy Young, finished the 2020 season with a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts. He would certainly fit in nicely in any club, let alone one with so many aspirations as the New York Yankees.

But there is an issue. For years, the media has talked about an alleged feud between Bauer and Cole. The two pitched together in college, at UCLA, and the so-called dispute has its origins there. Cole has never talked about the subject.

Will they fit together in the Yankees?

The two have extremely different personalities. Cole is a quiet man, who doesn’t particularly enjoy social media and only minds his business: pitch and dominate. Bauer is outspoken, controversial, some would say a clown.

One would have to think that, if there is a feud between the two, the Yankees won’t sign Bauer before running it by Cole.

Recently, former assistant coach at UCLA Rick Vanderhook had this to say about the two patching things up: “I would have to say the odds of the earth burning up are better than that. That’s not going to happen. It’s just not. They are opposites, just such complete opposites.”

But Bauer put some water to the fire: “Well, whatever chances there are of Gerrit and I squashing this non-existent, fictitious beef, they’re certainly higher than the chances of this former UCLA coach winning a College World Series,” he tweeted.

There you go. It will all depend on whether the Yankees want to pay the man, or if Cole ultimately decides to accept him on the team. But Bauer is saying all the right things.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Is manager Aaron Boone a puppet? Here’s the answer

For New York Yankees fans, this has been a disappointing season, losing the division and the postseason to the Tampa Bay Rays. Many fans have chosen to blame Yankee manager Aaron Boone for the loss. But at the same time, many fans have also wondered whether the decisions are his or if they come from General Manager Brian Cashman and the front office. Some say that Boone is just a puppet and doesn’t really manage the team.

Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman together spent a bit more than two hours speaking to the media and answering reporters’ questions.  During those Zoom calls, they spoke to many subjects, from their thoughts about why they had a failed season to questions about individual players like Gary Sanchez and his future going forward. A question was posed that asked if New York Yankees, manager Aaron Boone was making decisions on the day to day team or he was a puppet for the front office. Both Boone and Cashman responded to the question.

“It’s been asked several times about the manager being a puppet,” Cashman said. “None of that’s true.” “It’s a healthy discord,” Cashman said. “He’s going to have his reasonings, he’s going to share them, and then it’s my responsibility to accept those and appreciate the fact that he did the dissection and he took the time, and the patience and the care to really evaluate all aspects of it. Then we commit. If this is what he wants to do, even though it might be something that I thought we should go a different way, so be it. He’s got my support.”

Aaron Boone was a little less emphatic in his answer:

“I think people understand that I listen to coaches, I listen to front office personnel, especially when we’re doing something that I’m making a big decision or a big change or something that may be out of the box,” Boone said Wednesday. “I certainly consult with a lot of people, but I think our guys understand that ultimately it’s my decision.”

If you believe Aaron Boone when he says “ultimately it’s my decision,” then that should put the thought that he is a puppet out of discussion.  Much of the time in the news conference surrounded the decision to start game two of the ALCS with an opener instead of going with number two starter Masahiro Tanaka. The Athletic was told near the end of the season that the New York Yankees were toying with the idea of using opener in the postseason.

The plan to start game two with 21 year old Deivi Garcia was a bust when he was taken out after only one inning, and further botched by bringing in J.A. Happ and burning two starters in one game. Happ was frustrated after the game as he gave up four runs.  Cashman said that Happ was all in on the plan. But Happ contradicted that saying that he would rather start the game.  Happ has had 15 postseason appearances, all as a starter, the bottom line is that if the plan had worked it would have been praised as brilliant, but it failed and is thought to be the turning point in the series, with the Yankees losing their momentum.

 

New York Jets: Joe Flacco prepares for another start

With Sam Darnold still ailing, Joe Flacco will make his second consecutive start for the New York Jets on Sunday.

The New York Jets announced on Wednesday that Joe Flacco will make his second straight start with Sam Darnold still ailing from a shoulder injury.

Flacco will make his first road start in Jets colors, as the New York head to Miami on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). The match previously scheduled for November but shifted forward due to schedule adjustments enforced by COVID-19 outbreaks across the league.

A matchup with Miami could be exactly what Flacco needs to earn what could be a final blaze of glory in a strong NFL career. Numerous celebrities are listed as minority owners of the Dolphins (including tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams), but Flacco could make a case to add himself to that list. He owns a 7-0 record against Miami and owns a 109.4 passer rating over those six showdowns.

Flacco was aware of his success against the Dolphins when fielding questions on Wednesday. When his streak came up, Flacco jokingly accused the inquirer of “jinxing it”.

“I’ve been fortunate to play on a lot of good teams and you know some that maybe weren’t as good outcome wise at the end of the year but we still have some good teams and some good players that showed up to play on Sundays,” Flacco said of the streak, per transcripts provided by the Jets. “So, (I’ve) played down there a few times and definitely know a little bit about getting ready for the heat, doing all those things and I think if we prepare right and hydrate right, then we’re in good shape and then we can be the team that you know tries to wear the other team out, even though we’re coming down there only one time a year.”

The monopoly over Miami began in Flacco’s rookie campaign in 2009 after first-round call from the Baltimore Ravens. Flacco threw for 232 yards and a score in an October win in Miami before managing a 27-9 decision in the AFC wild card playoffs three months later. More recently, Flacco earned his most recent of three career four-touchdown pass games in a 38-6 shellacking in Baltimore in December 2016.

The Jets could use any victorious distraction in these trying times. They’re back in the headlines for the wrong reasons after the release of Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday night, sinking their perpetual rebuild into new levels of woe.

In times of offensive trouble, attention almost always turns to the quarterback. Flacco acknowledged that role in his Wednesday statements.

“You just need to have plays build off of plays. You need to get some chunks here and there. Right now, we are just going the long hard way,” Flacco said. “It’s a good sign to have a long drive, because you know you’re obviously doing a lot of little things right, but it’s hard to do that consistently. And right now, that’s what we’re kind of forcing ourselves to do, is just be so perfect and as soon as one little thing gets messed up by us, or it goes wrong because there’s a good defense, we’re off the field.”

“I think that, you know, we need to try to get some more first downs in first and second down and then once we get in the red zone we really just have to finish, we have to get points.”

To Flacco’s point, the Jets reached the opposing 35-yard-line four times on last Sunday afternoon against Arizona, but emerged with only one touchdown, as the others ended in a Sam Ficken field goal and failed attempts on fourth down. New York lost 30-10 and fell to 0-5 on the season.

Reinforcements will slowly begin to trickle in for the Jets. Breshad Perriman is expected to play this week after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2’s game against San Francisco. Like Flacco, Perriman was a first-round pick of the Ravens and they spent several seasons together in Baltimore (2015-17).

“I think Breshad over the last couple years has gained a lot of confidence and he’s been playing really well when he’s healthy and he’s rolling,” Flacco said. “You know he’s a tough guy to cover. He can bring a lot of explosive plays to your offense, so it’ll be exciting to kind of get him back out there and it was exciting to see him back out there at practice today.”

Further good news came from the Jets in the form of an update on second-round pick Denzel Mims. The rookie receiver has dealt with injuries all season, but was recently cleared to return to practice alongside Arthur Maulet and fellow rookie Cameron Clark.

No matter the on-field activity, the main talking point throughout Sunday late afternoon will more than likely be Bell’s absence, even if it fully isn’t shown on the statsheet. Flacco, of course, is more than familiar with what will be missed in his departure, as the two were on opposite sides of one of the NFL’s most intense, continuous rivalries in the Ravens-Steelers’ battle for AFC North dominance.

But nonetheless expressed hope that an opportunity has arisen for younger players to take on a role, namely fourth-round rookie La’Mical Perine. The development of these young talents, with the help of some veteran leaders, could well give the Jets something to play for over these dire eleven weeks left on their docket.

“I think we got a really good room. I think we got, obviously in Frank (Gore), a Hall of Fame veteran, a really good young kid coming up (in Perine), I think those guys are going to step up and play really well.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags