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.

One Starter Every NBA Team Must Replace This Summer

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All 30 NBA teams want to get better, and though the path to improvement is complicated and context-dependent, one of the best ways to make a leap is to improve the starting lineup.

Because even the strongest starting fives have a weak link.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

And in the cases where messing with a truly great first unit seems ridiculous, we’ll get creative and search for ways to make the group more fun or more effective. In other words “must replace” will sometimes turn into “wouldn’t it be cool if…”

The criteria will shift for every team, because the 30 situations across the league are distinct heading into the summer of 2018. In the case of rebuilding clubs, it might make sense to replace a quality starter because he’s too costly or too old to fit into the organization’s big-picture timeframe. nfl jersey cheap For top-end clubs, the calculus will often be simpler: Which starter just isn’t producing enough in the short term?

Suggesting replacement doesn’t necessarily mean a team has to cut ties with the player in question either (though sometimes that’s exactly what we’ll suggest)nfl jerseys for cheap . In some situations, it just means a guy is better suited to coming off the bench.

In the long-ball era, your point guard just cannot shoot 29 percent from three-point range…unless your point guard has unusual skills in other areas (height, playmaking, defense, etc.) that make up for an inability to space the floor. We’re talking “Ben Simmons” levels of compensatory excellence.

Dennis Schroder is not Ben Simmons.

The five-year vet is a career 32 percent shooter from deep, which could mean last year’s woeful conversion rate was little more than a prolonged, mild slump. Or, it could mean that’s how effectively Schroder converts his treys when he’s the clear No. 1 option on his team.nfl jersey cheap

He wouldn’t be the first player to struggle while taking on added responsibilities.

Either way, the Hawks are in the earliest stages of a rebuild, and Schroder hasn’t shown enough in his five seasons to warrant consideration as a long-term piece. Especially for an Atlanta club that cut bait with Dwight Howard in part because of concerns about his personality. Schroder, owed $46.5 million cheap nfl jerseys over the next three seasons, could face felony battery charges stemming from an incident at a club on Sept. 29.

If Atlanta is really starting fresh, it should do so without Schroder as its first-unit point guard.

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.

Aaron Rodgers Frustrated, Emotional over Packers’ Lack of Communication

When it comes to making personnel moves, organizations have been known to consult the face of their franchise.

That hasn’t been the case with the Green Bay Packers and quarterback authentic nfl jerseys cheap Aaron Rodgers this offseason, though. That lack of communication is reportedly causing tension.

In recent months, the team cut ties with longtime receiver Jordy Nelson and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. They did so without discussing matters with Rodgers, which has left the signal-caller “frustrated” and “emotional,” according to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson.

“Both of those decisions [with Nelson and Van Pelt] were made without him,” one league source close to nfl jerseys for cheap Rodgers told Robinson. “In both situations, he had no influence with [the front office] before anything went down.”

The team would be wise to do everything it can to make the two-time NFL MVP happy. The Super Bowl XLV MVP has just two years remaining on his deal. Upsetting him risks the possibility of his not giving them a hometown discount or even negotiating an extension at all.

“I know he’s thinking about that stuff when it comes to the next contract because he should have earned a voice by now,” the source added, per Robinson. “In other places with [elite] quarterbacks, consideration is given to those guys. I think Aaron wants to be engaged in some decisions. cheap nfl jerseys But that’s just not the way it works [in Green Bay]. I think that’s obviously frustrating and it’s going to keep coming out.”

Rodgers responded to the report on Tuesday, telling reporters  he has to “trust the process” and that the Packers are “paying me to play quarterback.”

Rodgers also noted there’s “interest on both sides” in a new contract.

Green Bay missed the postseason last season after going 7-9, a campaign in which a broken nfl jersey cheap collarbone limited Rodgers to seven games. He passed for 1,675 yards and 16 touchdowns while posting a quarterback rating of 97.2.

The team may have felt like it was time for a change, having not won the Super Bowl in seven seasons. Last year marked the first time since Rodgers’ first full campaign as a starter (2008) that the Packers missed the playoffs, and it took his injury to keep them out this time.

Other than New England Patriots star Tom Brady, perhaps no other player in the NFL has earned the right to have a say in personnel decisions more than Rodgers. But as he told Milwaukee’s 102.9 The Hog (h/t Robinson), “It’s pretty clear that players play and coaches coach and personnel people make their decisions. That’s the way they want it.”

Roger Goodell Deposed in Colin Kaepernick Collusion Case; QB Present for Hearing

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took part in a deposition Tuesday as part of Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league.

Per Richard Maese of the Washington Post, authentic nfl jerseys cheap Kaepernick was in the room for the entirety of Goodell’s deposition that lasted “all morning.”

Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion last October after he went unsigned by all 32 teams as a free agent since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017.

Per USA Today’s A.J. Perez, attorneys for Kaepernick and the NFL have already deposed NFL nfl jerseys for cheap executive vice president Troy Vincent and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the case.

Other NFL owners who are expected to be deposed in Kaepernick’s grievance include Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, cheap nfl jerseys Bob McNair of the Houston Texans, Paul Allen of the Seattle Seahawks and Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Per the NFL’s labor rules, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Kaepernick’s case could result in the termination of the current collective bargaining agreement.

“Article 69, Section 2 of the CBA allows for the agreement to be terminated prematurely in the event of proof of collusion,”nfl jersey cheap  Florio wrote. “Under Article 17, Section 16(c) of the CBA, termination can arise from only one incident of collusion involving only one player if there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation.”

Kaepernick began protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem prior to games throughout the 2016 season.

Jackie Robinson Didn’t Shut Up and Play Ball, so Why Should Today’s Athletes?

In America, April 15 is known as Tax Day. In America’s national pastime, it’s Jackie Robinson Day.

In this current sports era—a historic moment filled with protests and calls for athletes to “shut up and dribble,” it is especially important to remember the Jackie Robinson who was determined to use his platform to fight for civil rights. And the Jackie Robinson who embodied the message: “A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.”
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Some black-and-white photos and cinematic scenes from 42, starring Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa himself) as Robinson, would lead us to believe Jackie was a mild-mannered character who quietly tipped his hat to crowds yelling racial slurs at him—because for the early part of his career, he had to.

“They’re waiting for you in the jungles, black boy!” and “Hey snowflake, which one of those white boys’ wives are you dating tonight?” Phillies manager Ben Chapman jeered, per Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had It Made. Confrontations like these caused Robinson to bury his hostility and go home to his wife, Rachel, “tense and irritable, keyed up because [he] hadn’t been able to speak out.”ac518c79f9709de1e1b3b6ee920247e5_crop_exactcheap nfl authentic jerseys

Robinson wrote in the book that he was always careful about being publicly critical, because he knew “the minute I began to answer, to argue, to protest—the minute I began to sound off—I became a swellhead, a wise guy, an ‘uppity’ n—-r. When a white player did it, he had spirit. When a black player did it, he was ‘ungrateful,’ an upstart, a sorehead.”cheap nfl jersey

This wasn’t easy for Robinson, “a black man who never tolerated affronts to his dignity” prior to the major leagues. Not because Robinson wanted to get revenge, but because, as he later admitted, “I wanted to be Jackie Robinson,” the more authentic Robinson who emerged in the 1949 season.

Rachel Robinson said his shift in attitude wasn’t tied to any pledge, but to Jackie’s confidence in his standing and in the integration of MLB.nfl jersey cheap

“He had purchased the right to speak his mind many times over,” President Barack Obama said in Ken Burns’ 2016 documentary Jackie Robinson.

Robinson became more vocal regarding off-field issues like juvenile justice, communism and police brutality in African American communities.

He used his platform to advocate for black youth on the issue of juvenile delinquency. He hosted numerous sports camps at the Harlem YMCA, wrote various New York Post and New York Amsterdam News columns on the problem of youth crime and regularly called on athletes and celebrities to be more involved with organizations seeking to steer kids down the right path.

NBA Power Rankings: How All 30 Teams Stack Up at the End of 2017-18

How good are all 30 NBA teams?

That’s a more complicated question than you’d think because answering it means pricing in whatever extra gear we believe each team has while also taking into account its entire body of work from the 2017-18 regular season.

Mostly, we’re ranking on the usual basis: stats, recent play and health are the key factors. But since this is the last set we’ll publish ahead of the playoffs, we’ve also got to account for the more nebulous idea of switch-flipping.

That doesn’t mean these will read like a rundown of who’s got the best title odds, but there will be more “OK, deep down, how good do we know this team to be?” thinking than in previous editions.

Six months of power rankings highs and lows have led us to this.

It’s been emotional.

30. Phoenix Suns (30)

The Phoenix Suns closed out their season with a 124-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks that represented, easily, their largest margin of victory all year. In that contest, a gentleman named Alec Peters scored 36 points. Admit it: You’ve never heard of him.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Phoenix finished last in offensive and defensive efficiency and will hit the lottery with the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick.

Congratulations, Suns. You were the worst team in the NBA this season. Mission accomplished.

29. Memphis Grizzlies (28)602908e419aaf807d25d7f5717b891a1_crop_exactnfl jerseys for cheap

The Memphis Grizzlies also logged a victory this week, which would normally have been enough to get them upward momentum. But if this final edition is to be reflective of the season as a whole, the Grizzlies can’t be any better than second-to-last. They had two double-digit losing streaks in 2017-18, the longer of which spanned an incredible 19 games.

Bring on Luka Doncic!
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28. Chicago Bulls (26)

If not for that ridiculous 10-3 stretch to close out December, the Chicago Bulls would have handily won the race to the bottom. But because Nikola Mirotic led them on that improbable spurt before getting traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 1, they wound up with 27 wins and in a tie with the Sacramento Kings for sixth in the lottery odds.nfl jersey cheap

If we acknowledge the roster that accumulated that 10-3 streak doesn’t resemble the one that finished the season, it’s fair to drop the Bulls this low. Especially since they concluded the year with a minus-7.8 net rating, tied for second-worst with the Kings.

Pat Shurmur on Odell Beckham Jr After WR Reports to Giants: He Wants to Be Great

New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur complimented wideout Odell Beckham Jr. for being in minicamp Monday despite not having a long-term contract and being the subject of trade speculation.

“I really believe Odell is a professional. He wants to be great. He understands the importance of the authentic nfl jerseys cheap offseason. He’s a competitive guy…I’m glad he’s here today,” Shumur said Monday.

Beckham, 25, has been featured in trade rumors in recent weeks, due in part to his contract status. The three-time Pro Bowler, who is coming off a season-ending ankle injury, can be an unrestricted free agent next year.hi-res-79d08da025a187f9497d4531e90db7f0_crop_north

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported March 29 the Giants would be open to trading Beckham for two first-round picks.nfl jerseys for cheap  Two days prior, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones, “You don’t quit on talent” when discussing Beckham.

“Bottom line is, as Ernie [Accorsi] taught us, you don’t quit on talent,” Gettleman said. “… He’s on our team.”

Beckham is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in football. He had at least 90 receptions, 1,300 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three NFL seasons. Only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have averaged more receiving yards per game than Beckham since he entered the league.cheap nfl jerseys

However, there have been near-constant questions about his attitude. Beckham has been criticized for multiple sideline outbursts, nfl jersey cheap though he made the point in December that his competitiveness is viewed differently than Tom Brady’s.

There have also been other questions about his maturity following his fights with opponents and off-field endeavors. Though he has never been in trouble off the field, his celebrity lifestyle has drawn some ire as the Giants have slipped in the standings.

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.

The NFL’s Riskiest Offseasons Aren’t Happening Where You Might Think

You’ve probably already heard this, but it’s incredibly risky to make aggressive moves like the Rams have this offseason. The way they’re building their roster will end in one of two ways in 2018: They’ll either make the 1985 Bears look like a JV squad, or they will implode in training camp when Marcus Peters punches Aqib Talib for stealing his chain and Aaron Donald goes on sit-down strike after seeing Ndamukong Suh’s bank statement. authentic nfl jerseys cheap

But at least the Rams know what they’re getting themselves into. Other teams are taking even bigger risks. They just don’t know it yet because it isn’t as obvious.

Those teams are making the NFL’s favorite bad gamble: the no-risk risk. They’re trying to somehow get better by getting rid of their best players. The dreaded culture change. The rebuilding project that is driven by personalities, not potential. The play-it-safe-and-guarantee-mediocrity gambit.

“You don’t quit on talent,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones during the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, this week. The Giants brass then spent the rest of the week sounding like they couldn’t wait to quit on Odell Beckham Jr., one nfl jerseys for cheap of the most talented individuals in professional sports, because he’s sometimes a bit of a handful.

Gettleman and the Giants already traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers for loose change and are moving on from many of the big names they splurged on over the last two years. If they trade Beckham, even for a fistful of draft picks, they might as well make Quitting on Talent the team’s 2018 motto.
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Granted, much of the talent quit on the Giants last year. It makes sense for a 3-13 team to shed some salary and move on from older players.nfl jersey cheap

The Seahawks are in a similar situation. Their veterans grew expensive and cantankerous in the years since their championship, making a reboot inevitable.

The problem comes when a rebuilding team starts giving away its best rebuilding blocks, as the Giants are itching to do with Beckham and the Seahawks did with Richard Sherman, because they convince themselves that the locker room needs an attitude adjustment. That’s how teams either get stuck in endless rebuilding cycles or become mediocre for years, waiting for the stars to finally align and make everything perfect.

The no-risk risk and perpetual culture change are staples of AFC East also-ran reasoning.cheap nfl authentic jerseys

The Dolphins have been vocal about their need to change the clubhouse atmosphere since the end of last season. Head coach Adam Gase said Tuesday that he was certain that the team culture was about to improve now that the roster has been reimagined.cheap nfl jerseys