New York Yankees: Kansas City Royals vs. New York Yankees series preview

yankees, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees are coming off a series win against the second-best team in baseball, the Oakland Athletics. They now have a day off to evaluate their play and prepare for a three-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals. Starting on Tuesday evening, the Royals will face the Yankee’s ace, Gerrit Cole. The Yankees, with the series win against the A’s, are now just 4.5 games behind the East-leading Boston Red Sox and winning six games of their last ten. The Royals trail the Central-leading White Sox by ten games and have lost 7 of their last 10.

Yesterday the Royals went behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning with both the Royals and the Red Sox playing some pretty sloppy baseball. But the Royals came convincingly back to win the game 7-3. The Yankees had a squeaker yesterday when Gary Sanchez hit the winning hit, and the Yankees had a triple play in the ninth inning.

Tuesday, June 22nd, 7:05 pm:

Gerrit Cole will start the first game of the Kansas City Royals series at the Stadium in the Bronx on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 8-3 with an ERA of 2.31 and with 117 strikeouts on the season. Cole tossed a season-high-tying eight innings Wednesday against the Blue Jays, allowing only two runs on four hits. His 117 strikeouts through his first 14 starts are the most by any Yankees pitcher in his first 14 starts of a season. The only Royals player who has been successful off of Cole is Whit Merryfield; in seven at-bats, he has a .286 record.
As of this writing, the Royals have not released the names of the starters for any of the three games at the Stadium. The Royals would have liked Danny Duffy to start against Cole, but he is on the IL.  Looking at the Royals’ starts, it’s hard to predict who will start against Cole. In the three-game series, the Yankees likely will see Brady Singer, Brad Keller, and Kris Bubic. During the series, the Royals may have to put together a bullpen start due to the missing Danny Duffy.
Wednesday, June 23rd, 7:05 pm:
Wednesday night’s starter for the New York Yankees will be Michael King, who was bought up as a replacement for Corey Kluber, who is nursing a bad shoulder. King, since being brought up, is 0-3 with an ERA of 4.08. He has pitched better than the stats would indicate. King scattered five hits and two walks across 4 1/3 innings last time out, aided by the Yankees’ second triple play of the season in the first inning. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in three of his past four starts. None of the Royal batters have seen King, except for Alberto Hanser, who had one hit in two plate appearances.
Thursday, June 24th, 1:05 pm:
Jameson Taillon will start Thursday’s matinee. Of late, when Taillon is on the mound for the Yankees, it’s almost an automatic loss. Taillon has not found his form yet and has been the Yankees’ most undependable pitcher.  In his next to the last start, he only lasted 1/3 of an inning, giving up four earned runs. The last start he went
4 2/3 innings of two-run ball. The Yankees have lost his last four starts. This will make his second career start vs. the Royals, having tossed seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts in a 2018 no-decision. Jared Dyson has had good luck off of Taillon hitting .333.
All of the games will be televised on Bally Sports Kansas City and the YES Network. Thursday’s matinee will also be on MLBN out of market.

New York Jets 2021 offseason recap: Quarterbacks

new york jets, zach wilson

ESM looks back on a fateful offseason for the New York Jets, starting with the big changes at quarterback.

Following the conclusion of minicamp activities, the NFL offseason is officially over. The next time the New York Jets convene in Florham Park, they’ll be getting ready for preseason and regular season action for the 2021 campaign. 

With the offseason in the rearview mirror, ESM looks back on the green offseason that was, position-by-position. We start off at the quarterback spot…

Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws on the run against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

How It Started

The Jets’ offseason centered around a puzzling conundrum: the NFL future of Sam Darnold. Conventional stats (as well as the fact they held the second overall pick in the draft) more or less implored the Jets to move on: Darnold ranked 40th in competition rate (59.8) and 41st in passer rating (78.5) amongst 42 quarterbacks (min. 500 attempts). Yet, there was a tantalizing case to prolong his New York career, a major temptation to answer a question Jets fans have asked and continued to ask…what would Darnold look like in a system that wasn’t overseen by Adam Gase?

For all the offensive malarkey the Jets had gone through in the Gase era, Darnold has still provided momentary flashes of brilliance that eeked through the endless layers of green gridiron gloom. Some felt that Darnold had the necessary skills to survive in the NFL, he just needed the proper support staff. There was only so much Darnold could’ve done while working in a Gase system and his top options being first-round washouts (Breshad Perriman) and current lacrosse stars pulled out of New England’s antique pile (Chris Hogan). In March, the Jets added Corey Davis and Keelan Cole, a pair of consistently reliable talents looking to make a bigger impact. Had Darnold been kept aroud for the eventual drafting of Elijah Moore, it would’ve been the most talented receiver class Darnold ever had to work with.

Darnold’s support problems were not limited to his receiving arsenal. The crucial developmental stages of his NFL career were staged in the midst of constant rumors surrounding Le’Veon Bell, who was a discount version in everything but his price tag ($52.5 million). That big contract and several other factors (i.e. general negligence) delayed any plans to bolster the offensive line. Darnold, after all, went through three different primary centers over his first three NFL seasons. To their credit, the Jets seemed to finally be seeing the light in the late stages of Darnold’s tenure, passing on elite receiving talent to draft Louisville blocker Mekhi Becton and later trade up with Minnesota for Alijah Vera-Tucker.

As for the backup quarterback spot, the Jets had the right idea when it came to Joe Flacco. The cheap deal signed late in the offseason (one-year, $1.5 million) and Flacco’s own words made it clear that he wasn’t meant to be any long-term backup solution. It was a contract that gave Darnold a year under Flacco’s watch while the one-time Super Bowl MVP (who truly sought a new area to take over the QB1 role) had a chance to prove to new suitors that he could still be a serviceable NFL option after enduring a neck injury during his previous stop in Denver.

new york jets, zach wilson

How It’s Going

Ultimately, the Jets sent Darnold south, trading him to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for three draft picks, one of which was a second-round choice to be used next season. Even before Darnold was shipped off to Charlotte, the Jets spent the offseason in the thick of the quarterback discussion. Not only were they present at all major rookie quarterback showcases, but they were said to be in the thick of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes before assault allegations ended that conversation.

Those factors all but assured that the Jets were going to use their premier pick on a non-Trevor Lawrence quarterback, eventually revealed to be Zach Wilson when the league converged on Cleveland in April. With the selection of Wilson out of BYU, general manager Joe Douglas has officially etched his signature onto his New York mosaic. He now has his own head coach (Robert Saleh) and quarterback running the show after working with the used parts of the Mike Maccagnan era’s final days.

As expected, Flacco moved during the offseason, joining a curious passing situation in Philadelphia that has been implied to give him a chance to compete for the starter’s spot. Despite several serviceable backup candidates emerging (i.e. Brian Hoyer, Nick Mullens), the Jets curiously opted to stick with their current backup situation of James Morgan and Mike White.

Dec 24, 2019; Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (1) celebrates with teammates after running in a touchdown against the Hawaii Warriors in the second half of the Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Are They Better Off?

One could have, and probably still can, make the case for Darnold staying in New York. The temptation to see him with a new support staff could’ve allowed the Jets to either use the second overall pick on one of their many other areas of need or even trade it to further reinforce those positions.

Ultimately, though, trading the Darnold was the best move for all parties. There’s no use in comparing Darnold and Wilson right now, especially when the latter has yet to throw an NFL pass (Lord knows the post-Week 1 discourse following the Jets and Panthers’ meeting in Charlotte will be arduous enough). But wondering whether Darnold’s issue was simply a coaching thing was a question the Jets couldn’t afford to answer anymore, especially when holding a draft choice that allowed them the pick of the non-Lawrence litter in Cleveland.

For Darnold, this move works on a personal level as well. He can now try to reclaim the narrative on his NFL career in relative obscurity in Carolina, a stark contrast to the constant tabloid attention in New York and the meme makers that pounce on the slightest green controversy on the internet (let’s face it, if the “I’m seeing ghosts” thing happened anywhere else, it’d be forgotten in a week). Time will tell if Wilson is the long-sought answer under center after decades of false prophets, but the Jets at least deserve some props for knowing when to cut ties and go back to the drawing board.

The Jets’ backup situation remains rather curious, however. As it stands, the Jets’ trio of quarterbacks has zero NFL regular season passes between them. New York is obviously pinning its future hopes and dreams on Wilson’s development. Holding minicamp with Wilson as the primary man more or less guarantees that the Jets aren’t practicing the “Kansas City model” a la Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes.

But that shouldn’t mean that Wilson immediately must become the most experienced quarterback in the room. Even if one claims that adding a veteran to mentor the rookie (Chicago’s Nick Foles, perhaps?) is a passing cliche at this point, the Jets should at least bring on some insurance in case of an emergency. The team was 0-10 in the three-year Darnold era when backup quarterbacks had to step in. There’s no evidence that White or Morgan (who didn’t even dress for a game in his rookie year) are capable of breaking that trend if the unthinkable happened to Wilson. The playoffs remain a tall ask, but that doesn’t mean the Jets should punt on 2021 contests.

The Jets were right to kick off a new era of football, efficiently hitting the fast-forward button in their franchise timeline. But that doesn’t mean he should have to do this alone, especially in his own position room.

Final Offseason Grade: C+

Did the Jets make the right move in drafting Wilson? Or should they have stuck with Sam? Continue the conversation on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

The New York Jets still have time to bolster the secondary with one solid veteran

richard sherman, jets

The New York Jets seemingly had a fantastic draft and free agency class, but there is one unit they didn’t bolster sufficiently this off-season. Last year, one of the weaker points on defense for Gang Green was the secondary, and after the departure of Jamal Adams, the unit only got worse. The Jets ranked 28th in passing yards allowed per game, giving up 275.6 on average. They desperately need more support at cornerback after cutting Pierre Desir after just one season with the team.

However, there is one free agent on the market that could make perfect sense for the Jets, especially with the hiring of Robert Salah from the San Francisco 49ers.

Currently, on the roster, the Jets have a plethora of inexperienced options which don’t represent immediate starters or impact players.

-Bless Austin

-Bryce Hall

-Justin Hardee

-Isaiah Dunn

-Corey Ballentine

Only one of these players has played more than two seasons in the NFL and an entire 16 game campaign. Justin Hardee, who the Jets signed as a free agent from the New Orleans Saints, has never started a game in the NFL but has played in 56 over four seasons. He has two passes defended to his name, so expecting him to be a starting-level player would be optimistic.

The player on the market who could make the most sense for Gang Green is Richard Sherman, who is coming off a three-year, $27.15 million deal. At 33 years old, there’s no question that Sherman is getting up there in age, but as an intelligent corner who is one of the best defensive backs in the last decade, he could offer them plenty of value as a veteran in the locker room.

Sherman recently played for Salah and his defense, featuring in just five games last year, but did partake in 15 regular-season games and three playoff contests in 2019. During his 2019 season, he recorded a 90.5 overall coverage grade, allowing 373 yards and one touchdown the entire season. As a historically lock-down man coverage corner, Sherman clearly has a bit of gas left in his tank, but after missing the majority of the 2020 campaign, the Jets might be able to snag him up on a cheaper deal.

Considering the connection between Sherman and Salah, this would be an easy signing to make for the Jets, inserting an immediate starter into the secondary who can help the young players gain their sea legs in the NFL.

Signing Sherman to a one or two-year deal in the $7 million range would make sense, given the lesser contracts signed this off-season. The Jets currently have about $32 million available and cap space, giving them plenty of money to work with prior to the start of the 2021 season.

After UFC Vegas 29 victory, what’s next for Chan Sung Jung?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 29, Chan Sung Jung (17-6) took on Dan Ige (15-4) in the main event. The matchup was a pivotal one for the featherweight division. The winner was expected to move up towards the top of the rankings.

Heading into UFC Vegas 29, there were a lot of questions surrounding The Korean Zombie. Jung’s loss to Brian Ortega last October took a lot out of him. The damage he’s taken over his career and the loss to Ortega had The Zombie briefly considering hanging up the gloves.

However, Jung decided that he wanted to fight on and he took the matchup with Dan Ige. Ige was coming off of a 20 second knockout and he was looking for that one signature win that would put him in title contention.

The fight on Saturday night was very back-and-forth. Both men had their moments, but at UFC Vegas 29, there was one man that was clearly getting the better of things and that was Chan Sung Jung.

Dan Ige showed that he can hang with The Zombie, however, Jung was too much for him on Saturday night. In the end, all three judges gave the fight to Chan Sung Jung and as a result, the UFC‘s Korean Zombie is back on track.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 29?

After the event, there was one name on the mind of TKZ. Jung took to the post-fight press conference where he made it clear that he wanted to face former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway (22-6) in his next fight.

Jung said that he doesn’t believe Holloway has the power to hang with him. Holloway recently was scratched from his UFC main event against Yair Rodriguez next month. The former featherweight champion had to pull out due to an injury.

The promotion is leaning towards rebooking the fight, however, there has been replacement talks. If Rodriguez gets a replacement opponent, I think a fight between Holloway and Jung would be fantastic. It would provide a true number one contender in the UFC’s featherweight division.

The Yankees’ triple play through the voice of the players: ‘Incredible’

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

As Sean Murphy came to the plate with the New York Yankees clinging to a narrow 2-1 lead, Aroldis Chapman, the closer, had trouble controlling the baseball and had issued two walks. There were no outs on the scoreboard. It was the ninth inning.

Murphy is excellent against left-handed pitchers, and Chapman was battling a broken fingernail that was clearly affecting his ability to pitch. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone opted to leave him on the mound.

“He was just dealing with a little nail issue, and it was sore and bugging him. But he felt like he was fine to pitch,” Boone said to MLB.com’s Betelhem Ashame, “and I didn’t feel like — even though he obviously wasn’t throwing strikes — I didn’t feel like he was non-competitive, or ‘We gotta get him outta here.’ And he absolutely felt like he wanted to stay in.”

“We were just trying to get Strike 1 there,” catcher Gary Sánchez said through an interpreter. “Hopefully get ahead in the count, strike a guy out, follow that with a double play. But things worked out better than I expected.”

And boy, did it work out for the Yankees. Murphy grounded out, not into a double play, but into a game-saving triple play that ended the game and ensured another series win.

The Yankees’ third triple play of the season gave them a victory

Gio Urshela took the hard grounder and quickly touched third base, threw to DJ LeMahieu at second, and he made quick pivot to nail Murphy at first and end the threat.

It was the third triple play for the Yankees in 2021 and we are still in June.

“If you’re around long enough, you see everything,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “I’ve never seen a game end like that before. It felt like we had him on the ropes. We had a guy up there that is really good against left-handed pitching. He just ends up hitting it in the wrong spot. You don’t see that very often.”

Melvin is right: the A’s seemed to have Chapman on the ropes. But the baseball gods smiled at him on Sunday.

“It’s incredible when you think about it. You can tell this to someone, they probably won’t believe it. They would need to see it to believe it,” Chapman said. “You try to do the best you can to fight on the mound and get the job done as best as you can. … Like today, you find yourself in a spot where it’s hard to believe you’re going to get the job done, and then all of a sudden the game is over and you saved the game.”

Yankees News, 6/21: Joey Gallo on Cashman’s trade radar? Triple-play for the win!

yankees, joey gallo

The New York Yankees are finally stringing together a few victories, winning five of their last six games, nearly sweeping the Oakland Athletics over the weekend. Thanks to a 9th inning triple play, the Yankees managed to fight off a pesky Athletics team who were desperately trying to maneuver their way toward a win. Thanks to a stellar pitching performance from Jordan Montgomery, allowing three hits over 5.1 innings, and strong relief, the Yankees can now enjoy the fruits of beating a team well about the .500 mark.

The Bombers will now prepare to take all the Kansas City Royals, who are six games below .500, and will feature Brady Singer on Tuesday evening, who hosts a 4.76 ERA and has given up 72 hits over 68 innings this year. The Yankees should plaster Singer and extract a win in the contest, but given how inconsistent the team has been this year, you can never make premature judgments.

In fact, while the team has picked things up recently, that doesn’t mean general manager Brian Cashman should avoid the trade deadline and fail to inject another quality player into the mix. One option is Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. Gallo indicated he didn’t want to be traded and would rather sign a contract extension over the weekend, but considering the Yankees long-term interest in Gallo and the fact the Rangers sit at 25-46 on the season, there’s reason to believe they might be trying to add prospects or cash.

The Athletic’s Jim Bowden detailed why Gallo would be a great fit for the Padres, but the narrative suits the Yankees as well:

“I think you need another three-run homer bat. I look at this team and I say, ‘You need one more bat.’ And the reason I like Gallo so much is the positional flexibility with Gallo is special. He’s a Gold Glove right fielder, where you could just put him there and park him there if you want. But he can also play left. He can actually play center. He can play first. He can play third. And he does them all well. Gallo, I think a change of scenery would a) spark his career. He’s spent his whole career in Texas. I think it would spark his career. And I think that home run threat every he came to the plate.

It’s possible Cashman has his eyes set on a contact-hitter who can get on base and drive runners in, but we know the Yankees’ ever-green reliance on home-run hitters. The re-emergence of Gary Sanchez has proven to be a catalyst, but Gallo has similar power, offering in-line value. Gallo is currently hitting .220 with 12 homers this year at 27 years old. He’s on a one-year, $6.2 million deal with Texas, making him a trade-piece.

New York Yankees: Major takeaways from triple-play win

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees accomplished three stats yesterday in one of the most exciting baseball season games for the Yankees. They won the game against the Oakland Athletics 2-1. In doing so, they took the series from the second-best team in baseball. Lastly, they did it dramatically with a triple play save for closer Aroldis Chapman, his 16th save of the season. Going into the series, manager Boone said we would see what we are made of. Their performance was a sign of a team living up to their projections or just a terrible tease for the Yankee faithful.

“Monty” did the job through 5.1 innings.

Jordan Montgomery started for the Yankees yesterday and got the job done going into the sixth inning while giving up just one run, 3 hits while striking out 6 A’s. At the start of the game, “Monty” put away Mark Canha and Matt Chapman on a fly-out and strikeout. Then Matt Olson came to the plate and hit a solo home run into the Yankees Monument Park. It was Montgomery’s only mistake in the game. He had good command and struck out more than one per inning.

Montgomery was pulled for the game after one out in the sixth, replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga (Loaisiga has allowed no runs in 14.1 innings) and Lucas Luetge that combined for 2.2 innings giving up just one hit and allowing for the 16th save of the season for closer Aroldis Chapman with the help of a triple play after walking the first two batters. It should be mentioned that Sean Manaea kept the Yankees to just 3 hits, with Montgomery matching him pitch for pitch in what was turning out to be a pitching duel.

You should note that Jordan Montgomery starts has won more games for the Yankees than any other  Yankee pitcher. They have won 10 of Monty’s starts and 8 of Gerrit Cole’s starts.

Gary Sanchez continues his winning ways

Gary Sanchez, the much-maligned New York Yankees catcher, has had an amazing performance turnaround in the last 20 days. He has in so many days 6 home runs and multiple extra-base hits. Last night he provided the winning hit.

The Yankees entered the sixth inning scoreless against the A’s, who had only scored the home run in the first inning. At the bottom,  Clint Frazier led off by getting the first walk off of Manaea. LeMahieu struck out. Frazier moved to second when a balk was called on Manaea. Aaron Judge walked. Gary Sanchez hit into the gap in right-center, driving both Frazier and Judge for the Yankee lead that they would not relinquish.  Gio Urshela provided the go-ahead run in Saturday’s game, and yesterday Sanchez put the Yankees ahead.

New York Yankee connect for 3rd triple play of the season

The Yankees entered the top of the ninth inning with the one-run lead and called on Aroldis Chapman to save the game for them. Chapman seemed to have the edge facing Lowrie, Kemp, and Murphy; none of them had ever gotten a hit off of Chapman. But Chapman immediately got into trouble. He fiddled with his finger, which turned out to be a broken nail. He walked both Lowrie and Kemp, setting the stage for Murphy. Luckily for Chapman, Murphy hit into the Yankees’ 3rd triple play of the season to end the game and get Chapman’s 16 save of the season.

The 5-4-3 triple play was the first time in Yankee history that they ever turned that many triple plays in one season, and only the 11th time it has been done in major league history. It was the second time the triple play was initiated by third baseman Gio Urshela. It was also the second triple play by the Yankees in just four days. The other triple play was on May 21st against the Chicago White Sox.

The June 17th triple play, according to the Society of American Baseball Research, is the first time in baseball history that a 1-3*-6-2-5*-6* triple play has ever been completed.

EmpireSportsMedia’com’s columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. You can follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam. Parlee also calls every New York Yankee game in the Facebook group Yankee Fans R US!!.

 

Giants News, 6/20: Eli Manning drops legendary dad joke, Kadarius Toney shoots back at ‘bust’ narrative

Eli Manning, New York Giants

The legends of former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his jokes throughout the years have vibrated through teammates and coaches alike. Ranging from changing the language settings on his teammates’ phones to cracking harmless jokes, Eli has always been first to reveal a smile, despite his serious face and disciplined ways on the field.

It is always exciting to see Manning creating content behind the scenes with the Giants, and for Father’s Day, he dropped a few legendary jokes, one of which was targeted at Tom Brady.

Eli simply asked, “what’s Tom Brady’s favorite wine?”

To which he responded with the punchline, “I can’t beat the Giants!”

Even after retirement, Manning still finds a way to touch the hearts of Giants fans, and this is yet another example of his value to the franchise off the field.

Kadarius Toney is receiving undeserving negative attention, and hopefully, it doesn’t get to him:

Since when is it a crime for players to have other hobbies aside from football? The Giants’ 20th overall pick has been creating music for years now, but fans seem to believe it is a distraction toward his game and believe his inception with the team thus far has been rocky. Aside from an equipment issue and having to leave mandatory practice early due to a family emergency, Toney has done nothing wrong to deserve this cynical attention he’s been garnering.

Kadarius shot back at fans who barraged his latest music video with negative feedback:

“Don’t kome over here kommenting on my music, and it ain’t got in to do with you! I been rappin almost 3 years now. You late! Football aint goin nowhere. Ima live my life however i want. Watever is said…i don’t kare!” Kadarius tweeted. “On god, football is some i do…it don’t make me who I am.”

Toney has every right to respond to haters that have already constructed an opinion based on fear. However, it is best for him to stay silent and let the negativity pass by without a reaction, as the New York media will always find a way to build upon click-worthy content. However, for the sake of my sanity, the attention that Toney is attracting it’s completely undeserving, and we should wait to see what he accomplishes on the field before making any premature judgments.

Knicks could target Spencer Dinwiddie to fill essential role in 2021 and beyond

Brooklyn Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie

The New York Knicks have plenty of money this upcoming off-season to find a few key role players for the future. There is a chance they look to retain some of their one-year players from the 2020–21 season, like Alec Burks, but they could roll that money over into new options with more upside.

One player who could represent a long-term solution and upgrade is Spencer Dinwiddie, whose contract is expiring with the Brooklyn Nets. Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL in December, missing the majority of the season and the playoffs with the Nets, who were just eliminated on Saturday night.

At 28 years old, Spencer still has plenty of basketball left in his bones, but coming off a major injury, he might be looking for a one-year deal with a team like the Knicks.

In fact, the connection between Spencer and the Knicks could be a match made in heaven, considering he already has a residence in New York and would be a quick subway stop away from MSG.

With the front office looking for scorers with potential, Dinwiddie is only two years removed from a season where he averaged 20.6 points, 6.8 assists, and shot .415 from the field. While he’s not the most efficient three-point shooter, he offers consistency in multiple categories and is a pesky defender.

Last season, he averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds before suffering his season-ending injury. He plans to decline his $12.3 million player option, which will make him a free agent, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This would be a great opportunity for President Leon Rose to steal a quality player off the market on a cheaper deal. Management desperately needs to improve the back-court, and the former Net can play multiple roles, including point guard and shooting guard. He has thrived in the past as a PG, but that shouldn’t deter the Knicks from spending on an elite player or at least bringing in Dinwiddie to compete with a younger alternative like Lonzo Ball.

I imagine Spencer will be looking for an opportunity to start next season, coming off an ACL tear. Providing him the opportunity to compete for starting reps might be enough to satisfy his needs. Staying in New York would be ideal, and I don’t think the injury will deter organizations from offering him a multi-year contract considering his age and past success. It is possible he looks to leverage a one-year deal into a long-term contract in 2022, but it all depends on how teams are valuing him.

While the Knicks do seem like a suitable destination, the Los Angeles Lakers are also interested in his services, having considered him in the past. There are plenty of plowing guards available on the market this summer, so the Knicks will have to pick and choose carefully who they want to be running their offense for the future.

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Sunday’s win at Los Angeles

The New York Liberty commemorated their 25th birthday in familiar fashion through a win over the Los Angeles Sparks.

A quarter-century later, some things never change.

The New York Liberty earned a big win to celebrate their 25th birthday, escaping from Los Angeles with a 76-73 victory over the local Sparks at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Sunday’s game was a rematch of the inaugural tilt in WNBA history held on June 21, 1997, which was also won by the Liberty. The Liberty earned their win despite getting charged for 29 turnovers, the second-worst mark in franchise history.

Through their triumph, New York (7-6) is able to come back home with a split of a four-game road trip after dropping consecutive contests in Las Vegas.

ESM distributes the game balls after a big win…

3rd Star: Kylee Shook 

14 points, 7 rebounds

Shook once again took some big steps forward as a second-year pro in the final stage of this road trip. The Louisville alumna admitted that her open looks from deep weren’t going down, so she created her own chances through cuts into the interior. She shot 5-of-7 from the field on Sunday and has reached double figures in three of her last four contests.

“The team learned that we can push through whatever we put our minds to, as long as we stay focused and give it our all,” Shook said of what the team learned on this road trip. “My shots haven’t been falling lately, and I haven’t really had time to practice it, but I just want to make a greater impact than just standing there, whether it’s getting a teammate open, getting a cut, pulling in defense, I can do so much.”

2nd Star: Sami Whitcomb 

17 points, 9 rebounds

The Liberty made the most of second chances, outscoring the Sparks 19-0 off offensive boards. Overall, New York outrebounded Los Angeles (5-7) by a 38-27 margin, with Whitcomb leading the way with a career-best nine. Only one was of the offensive variety, but it was a big one. Whitcomb hauled in a Bec Allen misfire with under three minutes to go in the final frame, then drove to the basket where she met a Karlie Samuelson foul. Two free throws allowed the Liberty to regain the lead.

“This is a massive win today,” Whitcomb noted. “This was really a character-revealing game for us. We knew it was going to be a battle of wills, we knew LA was going to be tough, that they were going to fight and they were going to make it really difficult for us…At the end of a really tough road trip, I’m really proud of this group because we stand together.”

1st Star: Rebecca Allen

19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals, 3 assists

If it was a category on Sunday’s statsheet, Bec Allen probably did it.

The Australian native began the trip by learning she’d officially be representing a Land Down Under this August in Tokyo and ended it by being a woman of many talents in America. Allen helped the Liberty build an early lead through a season-high in scoring before capping things off with her signature defensive flair. Kristi Toliver’s would-be go-ahead triple was swatted away by Allen, who would then sink a pair of free throws to create the eventual final margin. Granted one last chance to avenge Lisa Leslie’s 1997 group, Los Angeles was again thwarted by Allen.

In another case of serendipitous bookending, the similarly named Rebecca Lobo led the Liberty in scoring on that fateful date in the mid-90s. Allen also helped the Liberty secure the first victory on this road trip, earning a steal on the final possession of a three-point win in Phoenix.

“I was really grateful that I have my length in that moment,” Allen said of Sunday’s final stands. Head coach Walt Hopkins referred to her as “a special player on both ends”. After Sunday’s display, the idea of Allen, a New York bench staple since 2016 that has filled in for the injured Sabrina Ionescu, etching her name onto Sixth Woman of the Year shortlist seems more realistic than ever.

Geoff Magliocchett is on Twitter @GeoffJMags