New York Giants set to interview Patrick Graham for head coach job

The New York Giants are linked to some of the top candidates on the head coaching market, but they’ll also give a look to an in-house candidate. That candidate, of course, is defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Graham is the most notable member of 2021’s coaching staff left standing after the firing of Jason Garrett and, more recently, Joe Judge. It looks like the Giants have at least some desire to keep Graham in the organization, because he’s set to get an interview for head coach.

Graham, of course, isn’t as highly rated as a head coaching candidate as he was during his first season with the Giants. The defense was all around better that year, giving more attention to Graham as the mind behind it. But much of this season’s regression can be explained by injuries, a bad offense, and decisions from the now-fired Dave Gettleman. Starting tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, for example, was allowed to walk in favor of spending more on the offense and Leonard Williams.

The Giants aren’t the only team intrigued by what Graham could do when not held back by many of the factors that saw the defense take a step back in 2021. Graham has also been linked to interest from the Vikings, who still have yet to choose a GM. It makes sense that the Giants are setting up an interview before other teams can, even if Graham isn’t the frontrunner for the job.

Graham turned down interest from the Jets last year but hasn’t shied away from head coaching opportunities so far this offseason. With his friend Joe Judge also getting fired this year, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if we see Graham leave if a better offer shows up.

New York Giants: Brian Daboll seems to be Head Coach frontrunner

Brian Daboll, giants

The New York Giants have completed their search for a new general manager. Joe Schoen was hired by the team on Friday after an extensive search to fill the position. Now, the Giants’ attention is turned toward their vacant head coach position.

The Giants wasted no time getting started on their search for a new head coach. After hiring Schoen Friday morning, the team interviewed Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on Friday night. Daboll seems to be the frontrunner for the Giants’ head coaching position.

According to Bobby Thompson of Fansided, Brian Daboll is “who [Schoen] wants to lead this team into the future.” Thompson reports that Brian Daboll is the “frontrunner,” but the Giants will still interview a thorough list of candidates. This is what the Giants appeared to do with the general manager position.

Joe Schoen was always the frontrunner for the Giants’ GM position. Reports indicated early on that Schoen was the “man to beat.” Joe Schoen was the first candidate interviewed for GM like Daboll was the first interviewed for HC. History seems to be repeating itself with Brian Daboll being the first head coach candidate interviewed.

Brian Daboll as head coach?

Since 2018, Brian Daboll has served as the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. In 2018, the Bills drafted quarterback Josh Allen. Daboll has received much credit for the development of Buffalo’s franchise quarterback. Josh Allen finished second in MVP voting in 2020.

Brian Daboll’s offense finished fifth in the NFL with 381.9 yards per game in 2021. Buffalo’s 28.4 points per game ranked third in the league. The Bills finished top-ten in both passing and rushing yards per game this season. The Bills have been top-three in the NFL in scoring every year since 2019.

In 2020, Josh Allen led the Bills to a 13-3 record. He threw for 4544 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. Allen also added 421 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground. Allen’s excellence under Daboll continued in 2021 as the fourth-year gunslinger totaled 4407 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Amidst the Bills’ 11-6 season, Allen also provided 763 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns.

Brian Daboll has helped craft one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL over the past four seasons. The New York Giants would be gaining one of the brightest offensive minds in the league in Daboll if he were to be hired as the team’s next head coach. He may be the frontrunner now, but there are plenty of strong candidates out there, poised to challenge Brian Daboll for the New York Giants head coaching job.

Cam Reddish set for Knicks debut against Clippers

cam reddish, hawks, knicks

Temper your expectations when the New York Knicks‘ newest wing Cam Reddish makes his debut Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Reddish is looking forward to playing for his new team after an up-and-down two-and-a-half season marred by injuries in Atlanta.

“I feel good. I would say 100 percent is pretty accurate,” Reddish told reporters after Saturday’s practice.

A right ankle sprain had kept Reddish from the Knicks’ last five games since the trade. But even though he is ready to make his Knicks debut,  New York coach Tom Thibodeau doubled down on his earlier statement regarding Reddish’s playing time.

 

Currently, the Knicks are stacked with wings. Evan Fournier and RJ Barrett are starting, while Alec Burks is a fixture, whether as a fill-in starter or one of the leaders of the second unit. Rookie Quentin Grimes has climbed up his way to the rotation, endearing himself to Thibodeau with his solid play on both ends of the floor.

Suffice it to say, Reddish will likely play less than the 23.4 minutes he averaged in Atlanta this season. It’s not the ideal situation Reddish had in mind when he sought a trade before the season. Nevertheless, Reddish had been saying all the right words — willing to work his butt off to earn whatever playing time he could get.

“[Thibodeau] is really competitive, intense competitor, detail-oriented. I’m still trying to learn. I really am. I’m still trying to figure it all out,” Reddish said.

Reddish’s size — a 6-foot-8 wing with a 7-1 wingspan — is something the Knicks don’t have. He can gobble big guards and smaller wings when he’s engaged defensively. Reddish’s size is decent against backup power forwards in a small-ball lineup. Obi Toppin is the Knicks’ backup four but Reddish offers a solid outside shooting. This season, Reddish is averaging 58.3 percent of his left corner 3, 34.8 percent from the right corner 3, and 34.0 percent from above the break 3.

But his pathway to a meaningful role under Thibodeau is by playing tough defense.

“Defense is instinctual, and I can do that naturally. But it’s just a little bit different [here] than it was in Atlanta. So, I’m just trying to learn that. The terminologies are different. Being able to talk and say the right thing on the floor defensively is a big thing,” Reddish said.

The Knicks have listed Reddish probable in the official NBA injury report, while Kemba Walker and Nerlens Noel, both nursing left knee soreness, are questionable.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: Thibodeau explains Randle’s no-show in postgame presser

It appears the New York Knicks are willing to pay the price to shield their embattled star Julius Randle from any distraction.

The Knicks paid a $25,000 fine for not making Randle available to the media Thursday night following their ugly 102-91 loss to New Orleans Pelicans. New York coach Tom Thibodeau said the team decided it was the best move as the emotional Randle took a lot of heat from the fans in a four-point dud against the Pelicans.

“I think the big thing is just be focused on the next game and winning,” Thibodeau told reporters after Saturday’s practice. “And that’s where we are. So, we felt the best thing for the team was to do that. So that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re always going to put the focus on that.”

The boos from the Garden crowd got louder after every Randle’s bricked shot and miscue, and they chanted Obi Toppin’s name to replace him. Randle was an abysmal 1 of 9 from the floor in 30 minutes. It was the sixth time this season and second in the last seven games that Randle was held to a single-digit. Randle, though had seven rebounds and six assists against three turnovers. But he had a team-worst minus-26 plus-minus.

Randle has not attended a postgame press conference in the last seven games. Over the previous two weeks, his only appearance was after team practice last January 11.

Randle’s numbers across the board have drastically dipped this season. His 18.8-point average is his lowest since the 2017-18 season, while his shooting percentages have regressed from 45.6 to 41.1 from the field and 41.1 to 30.8 from deep.

Again, all eyes will be on Randle when the Knicks face the Los Angeles Clippers in a Sunday matinee. Even if Randle and the team perform better against the Clippers, the media won’t stop asking tough questions.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

7 New York Yankees that should be in the Hall of Fame but aren’t, what do you think?

The New York Yankees history is riddled with great players, many of which have a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Frank “homerun” Baker, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and so many more. The most recent inductees are #2 Derek Jeter and of course Mariano Rivera, the first player ever to be enshrined unanimously. But even with all these many Yankee fans think that their favorite player should be in the Hall as well. Today we look at just seven of those that are usually mentioned as snubbed of the ultimate recognition.

Graig Nettles: Career bWAR 68.0. A third baseman was one of the best to man the hot corner ever, making impossible play after impossible play. He was as slick as they come. He was a steady hitter with all of his five teams, the Twins, Indians, Yankees, Braves, and Expos. He won two Gold Glove awards at third base and appeared on six All-Star teams. His slash line of .248/.329/.421 with a 110 OPS+ across his career would be the lowest if ever selected, but his 390 home runs were the third-best in baseball history for a third baseman. “Puff” helped the Yankees to titles in 1977 and ’78. Nettles’ glovework in Game 3 of the 1978 Fall Classic against the Dodgers remains one of the most recognizable exhibitions of game-winning defense ever. He was the 1981 AL Championship MVP.

As I said, Nettles had the third most home runs of any owner of the hot corner in all of baseball. He is only behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews, both of whom are enshrined in Cooperstown. Nettles has appeared on five Hall of Fame ballots, the most votes he received from the writers was in 1994 with 8.3%. There is a very strong case for him being in the Hall of Fame, what do you think?

Thurman Munson Career bWAR 46.1. Munson was one of the best Yankees catchers of all time, next to Bill Dickie and Yogi Berra. It appears his injuries that led him to only be with the Yankees for eleven years. It is something that the writers can’t forgive because he has been kept out of the Hall of Fame. Munson hit .271 with the Yankees and drove in over 700 runs. He was a warrior playing through several injuries until he was killed in his own plane while at home in Ohio. Most Yankee fans think the writers should put aside their belief that he didn’t play long enough and enshrine him. What do you think?

Andy Pettitte Career 60.7 bWAR. Few pitchers have ever reached the heights that Andy Pettitte did in the postseason. He was one of the most reliable big-game performers of his era, Pettitte was a five-time World Champion with the Yankees and a three-time All-Star. He joined Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada as members of the “Core Four.” Pettitte pitched to a 256-153 record with a 3.85 ERA (117 ERA+) across his career. That includes a three-year stint with the Astros from 2004-06. He returned to the Yankees in 2007, having winning seasons in all six remaining years. He was 14-8 during the Yankees’ last World Championship season in 2009.

He is one of six pitchers to win 250 games that are not in the Hall of Fame. This big difference with Pettitte is that he is the most winning pitcher to ever pitch in the postseason. He has 19 postseason wins. In 2020 he achieved 11.3% of the vote, far below what is needed, but this tremendous success in the postseason is sure to keep him in the conversation for years to come. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaoyULBUQUc

Alex Rodriguez Career bWAR 117.5. A-Rod completed his 22-year career with 696 home runs, fourth all-time behind Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714). His WAR alone states that he should already be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player who collected 3,115 hits, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and two-time Gold Glove winner. For the Yankees, he played twelve years in pinstripes from 2004. With the Yankees, he had a .283/.378/.523 slash line with 351 homers, 1,096 RBIs, a 136 OPS+, and 54.0 bWAR while winning his only World Series title in 2009.

Rodriguez is on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2022. This marks a candidacy that presents an opportunity for voters to weigh his best in baseball stats against a suspension related to performance-enhancing drug use that cost Rodriguez the entire 2014 season. His candidacy will test the writer’s will when it comes to drug-related stats.

Roger Clemens Career bWAR 138.7. The “Rocket” was the best pitcher of his era. He won 354 games in the majors during his remarkable 24 years while with four MLB teams. He was a seven-time Cy Young Award winner which should be an automatic entry to the Hall of Fame, but he, like Alex Rodriguez, has a tainted career due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2020 he had his best showing, just falling short of enshrinement with 61% of the vote. Since first named in a report that he took drugs, Clemens has consistently and defyingly denied using PEDs.

He spent the second most years of his career with the New York Yankees. During that time, he amassed an 83-42 record with an ERA of 4.01 in 175 games with three complete games. In wins, he ranks 12th all-time and sixth among current Hall of Famers. What are your feelings? 

 

Bernie Williams Career bWAR 49.6. In his sixteen years with the Yankees, he had a career batting average of .297 with 287 home runs with 1597 RBIs. Williams was the center fielder during the height of the Yankees’ dynasty from 1996-to 2003; the Bronx Bombers won 4 World Championships and six pennants during those eight seasons. William was often overshadowed by the “Core 4” of Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter, and Posada but was every bit as important to the Yankees in those championship years. There is a strong case for Williams being in the Hall of Fame, but the writers have scrubbed him off the list. He now becomes eligible for The Today’s Game Committee, which is one of the modern incarnations of Veterans Committee, the Hall of Fame’s “second chance” selection process. He will become eligible in 2023. Williams was a five-time All-Star, a six-time MVP candidate, and a four-time Gold Glover.

Don Mattingly Career BWAR 42.4. “Donnie Baseball” was one of the greatest hitters in baseball during his time. He spent all of his fourteen years in baseball with the New York Yankees. He was one of the best defenders at his position throughout his career. His career slash line was .307/.358/.471/.830. A .307 batting average over fourteen years is an amazing stat when you consider that there are dozens in the Hall with a much lower batting average.

The former Yankees great seemed to be well on his way to earning a place in Cooperstown in the late 1980s before a back injury derailed his career. Playing just fourteen years seems to cast doubt over his candidacy. After retiring following the 1995 season at the age of 34, Mattingly went on to receive just 28.2% of the vote in his first year on the ballot in 2001. He received enough votes to remain on the ballot for the maximum years but has never again reached that 28.2%. Working against Mattingly is the fact that the last several years of his career were nothing like his previous years due to a congenital disk deformity. He also was never on a World Series-winning team.

Glover Teixeira will defend his title against Jiri Prochazka at UFC 274

Anthony Smith, UFC

The UFC has finalized a light heavyweight title fight for their May PPV. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion has finalized the first title defense for Glover Teixeira (33-7) as he will take on Jiri Prochazka (28-3-1).

The matchup will take place at UFC 274 on May 7th. It’s not been confirmed, but there are preliminary talks about having this May PPV take place in Brazil. However, given the up and down nature of the pandemic, that is far from confirmed.

However, for the Brazilian fans, the UFC returning to London in March should be a good sign. For the last couple of years, many in the MMA scene have said that the best light heavyweight in the world not named Jon Jones was Jiri Prochazka.

Prochazka made his highly anticipated UFC debut back on Fight Island in 2020. He knocked out former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in his first fight. After that, he got a headliner against former title challenger and top contender Dominick Reyes.

Prochazka left no doubts as to where he stands in that performance. He dominated the former UFC title challenger and knocked him out with a brutal spinning back elbow. Now, he’s finally getting his chance to prove he’s the best in the world.

UFC homecoming for Glover?

Want a feel good story in the UFC? Look no further than the current light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira. Teixeira was widely considered to be one of the best light heavyweights in the world early on in his career. However, visa issues kept him out of the UFC for a long time.

Finally, he got his chance back in 2012. He won his first five fights which earned him a shot against Jon Jones at UFC 172. Teixeira came up short that night and then dropped a fight to Phil Davis. After the Davis loss, Teixeira went 5-3 in his next eight fights.

After a decision loss to Corey Anderson in 2018, many wondered if Teixeira would ever make another run. However, he turned things around in a big way. He started knocking off young contenders and worked his way back to the top of the division.

Stoppages over former title challengers Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos earned him a shot at UFC 267. At UFC 267, he took on The Polish Power, Jan Blachowicz. Many weren’t giving him a chance, however, the 42 year old proved everyone wrong and finally climbed the mountain to become champion.

Now, he could potentially be making his first title defense on home soil. It’s going to be incredibly tough as Prochazka is likely going to be the favorite at UFC 274. However, if there’s anyone you shouldn’t count out, it’s Glover Teixeira.

The Knicks can’t count on the bench to elevate the starters any longer

During the first two months of the regular season, the Knicks relied heavily on the bench to supplement deficiencies from the starters. Former All-Star Julius Randle has taken a significant step in the wrong direction after landing a four-year, $117 million extension, and RJ Barrett has been streaky at times.

Injuries to Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker have also been difficult to replace, forcing the Knicks to ask bench players to play major roles, which was always unsustainable. To start the new year, the Knicks have been up and down with their success, winning five and losing five. The team’s latest three-game losing streak has been ugly though, dropping a tough game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night.

To start 2022, the trio of Alec Burks, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin has struggled considerably to contribute at a high level. In the month of January, Toppin is averaging a measly 4.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and just 15.2 minutes per game. Quickley, on the other hand, is averaging 10.3 points, 3.5 assists, and 23.3 minutes on average. Somehow, with Derrick Rose missing a minimum of eight weeks, Quickley has actually experienced a reduction in overall minutes played.

Burks has seen 2.3 last minutes compared to December, scoring 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.36, and shooting just 28.6% from three-point range. With all three of the team’s primary bench options struggling to start the year, the Knicks’ starters have been asked to pick up the slack, a turn of the tables.

With the team struggling, fans at MSG have been hostile, booing the home team and making their displeasure known. Against the Pelicans, starter Josh Hart stated that it was like playing “6-on-5”:

“It was like we were playing 6-on-5,” New Orleans guard Josh Hart told reporters, referring to the fans’ chilly response to the Knicks, after the Pelicans’ win at the Garden. “Usually on the road, your back’s against the wall, really the only guys that you have is guys in that locker room.

“Today, the fans weren’t on our side, but they just weren’t on their side, either.”

RJ Barrett’s response holds some merit but is also an awful excuse for simply lacking energy as a team:

“Teams get up to play in the Garden. This is a great place to be,” RJ Barrett, who starts alongside Randle, said after the loss said. “[Opponents] have a lot of pride. They want to succeed, they want to succeed here on the biggest stage. We just have to know that and come out and hit people first instead of playing from behind.”

The Knicks should be getting up to play at an extremely high level every single game, no matter the arena. That’s partially the problem of the team’s current issues and why relying on bench players to supplement the starter’s struggling is inefficient.

3 trade deadline moves the Knicks could make to inject more talent into roster

After three consecutive losses, the New York Knicks desperately need to address their deficiencies. The inconsistencies the team has displayed this year are unsustainable if they want to make the postseason, so the trade deadline may offer their best opportunity to bolster the starting team and make a legitimate push, having fallen out of the play-in tournament.

The Knicks have been connected to several different players in recent weeks, offering different styles of play and skill sets to complement the current starters on the roster.

Three moves the Knicks could make at the deadline to improve the roster:

1.) Myles Turner

Myles Turner and the Knicks have been linked since last season, and before he sustained an injury recently, there was a strong possibility the front office made a run at the Indiana Pacers big man.

Turner is a unique center, averaging 12.9 points, 2.8 blocks, and 7.1 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 33% from deep this season, averaging 4.4 attempts per game. Turner is converting 50.9% of his shots from the field, but his stellar defense makes him an incredible asset.

However, Mitchell Robinson has performed well as of late, and the most glaring position of need remains point guard with Derrick Rose rehabilitating from ankle surgery.

Given the timetable for return that Turner is looking at, the Knicks are better off steering clear and targeting an option that can make an impact immediately.

2.) Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson to the Knicks is picking up steam with the severe need at PG. Rose is expected to miss at least six more weeks, and veteran Kemba Walker is battling a left knee injury, relying on Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks to handle the majority of PG duties.

Brunson is having a career season, averaging 15.9 points, 5.5 assists, and shooting 50% from the field. While his three-point percentage has dipped to 33% from 40% last season, he is still an adequate point guard who offers solid facilitation and can complement the Knicks’ starters.

Ultimately, any player who can take the load off Julius Randle’s shoulders will significantly impact New York. The Knicks were recently fined $25K for refusing to let Randle speak to the media, accepting the fine rather than promoting another outburst after a problematic four-point performance against New Orleans on Thursday night.

Brunson would bring youth and energy to the team and cover-up Rose’s absence in the meantime.

3.) De’Aaron Fox

If the Knicks want to go with a more pricey route, De’Aaron Fox could be a potential trade target. Fox doesn’t necessarily fit the three-point shooting role the Knicks are looking for, but he is an elite scorer from the mid-range and driving to the basket. This season, he’s averaging 21 points, 5.2 assists, and shooting 46% from the field.

The Sacramento Kings recently floated the idea of trading Fox in exchange for Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers. If they are willing to trade him for a solid big man, the Knicks could look to part ways with some of their younger players and acquire Fox, who is currently on a five-year, $163 million deal. He is projected to earn $30 million next season, so the Knicks would be heavily investing in his further development.

Yankees could take a risker approach with Seattle starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

yusei kikuchi, mariners, yankees

The New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman had a one-year, $25 million deal on the table for starting pitcher Justin Verlander. However, Verlander elected to stick with the Houston Astros on a two-year, $5M deal.

Clearly, Cashman’s willing to spend to improve the starting rotation, but the majority of quality options have been scooped up off the market before the lockout commenced.

The Yankees could target names like Clayton Kershaw or Carlos Rodon, but one under-the-radar starter could be of interest if management sees more potential in him.

Yusei Kikuchi could be in Cashman’s line of sight after spending the last three seasons with Seattle, pitching a total of 365.2 innings and recording a 4.97 ERA.

2021 Stats: 29 games, 157 IP, 4.41 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.1 fWAR

Kikuchi enjoyed a solid improvement, lowering his ERA to 4.41 this past season also enjoying a career-low 4.16 SIERA and 3.85 xFIP.

Kikuchi has a few concerns, including a 91.9 exit velocity this past season, the highest of his career, meaning batters are getting better contact on his pitchers. His home-run/fly ball ratio ballooned to 20.6%, but he did record a 48.4% ground ball rate.

When taking a look at his pitch repertoire, Kikuchi features a fastball, slider, cutter, and split-fingered fastball. The Yankees will like his 95.2 mph average with his fastball, but his healthy usage of each pitch indicates nice diversity. If he can learn to utilize his pitchers in a more efficient manner and confuse batters, he could see his production skyrocket in the future.

Kikuchi elected to opt out of his contract after spending three years with Seattle, earning $43 million. He was set to earn $13 million this upcoming season with his contract expiring in 2026, but he can now look for a new deal. The Yankees might be willing to offer him a solid contract if they see the value in his arm.

At just 30 years old, there’s still plenty of potential left to tap, And with a Yankees needing talent at other positions as well, he might be a more cost-efficient option compared to more pricey names like Rodon or Kershaw.