New York Giants reach deal with first round pick Kadarius Toney

new york giants, kadarius toney

Kadarius Toney was the one draft pick that hadn’t signed yet for the New York Giants – but the team recently solved that. They came to an agreement with Toney on Thursday in a deal that will pay out a guaranteed $13.7m over the next four years according to Tom Pelissero.

The Giants drafted Toney in the first round following an uncharacteristic trade down out of the eleventh pick overall. The consensus going into the draft was that the Giants were looking to add weapons, but it surprised most that they ended up with Toney rather than DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.

However, even if the pick isn’t the one that was expected, the Giants will save a bit due to their trade down. DeVonta Smith was selected by the Eagles before he could fall to the Giants, and it’s been reported that Smith’s contract is worth a larger $20m with a $12m signing bonus.

Considering the Eagles also had to give up a lot to get Smith, while the Giants on the other hand gained from training down, this is just another area where it looks like the Giants might have come out ahead if Toney pans out and develops on the field.

Some might have been concerned for the Giants’ draft pick after Toney started OTAs slowly and notably participated in one practice with one shoe, but head coach Joe Judge has said that the problem isn’t an injury situation. As of now, there’s no reason to think we won’t see Toney on the field for week one as expected.

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Thursday’s loss vs. Las Vegas

The New York Liberty fought valiantly but a comeback effort fell short against the Aces.

Defending WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson put in 30 points on Thursday night at Barclays Center, as the Las Vegas Aces used a dominant first quarter to earn a 94-82 victory over the New York Liberty. Betnijah Laney reached 20 points for the eighth straight game, leading the Liberty (5-3) with 23 points, while Rebecca Allen (16) and Sami Whitcomb (14) also reached double figures.

Las Vegas (6-4) jumped out to a 30-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and inflated their lead by as much as 19 before the Liberty mounted a comeback that came as close as one. It was another tough from the field for Sabrina Ionescu (2-13 FG), who was limited to five points. She did earn nine assists and rebounds each, but it wasn’t enough to withstand the Vegas storm.

ESM has three stars for the Liberty in their second straight defeat…

3rd Star: Leaonna Odom

7 pts. (3-3 FG)

Odom, sidelined with an Achilles injury over the first eight games of the season, made her 2021 debut on Thursday. One of the Bradenton bubble’s best-kept secrets immediately made her prescience felt with a block on a driving Chelsea Gray to open the second quarter. Odom sank all three of her attempts from the field and several tipped balls ended Vegas possessions. With Natasha Howard’s return still undated, the return of a defensive stud like Odom could help the Liberty tread water in the meantime, helping them regain their defensive swagger.

2nd Star: Betnjiah Laney

23 pts., 5 rebs.

With every tally of at least 20, Laney edges closer to WNBA history. She became the first player since Lauren Jackson (2009) to open a season by reaching the precipice in each of her first eight games. Laney, Jackson, and Sheryl Swoopes are the only players to reach eight, while Cynthia Cooper (9 in 1999) holds the record. With Ionescu in a bit of a rut (which Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins attributed to potential soreness) Bradenton’s Most Improved Player continues to serve as both a reliable scorer and floor general, often working with exclusively second-unit players in the early stages of games. Such endeavors are only adding to her MVP candidacy.

1st Star: Rebecca Allen

16 pts. 2 rebs., 2 stls. 

Blessed with a sense of fearless shooting and tenacious defense, it feels like Allen was tailor-made to play in the system that Hopkins and his assistants have developed. The union was fully realized and on display on Thursday, as she helped the Liberty back into the game with a dominant stretch of 11 consecutive points in the second quarter, an effort reminiscent of her team-record 22-point showing against Minnesota back in White Plains during her last WNBA season in 2019. As the Liberty continue to work through undermanned times on the roster, Allen’s efforts showcase the depth that has built a winning record in the early going. She’ll likely be relied upon further as she regains her shooting touch and Kiah Stokes goes off to compete in Turkey’s international endeavors later this month.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

The New York Giants have one of the best, yet most underrated linebackers in the NFL

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants had a top-ten defense in the NFL last season. The team made a couple of key moves in the 2020 offseason to propel their defense into being one of the league’s best units. The Giants allowed only 22.3 points per game defensively, which ranked ninth-best in the NFL.

Two key free agency additions made their marks and revamped the Giants’ defense: cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. The Giants saw their newly-acquired cornerback, Bradberry, make his first career Pro Bowl in a season where he led the NFL in forced incompletions (PFF).

Blake Martinez, however, did not receive any recognition for a stellar 2020 campaign. Martinez has never made a Pro Bowl in his NFL career. He was listed as the sixteenth-best linebacker in the league by PFF this offseason, but Giants fans feel Blake Martinez deserves more credit.

Blake Martinez stats and highlights

The New York Giants enjoyed watching Blake Martinez have a “breakout” season in 2020. Though it was a career year for the five-year veteran, it was anything but a “breakout.” Martinez has been one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL for a few seasons now. Blake Martinez leads the NFL in total tackles over the last four seasons.

Martinez has racked up an insane 594 combined tackles since 2017. He led the NFL in combined tackles in 2017 and has posted 140 or more combined tackles in every season since. Last year, Blake Martinez totaled 151 combined tackles in his first season with the Giants. He also added nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and notched 57 defensive stops and forced two fumbles for the Giants in 2020 (PFF).

If there is one weakness to his game, Blake Martinez does struggle at times in pass coverage. But the Giants’ defensive schematics were excellent in 2020 and played to their players’ strengths. Martinez was not asked to play in coverage that often, masking any deficiencies he might have in that aspect of his game. Patrick Graham allowed Martinez to be a pass-rushing and run-stuffing linebacker. That clever New York Giants scheme allowed Blake Martinez to play to his strengths and emerge as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

New York Rangers agree to terms with D Nils Lundkvist

New York Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury announced the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Nils Lundkvist on Thursday afternoon.

Lundkvist, 20, skated in 52 games with Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) this past season, registering 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points, along with 30 penalty minutes. He was named the winner of the Salming Trophy in 2020-21, which is awarded annually to the best Swedish-born defenseman in the SHL as selected by Hockey Hall of Famer Borje Salming. Lundkvist established SHL career-highs in several categories in 2020-21, including games played, goals, points, average ice time (21:24), and shots on goal (156). He ranked fifth in the SHL (ranked second among SHL defensemen) in shots on goal in 2020-21, and he also led SHL defensemen in goals and power-play goals (eight) this past season. Lundkvist’s 14 goals in 2020-21 were the most by a defenseman in one season as a U21 player or younger in SHL history.

The 5-11, 187-pounder has skated in 166 career SHL games over parts of four seasons (2017-18 – 2020-21), registering 30 goals and 48 assists for 78 points. Lundkvist’s 78 career points are the most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history, his 166 career games are tied for the most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history, and his 30 career goals and 48 career assists are each the second-most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history. Over the last two seasons (2019-20 and 2020-21), Lundkvist led SHL defensemen in goals (25), ranked second among SHL defensemen in points (63), and ranked sixth among SHL defensemen in assists (38).

via NYR PR.

The Pitea, Sweden native was selected by the Rangers in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees slaughtered in an attempt to take the Rays series

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees on Monday went into a 4 game series against their nemesis Tampa Bay Rays. Over the past two years, the Yankees have had a losing record against the Rays, and this year has been no different. They went into Monday’s game 2-6 against them this season. Unfortunately, the Rays won Monday’s game 3-1. But the Yankees have managed to take the last two games, opening up the possibility of taking the second series in a row from the Rays. Back on May 13th, the Yankees won their first series against the Rays in the last two years. If they can do that again, it will be the first time they have accomplished that in the last four years.

In the first inning, with Gerrit Cole on the mound, he faced Randy Arozarena to start the game; he flew out to Andujar in left. Yandy Diaz hit into a force out at second. Austin Meadows tapped back to Cole for the final out of the half, bringing up the Yankees. DJ LeMahieu faced Ryan Yarbrough and singled to right field. Gleyber Torres had a sac push bunt moving LeMahieu to second. Aaron Judge flew out to right. Gio Urshela, with two out and one on, went down looking, stranding LeMahieu. No score.

The second inning was led off by Manuel Margot, who flew out to Gardner in right-center. Joey Wendle flew out to Andujar in left. Mike Zunino went down on strikes to end the half. At the bottom, Rougie Odor ground out to first. Clint Frazier struck out. Miguel Andujar towered out to center for the final out. No Score.

Taylor Walls led off the top of the third inning by striking out. Kevin Kiermaier ground back to Cole but beat him to the bag for the out. Arozarena flew out to Gardner. Kyle Higashioka ground out to third. Gardner hit a homer to right. LeMahieu ground out to short. Torres flew out to center to end the inning, but the Yankees got on the board with Gardner’s first home run of the season. New York Yankees 1 Rays 0.

At the top of the fourth inning, Brandon Lowe walked. Diaz went down looking. Meadows got a two-run homer into the Yankee bullpen as the Rays pulled ahead of the Yankees. Margot popped out to second. Wendle struck out to end the half. At the bottom, Judge got a base hit to center. Urshela lined to left for a double, moving Judge to third base to set up the Yankees in the fourth with no outs. Odor flew out to foul territory in right, holding the runners. Frazier, with one out and two on, went down looking. Andujar struck out stranding two. Tampa Bay Rays 2 Yankees 1.

Mike Zunino led off the top of the fifth inning by walking. I seldom say this, but it seems that Cole is not getting the benefit of the calls afforded to Yarbrough. Walls went down looking. Kiermairer running to first went outside the baseline to avoid a tag but was still called safe. Arozarena went down swinging. Lowe doubled driving in Zunino.  Diaz singled, driving in two more runs. Meadows flew out to left, but the Rays tacked on 3 more runs. At the bottom, Higashioka popped out to second. Brett Gardner, who has scored the only Yankees run, doubled. LeMahieu was tagged out going to first with Gardner moving to third with two outs. Torres ground out to short stranding Gardner. Tampa 5 Yankees 1.

With Nick Nelson on the mound at the top of the sixth, Margot ground out. Wendle went down on strikes. Zunino was plunked by a pitch and advanced to first. Walls struck out swinging to end the top. At the bottom, with Yarbrough still pitching, Aaron Judge flew out to right. Urshela chopped out to third. Odor popped out to third. Tampa 5 Yankees 1.

With Nelson still on the mound in the seventh, he struck out Kiermaier. Arozarena hit a single off Nelson that bounced into the outfield. Arozarena stole second. Lowe walked. Diaz walked to load the bases with Rays. Meadows hit a bases-clearing double. Margot ground out to Urshela. Wendle singled driving in Meadows. That was Nelson’s day replaced by Luis Cessa got the final out. At the bottom, ground out to short. Andujar homered into the left-field stands. Higashioka flew out to far left. Gardner hit it on screws directly to Lowe for the final out. Tampa Bay Rays 9 Yankees 2. Aaron Boone was thrown out of the game when he pointed back at the home plate umpire when he returned to the dugout after replacing Nelson.

In the eighth inning, with Cessa on the mound, he got to Walls to fly out to center. Kiermaier ground out to second. Phillips got a two-out double. Lowe flew out to the left-field was with an excellently executed catch by Andujar. Yarbrough, with 92 pitches, was still on the mound, and he struck out LeMahieu on a questionable call causing LeMahieu to slam his helmet on the floor of the dugout.  Torres flew out. Judge popped out to first. Tampa Bay 9 New York Yankees 2.

Brooks Kriske took the mound for the Yankees in the ninth and got Brosseau to ground out to Urshela. Meadows ground out. Margot reached on a tip off the glove of Odor. Wendle ground out to end the half. With last licks on the line for the Yankees and with Yarbrough still on the mound with 103 pitches, Gio Urshela took to the plate and struck out. Odor flew out to the right field warning track. Frazier flew out to left to end the game.

The New York Yankees split the four-game series. The final score was the Tampa Bay Rays 9 and the New York Yankees 2. The losing pitcher was Gerrit Cole and the winning Ryan Yarbrough with a 113 pitch complete game.

 

Report: Chris Paul plans to decline player option; are Knicks in the mix?

Is a 36-year old Chris Paul the answer to the New York Knicks point guard woes?

The Knicks’ weakest link had been exposed in the playoffs as Tom Thibodeau scrambled for options at the point guard spot. Thibodeau was forced to rely heavily on Derrick Rose, who admirably played well until the former MVP ran out of gas in Game 5.

Enter Paul, who is reportedly planning to decline the lucrative player option that could make him the third-highest paid NBA player next season.

Eric Pincus, Bleacher Report’s salary cap guru, reported on Thursday that Paul would seek a multi-year deal that will pay him up to his late 30’s.

“Paul has a $44.4 million player option, which according to several sources, he intends to decline with hopes of inking a new multiyear deal (perhaps in the $100 million range over three seasons). It’s unclear if his recent shoulder injury changes his plans. Gordon Hayward, who has battled more severe injuries than Paul, made a similar decision this past offseason, opting out of his final year with the Boston Celtics to sign a four-year, $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets,” Pincus wrote.

The Knicks balked at Paul’s price tag last offseason. With Paul becoming more affordable, will the Knicks take a flier on his last remaining NBA years? Paul’s ties with the Knicks’ leadership could play a factor.

“The New York Knicks appear to be a player away from being a competitive playoff team in the East. With Paul’s relationship with former CAA agent Leon Rose, now president of the Knicks, the Suns may have some competition for the veteran’s services next season,” Pincus added.

While Paul is currently dealing with a shoulder injury, his impact on a Phoenix Suns team that jumped from a borderline playoff team to the second seed in the West with him has been one of the biggest storylines along with the Knicks’ remarkable rise.

Paul’s friend and former teammate Matt Barnes said in November last year that the Knicks were on his shortlist.

“He was saying the Knicks were an option but, you know, if he was going to New York he wanted the full Knick experience, meaning he wanted the fans, he wanted the essence, he wanted the ambiance of that Madison Square Garden crowd. And going there now, you know, we don’t know if that crowd will ever be back,” Barnes said.

The crowd turnout at The Garden in the Knicks’ first playoff appearance in the last eight years could gravitate Paul to New York and reunite with his former agent Leon Rose.

Paul’s numbers may be down in the playoffs, but that can be attributed to his injury. His leadership, however, is immeasurable. The Suns are on the cusp of eliminating the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, with Paul guiding the team’s young core.

Derrick Rose hinted at Knicks’ big offseason plans following their playoff exit.

“You know how that goes, man, that’s not up to me,” Rose said. “That’s up to the front office. They got big plans. Who knows if I may be back. I don’t know. I’m going to let my agent and them talk about it. But it’s really not up to me at all. We’ll just leave it like that.

Was he referencing Paul or another marquee player? That is up for debate in the next couple of months.

Paul could be the All-Star point guard that could catapult the Knicks to true contention in the East when healthy. But it’s going to be a move that comes with a risk given Paul’s age and playoff injury history.

The Knicks could opt for a younger point guard in LaMelo Ball, a restricted free agent, or Dennis Schroeder. But Chicago is also strongly interested in Ball. Meanwhile, Schroeder has been a big disappointment in the playoffs. The German point guard recently declined a four-year, $84-million extension with the Lakers.

If Schroeder wants more than that, it might be best for the Knicks to take a flier on Paul or Kyle Lowry or bring back Rose while waiting for a worthy successor.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mets’ offense is finally starting to heat up as the team gets healthy

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets have suffered an unprecedented injury problem this year. At one point, there were 17 members of the active roster on the injured list, but the organization powered through and has kept the first place in the National League East division despite the constant adversity.

As the team gets healthy – the Mets got Pete Alonso and Kevin Pillar back, and other pieces may return soon – the offense is starting to click, at long last.

The Mets’ season ranks are not pretty when it comes to offensive production, but in their last five games, they have scored 31 runs, or 6.2 per game. That’s not too shabby.

Francisco Lindor and James McCann, two of the newcomers for the 2021 season, are finally showing some signs of life after sluggish starts.

The Mets are finally enjoying some production from Lindor

Per SNY, Lindor, the Mets’ franchise player, is batting .391 (9-for-23) in those last five contests.

“It feels great, and it means a lot…” Lindor said. “I’m back to being an offensive player and helping the team. … Makes you feel good.”

The shortstop says he is seeing the ball really well right now.

“I’m getting the barrel to the baseball. I feel confident I can hit any pitch right now,” he said. “I’m hitting the pitches I’m supposed to hit hard now.”

“He’s been consistent with his approach. The one thing I’m seeing more now is he’s using the big part of the field. … I think he’s gotten back to trust hitting the ball to the big part. … Trust he can stay longer on the pitch,” Mets manager Luis Rojas explained.

On the other hand, McCann is hitting .500 (9-for-18) since Saturday.

“It’s just getting back to the things that I do well, sticking to my approach, and just trying to put a good swing on it, not trying to do too much,” McCann said.

The Mets hope their two new long-term pieces keep producing.

Mets Game Preview: (6/3/21) @ San Diego Padres (34-23)

The New York Mets take on the varsity of their west coast trip as they face the San Diego Padres. This is the first of seven games between both teams that will be played within the next 11 days. The first pitch for the Mets’ toughest series of the season is set for 10:10 p.m. ET from Petco Park.

The Mets took two out of three against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it came tougher than expected. After an easy victory in game one, the next two games were each decided by a run. Francisco Lindor has gotten his bat going over the last five games by going 9-for-23 and has gotten back to driving the ball to all fields. Even if Fernando Tatis Jr. is not playing, there will be plenty of comparisons between the two high-paid shortstops.

The Padres are in the midst of a four-game losing streak which includes a three-game sweep to the Chicago Cubs. Tatis Jr. also suffered an oblique injury, but it does not seem to be anything serious. He is not likely to play during tonight’s game, but we should expect to see him back by the third or fourth game. Even without Tatis Jr., there is plenty of big bats in the Padres lineup. Jake Cronenworth is one of the best they have, hitting .282 with a team-leading 60 hits.

Pitching Matchup

Taijuan Walker takes the mound after a terrific start off the IL. He hurled five shutout innings with just two hits allowed and eight strikeouts. Walker has become the steal of the offseason during the first couple of months of the season. His ERA is a season-low 1.84, which is fifth in all of baseball.

Yu Darvish is the Padres starter and looks to bounce back from a rare bad start. He allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings against the Houston Astros, and it pushed his ERA over two. On the year, Darvish has a 2.16 ERA in 11 starts and has 79 strikeouts.

Matchups To Lookout For

Taijuan Walker vs. Manny Machado: 2-for-12 (.167), Walk, 2 Strikeouts

Yu Darvish vs. Francisco Lindor: 4-for-7 (.571), Double, 2 Walks

UFC books Carlos Condit – Max Griffin

Carlos Condit

The UFC‘s Natural Born Killer is back. MMA Junkie was the first to report today that former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit (32-13) will be returning to the octagon in July. Condit will be taking on Max Griffin (17-8) at UFC 264 on July 10th.

This fight is a very big opportunity for Max Griffin. Griffin will be making his 12th appearance with the UFC. He made his debut with the promotion back in 2016 when he took on another former interim welterweight champion in Colby Covington.

In his previous 11 trips into the octagon, Griffin has gone 5-6. While that’s certainly not the most impressive UFC record, he has been doing well as of late. Entering his July fight opposite of Carlos Condit, Griffin will be riding a two-fight win streak.

This is the first winning streak Griffin has had in the UFC. Up until this winning streak, the most impressive thing Griffin has done was score a victory over Mike Perry and that came back in 2018. Griffin last fought in March when he scored a first round knockout over Kenan Song.

Another UFC run for Condit?

In 2020, the UFC future looked pretty bleak for the former interim welterweight champion. Carlos Condit had dealt with injuries and entered the year having lost five fights in a row. The losing streak started when he lost a razor close title fight against Robbie Lawler at UFC 195.

The majority of people believe Condit should have became the undisputed champion that night. However, two judges gave the fight to Condit and that loss started the worst stretch of his professional career.

Back in October, Condit made his way to the UFC’s Fight Island. He took on former Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee. If Condit would have lost, his UFC career would have likely been over.

However, Condit picked up a decision win and got back on track. From there, he defeated Matt Brown in January and now he’s won two-fights in a row. Suddenly, the narrative has changed with the UFC’s NBK. This fight against Max Griffin will tell us a lot. Both men have won two in a row and both men desperately want their winning streak to continue. Should be a fun one on July 10th.

Rangers’ Colin Blackwell, Zac Jones leads USA to 6-1 win over Slovakia

New York Rangers Collin Blackwell and Zac Jones put on an impressive show at the IIHF World Championship on Thursday morning leading Team USA to a 6-1 win over Slovakia.

Team USA is headed to the medal rounds in the IIHF World Championships in part because of the efforts of New York Rangers Colin Blackwell and defenseman Zac Jones.

Blackwell scored two goals this morning which included the game-winning goal for Team USA. His goal at the time gave the USA a 2-0 lead.

Not to be outshined by Blackwell, teammate Zac Jones had a great game against the Slovakian team.  The defenseman finished the game with an assist, a plus 4 rating, and lead the team with 22:44 minutes of ice time.

Jones earned his assist when USA’s Conor Garland scored to give the team a 3-0 first-period lead.

Team USA will play its semi-final game on June 5. Its opponent is yet to be determined.