New York Knicks: Tom Thibodeau makes interesting Obi Toppin prediction

New York Knicks, Obi Toppin

The New York Knicks are coming off an impressive win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday evening, in which they held their opponent to just 81 points. The Knicks finished with 102, and while they would like to be a bit more defensively proficient, their defense continues to be a focal point under head coach Tom Thibodeau.

In the victory, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley lead the charge with 24 and 25 points, respectively. Quickley has emerged as a catalyst for New York on offense, but eighth overall pick Obi Toppin could take a bit more time to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NBA.

Toppin finished the game with just 13 minutes of action, scoring five and recording three rebounds. His influence has been minimal at best, as he continues to work on his defensive prowess and find reasons to earn more playing minutes.

However, Thibodeau is slowly understanding what Toppin’s strengths really are, as he made one interesting prediction for him after the win over Cleveland.

“I think [the three-point shot] will be a big part of his game. He’s got that skill set,” Thibodeau said. “I thought he played really well yesterday. I thought our bench gave us a big lift, but I thought he played with a lot of poise yesterday. I thought he shot the ball when he was open and he should have shot the ball and he passed the ball when he should have passed, and I thought he made quick decisions.”

The New York Knicks are taking it slow with Obi:

Toppin has interestingly taken more three-pointers than he usually did in college, despite the line being a few more feet back. He is attempting 2.1 attempts per game but averaging just 12.5 minutes per. As he gets more comfortable on the floor and improves his shooting, Obi should be a force from all spots, but his jerky nature won’t make him a finesse player that can rise above defenders and shoot adequately. The Knicks need to have a more transition based offenses, which activates Toppin running the floor and using his dynamic athleticism to make plays. As stated before, though, he is still adapting to the NBA, and it will take some time before we see his true potential. Luckily, his draft partner in Quickley has played well enough for both of them.

Thibodeau also went on to say that Toppin has improved defensively, which was a major weakness of his going into the season.

“And I think he’s making great strides defensively, which I think is critical for him and for us.”

New York Yankees: How does the Yankee rotation stack up against other MLB teams? (audio)

When fans turn on their Television on April 1 to watch the first game of the 2021 baseball season, they will see the New York Yankee’s ace Gerrit Cole face the Toronto Blue Jay’s ace Hyun Jin Ryu. After that, fans will see a totally different pitching rotation, a whole new look, the biggest change since the 2009 season when the Yankees won their last World Series. The only two holdover pitchers from last year are Cole and Jordan Montgomery.

The projected starting rotation is projected to look like this: 1. Gerrit Cole, 2. Corey Kluber, 3. Jameson Taillon DD, 4. Jordan Montgomery, 5. Deivi Garcia. Taillon is listed as a day to day decision lineup according to ESPN. Zack Britton will also be closing the first two games at the Stadium as Aroldis Chapman serves his suspension for allegedly throwing at the Tampa Bay Ray’s Mike Brosseau. The question is, how do the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation stack up against the other 30 MLB teams?

Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media has taken to the task of rating the starting rotation of all the MLB teams. Giglio is with NJ.com and is a host on WFAN in New York and WIP in Philadelphia. According to Giglio, the Yankees have the 8th best pitching rotation in baseball. Here are the top 10 teams. I believe the Yankees should be number 6 on the list, but that being said, I believe if general manager Brian Cashman’s risks pay off, they might be number one.

  1. The San Deigo Padres: The Padres have been one of the most active teams this offseason to improve their rotation and the team as a whole. They have overtaken the Los Angeles Dodgers having the best rotation in baseball. Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Dinelson Lamet, Joe Musgrove, Chris Paddack lead off their rotation. Darvish, Snell, and Musgrove are all new to the team. The best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball waiting in the wings, MacKenzie Gore.
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have always put forth a great pitching rotation; this year, they will be challenged by the Padres in the NL West. The Dodgers rotation shapes up this way: Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, David Price, Dustin May. Kershaw was 6-2 with an ERA of 2.16 last season; Yu Darvish had the most starts, along with Gerrit Cole in baseball with 12 starts and a record of 8-3 and an ERA of 2.01.
  3. Cleveland Indians: The Indians pitching rotation will look like this: Shane Bieber, Zach Pleasc, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, Logan Allen. The Indians have a reputation for having one of the best pitcher development systems in baseball. The Yankees Corey Kluber was with the Indians from 2011 for nine years. Shane Bieber had the best record in baseball last year, 8-1 with an ERA of 1.63. However, it should be noted that the Yankee rolled over the Indians in the two-game 2020 postseason, with Cole beating Bieber in the first games and Chapman taking the win in the second game.
  4. Atlanta Braves: Their rotation will be Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Drew Smyly, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka is a mix of young and veterans. Morton and Smyly are additions this year. Charlie Morton was with the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2020 season.
  5. The Washington Nationals: The Nationals, for the last few years, has had one of the best pitching rotations on paper. In 2019 that paid off when they won the World Series. This year the rotation looks like this: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester, Joe Ross. This year’s enhancement includes picking up Jon Lester, and in the bullpen, Brad Hand.
  6. The Chicago White Sox: The Whites Sox have been the second most active mover and shaker in the offseason. Their 2021 rotation is Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech. Lance Lynn, the former Yankee in 2018, is a workhorse. They also picked up a former Yankee target Liam Hendriks to add to their bullpen.
  7. The New York Mets: Their rotation is lead by what many industry sources say is the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom. He is followed by Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, Noah Syndergaard. Stroman re-signed this year, and Carlos Carrasco came to the Mets with the Francisco Lindor deal from the Indians.
  8. The New York Yankees: The Yankees have a whole new look this season dumping some mediocre pitchers for a new low risk, high reward bet on pitchers coming back for the first time after not pitching last year. Many sources that don’t believe deGrom is the best say that Gerrit Cole is, and he leads off the Yankees. Behind him this season is newly acquired 2 times Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and Deivi Garcia. Because of the question marks, the rotation does not make the top five; however, if all pans out and with the New York Yankees amazing depth of Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees have the potential of having the best rotation in baseball.
  9. After the Yankees, the rotations drop off quickly. Number nine is the Oakland Athletics. They will feature Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Chris Bassitt, A.J. Puk. The Athletic beat the White Sox in the Wild Card but lost to the Astros in the Division Series. Although the A’s have been active, they have picked up any big names to improve the team.
  10. The Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers will again be contenders this season. The Brewer’s problem if they have a tremendous one-two punch leading off the pitching staff, but from there, it falls off dramatically with a lack of depth. Their rotation will be Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Josh Lindblom, Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer. The Brewers are hoping for a Lindblom bounceback.

 

 

 

Tanaka confesses he wanted to stay with the Yankees and didn’t rule out a return

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The Rakuten Eagles held a press conference to introduce their most recent signing, one that is actually an old friend: Masahiro Tanaka. The right-hander pitched there for years before migrating to the United States to sign with the New York Yankees in 2014. After seven brilliant seasons in the Bronx, the Japanese hurler is saying goodbye to pitch home, at least for the next two seasons.

It is quite clear that the Yankees’ decision to bring cheaper alternatives (although not necessarily worse) had to do with Tanaka’s decision to sign in Japan.

“When I became a free agent, honestly, I wanted to sign another contract with (the) Yankees and play there,” Tanaka told reporters in Tokyo, per Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times. “Then, as I heard different things, I thought I might have to take a different road and considered various things.”

For years, Tanaka was the Rakuten Eagles’ ace. He was posted to MLB teams and the Yankees ended up on top, securing his services with a seven-year contract that was a resounding success: he had a 3.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 991 strikeouts in the regular season, and a 3.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 10 postseason outings.

The Yankees went cheaper

Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman implied that he replaced Tanaka with two similarly talented arms at the projected cost that it would have taken to bring him back. Luxury tax concerns (the Bombers have made it clear they want to stay under the $210 million threshold) prevented the team from bringing all three.

Other MLB teams were interested in the 32-year-old. The San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays were some of them. But it appears it was Yankees or Japan for the pitcher.

“I played over there for seven years, was told how highly I was valued, and received really good offers,” Tanaka said, according to Kyodo News. “But for me, there was also this chance to play for the Eagles again, to pitch once more in front of my fellow Japanese. In the end, no offer in the States surpassed that.”

He added: “For me, No. 1 was what kind of baseball do you want to play, what kind of environment do you want to be in.”

Tanaka inked a two-year deal with the Eagles, but after it’s up, in 2022, he may return to the States. He said Rakuten has agreed to let him “keep those options open” next winter, according to Kyodo.

The Score explains that if Tanaka does try to return to the U.S., the Yankees might be more receptive to a reunion in 2022.

“There’s no door closed, let’s put it that way from my perspective,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Pete Caldera of NorthJersey.com on Friday.

Yankees News: Brian Cashman answers big outfield question ahead of 2021 season

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

One of the major lingering questions revolves around New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman finding another outfielder. The Yankees have been linked to Brett Gardner this off-season, as the two sides usually find common ground. Gardner did state this past season that he wants to play one more year in front of his family. With that being said, the likelihood of him returning to New York is high, especially if he settles on a more cost-efficient deal.

However, while Gardner started a majority of games in 2020, one young player has finally started to reach his potential. Clint Frazier, who was originally drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Indians in 2013, was a Gold Glove finalist this past year but was also effective on offense. He finished with a .267 average, eight home runs, and 26 RBIs. While his strikeout rate is a bit high at 27.5%, the expectation is that he will become more comfortable and efficient with more at-bats.

The Yankees, who were recently linked to players like Yasiel Puig, seem to be committed to Frazier and his growth.

Cashman stated in regards to Clint’s future with the Yankees:

“Clint Frazier has continued to reinforce that he is a force and has gotten better and better,’’ Cashman said. “This past year was another testament to that. Going into this, without a doubt, he’s solidified himself as the guy, and he’s been a guy that’s been saving us quite a few times when injuries hit.”

Frazier made a significant jump from 2019 to 2020. While he was a defensive liability two seasons ago, his development was extravagant and finally convinced the Yankees that he can be their future starter in left field. With one of the quickest bats in the MLB, more action will only help him improve. He is set to earn just $2.1 million in 2021, an absolute steal for a player of his potential and quality.

“He had a hell of a year,’’ Cashman said of Frazier. “He’s working his tail off this winter. He’s hungry. He wants to keep getting better.”

It is always nice to see players continuing to work during the off-season, and “Red Thunder” has the potential to take a big step forward offensively, claiming an everyday role on the starting roster. Ultimately, this is his chance to cement himself in the outfield, and based on his progress over the past year, I don’t think he will let it pass him by.

 

New York Jets positional preview 2021: Wide receivers

The New York Jets may have found a big-play man in Denzel Mims, but the receiving picture behind him is far murkier.

The Position: Wide Receiver
On the Roster: Braxton Berrios, Lawrence Cager, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims,
Free Agents: Breshad Perriman, Jeff Smith, Vyncint Smith
Reserve/Future: Josh Malone, D.J. Montgomery, Jaleel Scott

With the offense at a crossroads of sorts, the New York Jets are looking for playmakers. When it comes to their receivers, they may have uncovered a diamond in the second-round rough in Denzel Mims, but things behind him a lot murkier.

Part of the reason why it’s been so hard for Sam Darnold to develop a true rhythm as the Jets’ franchise quarterback is that his targets have undergone a ridiculous amount of turnover. Upon the departures of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, no receivers from Darnold’s rookies season of 2018 remained on the roster. In the of the 2020 season, Mims eventually found his NFL footing after missing the early stages due to injury, vindicating general manager Joe Douglas’ decision to pass on first-day talents like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson.

But Douglas’ free agent options didn’t fare as well. Breshad Perriman, for example, failed to recapture the glory of his final Tampa Bay days, earning only 30 receptions over 12 games. New England castaway Chris Hogan failed to make a difference and the injury bug refused to leave the Jets alone. The most consistent part of the unit, slot man Jamison Crowder, led the team in all major receiving categories for the second straight season. Crowder is under contract for one more year, but the Jets would save just over $9 million in cap space if they moved on from him through a release or trade.

Even if Darnold doesn’t return under center, the Jets needs to freshen the receiving situation for the newcomer. The unit’s last 1,000-yard endeavors came through the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker pairing during the doomed 2015 campaign.

Free Agents-to-be 

Breshad Perriman

Signed to a one-year deal worth $8 million ($6 million guaranteed), Perriman was brought in as the potential top target after ending his single season in Tampa in style (506 yards, five touchdowns in his final five games in 2019). But he never lived up to that billing in New York. He sustained an injury in the early going and never gained any momentum, save for strong performances in the New England games (8 receptions, 185 yards, 2 touchdowns).

With a new regime coming in and Perriman struggling in his lone green season, he is likely destined to hit the market.

Jeff Smith

Undrafted out of Boston College, the former quarterback has turned into a fun project in New York. Injuries have stunted his true potential, but Smith earned 167 yards on 17 receptions last season. That included a strong 81-yard showing when he was called upon to take extended duties when ailments ate up the top of the depth chart. He could potentially return as a depth option under new receivers coach Miles Austin.

Vyncint Smith

After getting some extended playing time when injuries struck in 2019 (joining in-season from the Houston practice squad), Smith himself landed on injured reserve in the early going and was limited to seven games, during which he only earned a single reception and lost his return duties to Braxton Berrios and Corey Ballentine. It’s possible he could get another go at it if the Jets want to create a special teams competition.

Will They Draft?

While there are plenty of names available to the Jets through free agency…and there are plenty of resources to bring in an elite name…the Jets’ receiving corps needs a complete makeover. With an extra pick in two of the first three rounds, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them use one on a receiver. In the event they get Watson…a happening made increasingly remote but the Texans’ apparent stubbornness to hold on to the disgruntled thrower…they likely wouldn’t have the second pick to use on Heisman winner Devonta Smith, but Jaylen Waddle, his Tuscaloosa partner-in-playmaking, might be around if they hold onto the 23rd pick send from Seattle. The speedy Waddle has seen his projections fall after enduring an ankle injury in Alabama’s October tilt against Tennessee.

Day two options open to the Jets could include Kadarius Toney, Rondale Moore, Sage Surratt, and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Veteran Possibilities

Allen Robinson, Chicago

Unlike Watson, Robinson is set to be a free agent and isn’t held back by stubborn management if he wants to find new opportunities. Fresh off a career-best 102 receptions despite the Bears’ unstable quarterback situation, Robinson could be a game-changer for the Jets no matter who’s throwing to him. Additionally, Robinson hasn’t exactly been subtle about his approval of the Jets’ offseason thus far. Twitter sleuths uncovered that some of Robinson’s recent “likes” involve calling for Watson to go to New York and approval of the Robert Saleh hire.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh 

If there’s one thing Darnold needs right now, it’s consistency. Bridges are burned with, say, Anderson (who has become a selling point in Carolina’s ongoing rebuild), but Smith-Schuster’s Sothern California collaborations with Darnold earned rave reviews. Smith-Schuster caught some of Darnold’s earliest passes as the two guided USC to a 10-win season in 2016, capped off by the epic 52-49 thriller against Saquon Barkley and Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Smith-Schuster and Darnold united for 133 yards on seven hook-ups in that game, which afforded the Trojans the third slot in the final AP poll from that season. Some will point to Smith-Schuster’s propensity for pregame TikToks as an excuse to stay away, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the comfort and stability Smith-Schuster could provide to a quarterback in desperate need of those feelings…be it Darnold or otherwise.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay

For all intents and purposes, Godwin should be one of the biggest household names in football. Through no fault of his own, Godwin often gets lost in the headlines, but that might happen when your catching cohorts are Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski. Godwin also missed four games with a hip/quad injury but still managed to post 840 yards after a breakout year in 2019. Godwin has played a major role in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl endeavors as well; he scored a touchdown that put them ahead for good in the Wild Card round against Washington and led the team with 110 yards in the NFC title clinch against the Packers. If Godwin is looking for a place to prove he can be a No. 1 receiver, New York would be a strong place to do it.

Outlook

A makeover is definitely coming to the Jets’ receiving corps. Free agency would certainly be the better way to go, as it would provide Mims a good mentor and give the team so much-needed, experienced stability. Whoever comes into the Jets’ quarterback spot is going to be thrown into a roaring green fire. They need to do whatever they can to make Darnold or the incoming new party to feel as comfortable as possible. Providing him with a strong, elite receiving talent would be the best way to do that.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets: Taking a Look at Daniel Murphy’s Mets Legacy

New York Mets, Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy has announced his retirement on Friday after 12 great seasons in the big leagues. Seven of those years came with the New York Mets, and he carried them to a 2015 National League Pennant. Here is a look at Murphy’s time wearing the blue and orange.

Murphy was a 13th round pick by the Mets in 2006 and made MLB his debut in the 2008 season. As a rookie, he became impossible to remove from the lineup. Murphy batted .313/.397/.473 over 55 games while playing at a new position in left field. He came up through the ranks as a natural third baseman, but David Wright’s presence forced the Mets to move him around.

The left-field experiment was a failure, and Murphy moved to first base when Carlos Delgado got injured in 2009. Murphy did not duplicate his rookie season production but led the team with 12 home runs. A flurry of leg injuries forced Murphy to miss the entire 2010 season and ended his 2011 season early. Murphy finished 2011 with the third-highest average in the NL but did not have enough at-bats to qualify for the league lead.

Full-Time Second Baseman 

In 2012, the Mets moved Murphy to second base full-time. Murphy’s defense needed plenty of work, but it gradually improved each season. For 2012-15, Murphy slashed .287/.326/.416 and averaged 38 doubles. Murphy also earned his first All-Star appearance during the 2014 season.

The 2015 postseason put Murphy on immortal levels among postseason heroes. In the NLDS and NLCS, Murphy batted .421 with seven home runs and had one in six consecutive games. Murphy did not carry his NLCS MVP numbers to the World Series and moved on to the Washington Nationals after the season. The Mets could have done more to keep Murphy, but his MVP caliber numbers were unpredictable.

Murphy never got the proper send off to his career due to his injuries affecting his production. He finishes third in double and seventh in batting average on the all-time Mets lists. Murphy was always a hard-nosed player who provided a new generation of Mets fans with their lone postseason memories.

New York Giants: 2 offseason additions to overhaul the offense

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

The New York Giants need to allocate resources toward the offense this off-season, one way or another. Whether they look to free agency to acquire a wide receiver or the 2021 NFL draft, co-owner John Mara has already indicated they will be making moves.

Considering the offense ranked 31st in the NFL last season in points per game, at 17.5, we can assume the majority of their capital will go toward bolstering the unit. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones had very little to work with, and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett did him very little favors.

While Sterling Shepard represents a solid WR2, they desperately need a receiver who commands more attention and the return of Saquon Barkley should only help. This off-season presents a fantastic opportunity to add significant pieces, and with the expectation that the Giants will have a top 10 defense in 2021, as long as their offense is average, they should be a playoff-caliber team.

Free agency holds multiple options they can consider, as well as the draft. Let’s take a look at one combination that would completely overhaul their offense this off-season.

Two offseason additions to overhaul the New York Giants’ offense:

1.) Kenny Golladay

It is no secret the New York Giants need a big body on the outside that Daniel Jones can rely on. Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay could fit that role perfectly, as he stands at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds. At just 27 years old, Golladay is coming off a tough season where he played just five games. However, he posted 338 yards and two scores during that small timeframe. In 2019, he earned a Pro Bowl appearance, remaining healthy the entire year and earning 1,190 yards and 11 scores.

With the cap expected to drop this off-season considerably, teams are going to have to cut bait. The Lions have fully committed to a long-term rebuild, so retaining Golladay might not be the most cost-efficient option. With that being said, if he hits free agency, he might be looking for a one-year, prove-it deal; that way, he can cash in, in 2022, when the salary rises again post COVID-19.

His ability to haul in balls in man-coverage and represent an elite deep threat for Jones makes him a perfect fit for the Giants‘ scheme under Jason Garrett. With Allen Robinson expected to land $18+ million per season as the top receiver on the market, Golladay will likely be a bit cheaper and represent ample value, given he remains healthy.

2.) Jaylen Waddle

The Giants have the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, so there’s a fantastic chance one of the top three receivers drops to them. If that receiver happens to be Jaylen Waddle out of Alabama, the Giants shouldn’t think twice. Waddle is an elite play-maker with electrifying abilities in the open fields, and he would complement Golladay perfectly from a Z/slot position.

Waddle is best utilized with pre-snap motion, shifting him and giving him the momentum to beat man coverage and avoid press. Unfortunately, a significant ankle injury disrupted his 2020 season, but he is a stellar prospect with Henry Ruggs speed and even better route running abilities. He is a player you design your offense around, and adding Golladay plus the return of Saquon Barkley would make the Giants’ offense intimidating. It would truly be an overhaul compared to the disgrace they put on the field in 2020.

The New York Rangers fail once again to hold on to a third period lead

It will not go down as a defensive masterpiece as the New York Rangers let a third-period lead slip by as Sydney Crosby slammed a shot past Alexandar Georgiev to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-4 victory in overtime.

In the three-on-three overtime, the Penguins took advantage of the fact that the Rangers could not clear their own defensive zone, allowing the Penguins to bring fresh players on the ice three consecutive times before Crosby’s goal ended the game.

While the Rangers did take a little bit of advantage of the depleted Penguins defense, their own defensive efforts were equally lacking in the Saturday night game.

Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Kevin Rooney, and Brendan Lemieux scored for the Blueshirts. K’Andre Miller had two assists, and Georgiev made 33 saves in the loss.

The Rangers are now 1-5 in their last six games decided by a goal.

A very frustrated Kreider said in his post-game news conference said that “Yeah, this is a reoccurring thing at this point. We’ve shown what we can do in spurts what we need to do to be successful by cranking up the intensity in the third period but then we get away from it and we start going east-west and not advancing it in the zone. You don’t win at the NHL level doing that.”

Head coach David Quinn addressed the lack of holding leads in the third period during his post-game Zoom Conference. “We’ve had a bad of a period as we had all year. They beat us to every loose puck, they beat us in every battle. They (the Penguins) were smarter and looked like a little hungrier team than we were in the third period.”

Quinn also addressed that lack of solid defense by the Rangers in this game. “We were very soft around our net. We haven’t said that a lot throughout the season. They upped the ante in the third period and we were not able to match it.”

The two teams face off again on Monday night.

 

 

New York Liberty: Layshia Clarendon undergoes top surgery

The WNBA veteran has received support from both the league and New York Liberty teammates after their social media announcement.

New York Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon announced on Friday that they underwent top surgery to remove breast tissue earlier this month. Clarendon made their announcement on social media. The Cal-Berkeley graduate wrapped their first season with the Liberty after signing with the team last offseason.

“It’s hard to put into words the feeling of seeing my chest for the first time free of breasts, seeing my chest the way I’ve always seen it, and feeling a sense of gender euphoria as opposed to gender ⁣dysphoria,” Clarendon said in their Instagram post. I’m usually not scared to share news publicly but the amount of hate, myths & ignorance surrounding Trans and Non-Binary people’s existence actually had me debating sharing this joy. I want Trans people to know and see that we’ve always existed & no one can erase us!”

Clarendon’s announcement has received droves of support in the wake of their announcement, including statements from both the Liberty and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, as well as from teammates like Amanda Zahui B.

“Layshia’s story is one of inspiration and courage, and as a takeaway from the emotional conversation we shared recently, my hope is that the WNBA’s full support will extend far beyond this league,” Engelbert said on her Instagram story. “We are so proud that Layshia is part of the WNBA and we know that their voice and continued advocacy will not only support and help honor and uplift many other nonbinary and trans people, but also encourage empathy and understanding for the community across all levels of sport.”

“The New York Liberty family is in full support of Layshia Clarendon and their choice to live authentically. The Liberty has been and will continue to be an organization that celebrates the individuality of all people. Layshia is a proud embodiment of our belief that our strength lies in our truth and no one should live constrained by societal boundaries. Layshia’s journey as a pioneering athlete, along with their activism and advocacy work, is an inspiring call for each of us to honor our humanity above all else.”

Clarendon entered the league as a first-round pick of the Indiana Fever has been at the forefront of the WNBA’s off-the-court endeavors, serving on the WNBA’s Social Justice Council and the vice president of the league’s players association. They earned a career-best 11.5 points per game in the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble last season.

The Liberty, along with the rest of the WNBA, will be permitted to formally sign free agents on February 1.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Dan Orlovsky makes the biggest hot take trade proposal

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley

We’re probably going to hear about a lot of trade ideas involving the New York Giants soon. Some of them good, some not so good, and some of them flat out controversial. But ESPN analyst and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky might have made the most controversial proposal possible for a Giants trade this offseason.

The idea involves sending away Saquon Barkley, so a lot of people will be against it no matter what the Giants get in return. And it’s not hard to see why. The Giants have largely rested their hopes on Barkley’s career panning out over the next few years, allowing them to win without exceptional play from Daniel Jones and a strong running game. But this idea from Orlovsky says just a good running game isn’t enough to win big.

What did Orlovsky propose?

The analyst thinks the Giants need to pull the trigger on a deal for Deshaun Watson.

“If I was Dave Gettleman of the New York Giants, I would take Daniel Jones, I would take Saquon Barkley, and I would take three first-round picks and call Houston, and not allow them to get off the phone with me,” Orlovsky said. “As a general manager in this moment, if you ever were going to take a swing, this is the swing to take. As a general manager, the last thing you want to do is look back with regret that we didn’t try hard enough, that we didn’t throw in one extra first rounder. That’s the type of player and person you’re going to get with Deshaun Watson.”

Watson is one of the highest valued quarterbacks to ever leave his team in a trade – that is, he will be if the Texans make the decision to trade him.

It’s looking, though, like keeping Watson is becoming impossible for Houston. It’s only a matter of whether the Giants will get Watson, or another team.

Evaluating the trade idea

Trading Jones is understandable. The Giants wouldn’t need another starting caliber quarterback if they gain Watson. Trading three first round picks will make most fans take a pause. It’s a big price, and would hurt the Giants in the future if they can’t win now with Watson. Three first round picks plus Saquon Barkley is a king’s ransom.

And the Giants potentially could win now if they made this trade. It’s tempting to have a quarterback like Watson, but it would also carry significant risks. If they fail to start winning, they’d have to cope with trading away one of their best players and losing three first round picks. Those picks may be valuable if the Giants need to keep reshaping their team.

The Giants front office is many things and relatively conservative is one of them. The Giants aren’t typically a team to make a crazy deal like this one, so in the end, it doesn’t look like it’s likely to happen in reality. That’s not to say Watson definitely won’t end up a Giant, though. If the Giants can get a lower price, it’s easy to see them being in the market for his skills.