A Look Ahead at NBA’s Toughest Contract Decisions in 2018 Free Agency

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Signing NBA players to contracts worth tens of millions of dollars isn’t always easy. Go figure.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Some free-agency decisions are cakewalks. LeBron James deserves a max salary because he’s an honorary Avenger. The Golden State Warriors should have no issue paying Kevin Durant top dollar if he doesn’t feel like honoring coupons from billionaires because he’s almost as important to them as Stephen Curry.

Other high-profile instances aren’t as cut and dried. Some induce migraines and squandered sleep. A few seem genuinely unsolvable.nfl jerseys for cheap

Household names coming off their rookie-scale deals with undefined values are usually the most difficult. Teams are trying to reward them for what they’ve yet to do, which often entails paying them more than they’re worth. This offseason has plenty of those.

Impact role players ready for more responsibility and high-end talent working their way back from major injuries also fall under this umbrella. Some find themselves on teams grappling with depth-chart logjams and taxing salary obligations, and their futures are left hanging in the balance as a result.cheap nfl jerseys

These impending paydays represent the toughest to project. Never mind minor hiccups. We don’t care whether the Houston Rockets are keen on maxing out a then-33-year-old Chris Paul. The Orlando Magic won’t want to overpay Aaron Gordon (restricted), but he’s the closest they come to a viable cornerstone. nfl jersey cheap Matching an above-market offer is the least of their problems. Those decisions aren’t nearly difficult enough to make the cut.

Look instead to the more precarious situations. These players aren’t all hopeless flight risks, but their next deal is bound to be the subject of excruciating internal debates.

Boston Celtics: Aron Baynes

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This one’s easy, mostly because the Boston Celtics have a ready replacement for Aron Baynes, who started 67 times in 2017-18.

Baynes banged around just fine (and got banged on) in his 67 starts this past season, but Gordon Hayward is the man cheap nfl jersey Boston needs back in its first unit. Rather than bump rookie standout Jayson Tatum or breakthrough sophomore Jaylen Brown from the starting crew, why not slide Al Horford to the 5 full-time and trot out three interchangeable and ridiculously talented wings in between him and Kyrie Irving?
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“Twenty-eighteen will be my year. I will be back on the court,” Hayward told Lisa Pierpoint of Boston Common magazine.

And in one of the easiest corresponding developments, Baynes will be back on the bench.

This isn’t a knock on Spencer Dinwiddie, who emerged from nowhere to become one of the Brooklyn Nets’ most effective players in 2017-18. Instead, think of it as an endorsement of DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, Allen Crabbe and D’Angelo Russell. Those five should be the Nets’ first unit next year, which means Dinwiddie ought to wind up coming off the bench as a second-string spark.

As a point guard who can generate his own looks from deep and attack the basket,cheap authentic nfl jerseys  Dinwiddie (58 starts in 2017-18) could thrive against reserves. And though most remember his hot streak of game-winners and clutch play in January, he still only shot 38.7 percent from the field overall. If Russell is healthy, he should be the one running the show with the starters. Softer competition could help Dinwiddie boost his substandard scoring efficiency.

Brooklyn will have to reintegrate Jeremy Lin and find minutes for Caris LeVert, whose length, playmaking and versatility continue to make him a tantalizing prospect. That could mean Dinwiddie slips further down the depth chart than might seem fair for a player who contributed so much this season.cheap nfl jerseys from china

Look at it from a team perspective, though: If Dinwiddie isn’t starting anymore, it’ll probably signal that the Nets are getting better.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles Reportedly Restructures Contract with Eagles

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Nick Foles may not get a chance to start in 2018 after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to their first championship and winning Super Bowl MVP, but the team is reportedly taking care of him as a reward for his efforts.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Foles and the Eagles have agreed on a restructured contract that includes a mutual option for the 2019 season.cheap nfl authentic jerseys

Despite his unbelievable Super Bowl run, Foles has acknowledged that he understands the Eagles are still Wentz’s team. After all, the organization gave up a haul of picks to draft Wentz in 2016, and the former No. 2 was the favorite for NFL MVP before going down in Week 14 last season.

That said, Foles went into this offseason hoping for an opportunity to start somewhere in 2018. However, knowing the value he brings to the team as a backup, Philadelphia reportedly set a high price for the 29-year-old signal-caller on the trade block, and no team has been willing to meet the asking price, at least not yet. cheap authentic nfl jerseys

Teams in need of a quarterback this offseason have addressed those holes in free agency and will continue to do so. Barring an injury around the league, Foles appears to be locked in to remain on the Eagles roster next season. And while the franchise wasn’t able to help him get a starting job, it apparently has taken care of him from a contract standpoint.

Wentz is still aiming to be back on the field when Philadelphia hosts the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 on Sept. 6. cheap nfl jerseys from china However, given the mobile quarterback suffered a serious knee injury, there’s still a long way to go before he is ready for full contact on the field. That means the backup could once again nfl cheap jerseys  be called upon if Wentz suffers a setback on the road to recovery.

Foles will have to be ready to play if/when needed in 2018. Regardless of how next season plays out, he will have a chance to test the open market if he so desires.

2018 NFL Schedule: League Releases Official Regular-Season Slate

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Clear your schedules now, NFL fans: The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons will open the 2018 NFL regular season on Sept. 6 at Lincoln Financial Field as the reigning Super Bowl champions prepare to raise their first championship banner fresh off a dramatic authentic nfl jerseys cheap Super Bowl 52 win over the New England Patriots.

And that’s just the start.

Following Thursday’s schedule release, all 256 games are now set in stone as the league’s 32 teams prepare for a fresh slate of football.

Below, you’ll find links to each club’s schedule as well as a preview of a few storylines to watch for when the 2018 campaign kicks off.

The AFC South has gained a reputation as the least compelling division in football, but the 2018 season could help reverse that narrative. nfl jerseys for cheap

For starters, the Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a revelatory 10-6 finish in 2017 that paved the way for the franchise’s third AFC Championship Game appearance.

Needless to say, they’ll be the favorites to take home the division crown again. They wield the NFL’s nastiest defense—one that allowed a paltry 16.8 points per game last season—and the offense appears primed for a boost following the arrivals of pass-catchers Donte Moncrief and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.nfl jersey cheap

However, the Jaguars won’t be in for a cakewalk.

The Houston Texans—who were ravaged by injuries last season—have a chance to reclaim their throne atop the AFC South with quarterback Deshaun Watson and edge-rushers J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus all on the mend following abbreviated 2017 campaigns.

Speaking of big free-agent signings, the Tennessee Titans could make some serious noise if their flurry of offseason activity pays off. cheap nfl jersey

The 2017 AFC wild-card qualifiers started by firing Mike Mularkey and replacing him with Mike Vrabel—who figures to implement a more dynamic, less predictable offense after hiring former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to oversee play-calling duties.

To help LaFleur, the Titans brought former New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis aboard to cheap nfl authentic jerseys serve in a thunder-and-lightning timeshare with bruiser Derrick Henry.

“Derrick can get it downhill, press the hole, hit the hole, and really turn it over and outrun people,” general manager Jon Robinson said, per Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website. “He can stick it up there and run over people. Dion can make people miss. He can kind of get lost in the wash up in there and squirt out, and be good out of the backfield.”

The Titans also shored up their secondary by signing Malcolm Butler to a whopping five-year, $61 million deal that includes $30 million guaranteed.

Considering last year’s Titans logged nine wins despite lacking flash, the retooled version has a real chance to propel the franchise back to double-digit wins for the first time since 2008.

Is LeBron James, Spot-Picker, Enough?

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LeBron James took his first shot 16 seconds into Game 2, roughly nine-and-a-half minutes earlier than Game 1. That was a sign, a clear indication that the Indiana Pacers’ series-opening blowout victory got his attention.

As a general rule, opponents should try to avoid getting James’ attention.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Following that opening bucket, James assumed custody of the early proceedings, scoring 16 straight to open the game for Cleveland and finishing the opening period with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting. On the night, he put up 46 points on 17-of-24 shooting, 12 rebounds and five assists, carrying the Cavs to a 100-97 victory.

It was enough to make you wonder why James doesn’t do this all the time.

That’s how James and this season’s Cavs have operated, though. Nothing is ever easy…until it looks incredibly easy. And then right around the time you ask yourself how Cleveland ever loses when it can play the James card, something flips.
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And you’re left wondering how it ever won.

The Pacers fought gamely, pushing the pace and forcing the Cavs to defend in transition, something they’ve stunk at all season. Indiana doubled up Cleveland in paint scoring, 62-30, and nearly did the same in fast-break points, 15-8.

Even with Victor Oladipo fighting foul trouble early, Indy spent most of the second half within single digits. If not for James’ early blitz, Cleveland could easily have lost Wednesday.

Heading to Indiana with a 1-1 split, the Cavaliers should feel both encouraged and vulnerable.cheap nfl jerseys

As great as James was, Cleveland never solved Oladipo. He attacked downhill whenever the Cavs’ roll-man defender dropped, just like he did against switches, traps and any other defensive scheme he saw. And the look he missed, a wide-open three with under 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game, could have changed everything.

“We got lucky,” James said on the TNT broadcast afterward. “We gave up a wide-open three to Oladipo, and he missed it. … cheap nfl authentic jerseys That’s easily something he can make.”

Imagine if that triple had gone down. Imagine if head coach Nate McMillan, in an overabunance of caution, hadn’t sat Oladipo with two fouls a mere 62 seconds into the game. Imagine if, somehow, the Cavs had lost a contest in which James was a demi-god stalking the earth in search of mortals to punish.cheap authentic nfl jerseys

LeBron James’ 21-Game Win Streak in Round 1 Snapped in Cavaliers’ Loss to Pacers

Victor Oladipo posted 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals as the Indiana Pacers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-80 in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoff series on Sunday.

LeBron James, who won 21 straight games in the first round of the NBA playoffs leading into this series, had a triple-double for the Cavaliers thanks to 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
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The Pacers set the tone for the entire game with a dominant first half, which included a 33-14 Pacers lead after one quarter. Oladipo led the Pacers’ charge, posting 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals before halftime. The front-runner for Most Improved Player also hit four of five three-pointers, including this shot that put the Pacers up 50-34:
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Oladipo received help from his supporting cast, as Myles Turner (12 points), Bojan Bogdonavic (10 points) and Lance Stephenson (nine points) helped the team to a 55-38 halftime lead. The Pacers shot 47.6 percent from the field and made half of their 14 f cheap nfl jerseys irst-half threes.hi-res-bd1d88a5db0c19e1f5b2fffc2d23a1c5_crop_north

On the other side, it was a one-man show as James had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. He showcased his excellent ball-handling skills with this nifty move through the paint to bring the Cavs within 40-25 early in the second quarter:

No other Cavalier scored more than six points in the first half, and the team minus James shot just 10-of-31 from the field. Kevin Love led the team on the glass with eight rebounds.

The Pacers picked up where they left off in the third quarter as they took a 63-41 nfl jersey cheap  lead following a Thaddeus Young layup. Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports credited the Pacers’ energy:

However, the Cavaliers stormed back and ended the quarter on a 24-10 run. The key bucket was a Kevin Love 30-foot three-pointer to cut the deficit to 70-63:

Love was fouled on the play and missed the ensuing free throw, but the Cavs trailed by just eight heading into the fourth.

Once there, however, Oladipo continued his fantastic performance, scoring 10 points en route to helping the Pacers end the game on a 22-11 run.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer summed up Oladipo’s afternoon:
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For the Pacers, Turner finished with 16 points, while Bogdanovic and Stephenson added 15 and 12, respectively. Oladipo, Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph also combined for 12 steals.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers won nine more games than last year, defended well enough in some especially committed stretches to finish 12th overall on that end and got positive performances from just about every young player with a future on the roster.

And before you go burying Lonzo Ball for his busted shot, note that he posted the second-best DRPM among point guards, per ESPN.com, while also producing the highest on-court net rating of any Laker to log at least 1,000 minutes.

A pivotal summer awaits, but the 2017-18 regular season went about as well as could have been expected.

19. Detroit Pistons (19)

“Philadelphia is good, and everyone is praising the process, how great it was, but the process is based on being as bad as you can be, historically bad for as long as you can,” Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy lamented after his team finished four games out of a playoff spot with a 39-43 record. “If that’s the process and the accepted way to build a team in the NBA, then something needs to change.”
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Van Gundy isn’t the only coach to think this way, but he’s uniquely positioned as the leader of one of the teams stuck in the middle because it refuses to use the incentive structure the Sixers exploited.

With Detroit spinning its wheels over the next several seasons, locked into crippling deals for Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, its unwillingness to embrace a real rebuild will look awfully misguided.

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18. Washington Wizards (18)

The Washington Wizards must hope John Wall’s 29 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds against Boston on Tuesday are a harbinger of what’s to come. Because if they’re not, that means the blown leads, lazy defense and selfish offensive play that produced a 3-9 mark over their final dozen games will be.

It’s hard to find a playoff team that looks shakier than Washington.

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17. Los Angeles Clippers (17)

The Los Angeles Clippers lost six of seven to close out a transitional year but managed to stay alive in the playoff race until the season’s final week. Forty-two wins and a top-10 offense are nothing to be ashamed of for a team that used a league-high 34 starting lineups and gave nearly 2,000 minutes to players either called up on two-way deals from the G League or inked to 10-day contracts, per ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz.
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This was a big year for resiliency in L.A.

Villanova Tops Kansas in Final Four to Set Up 2018 Championship vs. Michigan

The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats own the most efficient offense in men’s college basketball by a wide margin, and the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks learned that the hard way on Saturday.

With a spot in the national title game on the line, the Wildcats throttled authentic nfl jerseys cheap  the Jayhawks 95-79 behind a three-point shooting barrage of historic proportions at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Villanova, in a performance reminiscent of its dominant 2016 Final Four win over Oklahoma, set a new Final Four record by drilling 18 threes, including 13 in the first half to tie the previous high mark. hi-res-dae80802fd93665754dec375ca49b2dc_crop_northnfl jerseys for cheap

The junior, who didn’t make a three in the Elite Eight against Texas Tech, finished with a season-high 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from three.

Jalen Brunson (18 points, six assists), Omari Spellman (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Donte DiVincenzo (15 points) also easily worked their way into double figures.

With the Wildcats firing on all cylinders, Kansas alum and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid—who’s recovering from surgery for a fractured orbital bone—expressed his dismay in a series of predictably hysterical tweets:
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The Jayhawks did their best to keep pace, shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 7-of-21 from three, but a 15-point halftime deficit proved too steep to overcome despite Kansas’ 16-5 scoring edge at the free-throw line.

Devonte’ Graham led Kansas with 23 points and Malik Newman, fresh off a 32-point eruption against Duke in the Elite Eight, managed 21 points as his breakout campaign ended with a whimper.

The Jayhawks will now make a short trip back to Kansas, while the Wildcats will extend their stay in cheap nfl jersey San Antonio for a few more days as they prepare for their second national title game appearance in three years.

Next up for Villanova: A meeting with the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines and their third-ranked defense nfl jersey cheap  following a 69-57 win over No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the evening’s first semifinal.

LiAngelo Ball Declares for 2018 NBA Draft; Played with LaMelo Overseas

LiAngelo Ball declared for the 2018 NBA draft Tuesday, according to Ball’s agent, Harrison Gaines, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Charania noted Ball has already submitted early-entry paperwork with the NBA.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

After leaving UCLA in December, Ball played alongside his younger brother, LaMelo Ball, for Vytautas Prienu this season in the Lithuanian Basketball League.

After UCLA suspended him because of a shoplifting incident in China, nfl jerseys for cheap Ball signed with Vytautas in January.hi-res-2b08517000d1647d8121cb57c5a92a5a_crop_north

His stay in Lithuania has been productive, as Ball is averaging a league-leading 15.7 points per game while shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc, according to Charania.

The 19-year-old Ball reportedly plans to take part in May’s Pro Basketball Combine at IMG Academy in Bradenton, cheap nfl jerseys Florida, in an effort to impress NBA talent evaluators.

The 6’5″ Ball was rated by 247Sports as a 3-star prospect coming out of high school, and he was ranked as the No. 226 overall player and No. 50 shooting guard in the 2017 class.

Ball will look to follow in the NBA footsteps of his older brother, Lonzo Ball, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.nfl jersey cheap

In December, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported LiAngelo had “no chance” at being selected in the 2018 NBA draft.cheap nfl jersey

Metrics 101: NBA Rookie of the Year Watch

Last year’s NBA rookies combined to earn 54.2 win shares, paced by Malcolm Brogdon’s 4.1 for the Milwaukee Bucks and Willy Hernangomez’s 3.4 with the New York Knicks. Even though we’re not yet to the end of the 2017-18 season, this campaign’s superior crop has totaled 75.6. authentic nfl jerseys cheap

That’s a world of difference, and the individual excellence is even more impressive. Ben Simmons (7.5), Jayson Tatum (6.4), John Collins (4.9) and Donovan Mitchell (4.3) have already topped the mark earned by the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Bam Adebayo (4.0), Kyle Kuzma (3.7) and Jarrett Allen (3.6) still have a chance to get cheap nfl jerseys there. 3165f8498d0c46e6ecfcf0c7653e189c_crop_exact

But that’s only one metric. Win shares alone won’t tell us how nfl jerseys for cheap the standout members of this remarkable class stack up.

To objectively determine how this year’s premier first-year players measure against one another, we’re turning to a modified version of the formula for Player Score used in previous articles.

For every player in the NBA who’s logged even a single minute, we pulled scores in five different overarching metrics: NBA Math’s total points added (TPA), ESPN.com’s real plus/minus wins (RPM Wins), player efficiency rating (PER), win shares (WS) and minutes per game. The first two look at volume/efficiency combinations, while the third focuses on per-possession effectiveness and favors offensive production. The fourth element rewards those whose individual merits lead to more victories.cheap nfl jersey

The last—a new addition for this particular countdown—is intended to reward the rookies who have earned larger roles during their inaugural campaigns. Volume and time on the court matter more than they might in other evaluations.

To standardize between five metrics that operate on drastically different scales, we found the z-scores in each category and summed them to find a player’s total nfl jersey cheap  score for each of the 55 rookies with at least 200 minutes recorded. Those cumulative z-scores are all that matter for these selections, which focus entirely and exclusively on work in 2017-18.