Posts Tagged ‘offseason’

NBA Offseason: Miami Thrice Leads Five Best Acquisitions

August 15th, 2010

This offseason, there were many moves that changed the face of franchises.

The Miami Thrice was created, leaving many teams panicking and trying to get better fast.

Some moves could turn out to be a bust, or at least not live up to expectations.

Some moves were excellent and will be great.

Here is a list of the five best offseason moves.

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Logan Mankins: Three Potential Outcomes of Contract Quandary

August 14th, 2010

Holdouts are just another part of the NFL offseason.

Sometimes, though, they become part of training camp, preseason, and even the regular season.

Oftentimes, the situation gets better before it gets to that point.

Such is not the case with Logan Mankins, who wants to be traded after feeling snubbed by the Patriots front office.

Mankins was told after the '08 season that his contract would be addressed after the '09 season.

He played out what he calls an "undervalued contract," and is telling the Patriots exactly how he feels by sitting out until he is heard.

The Boston Globe recently interviewed Mankins' agent, Frank Bauer, who told the Globe that the Patriots have "totally lost this player mentally" as the saga continues.

It seems that re-signing Mankins is all but ruled out of the equation.

At this stage, there are really only a pair of potential outcomes.

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Lance Cade Death Shows Us the Importance of an Offseason

August 14th, 2010


Lance Cade's death is one of the saddest in recent memory for the sport of professional wrestling. It was only two years ago that some of us thought that Cade would be a future main eventer. He was in league with the right people such as Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. 

Instead, he's in league with Eddie Guerrero, Andrew "Test" Martin, Davey Boy Smith, and a much too long list of wrestlers dead before the age of 40. 

Plenty of people will blame the WWE for Cade's death. Linda McMahon is running for Senate in my home state of Connecticut and this is sure to affect her campaign, and well, it should. 

The WWE is not directly responsible for the death of Lance McNaught. They did not provide him with the drugs that caused his seizure back in 2008 nor the drugs that ultimately lead to his death yesterday. But, there is a bigger concern that the WWE could be doing more to prevent these deaths. 

Wrestling needs an offseason. These performers are out there beating each other up 250 times a year. Anybody who says that what they do is fake hasn't seen the injury reports. The outcomes may be predetermined, but what they do in there is very real. 

Every sports league has an offseason. Major League Baseball may have a grueling 162 game schedule, but the players have a few months off to recuperate from the grind. Each team also has a staff of doctors who make sure that the players are all healthy. 


The National Football League is much more violent than the MLB. Which is why it has an even bigger offseason. These players give it everything they've got out there and they need time off. And they get it. 

Professional wrestling is even more violent than the NFL. AND THERE'S NO OFFSEASON. It's utterly ridiculous. It's no wonder that some of these guys turn to prescription painkillers, they don't have any time to heal naturally. 

A forced offseason would do the sport of professional wrestling so much good. A voluntary one would simply not work since no young wrestler in their right mind would want to ruin a potential push by sitting out a few weeks, even if it meant that they would live to see their grandchildren. 

Wrestlers are treated as independent contractors, which means that they do not get health insurance among other things. But, the WWE will pay for rehab for any employee or former employee that needs it. 

But why does it need to come to that? Why can't they take care of their employees before they need rehab?

Obviously rehab didn't work for Lance Cade. If he was given a few weeks a year to take proper care of his body, he might not have abused drugs and he wouldn't be dead at 29. Heart failure that young is simply not normal. 

I read an interview with Paul Wight, known as the Big Show. The Big Show said that he took about three vacations during his first ten years in the business because he didn't want to miss anything. While Show is alive and well at age 38, plenty of other people worked the same schedule and weren't as lucky. 

WWE needs to give it's employees time off. The number of deaths in the business is sickening and something needs to be done. Even if it means that we are not entertained 52 weeks a year. It's getting harder and harder to be entertained by these guys, when I know a good number of them are killing themselves to do it. 

2010 College Football Predictions: Can South Carolina Finally Break Through?

August 14th, 2010


South Carolina enters year six of the Spurrier Era hoping this is the year they breakthrough and win the East. Optimism is high in Columbia, but that is nothing new in August.

To find out why Gamecock fans are in such good spirits, I contacted South Carolina Blog Leftover Hot Dog for their insight.

Q: Stephen Garcia was the SEC's second leading passer last year. Why has Spurrier been so hard on him this offseason?

A: As we all know, Spurrier demands excellence from his quarterbacks. Garcia is no different. Spurrier expects better performances from his fourth year junior gunslinger under center.

I feel Spurrier knows that Garcia has the potential but it is about Garcia committing himself to improving. What I mean by that is natural ability cannot get it done in the SEC. Garcia needed a good summer reviewing the playbook, working hard, making throws, etc. This is what Spurrier wanted to hear about, Garcia putting in extra effort to get better as a quarterback.

In Spurrier’s offense, it is more important to have a smart quarterback than just a gunslinger. He likes timing routes and the quarterback having the ability to understand how a play will develop based off the defense scheme before the word “hike.”

Garcia is a good quarterback but good will not cut it at USC or in the SEC. Thus Spurrier trying to motivate his quarterback to improve as the team’s success depends on it.

Q: How much of Spurrier's criticism do you think is motivational based?

A: Every word. Spurrier is a little old school in how he handles his team as it is more of a “tough love approach” rather than being a big “soft-ty.” This, at South Carolina, is needed.

But this is where G.A. Magnus comes in as the quarterbacks coach.

He has been the buffer between the Head Ball Coach and the player. Coach Magnus has been able to translate and work with Garcia on the areas he has to grow. Again, Spurrier knows Garcia has the tools to be a really good quarterback, thus his motivation since the bowl loss.

Q: Could highly touted freshman Marcus Lattimore win the starting job at running back?

A: He certainly could be the starter for some games in 2010, but you have to remember the “running back stable” for USC is the deepest it has ever been. More about Marcus getting touches, growing and learning. While doing really good things on the field.

The Gamecocks have Kenny Miles, Jarvis Giles, Bryce Sherman, Brian Maddox, and Marcus Lattimore. Talk about weapons.

Each of the above referenced players could be a starter, but each has certain tools that have to be leveraged in 2010.

Out of the list, Miles and Lattimore should receive the bulk of carries in 2010. Don’t overlook Jarvis Giles as he certainly could factor in. Lots of touches to spread out amongst the guys this season.

Q: The offensive line has really held the Gamecocks offense back. Tell my why this year they could be a strength.

A: I hesitate to say the O-line will be a strength in 2010, but I will say it will improved. I am a big fan of the new O-line coach, Shawn Elliott. He came over from Appalachian State so he knows how to get the most out of his players. He is a fantastic teacher, motivator, and coach. He has already worked hard to get his O-line players in gear to compete in 2010.

He is trying to find the right mix this year as he, along with the fans, know that a lot rides on the line's performance this season. They must reduce sacks allowed, keep the pressure away from the quarterback, and create running lanes. USC has some seniors that could factor in but also some new faces could rotate in and help the unit.

I look forward to the first game to see how this unit is progressing as I expect improvement over the last three seasons. It surely cannot get worse…right?

Q: I read about South Carolina using a no-huddle offense some in the spring. How much do you expect to see this come fall?

A: You will see it in play this season. I shy away from saying "a lot" or, "it is the new approach." I think it is safer to say this is a new wrinkle in the offense’s approach. It will allow some mixing up and keep the opposing defense on their toes.

The new offensive line coach is also the run game coordinator and he brought this new thinking with him. I look forward to it as the USC offense has to put up some points in 2010 to go along with a stellar defense. This new “no-huddle” thinking will certainly help.

Q: Eric Norwood will be very hard to replace, but someone must step up. Who is going to bring the pressure from the outside this season?

A: Opposing quarterbacks need to concern themselves with keeping tabs on DE Cliff Matthews and DE Devin Taylor. Both have the ability to get after it. Taylor has to step up so that opposing O-lines don’t double team Matthews. I expect Matthews to be All-SEC and Devin to have a breakout year after a very good freshman year.

Q: What could be weak link on this defense?

A: I really don’t see a weakness in this defense. Some may say the linebackers with the loss of Eric Norwood to the NFL, but Shaq Wilson and Rodney Paulk will fill in nicely. What must improve for the defense is interceptions. The defense has to use some stickum and hold on to the ball when it hits their hands. If the defense can improve on this from last year—look out SEC.

Q: Who are some of the freshman that are likely to contribute?

A: Marcus Lattimore will factor in as a running back. Receiver Ace Sanders has had a good first week of practice with good hands and speed. He should get some balls thrown his way.

Quarterback Connor Shaw will not steal the limelight from Garcia, but he could get some reps in certain games (i.e. Furman).

We may see an O-line signee in there, like AJ Cann or another as the O-line needs the bodies.

Defensively, the Gamecocks brought in a pair of junior college transfers who could pay immediate dividends, linebacker Toquavius Gilchrist and D-lineman Byron Jerideau. Also, cornerback Vic Hampton may get some reps.

Q: Where do you think beating Clemson ranks in terms team goals? Are the fans goals different from this?

A: Beating Clemson always ranks as a top goal. How high that is on the list depends on who you ask. Some will take a SEC East division crown over beating Clemson, others would shun me for saying that. But some on the Clemson side would say the same—meaning an ACC crown over a USC win.

Make no mistake about it, if the potential to win the SEC East is off the table then beating Clemson is high priority.

Q: Describe a successful season. Describe a disappointing one

A: A successful season is the Gamecocks enter the Florida game with the SEC East on the line. USC sitting at 5-2 in the conference and UF at 6-1. USC wins and finishes at 6-2 and get the SEC East conference crown. I really thing the potential for USC to win the SEC East is strong. If the SEC East crown is off the table then a minimum of eight wins is a must.

A disappointing season is 6-6 with a loss to Clemson to boot.

Q: What is your prediction for this season?

A: The Gamecocks will WIN vs. Southern Mississippi, Furman, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Troy. Clear Loss vs. Alabama (yet close). Likely win at home vs Georgia and at Clemson. Toss-ups but must win at least one—home vs Arkansas; at Auburn. Toss up—at Florida.

So my worst case scenario for USC in 2010 is 7-5 with losses to Bama, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Auburn.

Best case scenario is 10-2 with losses to Alabama and Arkansas. SEC CHAMPS.

Most likely either 8-4 or 9-3. Losses coming from this batch with one surprise win in their —Bama, Florida, Arkansas and Auburn. I think that win could be Auburn.

Bottom line, this is not your usual Gamecocks as they will make some noise in a vulnerable SEC East in 2010. How much depends on the Georgia and Auburn games to set the tone for what could be a magical year.

My Take on South Carolina

The Gamecocks are an intriguing team this year in the East considering what they have returning and the turnover at Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia.

The defense should be very good again despite the loss of Norwood. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has raised the play to a high level among the best in the SEC.

Offensively, I don’t know what to make of Spurrier’s public criticism of Garcia. Who knows whether he will be pulled in the first game or go onto to have a great season. Its hard to remember the OBC not being upset at a quarterback; Danny Wuerffel was probably the last one to go unscathed.

The skill positions look great as usual, but the success of the offense will come down to how much improvement the line has made. This unit has been the impetus from getting over the hump and winning the East.

The talent is there, the coaching is there, the East is in flux, but the schedule is brutal. From the West, the Gamecocks draw Alabama, Auburn, and Arkansas. They also have to travel to Florida this year.

The first SEC game against Georgia could make or break South Carolina's season. If they can get past the Bulldogs, who will starting a quarerback in his first road game, they have a chance in the East.

If not, then Spurrier's club will have to win the rest of their toss up games against Auburn, Arkansas, and Alabama (yes, the Tide will be vulnerable in this one).


7-5, Third SEC East

Thanks again to Leftover Hot Dog for their insight.

NBA Rumors: The Summer’s Five Most Disappointing Acquisitions

August 14th, 2010

This summer of LeBron was wild, no doubt about it.

Many offseason moves, many roster changes.

There are many acquisitions that will impress, but many could disappoint.

Some players won't be used to the new environment, some might not like the coach, or some might just not fit in.

Here are the top 5 acquisitions that will most likely disappoint.

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NCAA Football Fall Practice: Top Pac-10 Storylines

August 14th, 2010

After an offseason which included NCAA sanctions, legal troubles at multiple schools, and the addition of two teams, the Pac-10 is one of the most interesting and compelling conferences entering the 2010 season.

Although Oregon is the preseason favorite, there are four teams who can realistically expect to win the conference. The Pac-10 is more wide open than it has been at any point within the past decade.

There are many compelling storylines entering the 2010 Pac-10 season including position battles and teams trying to replace NFL talent.

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10 Players Kansas City Chiefs Fans Should Pay Attention To In Preseason

August 13th, 2010

The Kansas City Chiefs take on their first opponent of the preseason tonight when they travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Last season the Chiefs went 0-4 in the preseason and started the regular season 0-5, so it is important for the Chiefs to have a productive preseason this year.

Chiefs head coach Todd Haley has encouraged competition during the offseason, even putting new running back Thomas Jones ahead of Jammal Charles on the depth chart in the preseason. It is imperative the Chiefs have a productive preseason so that they can take the winning confidence into the regular season.

There are many players Chiefs fans should be excited about this season, but here are 10 players they should be watching during the preseason.

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Five NBA Players Destined to Break Out

August 13th, 2010

During a crazy offseason where superstar players went to different teams, other players will have a chance at a great season. Here are five players who will have a break out year next season.

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Eric Belanger: What His Signing Means to the Washington Capitals

August 13th, 2010

With the reported signing of centerman Eric Belanger, the Washington Capitals seem to have completed their free agency signings for the 2010 offseason.

The deal, said to be for one year at just under $1.9 million, seems to be a fair deal for a player of his caliber, but is somewhat surprising due to the fact that the Capitals still lack a bona fide second line center.

Belanger has been a serviceable third line center, who can be counted on for good penalty killing, great faceoff numbers and 30-40 points.

However, what Belanger is not, is a second line centerman on a good team.  His offensive skills are limited, and he is best suited for a checking line role, so the Capitals haven't really addressed their biggest need.

If the last few Stanley Cup Champion teams have taught us anything, it's that strength up the middle is critical in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh won with a 1-2-3 punch of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.  Chicago bested a tough Philadelphia Flyers squad with pivots Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and John Madden.

The 'Caps currently boast superstar Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Belanger, David Steckel, Boyd Gordon and a batch of currently unproven prospects. 

If the Capitals are to contend with the elite teams in the NHL in the playoffs, they need to add an offensive center, or pray that one emerges from within.

Brooks Laich and Tomas Fleischmann are both listed as centers at times, but are best suited as wingers.  This signing solidifies the third line, but leaves a hole in the second line. 

Unless a prospect overachieves or the Capitals make another move, they may fail to keep up come April, May and June. 

NBA Trades: Houston Rockets Add By Subtracting In Landing Courtney Lee

August 12th, 2010

When news came down this afternoon of an impending four-way trade between the Rockets, Nets, Hornets, and Pacers, the news outlets were quick to praise the Hornets for keeping their superstar happy and quick to criticize the Rockets for giving up so soon on a marquee free agent signing from just this past offseason. 

However, those who criticized the Rockets were in the wrong. 

To an outside observer, the trade makes little sense. Why spend big money on resigning the team's core and finding a solid backup at center only to shed big money in an attempt to lower the luxury tax payments?

Upon further review, this trade makes sense on both a basketball and a monetary level, as the Rockets seemingly improved in each category.


Monetary Impact

During Daryl Morey's tenure, he has always stressed the importance of cap flexibility, the best of example of this being when he amassed many large expiring contracts last season, which he eventually parlayed into Kevin Martin, the shooting guard of the future in Houston, among other assets. 

In this deal, he rid the Rockets of nearly $25 million in payroll commitments over the next four years, a crucial measure that will put the Rockets in even better shape if the new collective bargaining agreement significantly shrinks the teams' abilities to spend. And while he saved more than $10 million in salary and luxury tax payments this year alone, that money only really matters for owner Leslie Alexander.

However, the greatest gain in this deal payroll-wise was the trade exception that they created by sending Ariza to the Hornets. By using a trade exception to acquire Courtney Lee, the Rockets generated a trade exception that will allow them to add a player making up to $8 million and shore up whatever holes they have created by making this move.

Actually, if they use this exception to its fullest extent, they will end up spending about $3 million more than if they had not made any deal at all, and this deal will not be the salary dump that it appears to be.

In the league today, with so many teams under the cap or possessing trade exceptions, expiring contracts are no longer the currency for trades. Expiring contracts give financial relief at the end of the season, but trade exceptions and trading into cap space gives a team instant savings, and it has become apparent that to acquire a top level player, a trade exception is a must.

Morey must have noted this as he has always tried to acquire another star, and perhaps this is part of the next phase in his attempts to acquire another All-Star. If he can manage that, this trade will go from a good one to a great one.


On Court Impact

Nobody will argue that Courtney Lee possesses the physical skills that Trevor Ariza does. He can't run like a gazelle or jump out of the gym like Ariza, but in his own way, he is a far better fit for the Rockets team as it is constructed now. 

While Ariza's improvements after the addition have been well chronicled (in fact, I even wrote about how much better he looked towards the end of the season here), his variety of skills makes him less valuable to the Rockets as Lee. 

Defensively, while Ariza filled the stat sheet with lots of steals, his undisciplined lunging for the ball often left him beat and caused the defense to have to scramble to recover. With a 7' 6" center rejoining the team in Yao Ming, this annoying habit would seem to be less of an issue as having a shot blocker at the rim would help prevent easy scoring in the paint.

However, given the fact that Yao will likely be far less mobile than he as ever been after the surgery, he can hardly be counted on to be the shot blocking big man he was in the past. Instead, getting beat would just cause Yao to get into foul trouble early and often and put the other teams in the penalty.

On the other hand, while Lee is not ever going to lead the league in steals, his solid, fundamental approach to defense was what led to him earning a starting position on the 2009 Magic team that reached the NBA Finals. He funnels his man to help in smart situations, always gets a hand up in the shooters face, and is one of the league's top one-on-one defenders in the league, holding opposing players to 33.8% shooting on isolation attempts last year (according to Synergy Sports Technology). 

Offensively, Lee is already light years ahead of Ariza both in terms of knowing his limits and in all-around ability. He is a perfect fit for the second unit because while he is capable of creating his own shot on occasion, he is at his best without the ball in his hands, running around screens in an almost Richard Hamilton-esque manner, an area Ariza struggled in tremendously during his first year with the Rockets. 

Finally, perhaps Lee's greatest positive over Ariza will be his attitude. Throughout last season, while Ariza was not explicitly outed as a clubhouse cancer, to fans and writers alike it was clear that he had an attitude problem.

His intensity wavered if he had a poor shooting night, he berated Aaron Brooks on at least two different occasions late in games when it was not necessary, and his body language was clear when he was not getting the ball enough. Oh, and he almost punched Demar DeRozan out on a night when he was 0-9 from the field. 

When it became clear that Ariza would be losing minutes this year as everybody got healthy, Daryl Morey was faced with a dilemma, either deal with Ariza and his prima donna attitude as he played less, or deal him to a team for a player that would not whine about playing time. He chose the latter, and in doing so appears to have swung a pretty good deal for a great fit of a player. 

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