McBride’s career game powers Westchester Knicks to first win

New York Knicks rookie point guard Miles McBride and two-way rookie center Jericho Sims gave Westchester a timely lift in a come-from-behind win over erstwhile unbeaten Motor City Cruise, 110-105, Tuesday night at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT.

McBride dropped 10 of his G League career-high 39 points in the fourth quarter as the Knicks went on a 15-7 closing run for their first win of the season after three straight losses.

Motor City Cruise dropped to a 3-1 record.

McBride shot 15 of 26 from the field and went 5 for 9 from downtown. He was all over the court as he collected eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and one block in 44 minutes.

“I’m here to learn how to become an NBA point guard and run a team,” McBride said after his scintillating performance.

Sims had a monster double-double, delivering 17 points and 12 rebounds with three assists and two steals in 32 minutes of action.

The Knicks rookies provided several highlight plays but none bigger than the alley-oop connection that gave Westchester a 100-98 lead with 3:50 left.

Westchester played catchup three-fourths of the way until Sims’ dunk with 7:36 left put the Knicks on top, 93-91. It was a nip-and-tuck affair from thereon until Motor City grabbed a three-point separation on Cheick Diallo’s layup.

McBride’s last basket pushed the Knicks ahead, 104-103, then Blake Francis and Jordan Allen iced the contest. Allen was the only other Knicks player in double figures with 11 points.

McBride and Sims are expected to be recalled on Wednesday as the New York Knicks host the streaking Dallas Mavericks at the Madison Square Garden.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Rangers recall defenseman Braden Schneider from Hartford

rangers

The New York Rangers announced today that they have recalled defenseman Braden Schneider from the Hartford Wolfpack. He has been appointed to the main roster immediately, bypassing the taxi squad. Also, in the announcement is that the Rangers have reassigned defensemen Nils Lundkvist and Tarmo Reunanen as well as goaltender Tyler Wall to Hartford.

Schneider was drafted 19th overall in the 2020 NHL entry draft. The Rangers were so high on him that they traded a 1st and 3rd in that draft to Calgary so they could grab him.

While he only has 9 assists in 24 games for Hartford, Schneider isn’t paid to score. The 6’2″, 210lb 20 year old from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, was drafted as a hard-nosed stay-at-home defenseman. But in the AHL, he has shown flashes of quick outlet passes and agile skating.

 

As long as Covid doesn’t change things, Braden Schneider should be able to get into Thursday’s game against the Sharks at the SAP Center in San Jose. Because the Rangers’ top 4 defensemen is set with Lindgren-Fox and Miller-Trouba, look for him to slot into the 3rd pairing with Patrick Nemeth. This would end up being the 5th Defenseman that Nemeth has been paired with this year. Previously he has been with Tinordi, Jones, Lundkvist, and Hajek. None of them have been very impressive.

With Lundkvist, Reunanen, and Wall being sent down, it’s still to be seen what the goal in all of these moves is. Are the Rangers showcasing their young players as potential trade chips at the deadline? Are they using the multitude of Covid absences to gauge the NHL readiness of many young prospects? Is it all of the above?

Giants fire Joe Judge from head coaching position | Let the rebuild, commence!

new york giants, joe judge

The deed is done, the rebuild is on, the New York Giants have fired Joe Judge and “retired” Dave Gettleman.

The Giants officially announced that Judge was let go, including a message from co-owner John Mara:

“Steve (Tisch) and I both believe it is in the best interest of our franchise to move in another direction,” said team president John Mara. “We met with Joe yesterday afternoon to discuss the state of the team. I met again with Joe this afternoon, and it was during that conversation I informed Joe of our decision. We appreciate Joe’s efforts on behalf of the organization.

“I said before the season started that I wanted to feel good about the direction we were headed when we played our last game of the season. Unfortunately, I cannot make that statement, which is why we have made this decision.

“We will hire a general manager and that person will lead the effort to hire a new head coach.”

Fox Sport’s Jay Glazer stated after the Giants’ finale loss to Washington that people in the locker room wanted to see Judge gone:

“I’ve talked to people inside that locker room – they would like to see a move on from Joe Judge.”

Clearly, his reporting was right, as owner John Mara elected to move on from Judge on Tuesday evening, starting a new hunt for a general manager and head coach.

One of the most pained quotes from Judge’s tenure was:

“To disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I’m the head coach of the Giants.”

Against Washington on Sunday, Judge had so little confidence in his offense he ran back-to-back QB sneaks just to get in a better spot to punt the ball. By all accounts, that’s a clear indication of giving up. Judge may sell it as he has faith in his defense, but at some point you need to score points to win games.

The hunt is on!

Big Blue will now begin a comprehensive search for a new GM, including multiple candidates, one of them being Joe Schoen of the Buffalo Bills. Schoen is considered the be the candidate “to beat” moving forward and will have his first interview with Giants brass on Wednesday morning.

The Giants would like to find a top candidate to take over ASAP, given the flurry of head coaching job openings around the league.

New York Giants legend Bill Parcells is a fan of GM candidate Joe Schoen

A quote from Bill Parcells on Joe Schone: “I was impressed with Joe because he was a sharp guy and he had a good thought process when it came to evaluating players.” - Bill Parcells via The Athletic

The New York Giants have finally been relieved of the Dave Gettleman era. The team’s now-former General Manager announced his retirement this Monday, leaving the Giants with a vacancy in the front office. New York has acted quickly, though, requesting to interview a slew of strong general manager candidates. Joe Schoen, the assistant GM of the Buffalo Bills, “might be the one to beat” for the Giants’ GM job, according to Ian O’Connor of the NY Post.

Joe Schoen is an excellent talent evaluator that has worked in some of the best front offices in the NFL. He has worked as the right-hand man to Bills general manager Brandon Beane since 2017. Prior to his time in Buffalo, Joe worked in the scouting department for the Miami Dolphins.

During his time in Miami, Joe Schoen briefly worked under the great Bill Parcells. Parcells, a Hall of Fame head coach and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, had great things to say about Joe Schoen when asked.

What Bill Parcells had to say about Joe Schoen

“I was impressed with Joe because he was a sharp guy and he had a good thought process when it came to evaluating players.” – Bill Parcells via The Athletic

By all accounts, Joe Schoen is an extremely hard worker. The Buffalo Bills’ assistant GM rose through the ranks, beginning his career as an intern in the Carolina Panthers’ ticket office in 2000. It was as a scout in Carolina that Schoen caught the attention of Brandon Beane. Beane worked in the Panthers’ front office from 1998-2016. Upon making the move to becoming a scout in Miami, Schoen grabbed Bill Parcells’s attention, too. Beane and Parcells have both praised Joe Schoen for his work ethic and talent evaluation.

For a more comprehensive breakdown on Joe Schoen, check out the video below and subscribe to Fireside Giants for more NYG news and content:

UFC books headliner between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal

UFC, Colby Covington

The UFC‘s biggest potential grudge match officially has a date. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Jorge Masvidal (35-15) and Colby Covington (16-3). The news was confirmed by the UFC’s CBO Hunter Campbell.

The matchup will headline UFC 272 on March 5th. We got word that this fight could be coming together over the weekend. Masvidal tweeted at Covington saying the UFC would be calling him about the potential fight. Well, it looks like they did and the fight is on.

This will be the first time that we’ve seen the UFC’s BMF since April of last year. At UFC 261, Masvidal got his second shot at Kamaru Usman. This time, he had a full camp to prepare for the welterweight champion. Unfortunately for Gamebred, the result was much worse.

Masvidal was knocked out cold by Usman and as a result fell down the welterweight ladder. Now, he’s looking to get back on track and he can quickly with this fight against Covington. Originally, Masvidal was set to fight Leon Edwards in December but had to pull out with an injury.

UFC Grudge Match

Like Masvidal, Covington is also coming off of a loss against Kamaru Usman. Covington got his second chance against Usman back at UFC 268 in November. Usman got off to a fast start and nearly finished Covington in the second round.

However, Covington came back strong and made the fight incredibly competitive. In the end, it wasn’t enough and Usman won the fight which made him 2-0 against Covington. Despite being 0-2 against the champion, Covington has proven to the world that he’s at the very top of the division.

As soon as UFC 268 ended, Covington was calling for a fight against Masvidal. Momentum started building over the weekend when news starting leaking that the UFC was moving a couple of title fights from March to April. That move left a vacancy for a big main event at UFC 272.

Now, we know that this grudge match will take center stage in March.

2022 could be a huge year for Bellator’s MVP

If you look at Bellator‘s roster as a whole, there aren’t many fighters who have more of a superstar quality than Michael “Venom” Page (20-1). The personality along with the flashy striking style makes him someone that fans are always paying attention to.

2021 was a big year for MVP as he continued down the path towards the Bellator welterweight title. He started his year with a stoppage over Derek Anderson and then he had his highly anticipated rematch with Douglas Lima. In a razor close fight, Page was able to avenge his only career loss.

Entering 2022, there were options out there for MVP. Page is the number one contender for the Bellator welterweight title. While the title is appealing, he’s said to also be really interested in the third fight with Douglas Lima. The two are 1-1 so far in their series.

While there are options out there, Scott Coker recently laid out the plans for MVP. In speaking to MMA Junkie, Coker said that Bellator is currently working on a welterweight title fight between Page and the champion, Yaroslav Amosov (26-0).

Bellator’s Plans for MVP

According to Coker, the fight is being targeted for Q2 and will take place in London. Coker said that Page expressed interest in fighting Lima again as mentioned above. However, the promotion pitched the idea of striking while the iron is hot in terms of his title shot against Amosov.

Now we know that Page is next for the title. It’s currently unknown how many fights MVP has left on his current deal with Bellator. However, we do know that his contract is going to come to an end sooner than later. Page has made it no secret that he plans on testing free agency.

Let’s say that Page has two fights left on his current Bellator deal which could be accurate. In an ideal world, he could win the title and defend it against Douglas Lima this year. If he does that and goes 2-0, he becomes even more appealing to the UFC. MVP has said in the past that he would love to test himself in the UFC. 

Right now, the UFC’s welterweight division has a champion who is starting to lap everyone in Kamaru Usman. A guy like MVP could provide fresh meat for the UFC’s champion which makes him even more appealing.

While there’s a long ways to go before reaching that point, it’s clear that this year is a massive one for MVP. This year could feature capturing a Bellator title, completing a trilogy, and hitting the open market. Exciting times if you’re an MVP fan.

RJ Barrett’s star turn boosts Knicks’ playoff chances

After the New York Knicks lost to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder on New Year’s eve, RJ Barrett sheepishly warned, “don’t sleep on us.”

Since then, the Knicks have gone 3-2 to match their 20-21 record after 41 games last season. Barrett had his fingerprint all over those three wins — a 32-point game against the Indiana Pacers, his first game-winning buzzer-beater against the Boston Celtics, and Monday night’s 31-point gem against the San Antonio Spurs.

After Ja Morant’s ascent as an inevitable All-Star point guard, this season capped by a back-to-back NBA Player of the Week runs, Barrett’s star turn has arrived.

Over his last seven games, Barrett has scored in double figures, averaging 22.1 points on 46/39/67 shooting splits with 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Before that, he averaged 14.6 points on 39/34/70 shooting splits with 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his first 27 games.

The game is starting to slow down for Barrett. It’s becoming simple as his rim reads have shown in his methodical performance against the San Antonio Spurs.

When he saw the Spurs loading up on Randle, Barrett took over.

He wasn’t only standing in the corner waiting for the pass for a catch-and-shoot three-pointer as he did for much of the early part of the season.

He mixed and matched, as noted by Evan Fournier that had the Spurs’ defense scrambling, not knowing what hit them.

A breakaway windmill dunk in the second quarter kept his confidence rising.

His eight straight points to close out the second quarter became the game’s turning point that shifted the momentum to the Knicks’ side after they trailed by as many as eight points.

Barrett pressured the rim, and when the Spurs’ defense collapsed on him, he gave up the ball, leading to easy offense.

Barrett’s playmaking has been underrated, but he grew up in Canada as a point guard before turning into an athletic, bruising swingman in Duke.

He had four assists, the second-most among the Knicks against the Spurs behind Immanuel Quickley and rookie Quentin Grimes’ six dimes each.

Barrett delivered on both ends, including a jaw-dropping monster block on Spurs’ big man Drew Eubanks.

It was the kind of complete game that Knicks GM Scott Perry expected when he shunned trade-down proposals and stood pat during the 2019 NBA Draft night.

Barrett, the third overall pick in a draft class viewed as a two-way superstar race between his Duke teammate Zion Williamson and Morant, was left behind in his rookie year. He wasn’t even picked in the All-Rookie Team.

But the Knicks patiently waited for Barrett to turn the corner. At 21, he would have been a college senior by now, but Barrett is starting to show maturity in his game with two-and-a-half seasons under his belt.

His 31-point gem against the Spurs was the fourth time he’s scored at least 31 this season and third in the last two months. He joined Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, and Knicks legend Bernard King as the only NBA players at age 21 or younger to have multiple 30-point games against the Spurs, per ESPN Stats and Info.

Last month, he had 32 points in a 121-109 win over the Spurs in San Antonio.

During training camp, Barrett harped on his aim to become one of the league’s top defensive wings after the Knicks front office brought in Fournier and Kemba Walker to spruce up the Knicks offense that bogged down in last season’s playoffs. He hinted that his scoring would take a backseat with the arrival of more firepower in the starting unit. 

But after enduring another early-season shooting slump plus a stomach virus and COVID-19 that sidelined him for seven games, Barrett has rebounded well.

Last season, the Knicks went to a surprising playoff run after manufacturing their own star in Julius Randle, who blossomed into an All-NBA player. But as Randle’s numbers continue to dip this season, Barrett is starting to pick up the slack.

The Knicks’ playoff chances are predicated on Randle and Barrett to keep improving this season. At least half of the equation is beginning to find its solution.

Don’t sleep on the Knicks, especially when Barrett continues to flash his star potential.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Kevin Abrams reportedly ruled out of GM search

kevin abrams, giants

The New York Giants have been criticized a lot over the past couple of years for not reaching outside of their own organization. It’s not hard to see the reason why. The hiring of Dave Gettleman proved again that experience within the organization doesn’t make someone the best candidate. Over the past years, it’s become clear that whatever is happening in the Giants front office isn’t working. The team hasn’t had a winning record at any point in the past five years, and many fans are worried that the failures will continue if the next GM is an in-house hire.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem like that will happen. Not only have the Giants lined up interviews with candidates from a number of better run organizations, but assistant GM Kevin Abrams has reportedly been ruled out of the search for the next general manager.

Kevin Abrams is reportedly “not a candidate” for GM job

The news was reported by Art Stapleton, who claims that Abrams isn’t currently a candidate in the race. This report, of course, contradicts earlier ones that placed Abrams as a leading candidate.

Those earlier reports, though, may not have been wrong entirely. The Giants endured a rough end to the season, and it’s quite possible that the final games caused a shakeup in the plans. A bit earlier, it looked like Joe Judge was expected to return next season. Now, after a series of bad press conferences and bad losses for Judge, the head coach situation is a lot more precarious.

It’s possible the Giants were planning to consider Abrams, but after the last weeks, decided that an in-house hire just wasn’t going to work.

Either way, a major fear in the fanbase should be alleviated if this report does hold true. It’s hard to fix a sinking ship by handing over control to someone that helped get it there in the first place. Even if the realization is coming a bit late, it seems the Giants owners are starting to get this.

New York Yankees: Will Nestor Cortes Jr. stand tall in the 2022 rotation?

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

It was August 28, 2021, and the New York Yankees faced the Oakland Athletics, with Nestor Cortes Jr. on the mound trying to win the Yankee’s 14th win in a row. A win would have been the longest consecutive winning streak since 1941. But, unfortunately, the victory was not to be had, as Cortes gave up three runs through the sixth inning, and the Yankees, as so often last season, could only muster up two runs of their own.

Although Cortes didn’t win that game, he had been a Godsend for the Yankees with the injury to Corey Kluber. Cortes started the season as a reliever out of the bullpen but gradually stretched out to a starter to fill the gap.

Cortes was a strange pitcher that didn’t have an overpowering fastball or no particular put-out pitch. What he did have was an ever-changing delivery that mystified opposing hitters. He finished the season 2-3 in 22 games. He struck out five players a game and amassed a tiny ERA of just 2.90. However, like other Yankee pitchers, he suffered from little run support.

The question now is, what part will he play in the 2022 season? Will we see him back in the bullpen or again as a starting pitcher in the rotation. If the Yankees can’t pull in a significant number two starter to back up Gerrit Cole, you could see Cortes standing tall right in the middle of the rotation, either in front or behind Jordan Montgomery. Was last season an anomaly, or is he the real deal? Much of how the Yankees treat Cortes will be based on his performance in spring training, if and when that starts.

An excellent example of Cortes on the mound happened in a game against the Angels. Cortes Jr. is an old fashion pitcher, a real pitcher that constantly surprises his opponents with a whacky windup and throws any pitch at any time. He keeps hitters off-balance, often making them laugh. In a game against the Angels, he faced the great Shohei Ohtani. When Cortes made a bunch of strange moves on the mound, Ohtani laughed, thinking that Cortes was afraid to pitch to him; the fact was that he was playing with Ohtani. Cortes is scared of nothing and always has fun on the mound. He can’t blow away hitters, but his mental game wins.

Cortes Jr. throws a four-seam fastball that averages approximately 89 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and a curveball. His curveball has been registered as slow as 47 miles per hour. Hitters never know what they are going to get from Cortes. He throws all of his pitches in any situation. His style has given Yankee fans something to enjoy.

Cortes was born in Surgidero de Batabano, Cuba. His father won a lottery when Nestor was just a baby, and his father moved the family to Hialeah, Florida. Cortes started playing baseball at the age of 5. He pitched for Hialeah High School and Florida International University. The Yankees selected Cortes in the 36th round of the 2013 draft. He started in the Gulf Coast League, but the Yankees didn’t protect him, and the Orioles claimed him in the Rule 5 draft. He made his Major League debut as a Baltimore Oriole on the first day of the 2018 season.

On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder, but he advanced to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining a 6†“6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. In spring training in 2019, he didn’t make the team and started the season in Scranton. On May 9, he was advanced to the Stadium. On June 15, he earned his first Major League win but again was sent down to Scranton, where he completed the season 5-1, but in November, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He bombed with the Mariners and selected free agency.

The New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract in a third stint. He came up to the Stadium on May 20, 2021. In nine games at the beginning of the season, he won no games but recorded a 1.05 ERA. The Yankees won both of the games that Cortes started. Where he ends up in the rotation this season, one thing will be sure he will surely entertain.

Knicks: What a deal for Pistons forward Jerami Grant could look like

jerami grant, knicks

It is clear that the New York Knicks need to add more talent at the trade deadline if they want to be legitimate postseason contenders. The team could use an injection of talent with inconsistency stretching across the roster, including offensive ebbs and flows from Julius Randle and injuries at the point guard position.

In recent days, Thibodeau’s squad has been linked to multiple players bound to make a move in the coming weeks. While Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner is another candidate, the Detroit Pistons also have an intriguing prospect who could serve as a solid force for New York.

Shams Charania reported that the Knicks view Jerami Grant as a potential target at the deadline, especially given his defensive prowess and scoring abilities:

Looking at the Knicks’ roster objectively, Grant doesn’t exactly have a spot to fill as a primary power forward. New York already has Randle and Obi Toppin coming off the bench at the position, but they could look to move Toppin in a deal with Detroit, providing them with more young talent to build around while New York attempts to win now.

However, the Knicks are extremely excited by Toppin’s transition abilities and athleticism, so parting ways would have to include extreme value on their end.

In any deal, the Knicks will have to find money to fit a big contract, whether it be Grant or Turner.

Fred Katz of The Athletic proposed a trade that would shed salary space and entice the Pistons with young talent:

To match Grant’s $20 million 2021-22 salary, the Knicks have to give up either Evan Fournier or multiple middling contracts, which would mean pairing two of Alec Burks, Kemba Walker and Nerlens Noel. And that’s just to make the finances work. Next, they’d have to include young players or draft picks to entice the Pistons. Are the Knicks willing to give up two rotational pieces, as well as some mix of draft picks and young players, like Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin or Immanuel Quickley?

Considering Nerlens Noel hasn’t made a significant impact on the team this year, moving on from his contract makes logical sense. Thibodeau was a primary voice in acquiring Evan Fournier, so trading him at this point may be premature.

Fournier has struggled offensively the season at times, showcasing a 40 point game one night and zero points the next. His defense is a severe liability, something that Grant could upgrade significantly.

However, Grant is shooting just 33% from deep this season but is averaging 20.1 points in the process. He is a solid attacker in the paint and would force opposing teams to collapse their defense and leave three-point shooters out on the perimeter. RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, and Immanuel Quickley would likely thrive with Grant in their system. Detroit’s top player is currently recovering from a thumb surgery he had in mid-December. He could return in late January, likely before a deal would take place.

Leon Rose and the front office would have to give up one of their young pieces, whether it be Toppin, Quickley, or even a rookie like Grimes.

The sense is that Thibodeau loves his young players and wants to continue developing them, but his only goal is winning games, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sacrifice one of them for the greater good.

Mock Trade:

Piston Receive: Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel, Kemba Walker, 2nd round draft choice in 2022

Knicks Receive: Jerami Grant

What do you think of this mock trade scenario? Knicks clear cap space with players who aren’t making a big impact, but have to give up Toppin since he’s the 2nd choice power forward. Grant would take a lot more pressure off Randle.