Keldon Johnson proves worth in the wake of Julius Randle, rising stars’ Olympic snub

Many fans raised their eyebrows when Team USA selected 21-year old Keldon Johnson and journeyman center Javale McGee to replace Bradley Beal and Kevin Love in the Team USA.

On Team USA’s final exhibition game Sunday against world no. 2 Spain, Johnson silenced the doubters.

The second-year San Antonio Spurs’ forward came off the bench and provided the spark Team USA needed to fend off Spain in the second half for an 83-76 win.

Johnson poured in 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter, where the Americans wrested full control of the game after a closely fought first half. He shot 7 of 9 from the field and added two steals while having the best plus/minus rating (+18) in the night.

Damian Lillard, who led the Team USA with 19 points and six assists, praised Johnson for rising to the occasion.

“He played great. There is a reason why — once a few guys weren’t able to continue with the team — he was asked to stay,” Lillard said.

Team USA coach Gregg Popovich looked like a genius for picking up his young Spurs player despite fans’ clamor for other rising stars to be added instead of him and McGee.

“Keldon Johnson just played a really solid basketball game,” said Popovich. “He shot if he was open, he made cuts to the bucket. When he did go to the bucket, he was very physical. And he was solid in the half-court defense. So, he had a very, very good night.”

Johnson, who played for the Select Team, which practiced with the Team USA, was the most conditioned player in Las Vegas. He was lost for words when he became an official member of the Olympic roster.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m definitely proud to be able to represent my country,” Johnson said. “This was a dream you have when you were a child watching the great players who came through and played for the United States. Just being able to do this, it’s kind of hit home. Given this opportunity, you know a lot of people trusting me to put this jersey on and play. This is big!”

Johnson’s energy on offense and defense rubbed on the whole team as the Spaniards got rattled in that pivotal third quarter.

“Just being active, being a spark,” said Johnson of his performance which included an emphatic slam in the second half. “I’m here to be the energy guy and bring life to the team whenever we need it. In the third quarter when I came in, we needed a spark.”

While there were doubts and questions about his inclusion, it didn’t eat him up as he was ready for the moment. He was comfortable with his game and trusted the work he put in that he felt there was really no need to prove his worth.

“I don’t really go on social media to read like that, to be honest. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I can’t control what they think. But it will not deter me from doing what I am supposed to do for my team. Obviously, they know what I am capable of. I know what I am capable of. So what every people thought, that’s their opinion. I’m just gonna go out there and play,” Johnson said.

There were cases to be made for Atlanta Hawk’s rising star Trae Young, last year’s Rookie of the Year Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelican’s young stud Zion Williamson and the league’s Most Improved Player Julius Randle from the New York Knicks.

But Team USA opted to go with role players instead of additional firepower for specific needs. Like when Popovich opted for Kevin Love as his floor spacing ability, he thought it would be needed against Rudy Gobert and France in their opening game.

Popovich defended McGee’s inclusion. Perhaps he’ll be tasked to defend Gobert and other countries’ big men.

“We decided that was the most logical and the most appropriate choice given the choices that we had. He fit the best,” Popovich said when asked why they selected McGee. 

McGee did not play in the team’s final tune-up game as he just arrived in Las Vegas two days ago.

Meanwhile, Zach LaVine was a late scratch Monday as Team USA was scheduled to depart for Tokyo.

“Out of an abundance of caution, USA Basketball Men’s National Team member Zach LaVine has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols and will not travel with the team to Tokyo today, USA Basketball announced Monday. USA Basketball hopes that Zach will be able to join the team in Tokyo later this week,” Team USA said in a statement released to media.

If LaVine can’t be cleared before the games begin, Team USA can replace him.

Barring any injuries, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday will boost Team USA’s depth in Tokyo after the Finals. If the series reaches a Game 7, they will still make it on the day before Team USA faces France on July 25.

“We needed conditioning. We’re getting better with each passing day in that regard. The three guys that will be joining us, you’d think they’re really in good shape. So that’s a plus,” Popovich said.

While he doesn’t have a firm grasp yet of how to fit them in the rotation when they arrive in Tokyo, Popovich and his coaching staff have run through several options, such as playing them in the first half of the opening game to see where their legs are or hit them up after two days and play them in the second game. But everything he said will largely depend on the health of other players on the roster.

As it stands, Team USA has eight healthy bodies: Kevin Durant, Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Draymond Green, Jerami Grant, Bam Adebayo, Johnson, and McGee.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Why the New York Giants’ red zone offense will be much better in 2021

kyle rudolph, new york giants

The New York Giants have revamped their offense. In the 2021 offseason, New York did not hold back. The Giants made every move they could this offseason to upgrade the offensive side of the ball. They spent big in free agency with the signings of Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph. They then doubled down in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney 20th overall. The Giants made move after move dedicated to fixing their incompetent offense.

In 2020, the Giants had the second-worst ranked offense in the NFL. New York averaged only 17.5 points per game last season, a truly putrid number. One of the reasons why the Giants struggled so badly to put points up on the scoreboard was their inefficiency in the red zone. Their red zone scoring percentage ranked 31st in the league in 2020 at 46.34%. Time and time again, the Giants got into scoring range and failed to convert. NFL teams will not find great success without a competent red zone offense.

That is going to change in 2021. The New York Giants added a couple of top-tier red zone threats to their offense to fix their problems in the scoring zone. The Giants’ red zone offense will be much better in 2021 because of the signings of Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph.

Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph in the red zone

The New York Giants desperately needed an outside “X” receiver on their roster entering this offseason. The team was in need of a true WR1. They found that in Kenny Golladay. Golladay led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2019. He possesses a huge frame and makes his presence known down near the goal line. Kenny Golladay is a premiere red zone threat. According to PFF, the Giants’ new alpha dog is the highest-graded wide receiver on contested targets since 2019 (96.7). When Daniel Jones is in doubt, he can just throw it up to Kenny Golladay, and more often than not KennyG will come down with it.

Kyle Rudolph is arguably the most dependable tight end in the NFL. ‘Ole Reliable Rudolph dropped 1 pass on 167 targets from 2018 to 2020. He’s as sure-handed as NFL players get. Rudolph is durable, too, playing in 92 of 96 games since 2015 for the Vikings. Of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone (Paul Schwartz of the NY Post).

Kenny Golladay is the 6’4″ wide receiver that the Giants needed to fix their red zone offense. Kyle Rudolph at 6’6″ also has the height and strength to box out defenders and make those contested catches in the end zone. Of course, Evan Engram at 6’3″ will also be a factor in the red zone. The Giants struggled to capitalize when in scoring position last year. But that should change in 2021.

New York Jets: A training camp battle at every position (Offense)

As the New York Jets inch closer to training camp, ESM looks at the offensive roster battles to watch at every position.

Competition has always been a staple at summer camp. But if you’re headed to Florham Park, leave the archery materials at home.

The New York Jets are eight days away from descending upon One Jets Drive for their training camp activities. Once camp commences, they’ll have several positional struggles to solve before Week 1 kicks off in Carolina. ESM takes a look at each spot on the depth chart, sizing up a major battle that should be solved over camp practices and the coming trio of preseason games.

Our primer begins on offense…

 Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Backup QB: James Morgan vs. Mike White

Barring an epic disaster, the Jets will go into Week 1 with second overall pick Zach Wilson as their quarterback. Sitting the star rookie behind a veteran for a year has become a lost art in the modern NFL, even if Kansas City’s Alex Smith-to-Patrick Mahomes transition kept the concept alive for a few more years.

The Jets, though, are apparently planning to go in the completely opposite direction: no one in their quarterback cabinet has thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game. Immediately thrusting Wilson into the starter’s role is one thing, but backing him up with two veteran questions marks is another entirely. But head coach Robert Saleh apparently doesn’t see an issue.

“If you just bring in a veteran who doesn’t know anything about your scheme, he’s learning just like the rookie is,” Saleh told Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated. “There’s a match that has to happen. There’s a scheme familiarity that has to happen.”

That, of course, begs the question why the Jets didn’t go after someone like fellow former 49ers Nick Mullens, but it’s probably redundant at this point. Until further notice, the backup job comes to Morgan and White.

Morgan probably has the inside edge, if only due to his status as a Joe Douglas draft pick. Chosen in the fourth round of 2020’s virtual draft, the Florida International hasn’t even worn a game jersey yet due to the cancellation of last summer’s preseason. White entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2018 and has been on and off the Jets’ practice squad over the last three years. By going with someone inexperienced, it’s clear the Jets aren’t going with the “mentor” route for their backup quarterback. The winner will be judged on late summer showings and their performance in preseason games could be particularly intriguing.

 Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Spell RB: Ty Johnson vs. La’Mical Perine vs. Josh Adams

The primary rushing duties could become a battle as the season goes on. Veteran newcomer Tevin Coleman will probably at least start as the top option before giving way to rookie arrival Michael Carter. It’s fair to assume that Coleman, who worked with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in San Francisco, has the early edge though Carter has reportedly impressed New York brass during his first spring sessions.

In training camp, however, there are more immediate, desperate matters to attend to, namely answering the question of who will be the third back.

Behind the Coleman and Carter tandem lies a trio of young projects that could’ve gained more clarity had Adam Gase not become obsessed with a Frank Gore farewell tour. Though injuries and a late placement on the COVID-19 list turned Perine’s rookie season into a wash but Johnson and Adams, spare parts from Detroit and Philadelphia respectively, impressed when called upon, uniting for 411 yards on 83 carries, good for an average of nearly five yards an attempt.

The battle between this trio isn’t a matter of playing time, but will determine roster spots. Even though he’s a Douglas draft pick (also chosen in the fourth round), Perine could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. His north/south style may not fit in  LaFleur’s preferred systems that value agility and athleticism, creating a wrong place at the wrong time situation. Meanwhile, the re-signed Adams has worked with Douglas before, sharing a single season with the Eagles.

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Top Slot WR: Jamison Crowder vs. Elijah Moore

Over the past two seasons, Jamison Crowder has been far and away the Jets’ most consistent offensive weapon. Through that endeavor, he has become one of the NFL’s most reliable slot options. But does the fact he’s been a reliable weapon in woebegone New York say more about Crowder or just how dire the Jets’ situation has become?

Douglas and Co. spent the offseason upgrading their receiving corps and that included the slot depth chart. Drafting Moore with the second pick of the draft’s second day was seen as a steal by many and he seemingly arrived at the perfect time. The Jets were due some sizable cap savings upon Crowder’s release or trade and they could’ve easily had Moore take over. Instead, they restructured the final year of Crowder’s deal to focus on guaranteed money and will keep both of them in tow for Wilson’s first deal.

Crowder faces a bit of an uphill battle to get his snaps back, as he missed almost all spring activities during his contract dispute. There should still be an opportunity for him amongst the Jets’ revamped receiving corps but it’ll be tough to hold off the rise of a touted rookie.

. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Starting TE: Chris Herndon vs. Tyler Kroft 

Entering his fourth year in New York, Herndon is a rare relic in green. Nothing, however, has lived up to the production of his rookie season (502 yards on 39 receptions) as the more recent stages of his career have been beset by a suspension, injuries, and inconsistency.

Though Herndon somewhat began to resemble his rookie self in the latter stages of last season, the Jets sent him a message this offseason. While they avoided the pricier options on the free agent market (i.e. Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry), they added goal line option Tyler Kroft from Buffalo and re-upped with Daniel Brown. During minicamp, Herndon saw his first team reps go to Kroft and Ryan Griffin. Connor Hughes of The Athletic claimed that Herndon “struggled” to adjust to the new offensive playbook, playing a role in his demotion.

It’s been a while since Kroft was the primary option at tight end, last doing so in Cincinnati during the 2017 campaign. The Rutgers alum re-established himself as a reliable short-yardage and red zone target last season in Buffalo. Time will tell if the Jets turn over the full-time tight end reins to Kroft, or even give Griffin, Brown, or undrafted rookie Kenny Yeboah (11 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Temple and Ole Miss). But If Kroft’s signing even merely lights a fire under Herndon, it will have been well worth it.

 Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line: RG Greg Van Roten vs. Newcomers

A Long Island native (Rockville Centre, to be precise), Van Roten was destined to make a difference in New York. While he endured a bit of an up-and-down season in terms of production, he partook in literally every snap over the Jets’ first 11 games and emerged as a leader and voice of reason when the team’s 2020 affairs became particularly dire.

With the Jets’ left side fortified with Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, the focus turns to the right. Morgan Moses is a reliable one-year solution on the outside, while Van Roten appears to have a good grip on the interior. But the Jets brought in some interesting depth options, including the New York Islanders’ most celebrated new fan, Dan Feeney. Incumbent top left guard Alex Lewis is also set to move over to the right side, while one also can’t forget Cameron Clark, a 2020 fourth-rounder who spent last season preparing to make the transition from tackle to guard.

But Van Roten, who has shockingly tallied only a single accepted penalty in his NFL career, believes that the arrival of Saleh and LaFleur should help provide stability.

“They hire Saleh and it just feels like a weight has been lifted and hope has come back into the building,” Van Roten said, per team reporter Jack Bell. “All we ask for is a fresh start in this league and no one is happier than the Jets. Now we’re on page one, so let’s write this year’s chapter.”

Which offensive training camp battles will you keep an eye on? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and continue the conversation.

Rumors: Knicks considering saving their cap space until 2022, but why?

knicks, rj barrett, bradley beal

The New York Knicks have the luxury of creating plenty of flexibility regarding salary space to sign free agents if that is what they desire. This upcoming class could end up being fantastic, but depending on what Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul do with their player options, it could also end up being disappointing.

That is why a rumor is circulating that the front office is considering waiting until the 2022 off-season to allocate their available funds. However, they will have the most cap space this off-season out of any team, which should suggest they add a few quality players to help make a positive step forward after earning a postseason appearance during the 2020-21 season.

SNY’s Ian Begley reported Monday the Knicks could shift to a patient approach to add a big name in 2022:

“As recently as last month, a source said the Knicks have talked internally about the possibility of holding enough cap space this summer for 2022 and keeping enough money around to be able to go after a max player in that 2022 class, which should include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.”

Theoretically, this is a good idea for those that can remain patient. However, the Knicks are coming off their first playoff series in quite some time, and if they fail to take another step, the front office could regret sitting still and failing to add more talent. Realistically, based on the actions the front office has executed in the past, taking a more patient approach and thinking long-term is likely in the best interest of the team but certainly would hurt fans who are seeking instant gratification.

There is a reason to believe they can draft a few impact players and continue to grow RJ Barrett and last year’s rookies, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.

Best case scenario, their young players become even more influential, creating hype around a big name joining the Knicks, especially with Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal hitting the open market in 2022.

Do you agree with the idea of waiting until 2022 and targeting big names? Comment below! 

New York Yankees: Fan who hit Verdugo banned from all Major League games

In the second game of the New York Yankees, Red Sox series a fan got a little too excited and threw a baseball that hit Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo in the back. As a result, the Yankees and MB have announced that fan won’t be attending any more Major League games. He has been banned for life and will no longer be allowed in any Major League park.

The fiasco started in the sixth inning of the July 17 game at Yankee Stadium. Boston’s outfielder Alex Verdugo had just crouched to get ready for the next play, and he was hit with an object in the back. Previously Verdugo had thrown a ball into the stands to a Boston fan, but a Yankee fan caught it. After turning around, he was hit and was livid, shouting back and forth from Verdugo, and fans ensued.

The game had to be delayed as Red Sox manager Alex Cora called his team briefly off the field. Umpires and coaches immediately responded by walking to the outfield to get the fiasco under control. The fan that threw the ball was identified and ejected from the game. Today MLB announced that the fan would be banned from attending any further Major League games anywhere in the country for the rest of his life.

“While the Yankees appreciate the spirit and passion of our fans in our various rivalries — especially with the Red Sox — reckless, disorderly and dangerous behavior that puts the safety of players, field staff or fellow fans in jeopardy will not be tolerated, there is no place for it at Yankee Stadium,” the Yankees said in a statement Sunday.

The New York Yankees won the game 3- 1, and on Sunday, they also won 9-1 to get their first series win over the Red Sox this season. It was also the first two games they won off the Red Sox this season, after previously going 0-7.

Yankees overcome ‘hard week’ with convincing victory against the Red Sox

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees lost six members of their active roster to COVID-19, and it’s unclear when they will be back. Their first baseman, Luke Voit, suffered yet another injury, this time to his knee, and will be on the shelf for a while. They were shut out on Friday, and had to endure a rain delay on Saturday to win. A fan was banned for life from MLB stadiums after throwing a ball to Alex Verdugo. It was, as you can see, a crazy week.

Yet the 48-44 Yankees could finally defeat the Boston Red Sox in a series this season after taking Sunday night’s game 9-1 thanks to good performances by pitcher Jameson Taillon and middle infielder Rougned Odor and Gleyber Torres, both with timely home runs.

“It’s been a hard week,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said to MLB.com. “I’m just really pleased with the level of focus and energy that the guys have come in with, each and every day. It’s definitely a good win to get over a team that we’re chasing.”

The Yankees, indeed, haven’t given up on the idea of chasing the Red Sox. The two teams still have a lot of games to play against each other, and the Bombers are currently 7.0 games behind their archrivals.

The Yankees’ playoff hopes are very much alive

That seems like a lot, but they also managed to cut the difference with the second Wild Card team, the Oakland Athletics, to 3.5 games. They still have a very good chance of making the playoffs.

One of the most important takeaways from the game is the continued improvement shown by Jameson Taillon. He pitched 5.1 scoreless innings against a top offense, with three strikeouts, and is 4-0 with a 2.86 ERA over his last six starts.

“The last couple of starts, the offense has put up a ridiculous amount of runs for me,” said Taillon. “That has allowed me to feel really free out there, just compete and challenge guys. Tonight I didn’t have my best stuff by any means, but I was able to keep the team with the lead.”

With a decimated roster, but a day off on Monday, the Yankees will have to remain active in the trade market to keep their season alive, but they are playing very well right now, winning seven of their last ten contests.

Will the Yankees complete another winning week?

Mets: Everything you need to know about Jacob deGrom’s latest injury

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

New York Mets’ star pitcher Jacob deGrom has been placed, once again, on the 10-day injured list, this time with right forearm tightness that he reported over the weekend but has actually been affecting him for a while.

The issue was first made public on Saturday, when Mets’ manager Luis Rojas considered his ace ‘day to day’. Since that moment, the team decided to shut him down until the tightness completely goes away.

“I’m frustrated,” deGrom told Daniel Guerrero of MLB.com. “I don’t know what else to say. I mean, I guess it probably is good news whenever structurally everything looks good, but you go out there and try to throw a baseball and the forearm just doesn’t feel good. The level of frustration right now is very high.

“You want to be out there trying to help your team win baseball games. I think that’s where the frustration comes from. And then my job is to run out there every fifth day, and I haven’t been able to do that. That’s part of the frustration as well, but then you got to get over it and come up with the best plan to get healthy and hopefully stay out there.”

The Mets ruled out any structural damage

Indeed, the Mets most valuable player underwent an MRI on Saturday that, thankfully, showed no structural damage. Rojas said that deGrom has been feeling the tightness since a pre-All Star game bullpen session.

“This is something that we decided today,” Rojas said. “He still has the tightness in his forearm, so until the tightness is resolved, he’s not going to be able to throw. That’s not going to be tomorrow, so that’s why we’re IL-ing him. Making sure that that’s resolved and then he can throw, and then we can start probably having [him] play catch and go into a progression from what he does to have his start. That’s why we’re doing the move. He’s still tight, still not able to throw, so he’s feeling it.”

The Mets’ pitcher has dealt with several ailments this season, from right side tightness in May, to right flexor tendinitis in June, to a sore right shoulder a few days later.

 

He has a phenomenal 1.08 ERA for the season, however, and the Mets will miss him dearly if his absence extends to more than a few days.

Yankees News, 7/19: Injuries starting to hit essential depth pieces, fan shines laser in catcher’s eye

yankees, trey amburgey

The Yankees seem to be rolling once again, despite featuring a lineup with mostly reserve pieces. After COVID-19 ravaged the starting team, the Yankees called upon Chris Gittens, Trey Amburgey, Ryan LaMarre, and Greg Allan to fill the void. Luckily, they did more than enough to smash the Red Sox 9-1 in a second consecutive victory after the All-Star break.

In total, the Yankees recorded eight hits, thanks to the bottom three in the lineup, who totaled five. A fantastic pitching performance by Jameson Taillon, lasting 5.1 innings and giving up just four hits, lead the team to victory.

However, the injury bug remains prevalent, as Amburgey picked up a hamstring injury putting on the afterburners trying to beat out a double play.

“They’re kind of assessing if it’s a low-grade strain, whether it’s a cramp — I’m sure we’ll know a little more overnight and (Monday),” manager Aaron Boone said.

Depth outfielder Ryan LaMarre also picked up a nick on a catch in the outfield but ended up staying in the game and toughing it out. Some other Yankees might be able to learn a thing or two.

The Yankees are once again dealing with another fan-related issue:

During the second half of Sunday’s game, a fan reportedly shined a red light into the batter’s box, which was noticed by both catchers, Gary Sanchez and Christian Vasquez.

“It was a light, like a spotlight, coming from above the monuments [in center field],” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “They have the windows. There was a red light flashing in between pitches. Then it was white. But no big deal, to be honest with you. But (Vazquez) noticed it right away in the LeMahieu at-bat.”

Sanchez also affirmed the sighting, dissolving any narrative that it was an attempt to cheat and steal pitches.

“They said a red light was what they saw somewhere in the batter’s eye,” Boone said. “Gary (Sanchez) said something about it and that it happened to him when he was catching as well. I didn’t even know where it came from but they said there was a red light that flashed up there.”

Yankee Stadium has been home for a few bad incidences the past few days, but the team has dealt consequences when appropriate. Nonetheless, the Yankees are slowly crawling their way back into the AL East standings, with an important series starting on Tuesday against the Phillies.

Knicks Rumors: Outrageous Collin Sexton mock trade that would scare New York away

collin sexton, knicks

The Cleveland Cavaliers are preparing to make a decision on point guard Collin Sexton, who has been heavily rumored to be a target for the New York Knicks this off-season. Sexton, a talented scorer that lacks defensive efficiency, could be what Tom Thibodeau is looking for on the starting roster, given the lack of production at the position this past season (minus the impact of Derric Rose).

Sexton averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, and shot 47.5% from the field over 60 games this year. He also connected on 37% of his shots from range, averaging 4.4 times per game. Clearly, he is an offensive threat, but he’s headed toward the end of his rookie contract, which will force the team to make a decision on offering him a max contract or hitting him with a qualifying offer in 2022.

The question is, what would the Knicks have to give up to acquire a Sexton, who are reportedly very aggressive in their pursuit.

One Cleveland Cavaliers fan-site believes the Knicks won’t be able to push the Cavs over for an easy swap of picks and players, rather demanding a haul that would should land this writer in Ted Bundy’s prison cell.

Cleveland receives:

-RJ Barrett

-Immanuel Quickley

-Obi Toppin

-Kevin Knox

-19, 21, 32, 58 draft picks

Knicks receive: 

-Collin Sexton

-Kevin Love

-Taurean Prince

The writer goes on to state, “Firstly, Collin Sexton is a better offensive player than R.J. Barrett, so that’s obvious.” This is one egregious way to completely forget about the concept of defense, which Barrett is head and shoulders more refined in over Sexton.

Overall, this has to be one of the more ridiculous trade proposals I’ve ever seen, as the writer must believe the Knicks’ front office is willing to consume two players on massive contracts who offered very little in terms of production. Considering the fact that Cleveland won just 22 games last year, adding three of their players might suggest this is a bad move.

Kevin Love, who played in just 25 games, averaged 12.2 points and is going into the third year of a four-year, $120 million contract. Staying away from that at all costs should be a priority for New York, let alone the two-year, $25 million deal that Taurean Prince signed two years ago. In addition, Sexton is headed toward murky waters with his contract, so this trade proposal is essentially offering three players with awful contract situations upcoming and stealing the majority of the Knicks’ best youth talent, who are being paid a minimum.

Let’s hope Cleveland is a bit more intelligent and doesn’t embarrass themselves conjuring a trade proposal like this. A more realistic proposition would likely include Sexton, nothing more. The Knicks will have to give up draft capital and a young player, but it won’t involve ransacking the roster like trading for Damian Lillard would.

New York Yankees: 5 Major takeaways from 9-1 series win over the Red Sox

Yankees take first series from the Red Sox

The New York Yankees that have struggled most of this season have had an amazing turnaround in the last two days. Winning two games normally is not a big deal, but for the Yankees to take a series from their rivals in the AL East is certainly a big deal. Previous to this series, the Yankees were 0-7 against the Sox, who seemed unbeatable. What makes these wins even more amazing is that they did it with seemly impossible odds, with several of the big hitters out of the lineup due to Covid. After losing the first game, the Yankees came back in game two 3-1, and last night slammed the Sox 9-1.

Another quality start from Taillon

Last night Jameson Taillon may have proved that his lackluster season may be turning around. For the last three starts, he has gone 18.1 innings giving up just three runs. In his previous three games, he gave up 8 earned runs. Last night he topped off his success in the last three games with a 5.1 inning shut out of the powerful Red Sox lineup. The big difference is that he has found hit put away pitch that has been lacking for most of the season. The Yankees have won five of his last seven starts.

Outfield woes continue despite success

The New York Yankees started out spring training being outfield heavy, but they went through a dramatic loss of players as we got into the regular season. First, it was Aaron Hicks who will likely miss the entire season due to a freak left wrist injury. This led to Brett Gardner that was supposed to be mostly a bench player, into everyday action in centerfield. Tyler Wade, who is mostly an infielder, has rested Gardner.

As the season progressed, Clint Frazier’s struggles at the plate led to him not being used in the outfield. Frazier has been replaced by Andujar, Gardner, Tauchman, who was dealt away. Locastro recently took over left field, but now he has been injured and will likely not return this season. Fast forward, and right fielder and slugger Aaron Judge was one of six players to be put in the Covid 10 day. The Yankees brought up Try Amburgey to replace him; he pulled a hamstring. Ryan LaMaree was brought up to replace him, and last night he crashed into the wall and ended up in a heap, although he remained in the game.

Regardless of all this bad luck, and with all replacement players in the outfield, last night, those same players were responsible for 5 runs in the crushing of the Red Sox in the 9-1 win. So the Yankees now have to decide if they need to bring someone else up or use Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield, who hasn’t played there in two seasons. It may also cause more action by general manager Brian Cashman as the trade deadline approaches.

Rag-tag lineup gets 8 hits

Last night with the Red Sox series on the line, manager Aaron Boone put together the best lineup he could, considering he had no Aaron Judge, no Luke Voit, and no Gio Urshela. Boone inserted Rougie Odor, Trey Amburgey, Grey Allen, and Chris Gittens to round out the lineup. Unfortunately, one of those became injured, and Ryan LaMarre had to replace him.

LaMarre, Gardner, and Allen’s realigned outfield were responsible for five of the Yankees’ runs. They combined to go 4 for 7 with three RBI’s and two aggressively stolen bases. It just may be that the next-man-up thing is working again. So far this season, the Yankees have used 13 different outfielders.

Ryan LaMarre went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and a steal, Greg Allen went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and a steal, and Gardner added a single to lead off a four-run seventh inning.

Gleyber Torres hits second home run

It appears that Gleyber Torres may be turning his season around. Last night he hit his second home run in as many nights. After hitting 38 homers in 2019, Torres has struggled to find his power. Last year, he hit only 3 home runs, and so far this season, he hit only 3 more before this series. In the second game of the Sox series, he hit his fourth of the season. Last night in the second inning, he hit another home run, this one off Sox starter Martin Perez. This could signal that Torres has found both his stroke and his power once again.