Month: February 2017

Fallout from DeMarcus Cousins All-Star night trade

Embed from Getty Images

By: Bill Tewes

All-Star night was primarily dominated by the likes of Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Isaiah Thomas. What no one expected, was to learn of a trade between the Sacramento Kings and the host town’s New Orleans Pelicans, which had the Kings send superstar center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the Pelicans for rookie guards Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and a 2017 1st and 2nd, the deal first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

This monster blockbuster deal sent ripples throughout the NBA. Many think of this trade as highway robbery, with the Kings being heavily taken advantage of. Some see this as a good move for Sacramento, as they can now freely enter a true rebuild without the distraction that Cousins has brought to the team. What are the implications of this trade for both teams?

Cousins and his Designated Player Max Deal

The Sacramento Kings would have had to commit to a designated player max deal of $209 million over five years. It would be a massive risk that both sides seemingly were interested in, even though Cousins has clashed with the organization since he was drafted 5th overall in 2010. According to ESPN senior writer Brian Windhorst, the Kings had this option via the new CBA agreement, because the dedicated player max is designed so that teams can sign the players they drafted and also so that the player has an extreme incentive to stay with that team.

The Kings are now free of a player who matured into a dominant big, but one who also failed to mature in other aspects of the game. Cousins leads the league in technical fouls with 19. Sacramento is now able to completely tank out this season and build around players such as Hield, Rudy Gay and their slew of young centers.

Pelicans and the scariest front court in all of the NBA

One would be hard pressed to find a front-court that is even remotely close to as good as what now exists in New Orleans. The Pelicans made a huge splash, as they simply could not compete with Golden State by having Anthony Davis surrounded by average guards, or ones that need to mature like rookie Buddy Hield. Cousins and Davis are 4th and 5th respectively in the league in points per game with essentially 28 per game.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

New Orleans will be not be forced to pay the Dedicated Player Max contract that Sacramento would have had to pay Cousins in order to keep him. If they had to, Cousins would become the highest paid player on the Pelicans roster by about $16 million per year over Davis, who already makes $17 million per year. This signing will cost $30 million, according to a report by CBS Sports. Cousins can now only sign for five years $180 million, which still makes him the highest paid player on the Pelicans.

New Orleans has no guarantee that Cousins will even stay with them, as he can hit the open market and become the highest paid player in the NBA after the 2018 season. It would be a massive blow for New Orleans to only get a season and a half rental out of Cousins if he indeed decides to test free agency and walk away from New Orleans, considering the assets they gave up in order to get Cousins.

The final verdict

Rumors have swirled for quite some time regarding a Cousins trade with multiple teams. Phoenix was rumored to be involved as well as in state rival Los Angeles. No one knows for sure how substantial these trade talks were and on the surface it looks as if Sacramento gave up Cousins for an oft-injured Tyreke Evans, an unknown in Buddy Hield and a 1st round pick that will be coming from a playoff team. The truth of the matter is that Sacramento just could not see the long term benefit of committing to Cousins, who has been with them for six seasons and the Kings have yet to make the playoffs. While definitely not on Cousins, the Kings have a lot of work to do before they can become a real contender and an organic rebuild is what they truly need.

For the Pelicans, they create a ridiculous mismatch that teams will have a terrible time defending. Can they put sub par players around Davis and Cousins and hope that these two superstars cover for the rest of the team? Will Cousins stay and form a dynamic duo with Davis that will haunt the Western Conference for years to come? The risk is certainly high, but may prove to be worth it for New Orleans in the long run.
Winner: New Orleans 

Owning the Future? What Jabari Parker's Injury Means For the Bucks

The rebuild took a big hit Wednesday night.

Embed from Getty Images

 

By: Jim Boyce

By now if you are a Bucks fan you have heard the news, Jabari Parker tore his ACL again on a non contact injury Wednesday night against the Miami Heat. This is the second time in just three seasons Parker has experienced this injury. Suddenly the dreadful month of January in which the Bucks have lost 11 of their last 13 meant little. The Bucks have already faded out of contention this season, but right now that means nothing compared to the long term effects Parker’s injury may have. A dark cloud now hangs over the future of this franchise.

THE IMPACT

The devastating thing about this injury is there is not much, or any, history of NBA players coming back from two torn ACL’s and being successful. A local example is Michael Redd, who was essentially forced to retire after his second major knee injury. Redd was at a much later stage of his career than Parker is now, and our fingers are crossed that youth helps Jabari make it back onto the court.

Expectations need to be tempered though. Even with a full recovery Parker will not be back on the floor for 12 months and then it will take some time for him to work back into the rotation and feel comfortable. Even an optimistic view does not see Parker back and playing at full strength until the Bucks open up their new arena in the fall of 2018. It’s impossible to say right now if Parker will be anywhere near as explosive when he does return, and for a player as dependent on explosiveness as he is that is incredibly concerning.

WHAT NOW?

The Bucks should tank, plain and simple. Tanking is an ugly word but the Bucks need to take a long term approach with this setback. Let Thon Maker, Malcolm Brogdon, and Rashad Vaughn get the bulk of the minutes and see what you have in these guys going forward. While playoff experience is useful the Bucks do not have much to gain by chasing the 8th seed and it is not a lock they will even have enough firepower to get there anyway.

The ultimate goal here in Milwaukee is to win a championship and to do that you need an a star studded core. Recent examples such as the Cavaliers and Warriors show that star power is what wins in the NBA. The Bucks have one already in Giannis and Khris Middleton was a fringe All-Star last season before getting hurt to open 2016-17. The other piece was Parker, who garnered All-Star consideration with his best basketball to date. Right now though the Bucks can not be sure Parker will still be that player. If he loses explosiveness or is battling injury throughout his career he can not be counted on to be that piece that gets them to the big stage. Thon Maker could develop into a star player, he is certainly willing to put in the work to do so. Still while Maker is an exciting young talent, there are no guarantees he reaches the level that Parker was trending towards.

The best way for the Bucks to land another potential star is through the draft. The 2017 class is considered deep by many, and the Bucks could land a really good player with a high draft pick. This is mainly why I believe “tanking” is the way for the Bucks to go now. It is no fun watching a team finish with 30 or so wins, but the reward down the line could be great. Adding a top talent to this team could help offset Parker’s cloudy future and if Jabari is able to overcome his injuries and play at a high level the Bucks will have a truly special, championship level core. A draft pick, even top five, carries no guarantees but it is the best the Bucks can do at the moment.

In conclusion this is a devastating turn of events for the Bucks and their fans. The rebuild almost certainly has been delayed, and for how long is yet to be determined. I am still optimistic that the Bucks window has not shut before it even opened, but the road to success just became a whole lot more difficult.

Historic Night For Patriots Running Back James White As He Sets Multiple Records in Super Bowl LI

Embed from Getty Images

By: Bill Tewes

Patriots running back James White posted a MVP-like game, as the Patriots topped the Falcons in an unlikely comeback to win Super Bowl LI 34-28. His impact was largely felt through the air, as White hauled in a Super Bowl record 14 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. White also rushed for two touchdowns, taylling 29 rushing yards and also took an impressively called half back keeper for New England’s first 2 point conversion. White posted an additional Super Bowl record for points scored by an individual player with 20 points. He scored the game winning touchdown, completing the nearly impossible comeback for the Patriots.

Tom Brady deservedly took home the MVP for his role in orchestrating their comeback, but White’s impact was felt throughout the entire game. He was responsible for three of New England’s touchdowns and when it looked as if New England could not comeback after being down 28-3, he was there to pick up the slack and provide New England a sliver of hope.

Even the MVP of the game believed that White should have been the actual MVP. In a post game interview, Brady said, “I think James White deserves it,” Brady said of the Patriots running back. “It’d be nice for him. It took a real team effort. (Fox Sports).” According to Yahoo Sports, Brady may even give away the truck he won as part of his MVP award to White.

White’s swiss-army-knife-like level of play propelled the Patriots into ever having a chance at making last night’s game interesting. White has had some nice games for the Patriots since his rookie season in 2014, but has often been third on the depth chart behind teammates LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis. White was inactive for the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX victory against the Seahawks that season and it would be hard to believe that not playing in that Super Bowl did not gave him extra drive and motivation to get him to where he is today; a Super Bowl record setting running back.

For many Wisconsin Badger fans, James White has always been a household name at Camp Randall stadium. Even though he was second fiddle to record setting running backs such as Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon for much of his collegiate career, White’s work ethic was already evident in his freshman season, where h won Big 10 freshman of the year, after totaling 1,052 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns (Sports-Reference).

He finally got his chance to truly shine in his senior season as the Badgers primary starter, where he totaled 1,444 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while also amassing an additional 300 yards receiving as well as catching three touchdowns (Sports-Reference). It was not until his senior season that it became evident that White could be a dynamic threat catching the ball. White entered the 2014 NFL draft with a profile of barely getting draft, which was surprising, seeing as how he had an excellent career with the Badgers in a limited role for much of his collegiate career.

It was somewhat of surprise when Bill Belicheck drafted White at the end of the 4th round. White dropped in the draft largely due to size and speed, but many teams failed to recognize the tangible things he brought to the table. Perhaps if White was the starter for all four years he spent at Wisconsin, he would have been a much higher pick, regardless of the concerns with his size and speed.

In looking at the 2014 Running Back Draft Class, it is hard to believe that players such as Bishop Sankey, Tre Mason, Charles Sims, Jerick McKinnon, Dri Archer, Andre Williams, Ka’Deem Carey and De’Anthony Thomas all were drafted ahead of White. Most of these running backs have little to no role with their current teams and it is even more unbelievable now that White has proven his worth on the NFL’s biggest stage. He is developing well with the Patriots and may be the only running back from this class aside from Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill, that will earn a second contract in the NFL. His Super Bowl LI performance will certainly help that cause.

 

 

Should Packers Ask Aaron Rodgers to Restructure?

Embed from Getty Images

Tom Brady restructured and the New England Patriots have been to two Super Bowls since

By: Bill Tewes

Another year goes by and it’s another year in which the Green Bay Packers will be watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of their homes. After the Packers ran into the buzzsaw that was the Atlanta Falcons, many questions are left unanswered as to how the Pack can right the ship and become a contender again.

A popular question in recent days, is whether or not the organization should ask Aaron Rodgers to restructure his contract, so that GM Ted Thompson can sign some top caliber free agent talent and give Rodgers a championship caliber team. Before we answer that, lets take a look at Green Bay’s cap situation heading into the 2017-2018 season.

Green Bay will head into the 2017 season with many difficult decisions that Thompson will have to make, as far as retaining some of his own players. Any Packers fan can tell you that Thompson typically favors his own guys and there has been some embarrassing examples of keeping his own draft picks too long (Brad Jones, AJ Hawk).

With the likely departure of Julius Peppers, Sam Shields, James Starks and most likely Letroy Guion, the Packers will free up over $20 million in cap space with those players off the books. Left guard T.J. Lang will be an interesting case, as he is certainly worth the money and is one helluva tough player. But injuries plagued him all last season and he departed the NFC Championship game with a foot injury. Peppers would be welcomed back with open arms, but only if he takes a veteran’s minimum deal.

In a meritocracy, hybrid linebacker/defensive end Datone Jones would have been gone about a season ago. There is slim to no chance that Thompson brings back Jones, as he has not performed to the caliber a first round pick warrants. Starks will also be gone after posting an atrocious 2.3 yards per carry and never coming back from a concussion sustained in a car accident.

One player, however, that does warrant a contract is linebacker Nick Perry. Perry looked like another disappointing bust following in the footsteps of his peer Jones, but Perry turned it up this past season totaling 11 sacks, a team high. According to Spotrac.com, Perry’s potential market value is in the 8.5 million per year range. I could see Perry fetching more than that on the open market to a team that is desperate for a linebacker. But I see Green Bay being that desperate team and getting a deal done with Perry. Two other players that should receive contracts are Tight End Jared Cook and Hybrid Safety Micah Hyde, as both will hit free agency, but played well enough to earn new contracts with the team.

The 2014 draft class is also something that the team will have to factor in when considering how much money they will be spending in free agency. Pro Bowl safety HaHa Clinton-Dix will most definitely get a contract extension, along with Davante Adams, who posted a turnaround season with 12 touchdowns and came up three yards short of 1,000 yards on the season.

Running back Eddie Lacy’s status with the team is up in the air, as the obvious weight concerns, injury concerns, the emergence of Ty Montgomery at running back and a loaded running back class in this year’s draft will put Lacy in the “prove it deal” category. It would be nice to have Lacy back for insurance purposes and the fact that he was averaging just over five yards a carry before his season was ended with an ankle injury.

With all this being said, Green Bay should be in the $35-40 million dollar range in cap space if the aforementioned cuts, cap rollover, as well as the cap going up to $163-$165 million (up from roughly $155 million in 2016). They will have plenty of money to play with in order to sign a couple players on the defensive side of the ball, adding crucial pieces they desperately need to get Aaron Rodgers another title on his mantle.

It would seem incredibly disingenuous to ask perhaps the best quarterback in all of football at the moment to restructure his contract. Rodgers is not even the highest paid quarterback in the league. Super Bowl bound and likely 2016 MVP winning QB Matt Ryan was the highest paid quarterback to start the 2016 season (Andrew Luck is now the highest paid) and took a team with a pretty average defense to the Super Bowl. The difference is that the Falcons added key free agents in Alex Mack (viewed as one of the best free agent signings this past offseason) as well as role players in Dwight Freeney, Courtney Upshaw and the speedy receiver Taylor Gabriel to compliment superstar Julio Jones.

Ted Thompson has absolutely no choice but to spend some of the cap money the team currently has. Rodgers has three years left on his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season. The only possible way Rodgers would restructure is if he was guaranteed a deal similar to Tom Brady’s back in 2013, in which Rodgers would receive his money differently than his current contract, but with more guaranteed money as well as an extension to the current contract.

However, Rodgers is not 35 and also has no guarantee from management that they have plans to upgrade the team and get him some help. What would be the point of sticking around after his prime years are well in the rear view mirror and the team still has no real change?

The real answer to the restructure question is to look at players like Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb as possible restructure candidates. Matthews has been an essential piece to the defense and the team would struggle without him. But he has trouble staying on the field and has not brought the production to match the contract. Cobb is in a similar boat. Cobb showed some flashes in the post season of his old self, but he has definitely not lived up to contract extension that nets him $10 million per year.

Our next offseason installment will focus on players that Thompson can target in free agency.