New York Giants: Leonard Williams to avoid surgery “at all costs”

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

Headed into the new year, the New York Giants are one of the most injured teams in the NFL. The list of injured players includes one of the team’s top pass rushers, Leonard Williams, who is responsible for 5.5 sacks this year and has still appeared in the team’s recent games in spite of this triceps injury. Whether he finishes the season on the field or on the sideline however, Williams will have a choice in the offseason.

That choice is between going for a natural recovery or getting surgery. It’s uncertain what the final outcome will be, but according to Williams himself, avoiding surgery is likely. It’s something that the defensive lineman claimed he would avoid at all costs when speaking to reporters on Thursday.

Leonard Williams on the chances of surgery

“I don’t think so. I think I’m going to be able to just work the small muscles around it, keep getting treatment,” Williams said before elaborating further, when asked if he would require surgery in the offseason. “Personally, I would like to avoid surgery at all costs, regardless of the injury. That’s from personal experience and also from what I’ve heard around the league from vets when I came in as a younger guy – ‘if you can avoid surgery, do it.’”

Williams went into his experience as a college player. According to him, avoiding surgery back then worked out better than the alternative.

“It’s because I had two shoulder labrum tears in college. One I got surgery on and one I didn’t, and I still feel the effects of the one I got surgery on. It feels like every once in a while, it clicks or like the screws that are in there just kind of bother me and stuff like that.”

Williams has the second most sacks of any Giant this season behind Azeez Ojulari. Surgery or not, the Giants will need him healthy next year to avoid regressing in the pass rush – a spot that the team is already lacking in. Especially if the focus in the first round of the draft goes towards improving the offensive line, rather than adding more talent to rush the passer.

For now, the Giants still have two games left – and despite the injury, we might see Williams on the field for them.

Knicks turn cold for second straight New Year’s eve

The New York Knicks struggled to make shots sans their top three playmakers.

Without Julius Randle (health and safety protocols), Kemba Walker (sore left knee), and Derrick Rose (ankle surgery), RJ Barrett led the Knicks attack. Still, he didn’t muster enough support as they fell to the hot-shooting Oklahoma City Thunder, 90-85, Friday night at Paycom Center.

For the second straight New Year’s eve, the Knicks turned cold from the outside.

Last year in Tampa, the Knicks shot 3 for 36 from downtown and missed 20 three-pointers in a row at one ugly stretch. They lost that game, 100-83, to the Toronto Raptors, who notched their first win at their expense. The Knicks’ starters bricked all their 23 three-point attempts becoming the first starting five with the most misses without a make all-time, per ESPN Stats & Info.

There was an uncanny resemblance of that cold shooting night in Oklahoma City. Against the Thunder, they were 8 for 41 from deep, with the starters going 3 for 20.

As cold as the Knicks were, the Thunder were the exact opposite.

The home team hit a season-high-tying 18 3s on a sizzling 41.9 percent clip.

Barrett barrelled his way to 26 points on 10 of 20 shooting in a showdown with fellow Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 23. But the difference is Gilgeous-Alexander got plenty of support.

Aaron Wiggins, who worked out with the Knicks last summer, continued his solid run with 13 points on 5 of 8 shots. It was his fourth straight double-digit scoring game.

The Knicks’ second unit, a position of strength all season, got outscored 43-30. Aleksej Pokusevski’s 11 points led Oklahoma City’s bench mob.

Obi Toppin, who started for Randle, produced only five points — all in the first half — and added seven rebounds and one assist against one turnover in 27 minutes.

Rookie Miles McBride started for Walker, a last-minute scratch because of a sore left knee.

“I don’t know [how serious the injury is], because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt it, you know, let’s get [knee] examined, and then we’ll go from there,” Thibodeau said after the New Year eve’s loss.

McBride was one of the many Knicks players who struggled offensively.

The Knicks had great looks, but the shots didn’t fall. They reportedly didn’t have a shootaround as a precaution due to the ravaging COVID-19.

McBride missed five of six three-point tries. Barrett went 1 of 8 from downtown. Evan Fournier couldn’t shake off the sore ankle that held him against Washington. The French gunner struggled in his return, sinking only one of his five three-point attempts.

The Knicks cut the Thunder’s lead to three, 74-71, early in the fourth quarter. But Pokusevski hit a three-pointer that triggered a 10-0 Thunder run to pull away.

The loss snapped the Knicks’ three-game win streak and fell to 17-19. They will cap their three-game road trip in Toronto on Sunday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Liberty to hire Sandy Brondello as new head coach (Report)

Brondello previously worked with current New York Liberty representatives Bec Allen and Sami Whitcomb with the Australian national squad.

In a report from Khristina Williams of Girls Talks Sports TV and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the New York Liberty are set to name Sandy Brondello the ninth head coach in franchise history. Brondello spent the last eight seasons as the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury.

[[UPDATE: 1/7/21, 10:40 a.m. ET]]: The Liberty have confirmed the hiring of Brondello, who will speak at a 2 p.m. ET press conference alongside general manager Jonathan Kolb and team Governor Clara Wu Tsai.

“It is an honor to join the historic New York Liberty franchise and to coach and lead such a talented roster of players,” said Brondello in a team statement. “I owe immense gratitude to the team’s ownership and front office for entrusting me with this important role during such an integral time in the history of the organization. Alongside my family, I’m excited to move to New York City and begin preparations for our upcoming season.”

“Sandy brings a wealth of coaching experience and is a proven winner with a championship pedigree, both as a player and coach in the WNBA and internationally,” Kolb added in the same statement. “Throughout her longstanding professional coaching career, she has demonstrated her ability to build consistent and sustained success as a skilled leader and mentor on and off the court. We are thrilled to welcome her to New York as we move forward in our pursuit of winning a WNBA Championship.”

A native of Queensland, Brondello is one of the most accomplished players in Australian basketball history. Her accomplishments Down Under include the WNBL’s 1995 MVP Award (other previous winners include Lauren Jackson, Liz Cambage, and Kia Nurse) and standing as one of three players (alongside Robyn Maher and Rachael Sporn) to appear in at least 300 contests with the Australian national squad, commonly referred to as the Opals. Brondello was a part of the first Opals team to earn an Olympic medal (bronze at the 1996 Games in Atlanta) and would later earn silvers at the 2000 and 2004 Games at Sydney and Athens respectively. More recently, Brondello served as the Opals’ head coach at last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

Brondello, 53, would partake in five WNBA seasons on the court, entering the league as a fourth-round pick of the Detroit Shock (now the Dallas Wings) in 1998. She led the league in free throw percentage in 1998 (.923) and repped the Shock at the 1999 WNBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Detroit hosted Brondello for two seasons before two more with the Miami Sol (2001-02) and a final year with the Seattle Storm (2003). She finished second in three-point percentage in 1999 (.487) and 2003 (.438).

Coaching endeavors awaited Brondello shortly after retirement, serving as an assistant for the San Antonio Silver Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces) before heading the team for a single season in 2010. Each of Brondello’s nine seasons at the head coaching helm has ended in the postseason, including her final campaign in Phoenix this summer/fall. Her maiden voyage with the Mercury in 2014 featured 29 wins (a WNBA single-season record) and the team’s most recent championship. Brondello was named the league’s Coach of the Year for her efforts.

The accomplished Brondello was almost immediately linked to the Liberty after it was announced that Phoenix would not renew her expired contract on Dec. 6. New York parted ways with incumbent head coach Walt Hopkins after two years. Brondello’s final season in the desert ended in the WNBA Finals. Phoenix was seeded fifth on the playoff bracket and opened their championship trek with a thrilling 83-82 win over the Liberty in the opening round. They’d later get by Seattle and Las Vegas before falling to the champions from Chicago in four games.

The Liberty are coming off the cancellation of a three-year playoff drought. New York, fresh off its first season as full-time tenants at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, boasted one of the most attractive coaching vacancies in recent WNBA memory, as the team’s firepower is headlined by the services of 2021 All-Star Betnijah Laney (team-best 16.8 PPG in her first New York season).

Sabrina Ionescu, the touted top pick of the 2020 draft, is set to return for her second full WNBA season while the Liberty also expect to welcome back three-time WNBA champion Natasha Howard (16.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG in 13 games), whose metropolitan debut was marred by injury.

Other notable New Yorkers include WNBA All-Rookie team reps Michaela Onyenwere (who won the overall Rookie of the Year Award) and DiDi Richards, as well as 2020 nominee Jazmine Jones. Brondello’s arrival sets up an Australian reunion with Opal stars Sami Whitcomb (career-best 11.7 PPG) and free-agent-to-be Bec Allen (career-best 9.2 PPG).

The report of Brondello’s hiring comes less than 24 hours after Las Vegas announced that former Liberty star Becky Hammon would take over as head coach in place of another ex-New Yorker, Bill Laimbeer. Phoenix now holds the only active coaching vacancy in the WNBA. A further report from Williams states that the Mercury plan to name Brondello’s successor no later than Jan. 15.

The New York Liberty will open their 2021 season on May 7 at home against the Connecticut Sun.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Knicks sign Damyean Dotson, Matt Mooney to second 10-day contracts

Damyean Dotson

The shorthanded New York Knicks have re-signed replacement players Damyean Dotson and Matt Mooney to another 10-day contract ahead of their Friday game in Oklahoma City.

The signings came on the heels of Julius Randle joining Nerlens Noel, Jericho Sims, and Wayne Selden in the health and safety protocols. Derrick Rose (ankle surgery) and Danuel House, Jr. (dislocated finger) remain out, while Evan Fournier remains questionable.

Fournier was a late scratch Wednesday night with a sore right ankle.

Dotson is with the team in their three-game road trip that will end in Toronto on Sunday. Mooney did not make the trip. It is unclear if he will join the team in Toronto.

Dotson played two games for the Knicks, averaging two points and one rebound in 10.5 minutes. Mooney was scoreless in two minutes during the Knicks’ Christmas Day win over Atlanta Hawks.

Obi Toppin is expected to get an extended run without Randle, while Kevin Knox will squeeze minutes in the second unit. If Fournier sits for the second straight game, Quentin Grimes will likely get another start.

Grimes will be looking to bounce back after missing all of his five shots against the Washington Wizards.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants rolling into Chicago with depleted receiver corps

new york giants, kenny golladay

The New York Giants are almost done with their utterly disappointing 2021 season. Entering Week 17, the Giants sit at the bottom of the NFC East with a 4-11 record. The team will travel to Chicago to face the Bears in the second-to-last week of the season. The Giants, already eliminated from playoff contention, do not have much left for which to compete.

This could be a winnable game for the Giants, though, as the 5-10 Chicago Bears start backup quarterback Nick Foles on Sunday. The main storyline of this matchup for both teams will pertain to the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. The Giants own the Bears’ first-round pick in this year’s upcoming draft, so winning or losing to Chicago will affect New York’s draft value.

The Giants’ 4-11 record is disappointing and reflects the poor state of their roster, however, injuries played a big part in the downfall of the 2021 Giants. New York is the most injured team in the NFL this season. In Week 17, the Giants are rolling into Chicago with a completely depleted wide receiver corps.

Injuries at wide receiver

Kenny Golladay is the New York Giants’ only healthy starting wide receiver entering Week 17. This might be surprising considering the injury history that KenNYG has dealt with in the past, but in a year as wild as 2021, Golladay is the last man standing.

Kadarius Toney is OUT on Sunday with a shoulder injury. Darius Slayton is OUT after being replaced on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Sterling Shepard is on injured reserve with a torn Achilles. John Ross is OUT with a knee injury, as is Collin Johnson with a hamstring. Wide receiver CJ Board and Dante Pettis are also on injured reserve.

This leaves the New York Giants with a corps of the following players:

  • Kenny Golladay
  • Pharoh Cooper (Practice Squad)
  • Alex Bachman (Practice Squad)
  • David Sills (Practice Squad)
  • Travis Toivonen (Practice Squad)

An inexperienced and largely inadequate bunch of playmakers. Life will not be easy for the New York Giants on offense (as it never is). Thankfully, the season is almost at its end, leaving the Giants with a full offseason to get healthy and reset with plans to improve in 2022.

Could Yankees execute blockbuster trade with Athletics to acquire 2 infielders?

matt chapman, yankees, athletics

One way or another, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is going to need to find a solution at shortstop and first base.

What better way to solve both positions with one home run, courtesy of the Oakland Athletics. Recently, the Yankees were connected to third baseman Matt Chapman as a potential solution at shortstop on a short term basis.

Buster Olney of ESPN stated that the Yankees “have talked a little bit…internally” about potentially trading for Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics. However, they might be able to curate an even bigger deal, including first baseman Matt Olson in the deal.

Chapman is undoubtedly an intriguing option, but given his offensive regression the past few seasons, the Yankees would have to view him as a stopgap. Chapman has experience playing both shortstop and third base but primarily features at the hot corner.

He recorded a .210 batting average with 27 homers and 72 RBIs this past season. That is far below his 2019 stats when he hit .249 with 36 homers.

Defensively, Chapman is a stud, winning a Gold Glove this past season, his third in four years. He also has one All-Star appearance to his name and two top-10 MVP votes. He is currently heading into the final year of his contract before being eligible for arbitration in 2023. Chapman would we become a free agent in 2024, which could be ideal if the Yankees are looking to bring up Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe.

However, to sweeten the deal, including Matt Olson could be an intriguing prospect.

Of course, Olson is one of the most exciting up-and-coming first basemen in the league, featuring phenomenal offensive prowess. This past season over 156 games, Olson hit .271 with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. He also featured a career-low 16.8% strikeout rate. As a lefty bat in Yankee Stadium, he could easily breach 40 homers per season, which is exactly what the Yankees are looking for.

The Bombers would have team control over Olson until 2024 as well at a phenomenal cost, but it would require them to offer a significant deal in exchange.

The Yankees would likely have to part ways with some of their best young talents in the farm system, notably one of their up-and-coming shortstops and top-rated pitcher Luis Medina. Realistically, this deal would be monstrous, but the Yankees trading in high upside prospects for established talent could be a good move given their World Series aspirations.

Knicks: 3 players who deserve more playing time with Julius Randle headed to Covid list

obi toppin, knicks

This season, power forward Julius Randle is averaging 35.3 minutes per game, and after being placed on the NBA’s health and safety protocols list, the New York Knicks are going to need to spread his minutes around to others.

Randle has struggled as of late, scoring a measly five points against the Detroit Pistons over 26 minutes. He was pulled with three minutes left in the third quarter as the Knicks dropped to a double-digit deficit, but the second team stormed back and secured a win against the worst team in basketball.

Randle’s performance was coming off the back of a 13 point outing against the Minnesota Timberwolves over 38 minutes. His scoring production simply hasn’t been where the Knicks need it to be, and his defense has been problematic as well.

Over 455 minutes the season, the Knicks are outscoring opponents by 15.9 points per 100 possessions when Randle is off the floor. While a myriad of factors could skew that stat, there are plenty of other statistics that showcase Randle’s regression to the mean this season.

However, let’s take a look at a few players who should supplement the 35 minutes Randle will leave behind over the next few days.

Three players who deserve more playing time with Julius Randle headed to Covid list:

1.) Obi Toppin

The obvious candidate to take over for Randle is Obi Toppin. Toppin is averaging 15.7 minutes per game this season but has enjoyed over 20 on two different occasions over the past five games.

While Toppin’s three-point efficiency sits at just 21.6%, he has become the Knicks’ most lethal transition scorer and has improved his defense to a degree. He’s not going to offer the same scoring production as Randle, but he will look to pass and increase the energy levels on the floor.

Many have pointed out Randle’s lack of effort and movement this season. Toppin offers the exact opposite, so it will be interesting to see how the Knicks respond to his style of play compared to the All-Star from 2020.

2.) Miles McBride

Tom Thibodeau may try to use a variety of player combinations to spark production. One player who has become a young sensation for New York is Miles McBride.

McBride posted a team-high +39 +/- against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night but scored zero points. This might be one of the bigger basketball phenomena of the year, but it displayed just how incredible his defense is.

McBride has played 20+ minutes in each of the last three games he’s played in, and that number is set to increase with Randle out. He’s deserving of more opportunities, especially when factoring in his defensive prowess.

3.) Quentin Grimes

Lately, the Knicks have put a lot more faith in Quentin Grimes, featuring him with the starting five against Detroit. He missed all five of his shots over 13 minutes, but it seems to be an anomaly after recording double-digit point production in his previous three games. Shooting nearly 40% from three this season and also displaying great defense, averaging 1.8 steals per game, he’s a great candidate for more playing time.

Grimes offers the Knicks something that they lost with Reggie Bullock, a 3-and-D player who can get into the right spots and enjoy open looks at the basket.

Expect to see plenty more Grimes if Evan Fournier is forced to miss any time with his right ankle issue and supplement Randle with different combinations.

Yankees could pursue former Mets utility man to fill outfield spot

michael conforto, yankees, mets

The New York Yankees desperately need a new utilityman after letting Tyler Wade, Rougned Odor, and Brett Gardner go this off-season. While there’s always a possibility that general manager Brian Cashman finds a way to retain Gardner for one more year, the Yankees could do a bit better in finding a solution with more offensive prowess at this point in his career.

Some have pointed to Kris Bryant, formerly of the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, as a potential free-agent target. Bryant has experience at multiple outfield spots and is capable of playing infield as well. He featured a .265 average with 25 homers this past season with both teams combined, earning an All-Star appearance.

Bryant represents the expensive route, but the Yankees could look for a more cost-efficient solution to replace their utility man woes.

One player that stands out as a potential option is former New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. At 28-years-old, Conforto has spent seven years in Queens with the Yankees’ crosstown rivals. He has a career average of .255, hitting 14 homers and 55 RBIs this past season over 125 games. Back in 2019, Conforto launched 33 long balls, something the Yankees might see as an attractive stat.

With a bit of power and a 21.7% strikeout rate this past year, he could be a legitimate free agent option for the Bombers. Defensively, Conforto has spent time at every outfield spot, predominantly playing right field for the Mets this past season. He featured a .975 fielding percentage with five errors and 192 put-outs. While his -4 defensive runs saved above average stand out as a slight negative, he represents the cheaper utility route compared to Bryant’s luxurious capabilities.

Given Conforto has played in over 100 games in five of his seven seasons, the Yankees would likely be able to rely on him as a fill-in if need be. Bryant also has a stellar health history but may cost is upwards of triple the amount Conforto will get on the open market.

Nonetheless, Cashman needs to find utility man one way or another, and Conforto represents one of the more offensively proficient options.

WATCH: Knicks’ RJ Barrett torches Piston fans heckling him

rj barrett, knicks

The Knicks might be on a three-game winning streak, but it hasn’t been a pretty one. With the starting team struggling to get things going against the Detroit Pistons, the Knicks’ second unit was forced into action, contributing the majority of points.

However, the leading score rout of the starting five was third-year shooting guard, RJ Barrett. Barrett hasn’t had the explosive and exciting season most anticipated prior to the 2021–22 campaign, but he’s dealt with a myriad of inflicting wounds.

Barrett scored 15 points in the game, hitting just 1 of 4 shots from three-point range and adding seven rebounds. However, he posted the worst +/- of anyone on the team, showcasing inefficient defense and missed opportunities.

While he is still gaining back his stamina after dealing with Covid the past few weeks, his most electrifying moment of the night was when he shot back at a few Detroit Piston fans hackling him from the stands.

Barrett looks directly at the fan and asks him, “you’re watching me right, you’re watching me?” He then proceeds to say, “so shut the f*ck up.”

Normally, players try to avoid confrontations with fans, but maybe a bit of frustration spilled over from the game as the Knicks thought back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. Luckily, the second team was able to drag them out of a potentially devastating loss, and if it weren’t for the Knicks playing the worst team in basketball, the ending might’ve turned out a bit different.

New York Yankees discussing Matt Chapman, what you should know

The New York Yankees‘ idea of a stop-gap measure shortstop is gaining traction as the Yankees have talks with the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees are discussing trading with the A’s for third baseman Matt Chapman and using him as a stop-gap shortstop, replacing Gleyber Torres, who is now the Yankees’ second baseman.

The Yankees, even before the conclusion of the World Series, made it known via general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner that their number one priority was to acquire a star-like shortstop to replace Torres. But it wasn’t long before they were also looking at an alternative to that, by possibly looking for a stop-gap measure to fill the position to give Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza time to further develop before bringing them up to Yankee Stadium.

In postseason 1.0 before the MLB lockout, the Yankees, for the most part, sat on their hands, not making any significant changes to the team. Instead, they hired a few minor league players and selected the coaching crew for the team, but did not fill any of their major needs, like shortstop, number two starting pitcher, help in centerfield, or selecting an everyday first baseman.

With the lockout and until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be reached, MLB front offices can’t even talk with players. But in recent news, yesterday on the Michael Kay Show, ESPN’s Buster Olney told Don La Greca that the Yankees have had internal discussions about trading for Oakland’s third baseman Matt Chapman and using him at shortstop. This seems in line with what they did last season by having players play in positions that were not natural to them.

“If I were to guess, I think they’ll end up with one of the Oakland guys. Matt Chapman, for example, maybe you acquire him to be the one-year shortstop,” Olney said. “I know he’s a third baseman, he’s exceptional, but if you added Matt Chapman, you would be improving your defense on the left side of the infield. And I know the Yankees have talked a little bit about this internally. Look, can Matt Chapman play shortstop? I think they wind up with one of those guys. Maybe it’s Olson and then they hold back and they pay Aaron Judge.”

Of course, this is still all up in the air until an agreement can be reached with the players union (MLBPA). This discussion keeps Gio Urshela at third base and sliding Chapman into the shortstop position. Chapman is an excellent defender at third base, but how the transition to short would work is anyone’s guess. Many Yankee fans learning of the discussion have already said on social media that a better move if they trade for Chapman is to keep him at third base and move Gio Urshela to short, where he performed well late in the season last year.

Last season with the Athletics, the 28-year-old righty Chapman hit only .210 but hit 27 long balls and drove in 72 runs in his Gold Glove performance at third base. He potentially could do better in the confines of Yankee Stadium.

Stay with EmpireSportsMedia.com for all the latest New York Yankee news as this story and others develop. All the information without all the hype.