Report: Knicks and DeMar DeRozan have mutual interest, Evan Fournier a target

New York Knicks, DeMar Derozan

The New York Knicks have their eyes set on a few quality free agent targets this August. With legal tampering starting at 6 PM on Monday evening, two players that have been connected to New York are DeMar DeRozan and Evan Fournier, who serve complementary purposes.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Knicks have their eyes set on a few solid players this free agency period:

“There is mutual interest between the Knicks and DeMar DeRozan.”

“There continues to be mutual interest between the Knicks and Evan Fournier.”

What would the two bring to the Knicks?

1.) DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan is an aging veteran at 32-years-old, but he still has plenty of value to offer a team like the Knicks. He averaged 21.6 points, 6.9 assists and shot nearly 50% from the field last season. While he doesn’t offer much as a three-point shooter, he’s great at driving to the rim and providing depth at point guard. He can serve as a quality small forward who plays aggressive defense, fitting Tom Thibodeau’s mold to perfection.

Ultimately, the Knicks need more efficient scorers, and DeRozen is coming off a five-year, $139 million deal, averaging nearly $28 million per season. He might garner a contract in the $20 million AAV range, which the Knicks can afford. He would be a welcomed player in New York, given his long-term positive health history and efficiency getting to the basket.

2.) Evan Fournier

Fournier is coming off a season with the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics, being traded at the deadline. He can serve as a small forward and shooting guard, similar to Reggie Bullock, who could be on his way out with interest from the Los Angeles Lakers. The former first-round selection averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 assists, and shot 46% from the field last season. However, his biggest strength is his three-point shooting, averaging 41% over 6.7 times last year. He’s also a career 80% free-throw shooter.

The French-born player is seeking a four-year, $80 million deal, according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. That would put him at $20 million per season, similar to DeRozan (projection). Those two players alone would take up the majority of New York’s available funds, and neither are traditional point guards.

The Knicks’ interest will likely boil down to one of the two, and given DeRozan might be looking for a shorter deal at his age, that might be the more efficient signing.

Who would you prefer the Knicks to land? Comment here or below!

NBA Free Agency Primer: Will Knicks remain conservative or make a splash?

The New York Knicks remain a mystery despite a playoff run that purged the long years of misery. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from Leon Rose’s leadership after a year of operating in the shadows is that patience is a virtue.

There’s already a pattern we can deduce from the way they approached last summer’s free agency and last Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Last summer, the Knicks created over $40 million in cap space, yet their signings didn’t scream sexy and fancy. Instead, they went after grimy stuff and made them shiny once the sexy names like Gordon Hayward went off the board.

Last week, we saw the same kind of maneuvering from the Knicks in the NBA Draft when they took a calculated conservative approach once their targets were off the board. They got away with Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride, two rookies who could become rotational pieces after the once-grimy stuff they stumbled upon last summer sign fancy deals somewhere else.

They followed up that conservative Draft Day by exercising their $1.8 million team option on Mitchell Robinson and waiving Norvel Pelle and Frank Ntilikina. Now, they are armed with the most significant cap space — $52.6 million — in the NBA landscape this summer.

All moves are indicative of one thing — creating the largest cap space as much as possible.

The thing is, the Knicks also want the shiny stuff like the rest of the league. Even their two-time NBA Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau pleaded for stars, whether from free agency, trade market, or at the very least, organically developing one through the draft. But after returning to relevance with a first-round playoff appearance, the third option is no longer viable. And it’s no longer as impossible as it was a few years back for the Knicks to land a star via free agency.

Rose moves in mysterious ways. He may be silent, but the Knicks’ actions are pretty telling. His silence is synonymous with the Knicks’ patience.

Based on their recent actions, here is my educated guess on what the Knicks free agent board look like:

Top Targets

Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard remain this summer’s biggest prizes despite overtures that they will re-sign with their respective teams, Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers. Things can change quickly in the NBA.

The Knicks can easily slot one of them to their cap space and possibly work a trade to dump salaries if both A-list stars want to team up in New York. The operative word here is “if.”

Backup plan

If Paul and Leonard opt not to move, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will dictate this summer’s free agency. Both former All-Stars are on their last legs, and reuniting in a contender would be a dream come true for the best of buddies.

Pat Riley has his eyes set on Lowry via sign-and-trade and DeMar DeRozan for the Miami Heat’s full MLE.

The Knicks have all the cap space in the world to scuttle those plans and immediately solve their glaring holes in the point guard and wing spots while still having the option to have either Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullock or both of them re-sign via their Bird rights.

Lowry and DeRozan starting alongside Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Robinson with Rose and Bullock leading the bench with Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin will make them more formidable than last year’s overachieving roster.

This move makes them a bona fide playoff contender for the next couple of years while they continue to organically develop their young core and angle of the next disgruntled star.

Place holders

Just like last year, the Knicks could always go back to the route of signing underrated players to shorter deals to preserve cap flexibility. If Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler, Bradley Beal, and Zach LaVine won’t sign an extension this year, next summer’s free-agent market will be loaded.

And there’s always the allure of the trade market as Damian Lillard’s clock in Portland has begun ticking or even Beal if he sees the Wizards heading to a rebuild rather than contending soon.

But having the cap space to absorb the exorbitant contract of a disgruntled star isn’t enough for the Knicks to become a major player in the trade market. They can use this free agency to get solid pieces that can help them in the present and become salary fillers in a blockbuster trade in the future.

If the Knicks decide to punt this summer again, here are some names to watch outside their own free agents:

(starting salary range based on ESPN’s projection)

PG: Spencer Dinwiddie ($18-20M), Lonzo Ball ($18-20M), Dennis Schroder ($16-18M), Devonte Graham ($12-14M), Reggie Jackson ($10-12M), Cameron Payne ($8-10M)

SG: Norman Powell ($18-20M), Evan Fournier ($14-16M), Danny Green ($8-10M), Malik Monk ($6-8M)

SF: Duncan Robinson ($14-16M), Josh Hart ($10-12M), Kelly Oubre, Jr. ($10-12M), Carmelo Anthony ($4-6M)

C: Richaun Holmes ($12-14M), Andre Drummond ($10-12M), Javale McGee (veteran minimum)

The Knicks have all the tools to upgrade — cap space, stable organization, family environment, and a team on the rise. They will strike when the opportunity arises. This summer gives them a small opening to get that shiny stuff and not settle with the grimy one that needs elaborate work. But they are also disciplined and wise to acknowledge when they couldn’t crack that opening wide enough.

Let’s see if the patience the Knicks have shown so far finally pays off.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mets Game Preview (8/2/21) @ Miami Marlins (44-61)

After a disappointing homestand, the New York Mets go on the road to face the last-place Miami Marlins. These are the first games between the two division rivals since May, and the Marlins have a 3-2 advantage in the season series. The first pitch from loanDepot Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Usually, when a team has a 3.5 game lead in the division heading into August, they are confident about how the rest of the season will play out. The Mets are one of those rare outliers who have injury issues and front office issues. Luis Guillorme was the newest Mets added to the 10-day IL to join the likes of Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor. The underwhelming trade deadline and refusal to sign Kumar Rocker also disappointed the fan base as well. August’s schedule is jam-packed with tough opponents, and the Mets will learn how legitimate they are throughout the month.

The Marlins have lost four in a row and come off a weekend series sweep against the Yankees. Jesus Aguilar is the only bright spot on offense left after Adam Duvall was shipped back to the Atlanta Braves. Aguilar is hitting .267 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs on the season. The Marlins starting pitching has kept them from falling deeper into the cellar of baseball’s worst teams. Trevor Rogers (2.45 ERA), Pablo Lopez (3.03 ERA), and Sandy Alcantara (3.12 ERA) form a formidable trio for the Marlins.

Pitching Matchup

Tylor Megill looks to build on his impressive rookie season after a great month of July. He had a 1.04 ERA, 27 strikeouts, and allowed just two home runs in five starts. Megill pitched 5.1 innings, allowing just one run against the Braves during his last start. The Mets need Megill to continue getting deep into the game while their rotation deals with injuries.

The Marlins still have not announced a starter for tonight’s matchup.

Mets fail to sign first-round pick Kumar Rocker amid health concerns

The New York Mets took Valderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker in the 2021 MLB Draft a few weeks ago. He slid to the tenth spot and the Mets pounced, knowing that they could somewhat offer solutions for the reason he fell that far (mostly, a high signing bonus that would be way over slot.)

However, it was recently discovered that there are some discouraging elements with his arm, and the Mets opted not to sign the big right-hander, who will have to wait until 2022 to re-enter the draft and play professionally in the United States.

The Mets will receive next year’s eleventh selection in the first round as compensation for failing to sign the righty.

Per SNY Andy Martino, “the hiccups in talks began before last Thursday, when Rocker took his Mets physical. Folks around the Mets have been speculating on the subject at least since last Wednesday. Rocker has not been deemed to need Tommy John surgery or any other elbow procedure at this time. Although Rocker’s velocity dropped this year at Vanderbilt, he was pitching healthy through the end of the College World Series. Sources outside of Rocker’s camp affirm that Vandy was not hiding or aware of any injuries. Sources inside Rocker’s camp note that he made 42 consecutive starts and never had a physical issue in college.”

A messy situation for the Mets and Rocker

Both sides had agreed to a $6 million signing bonus, way over the slot value for a tenth overall pick. At one point it became clear that Rocker’s camp wouldn’t accept less than the initially agreed money.

The deadline for the Mets to sign Rocker passed on Sunday at 5:01 pm ET.

Rocker’s agent Scott Boras released the following statement to Martino as the news broke.

“Kumar Rocker is healthy according to independent medical review by multiple prominent baseball orthopedic surgeons,” Boras said. “Immediately upon conclusion of his collegiate season, he had an MRI on both his shoulder and his elbow. When compared with his 2018 MRIs, the medical experts found no significant change. Kumar requires no medical attention and will continue to pitch in the regular course as he prepares to begin his professional career.”

Yankees’ starter hits the injured list with shoulder inflammation: How does that change rotation plans?

The New York Yankees brought a pitching reinforcement to their rotation with their last deal of the trade deadline on Friday: it’s Andrew Heaney, a southpaw that pitched with the Los Angeles Angels up until last week. He will make his debut today against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Heaney was going to replace fellow lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. in the rotation, and the latter was going to be sent to the bullpen. However, an injury to the Yankees’ rotation changed their plans.

Right-hander Domingo German was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday, one day after pitching a competent game against the Miami Marlins, with right shoulder inflammation. It’s unclear, at this point, how long will German be out, but it certainly doesn’t look as something that will only require 10 days.

The Yankees’ righty will get an MRI

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said German has felt soreness since his near no-hitter against the Red Sox on July 25. The pitcher will get an MRI once he gets back to New York, per Boone.

As the Yankees await the results of the MRI, they will have Cortes Jr. returning to the rotation without even missing a turn.

Heaney will make his Yankees debut today, Gerrit Cole will take the hill on Tuesday, while Jameson Taillon will do it on Wednesday. The idea is for Cortes Jr. to pitch on Thusday, as the Yankees open an important series against the Seattle Mariners. Jordan Montgomery, who pitched a very good game on Sunday against the Marlins, would take the ball on Saturday and Heaney would close the week on Sunday.

German has a 4.45 ERA this season, but his 1.16 WHIP says that the first number should be a little lower. Cortes, in the meantime, has been very good for the Yankees, with a 1.93 ERA in 32.2 frames, and he has added 39 strikeouts to boot.

New York Yankees: Back at the Stadium, preview of the Baltimore Oriole series

The New York Yankees are coming off a successful road trip, winning 6 of the 10 games. The Yankees won one of four against the Red Sox, two of three against the Tampa Bay Rays, and a 3 game sweep of the Miami Marlins. The Yankees being 7 games back in the AL East and fighting for a wild card slot; every game can be an important step forward in that goal. The Yankees must win over the teams that they should beat. The Baltimore series that starts today is one of the series. The Yankees will hope to sweep the series at the Stadium in the Bronx.

For the first time at home, Yankee fans will get to see the new Yankee look, with the addition of Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo in the lineup, and 3 new pitchers, including Andrew Heaney, who will start tonight’s first game. Tonight will be an exciting game for Yankees fans that had almost lost faith in their team; now, the Yankees look hopeful that they can pull out the season.

Tonight, August 2, 7:05 pm:

Tonight the New York Yankees fans will get to see their new starter, Andrew Heaney; he is a lefty that is 6-7 with an ERA of 5.27 and a very respectable 113 strikeouts. Heaney comes to us from the Los Angeles Angels, where he has made 102 starts since 2015 going 30-33 over the span. Heaney has been better than his traditional numbers might suggest. His K%-BB% is ninth in the AL among 43 pitchers who’ve logged a minimum of 90 innings (just ahead of Lance Lynn, Nathan Eovaldi, and Berríos). The Yankees hope at the very least he can be a back-of-the-rotation starter for them and can make spot starts when needed.

Heaney will face the Baltimore Orioles’ Jorge Lopez, a righty that is 2-12 with an ERA of 6.19 and 90 strikeouts. The Orioles have won his last three starts even though he is coming off his worst game of the season. In his Miami Marlin start, he went only two innings giving up five earned runs. Several Yankee players have hit well off of Lopez, including Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu, but Aaron Judge has Lopez’s number. In 3 at-bats, Judge has hit two home runs.

Tuesday, August 3, 7:05 pm:

Tuesday night’s game will feature Yankee ace Gerrit Cole on the mound at Yankee Stadium. Cole is 10-6 with an ERA of 3.11 and an incredible league-leading 176 strikeouts. However, he is coming off two disappointing losses. One against the Red Sox and the last against the Tampa Bay Rays when he gave up 7 earned runs in just five innings, throwing 105 pitches and struggle mightily. The Yankee hope he will bounce back and get a win over the Orioles.

Cole will face the Orioles Alexander Wells, a lefty that is 1-1 with an ERA of 5.28 and 12 strikeouts in four games pitched. Wells is coming off two straight losses, one to the Tampa Bay Rays and, more recently, one to the Detroit Tigers. In those two games, he gave up seven earned runs. He also walks hitters more than the league average. However, he will have some advantage over the Yankees hitters, as they have never seen him pitch.

Wednesday, August 4, 7:05 pm:

Jameson Taillon will start Wednesday night’s game at the Stadium. He is 7-4 with an ERA of 4.11 with 98 strikeouts. Taillon is quickly becoming the Yankee’s best pitcher. After a slow start to the season after not pitching for nearly two years due to two Tommy John surgeries, Taillon is gaining the confidence of manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees have won six of his last seven starts. He is coming off a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins when he threw 98 pitches, not allowing a run.

Taillon will face the Orioles’ Matt Harvey that the Yankees hitters are very familiar with. Harvey has made the rounds pitching for the Mets, the Reds, the Angels, the Royals, and now the Orioles.  He has not been what the Orioles’ hoped for; he is 6-10 with an elevated 6.20 ERA. However, his last three games are among his best of the season, going into the sixth inning in all three games with the Orioles winning all three. Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu have both hit well off Harvey, but strangely Anthony Rizzo has faced him twelve times only with a .083 batting average.

All three Baltimore Oriole games will be broadcast on the YES Network and in Baltimore on MASN. The Tuesday night game will also be on MLBN out of market.

New York Giants re-sign veteran RB Alfred Morris, Joe Judge talks Saquon Barkley

alfred morris, new york giants

The New York Giants have signed another veteran player to compete during training camp. After signing linebacker Todd Davis and offensive lineman Joe Looney over the weekend, the Giants kick off this week by signing running back Alfred Morris.

New York Giants re-sign Alfred Morris

The Giants have signed Alfred Morris to a one-year deal. Morris is a nine-year NFL veteran who spent the 2020 season with the New York Giants. Last season, the 32-year-old running back averaged 4.3 yards per carry after stepping in to run alongside Wayne Gallman when Saquon Barkley was out.

Alfred Morris is now entering his tenth season in the NFL, making him one of the oldest players on the Giants’ youthful offense. He joins a crowded running back room that features Devontae Booker, Corey Clement, and rookie Gary Brightwell as the backs currently practicing.

Alfred Morris was a solid, reliable runner for the Giants last season. He rushed for 238 yards and one touchdown on 55 carries in nine games last season. Morris also caught one receiving touchdown, the first of his lengthy NFL career.

What this means for Saquon Barkley

According to Joe Judge, this signing doesn’t have to do with Saquon Barkley. According to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, Judge wanted to add depth and said he “loves” the way Morris competes.

Joe Judge added that he has seen “tangible progress” from Saquon Barkley as the superstar running back continues to rehab. He’s not there yet, but sooner than later Saquon will be back at full strength.

The signing of veteran Alfred Morris does not say anything about Saquon Barkley’s injury and it is also not an indictment of any of the other running backs on the roster. Rather, the signing says a lot about how impressed the Giants’ coaching staff was with Alfred Morris last season. He is a hard-working football player with great leadership and a fantastic work ethic. The Giants need as many competitors as they can get during training camp, and Alfred Morris is a great one to have on the practice field.

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy details Justin Fields development

On Monday, when the Chicago Bears report to Halas Hall for week two of training camp, all eyes will once again be on rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Throughout the offseason, Fields has continued to impress the Bears with his work ethic. Prior to leaving for summer break, the Bears had a simple homework assignment for Fields: Learn how to call a play effectively into a huddle.

Fields spent summer break mastering this. On Monday morning, Bears head coach Matt Nagy detailed what the next step is in Fields development as the Bears continue to develop their future franchise quarterback. Bears head coach Matt Nagy has used the word “plan” multiple times throughout the offseason as a way to describe where Fields is really at and how the Bears plan to develop the 11th overall pick moving forward.

“Well now, so I think he really has the huddle part down in regards to calling the plays,” Nagy said via the Bears official Twitter account. “He sees the play when he calls it. He doesn’t just ready the play now, he’s past that, so you can check that one off. He’s got to continue to do that. Now, it’s going to be going through his progressions, post-snap. Things change. Disguise coverages. They hide their blitzes, knowing where your protection calls are, being on the same page with the center. And that’s where I think now when things get real when you start putting the pads on, and the tempo picks up, and you’re playing, now we want to be able to see him execute plays and play fast. That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Effectively going through post-snap progressions throughout training camp will allow Fields to get an idea of what to expect during NFL games. What does on in training camp is never comparable to an NFL game but it’ll still be a good enough test for the Bears coaching staff to see where Fields is really at when it comes to his development.

 

Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman earns glowing trade deadline reviews from MLB Insider

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

The Yankees were very active at the trade deadline trying to solve a major efficiency in the batting order, having too many righties and not enough left-handed hitters.

Looking to add a bit of diversity in the lineup, general manager Brian Cashman executed brilliantly, trading for Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo and first baseman from Chicago, Anthony Rizzo.

Both players bring slugging ability from the left side of the plate, and Rizzo has already hit two homers wearing pinstripes. In the Yankees’ series sweep over the Miami Marlins, Rizzo recorded five total hits as Gallo managed to get on base three times. The first baseman has elevated the offense tremendously, earning Cashman glowing reviews for his moves.

Jim Bowden of The Athletic raved about Cashman’s work at the trade deadline:

Best job of getting other teams to pay players’ salaries: The Yankees. That’s right, the biggest-market-in-baseball Yankees. They got the Rangers and Cubs to pay the full 2021 salaries of Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, and the Yankees also didn’t have to part with any of their best prospects in those trades. They also received cash considerations from the Angels to help cover some of Heaney’s salary.

The most impressive part is that Cashman managed to get their salaries paid for so the Yankees could stay underneath the $210 million luxury tax threshold. The Steinbrenner’s were reportedly understanding if they had to push over, but Cashman managed to find a way to add great talent without having to pay for it.

Gallo is earning $6.2 million and Rizzo is on the books for $16.5 million this season, accounting for $22.7 million the Yankees managed to displace. A brilliant piece of managing by Cashman to improve the roster, not that it should’ve needed it in the first place. Luckily, both Gallo and Rizzo are traditionally healthy players, so the Yankees can feel confident depending on them and relying on their skills to be available on a daily basis.

As the Yankees crawl their way back into the AL East race, currently sitting seven games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, their best bet is competing for the Wild Card. They sit 2.5 games back from the Oakland Athletics. They’re within striking distance, and these new additions should provide them the firepower to make a full comeback.

Knicks ‘trying hard’ for Indiana shot-blocking big man, should they offer Mitchell Robinson in deal?

knicks, myles turner

The New York Knicks are still undecided on Mitchell Robinson being their long-term center. After suffering a fractured hand and foot last season, Robinson performed in just 31 games, starting in 29. He averaged 8.3 points, 1.5 blocks, 8.1 rebounds, and shot 65% from the field. Unfortunately, this was not the campaign New York anticipated from Robinson, who was trying to reach the next level and average double-digit points per night.

Injuries have held Mitchell back, and on the final year of his rookie contract, where he will earn $1.8 million, the Knicks have a big decision coming up centered around his extension.

If the Knicks elect to extend him on a long-term deal, they will have to offer him a pay raise, but there is one other option they are heavily pursuing, according to J. Michael of the Indy Star.

President Leon Rose could be looking to incorporate Robinson in a potential trade offer for Indiana Pacers big man Miles Turner. Turner is on a four-year, $80 million deal with two years left on the contract. He will earn $17.8 million in each of the next two seasons, but at this point in his career, he’s not only a more refined talent compared to Robinson, but he’s also a better scorer.

Last season, Turner averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and shot 47% from the field. He started 47 games for Indiana, posting a career-high 3.4 blocks. Robinson is known as one of the best shot blockers in the NBA, and his career-high was only 2.4 during his rookie campaign in 2018.

While Turner is earning a significant amount more than Robinson this upcoming year, he’s only 24-years-old and offers just as much if not more defensively, and he’s capable of shooting from downtown, averaging 33% over 4.4 attempts last season. He is a 78% free-throw shooter compared to Robinson at 57%.

For Tom Thibodeau, Turner would be a significant addition, but unless they envision Robinson as the future and don’t want to give up on his potential, they could continue to pester Indiana until they consider a trade offer. With free agency opening up on Monday evening, things will likely move quickly.

By trading for Turner, the Knicks would have to include Robinson in the deal, which could be worth it based on their statistical comparisons.

Would you include Robinson in a trade for Myles Turner? Comment below!