Monday, March 31, 2014

April Fools! Parnell and Bullpen Implode as Mets Fall to Nats 9-7

NATIONALS 9
METS 7

If Opening Day is a microcosm of things to come, than the Mets are in store for a very long and painful season.

Bobby Parnell blew the save on Opening Day.
Everything was going New York's way for six innings. They held a 4-2 lead. Dillon Gee was having a brilliant outing in his first career opening day start. Andrew Brown, of all people, hit a three-run homer. The sun was shining. The fans were happy, and then the bottom fell out.

What else is new in the life of the New York Mets. The culprit: the bullpen.

Terry Collins tried to avoid them, he tried to push Dillon Gee past his tipping point, almost to the point he was getting out managed by Matt Williams who was managing his first game with Washington. But at the end of the day, Collins couldn't avoid the nightmare, the bullpen.

Gee started to lose it in the seventh inning. He surrendered a single to Bryce Harper, walked Adam LaRoche, and gave up an RBI double Anthony Rendon to cut the Mets lead to 4-3. With Gee now at 100 pitches, Collins took him out for Carlos Torres, who proceeded to walk Nate McCoulth on four pitches. Collins popped out of the dugout again, and called on Scott Rice, who proceeded to allow Denard Span to drive in the tying run with a double down the line.

Who knew that on this day that Jose Valverde, a man who blew so many games in Detroit would be the best reliever of the day when he struck out Ryan Zimmerman with the bases full.

As they had done earlier in the game, the Mets teased their fans. Juan Lagares, yes Juan Lagares, hit a solo home run to left giving New York a 5-4 lead in the eighth. Everything was now set for a nice Opening Day finish, but Bobby Parnell decided to revert back to the questionable reliever he's always been.

First pitch fastball up the middle was crushed for a single by Ian Desmond. We should have known right then and there that something was about to happen. Parnell never topped 93 mph on the radar gun. He looked flustered on the mound in a big spot.

After getting the next two batters out, Parnell walked Danny Espinosa, and surrendered a game tying double to drive in Desmond to make it 5-5. Parnell once again showcased why there will always be doubts about his ability as a closer. Until he mans up in a big moment, those questions will remain.

From there the bullpen completely folded like a deck of cards. The Nationals exploded for four runs in the tenth inning, capped off by a three-run homer by Rendon to make it 9-5.

If Sandy Alderson thinks that this team can win 90 games, he better go out there and improve this bullpen. It has been Alderson's biggest fault over his four year stay as Mets GM.

So 2014 is off the kind of start Mets fans feared.

Re-Tooled Yankees Poised for Return to Playoffs

Two words you won't hear much of this season: Alex Rodriguez.

And that is exactly what the Yankees want, to never hear or utter that name anywhere near the 2014 season as they try to return to the playoffs with a brand new look. 

Sure Rodriguez's season long suspension certainly played a large role in Brian Cashman's ability to re-tool the outfield and starting rotation for this year's Yankee club, but make no mistake, the Yankees are happy A-Rod is a distant memory, at least for this year. 

Instead, the 2014 season is about two things. It is about the new guys who are now bearing pinstripes for the first time, and, it's about the last go-round for the face of the franchise: Derek Jeter. 

Jeter announced his intentions to retire before Spring Training started. It marks the end of an incredible era in Yankees baseball, an era that brought five world championships back to the Bronx, and started a generation of fans, the dimensions of which the Yankees, nor any franchise, have seen. 

Every town the Yankees visit this year, Jeter will get bestowed with all kinds of honors and gifts the way Mariano Rivera was last season. While Jeter is not the most personable in public, he will take it like a champ. Rest assure that his final home game as a Yankee in September will be must see television.

 Meanwhile there is a season to play. With Rodriguez and Robinson Cano now out of the picture, the Yankees infield is certainly in flux. The club doesn't have solid answers at either second or third this season. The Yankees hope that Brian Roberts can reclaim the form he once had as an Oriole at second base, and that Kelly Johnson can hit enough in the lineup to justify his stay at third. 

Mark Teixeira is now the most important Yankee on the infield. He missed most of the 2013 season with a wrist injury, and has got to stay healthy and return to the 30/100 hitter that he was previously. Teixeira owns a career .997 fielding percentage, and for a tall man, is very athletic at first base. When he's going well, he's easily one of the game's best fielding first baseman. 

If Teixeira can return to form, he will stabilize the infield, taking pressure off of Roberts and Johnson. Even Jeter won't feel like he has to do too much with his 40-year old body if Tex plays well. 

Sleeper alert: Don't forget that former Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann is behind the plate. He is going to have a very big season in the friendly confines of Yankees Stadium. Watch out. 

The outfield is a different story. In fact, it might be New York's biggest strength. The Yankees spent $247 million on the outfield, signing free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and extending Brett Gardner for four years, $52 million. Ellsbury gives the Yankees a lead-off hitter for the next seven years, even though he is not a big time stolen base candidate. Ellsbury is a gap-to-gap hitter, who will benefit from hitting in front of the powerful hitters to come in the Yankee lineup. 

As for Beltran, he joins the team he wanted to play for back in 2004, going as far as to throw his old employers the Mets under the bus at his introductory press conference. While he is 36 years old, Beltran still hit 24 home runs last year for St. Louis. If he stays healthy, he will benefit from the short porch in right field when he hits left handed. 

The Yankees also have aging Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano on the team as well. Yankees fans should not expect much from either, but the occasional pinch hit would certainly be in order. Soriano will be the primary DH.

The Yankees rotation might also be a strength this season. CC Sabathia is in the best shape of his career, with his weight below 270 lbs. Some have felt that the weight loss contributed to Sabathia's poor 2013, but fact is the older he gets and healthier he becomes, the weight loss shouldn't be a problem. Sabathia will no longer blow people away with 95 mph fastballs, he's adjusting to life on the corners and was very good this Spring. 

The biggest addition to the rotation, of course is Mashairo Tanaka. Tanaka is 25 years old, and was unstoppable in Japan. While the Yankees paid a fortune for him, if he successfully adjusts to the US game, he will be well worth it. In five spring games, he was 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA, with 26 strikeouts in 21 innings. This guy will be fun to watch. 

Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda round out what could be a very special rotation. Kuroda was excellent in the first half of 2013, while Pineda was once a flame thrower for the Mariners before he was injured two years ago. 

Outlook: The Yankees need a lot of things to go right this year on both sides of the plate. They need the rotation to live up to its lights out potential, and they need David Robertson to settle into the roll as closer, now that Rivera is gone.

This Yankees team is far from perfect, but you get the feeling that Red Sox, Yankees and Rays are all setting themselves up for bigger acquisitions come July 31. 

The Red Sox are the defending champs, but, they are a year older. Outside of Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz, there is a lot of age in that starting rotation. Plus third base is not exactly solidified with Will Middlebrooks manning the position. Look for Boston to be in the race to get another big arm come July. 

The Rays might have the best trio of starters in David Price, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, but they will need to throw up a lot of zeros to win. The Rays are asking Evan Longoria to carry the offense, having surrounded him with career underachievers like David DeJesus, Will Meyers, Yunel Escobar, and James Loney. The Rays will be in the market for a bat come July for sure. 

So the East in general is not perfect. The Yankees will be in a three-way battle with Tampa and Boston all season long. Expect the Yankees to get a lot of good things from the offense, and some solid performances from their starters to get themselves into one of the two wild cards. 

PREDICTION: 88-74, 2nd wild card in the AL. 

LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury - LF
Derek Jeter - SS
Carlos Beltran - RF
Mark Teixiera - 1B
Brian McCann - C 
Alfonso Soriano - DH
Kelly Johnson - 3B
Brian Roberts - 2B
Brett Gardner - CF 

ROTATION
CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Mashairo Tanaka
Ivan Nova
Michael Pineda

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mets Begin 2014 Season with More Questions than Answers

The 2014 baseball season is upon on us, and once again the Mets are limping to the starting gate.

A year ago the Mets front office talked up 2014 as the year that would be the turning point for the franchise. Gone would be the albatross contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana, or better known as the latest scapegoats by Mets management to not spend money on the baseball team. With payroll flexibility the Mets would flex their muscles in free agency. 

That's what we were led to believe, and if you the biggest kool-aid drinker of Wilpon rhetoric, then you probably think that the Mets had an amazing off-season and are ready to make a push. Hey, even Sandy Alderson said this year's Mets should "win 90 games." 

The Mets payroll is now $89 million for this season. A lot of money by some standards, but for a New York team, it feels like this team is better fit for Kansas City or Tampa Bay. Sure they spent $60 million on Curtis Granderson, but that was it. Unless you consider signing aging, overweight pitcher Bartolo Colon, and consistent .200 hitter Chris Young big time moves. 

Surely the Mets Opening Day roster bares little excitement and confidence. The team went into training camp with a two-way battle for first base between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. Six weeks later, the Mets still don't know who will be their regular first baseman. In 10 games this Spring, Duda hit .185 with two homers and three RBI. Davis, meanwhile, hit only .241 with two homers and seven RBI in 10 games.

At shortstop the Mets did everything they could to get rid of Ruben Tejada, but, Tejada is still here, and will start at short for New York. The Mets were unable to convince free agent Stephen Drew to lower his asking price, and New York, for now, is stuck with Tejada.

Add questions about the durability of catcher Travis d'Arnaud, and questions about the competency of Juan Lagares in center field and Young in right field, and one has the 2014 New York Mets.

To fair, the Mets plans would have likely been different had Matt Harvey not injured his elbow last fall, and had Tommy John's Surgery. Lost for the year, the dream that the Mets would have a monster rotation in 2014 went by the wayside the moment Harvey went M.I.A. The only headlines Harvey has made this year is his persistence to rehab from the injury in New York instead of Port St. Luice.

The story created a lot of headlines a couple weeks ago, with the media painting a war between the Mets front office and Harvery. Harvey eventually got his way, and will train in New York. Hint, hint to a future battle between these two when Harvey becomes a free agent in four years.

But, the Mets will miss Harvey. They will miss his bulldog presence on the pitching mound every fifth day. He brought life to a typically lifeless ballpark last season. In his stead, Zack Wheeler, while he is not the opening day starter, is the ace of the team. Wheeler came up last year and pitched well, with a 3.42 ERA and a 7-5 record. The Mets should not restrict his innings the way they did Harvey. Terry Collins and company have to let Wheeler grow into the role as Ace 1A, and let him clock in over 200 innings this season.

Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee round out the rotation. While Colon pitched well in Oakland last year, he is a year older and heavier. To expect big things from Colon in 2014 is asking a lot, and I'm afraid it was too much of a gamble for $10 million a year. Niese and Gee, meanwhile are average. They won't scare people, but they will win their fair share of games.

The only excitement that might come out of the Mets rotation this year is the eventual promotion of Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard is touted as the next big time pitcher coming out of the Mets system. He didn't make the team out of Spring Training, but if he has success at Triple-A Las Vegas, expect a call up come late May.

The Mets need Syndergaard, especially if he is as good as advertised. The Mets' fan needs to see Syndergaard and Wheeler together, eating up innings, strikeouts and hopefully W's. They need to see hope and light at the end of the tunnel. Because, right now, things are still pretty dark in Flushing, NY.

While Mets fans hate hearing the same excuses over and over again, it is not about winning in 2014. It's about getting the young pitchers lined up for the "turn around" in 2015. Or, at least that's what the Mets want us to believe.

Prediction: The Mets will battle Philadelphia for third place all season. Some say the Mets are so bad they might win as little as 63 games. I will beg to differ. While this team is bad, there is potential with the pitching, but the offense still is one of the worst in baseball. Record: 75-87, 4th place.

Likely Opening Day lineup:
Eric Young Jr. - LF 
Daniel Murphy - 2B 
David Wright - 3B 
Curtis Granderson - RF 
Chris Young - CF 
Ike Davis - 1B 
Travis d'Arnout - C
Ruben Tejada - SS 

Rotation
Dillon Gee 
Bartolo Colon
Zack Wheeler
Jon Niese 
Jenrry Mejia  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

With Gang Allegations Rising, Jets Should Move Away from DeSean Jackson

We live in a world of guilt by association most of the time, and it appears that former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson might fall into that category. 

The Eagles released Jackson this week after they became disturbed by information that he had associated himself with gangs in Los Angeles. 

According to a report from NJ.com Jackson knew a gang member who was associated with the death of a 14-year old boy. While Jackson was never present during this tragedy, he knew the man who was involved quite well according to the report. There have even been photos of Jackson giving out gang signs with a group of men, including the now acquitted suspect. 

In 2012, Jackson was connected as part of another gang related murder investigation, this one taking place outside of a South LA building "leased by a member of Jackson's family." NJ.com said that investigators found documents belonging to Jackson including a "car title and gun permit." 

The report emphasized that Jackson was never a suspect in the crime either, even though police tried to contact him.

With this disturbing information, combined with the fact that Jackson has been linked to poor locker room behavior, including being tardy for meetings, and ruffling the feathers of coach Chip Kelly, the New York Jets, who are linked as possible suitors for Jackson, should move on. 

Yes, while it seems that everyone who scores a touchdown these days throws up gang signs, and granted while Jackson has never been convicted of a crime, it doesn't make things better. 

The Jets over the last five years have been a proverbial circus; a franchise steeped in poor Public Relations skills, and associated with bad timing. 

From Tim Tebow, to Santonio Holmes' meltdown; from Mark Sanchez to Geno Smith;  Rex Ryan foot-gate to Rex Ryan's Mark Sanchez tatoo-gate. Darrelle Revis saga part 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. You can go on and on and on and on. The Jets know how to make news when most teams know better. They don't know how to handle prosperity, i.e. back-to-back AFC title game appearances, and have been worse at handling their image when times get tough. 

In a lot of ways it might even behoove Jackson to sign elsewhere as well. 

Yet, here was Woody Johnson earlier in the week admitting to the entire world that he wants DeSean Jackson in a Jets uniform, this days before the hidden truth behind the Eagles release was revealed. 

While Jackson is an immense talent, and he would definitely give the Jets a much needed weapon both at receiver and punt returner, they might be better off waiting until the draft to get a big time receiver to complement Eric Decker.

Jackson's situation sounds eerily similar to that of Holmes, whom the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn't wait to get rid of a few years ago. The Jets were the only team that jumped at the shot to get Holmes, and after a solid 2010 season, they quickly found out what the Steelers already knew. 

Jackson's poor personality would be an albatross not an asset, and with Michael Vick, a convicted felon already in the locker room, the Jets would only increase the outside perception that they are the 2010's version of the Oakland Raiders, and the 2000's Cincinnati Bengals. 

Some would try to say that having Vick in the locker room, as well as former Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg running the offense would calm Jackson down and get him to focus. We shall see, but his associations with gangs go back even to the time Mornhinweg served as Eagles OC. 

In light of the Aaron Hernandez fiasco, with the NFL very cognizant of its players associations in the off-season, the last thing the Jets need is for Jackson to suddenly find himself enthralled in a gang mess while as a member of the Jets. 

Nobody should shame the Jets if they ultimately pass on Jackson. John Idzik has led a very silent off-season where really the only positive moves were signing Decker and releasing Sanchez. He has preached getting the circus atmosphere out of town, and it remains to be seen if he would sign off on Jackson's joining the club. 

Let Jackson sign on a team that is desperate for a receiver with a big name, like Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland, St. Louis, and Minnesota. The Jets already have a big receiver in Decker. Get another one in the draft. Let Jackson light up the scoreboard in those cities, because ultimately the hammer will fall and break up whatever marriage Jackson has with his new team anyway. 

For the first time in a long, long time, maybe since the Eric Mangini era, the Jets would be better off being safe than sorry. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Who Let the Dogs Out? Jets Sign Ex-Eagle Michael Vick

The Jets went from the firing pan with Mark Sanchez into the fire when they completed a contract with veteran quarterback, and dog expert, Michael Vick on the same day as National Puppy Appreciation Day. Yes, there is a Puppy day.

Vick who lost his starting job last season to Nick Foles in Philadelphia had been linked to the Jets for some time, and New York finally signed the former jail hound to a one-year $5 million contract to be the "back-up" to Geno Smith.

The best part of the deal is the fact that the Jets were able to get rid of failed 2009 draft pick, Mark Sanchez, but adding Vick certainly brings its own share of risks.

For starters, Vick is 34-years old, and hasn't put together a really solid season since 2010, when he took the Eagles starting job from Donavan McNabb, and went on to have a Pro Bowl season, throwing for 3,083 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Vick has been underwhelming since, battling mostly injuries and the obvious fact that his career as a starter in the NFL might, in fact, be over.

While he won the quarterback job coming out of training camp last summer, he couldn't stay on the field long enough before suffering a hamstring injury against the Giants in October. Foles took over, and went on to have an incredible season. Vick never touched the field again.

When healthy, Vick can be very dynamic. This is a guy who is best when he is allowed to use his legs to make plays. Even in his 30s Vick still has pretty good speed; if the Jets can get a couple more receivers, teaming them up with a healthy Vick would make the Jets fun to watch.

However, one has to wonder what the Jets motivation really is with this move. Vick is a guy who still believes he can start in the NFL. He is also coming to a team that houses his former offensive coordinator with the Eagles in Marty Mornhinweg, whom he resurrected his career with after Vick's 2-year jail sentence for running a dog fighting ring.

All of those factors point to a guy who is going to compete for, and might even take the starting job away from Geno Smith, who is only in his second year in the NFL, and has proven little mental toughness thus far.

If Smith struggles, obviously the cat calls will be for Vick. And if Vick does come in and start, what kind of player will he actually be? Will he be the Vick from 2010 and '11? Or will he look like the washed up athlete we have seen the last two seasons?

At the very least this is a one year contract, a low risk move financially. But, if the Jets want Geno Smith to be their starting quarterback of the future, this will complicate things just a bit. Then again, perhaps a move like this signals that the Jets brain-trust doesn't believe in Smith after all, and once again the Jets still don't have a quarterback.

Jets Finally Cut Mark Sanchez, Sign Michael Vick

The long suffering Jets fan can now celebrate, Mark Sanchez is history!

The Jets released the butt-fumbling signal caller late Friday afternoon, saving $8.3 million in cap space and getting rid of one of the biggest quarterback failures in the history of the franchise.

Five years ago Sanchez came to town, an inexperienced college quarterback, who was once warned by his old coach Pete Carroll that he wasn't ready for the big show. Turns out, Carroll was right on. Oh by the way, Super Bowl ring count: Pete Carroll 1, Mark Sanchez 0.

Sanchez rode a magic carpet ride of entitlement to the starters job throughout his Jets career. Inspite of playing poorly, turing the football over at a record rate in 2011 and 2012, Sanchez never faced a challenge for his job.

His defenders credited him with "leading" the Jets to back-to-back AFC championship games his first two years in New York, but a closer look, and for those who actually paid attention to the Jets in 2009 and '10 will remember and realize that it was actually the Jets strong defense and running game, not Sanchez that was responsible for New York's run.

The Jets had to put big time players around Sanchez to mask the fact this was a quarterback in over his head at the NFL level. Even with the likes of Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and later Plaxico Burress, Sanchez still found a way to make himself into a walking comedy of errors.

When the Jets asked Sanchez to be the man and take the lead for the Jets, he fell flat on his face.

In his final two years as a starter, he turned the football over a combined 52 times, which lead the league.

He had a horrific 2011 season, turning the football over 30 times while becoming the center of Santonio Holmes' rage in the final week of the season in Miami, a game the Jets lost thanks to a couple of Sanchez interceptions.

The lone highlight of his infamous career will forever be the butt-fumble against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving in 2012. It was the nadir of Sanchez's ineptitude in green and white, and the beginning of the end of his run in New York.

The Jets did everything they could to try to dump him after GM Mike Tannenbaum foolishly awarded Sanchez a five year extension with guaranteed money. When Tannenbaum realized he made a mistake, he brought in Tim Tebow, creating a firestorm of controversy.

Rex Ryan, who, for whatever harbored an animus towards Tebow, never inserted him into a game, leaving the Jets to go down in flames with Sanchez at the helm. Before it was it too late, Ryan finally took pity on 80,000 booing and PO'd Jets fans during a horrific game against the Arizona Cardinals when he pulled Sanchez for Greg McElory. The Jets, who trailed 6-0 with Sanchez, won the game 7-6 with McElroy that nutty afternoon.

From that point forward the Jets never trusted Sanchez again. He cost Tannenbaum his job, and almost cost Ryan his at the end of 2012.

This sad, and even strangely humorous episode in Jets history has played out with Sanchez injuring himself in a pre-season game, when his lone defender, Ryan, inserted him into a game against the Giants as a macho chess move against GM John Idzik. Sanchez was lost for the year, and never ever started for the Jets again.

Where will he go? Honestly, who cares. This is not a NFL quarterback. Not for a guy who has more time for GQ magazine spreads, or even dumb YouTube videos rather than studying to be a good NFL quarterback. Perhaps Sanchez never loved football as much as he loved the lamelight. Now he is destined for a career as a back-up, if any NFL team is willing to give him a job.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Giants Beat Jets, Sign Rodgers-Cromartie to 5-Year Deal


Now it is the Giants who are getting the better of the Jets this off-season. 

The New York Giants continue their blitzkrieg off-season signing another player to a multi-year contract, this time nabbing former Broncos' cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five year deal worth $39 million, with $15 million guaranteed. 

With Rodgers-Cromartie in town along with Walter Thurmond and Quintin Demps, who they picked up on Sunday, the Giants secondary is only getting bigger and better. The Giants already have the likes of Prince Amukamara and Antrelle Rolle in the secondary, and these new additions give Big Blue a more menacing presence than in years past. 

Opponents have grown used to killing the Giants secondary over the years, a unit that has been partly responsible for Big Blue's struggles; now they have unit that compete with the big, physical receivers of the NFC East. 

Not to mention, Big Blue has committed to former Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain and re-signed Jon Beason. If the Giants can get their front seven healthy that brings the Giants back to the established pass rush they once had, this defense could be lethal. 

As for Cromartie, he's a ball hawk, and still young, only 27-years old. Last year he had three picks for the AFC Champion Denver Broncos, and owns 19 career interceptions. He is going to be a very solid addition to the Giants in 2014. 

While the Giants walk away from this signing big winners, there is also a loser in this deal and that is the New York Jets. 

The Jets had first dibs at Rodgers-Cromartie and blew it. They had him in their building, and even went as far as to have him take a physical with the team. Usually when a player has a physical for a team it means they are close to a deal, but instead John Idzik and Woody Johnson let Rodgers-Cromartie walk out the door, hop in a car and drive down Route 46 via Route 3 to the Giants training facility. 

The Jets have once again struck out big time in free agency. 

They missed out on Alterraun Verner, who many thought they were very much interested in, but instead allowed him to sign a deal with the Buccaneers. 

They let Donte Whitner, another free agent slip through their hands to the Browns. 

The stick that broke the camels back of course was the front office's decision to not even think about bringing back Darrelle Revis, allowing him to walk to the Patriots. 

Now the Jets have lost out on Rodgers-Cromartie. If New York is not careful, they might lose out on Antonio Cromartie, whom they released last week to make cap space. The Jets entered this period with $40 million in cap room, but have only spent big money on Eric Decker. 

While Decker is good, the fact that he is the only big signing for Gang Green is unacceptable. Oh, and by the way, the Jets were supposed to be in the running for former Packers receiver James Jones. Yeah well, Jones signed the Raiders. The Jets missed out again. 

With all of the mistakes and missed opportunities the Jets have had this off-season, it makes one wonder whether GM John Idzik really knows what he is doing when it comes to talking to players. 

Check out these tweets from the Daily News' Manish Mehta, and it looks like some bad stuff is starting to rumble in Florham Park: 



Friend of Rex Ryan chimes in on news Jets couldn't land Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (or any legit CB in free agency): "Rex is pissed."

Woody Johnson employees not named Idzik are not happy with Idzik. One just told me Idzik "operates on his own time & schedule. Unbelievable"


Source on Jets GM John Idzik: "He'll get a pass on one fire... and he'll fire Rex after next season."

While Mehta has had his issues reporting in the past, if these tweets have any validity to them things are going south for the Jets fast, and it's only March. Oh, and in case you are keeping count, the Jets have less than a week to unload Mark Sanchez or face paying his $2 million bonus for 2014.

As they used to say in New York, Giants win, Jets lose. 

Giants Acquire Thurmond & Demps. Rodgers-Cromartie Might Be Next

The New York Giants remain busy collecting as many pieces as they possibly can find this off-season. On Sunday the Giants agreed to contracts with former Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond and former Kansas City Chiefs safety Quintin Demps.

Both players figure to have an immediate impact on the Giants secondary, which is also getting a major facelift this off-season. Demps is more of a return guy. He averaged 30.1 yards a return last year, and with New York missing out on Jacoby Jones, Demps makes sense. He can also play safety, where he had four interceptions for the Chiefs last season. He is a solid addition.

As for Thurmond, buyer beware. While was a member of the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl championship team, he only started three games for the Sehawks last season. He is better suited for a nickle cornerback, meaning that Big Blue is still in the market for a true corner to balance the secondary.

What does this mean for the Giants? Well they are in the middle of discussions with Domique Rodgers-Cromartie, the cousin of former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. According to several reports, Rodgers-Cromartie has been interviewing with both the Jets and Giants, and could be deciding between one of them.

He had a physical with the Jets on Sunday, but left without signing a contract. He is now scheduled to have a phyiscal with the Giants on Monday, which might mean Big Blue will beat the Jets out for Cromartie's services.

If Cromartie signs with the Giants, he will give Big Blue a true threat in the secondary, something they have been lacking for a few years. It would also be another black eye for the Jets, who have been striking out in the cornerback market this off-season.

We should know more Monday afteroon, as to where Rodgers-Cromartie goes next.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Phil Jackson Will Officially Take Over Knicks

Believe it or not Phil Jackson is going to take over the Knicks as team president.

Jackson had been rumored for two weeks about taking over this job, but there was always a lingering doubt that he would do it. For starters, he would be coming to MSG, which is run by the mercurial James Dolan, a man better known for butting heads with basketball types rather than improving his own team. Maybe Jackson's first duty is to find Dolan's rolodex and burn any numbers to Isaiah Thomas.

Secondly, the Knicks do not have a great roster, nor a first round pick in this year's draft. And, oh did I mention its lone super-star, Carmelo Anthony, might be out of town come this summer when he opts out July 1. That combined with Jackson's love for the west coast, and a last ditch effort by Lakers' star Kobe Bryant to convince LA's front office to keep Jackson in Hollywood left a shadow of doubt over the whole signing.

Yet, here he is. Phil Jackson is riding across country on his white horse, with a satchel strapped to the saddle containing 13 NBA championship rings. He comes here with a brand new five-year $60 million contract in hand. A contract that will pay him $12 million a year to perform the toughest job of his NBA career -- revive a dead franchise.

Jackson will assume control of all basketball operations and duties. He will pick the next coach (likely one of his old assistants, like Brian Shaw, from his days with the Lakers), and he will ultimately pick players who fit his famed Triangle Offense.

What this means for current General Manager Steve Mills, and Assistant General Manager Allen Houston is an open ended question. ESPN reported that Mills is likely safe and will remain in the organization. However the New York Daily News says Mills is a goner with Phil in town.

"'Phil doesn't want to work with Steve,' said a person close to Jackson. 'Mills doesn't know what to think, Dolan is calling the shots on this one'" (Daily News).

In all likelihood, Mills will get a reduced roll in the organization. As for Houston, the belief is that he is safe since he will run the Knicks D-League squad in Weschester.

The Knicks need Jackson's basketball IQ in a big way. They have been run so deep into the ground for the past 15 years, the respectable franchise they once were in the 1990s is nothing but a long and distant memory.

While he may not have front office experience, one should never question his ability to communicate with basketball players and coaches. He won 11 titles as a coach for a reason, and if anyone can go out to recruit and sign players to contracts it's a former coach who has been there and done that. Players like to hear from guys who have been in their shoes before. Players will respect Jackson, and in turn consider coming to the Knicks.

In that light, brining Jackson to New York is a no brainer. While Jackson has been quoted for publicly criticizing Anthony and teammate Amar'e Stoudemire, only Jackson has the power to mend those fences and convince Anthony to stay in the Garden.

If Jackson convinces Anthony to stay, more power to him. If, however, Jackson feels that Anthony doesn't fit what he is looking for, nobody in New York is going to bat an eye. For as good as a player as Anthony is, he has been an infamous ball-hog in the worst way, and the word "clutch" doesn't exactly stick to him.

The Knicks can only hope that Jackson can do for the Knicks, what their old coach Pat Riley has done for the Miami Heat. Ultimately what will make or break this attempted turnaround will be the relationship between Jackson and Dolan.

If Dolan gets in the way, as he is known to do, this will be a relationship that crumbles like a deck of cards. For the first time in his long tenure as Knicks owner, Dolan has to take a back seat -- kinda like the way he does with his hockey team. You rarely hear Dolan raise a fuss over the Rangers, he gives all responsibility to Glen Sather, and never bothers him. He has to treat Jackson like Sather. Leave him alone and let him rebuild the Knicks -- it's the only way New York can turn things around.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jets ink ex-Broncos' receiver Eric Decker amid Revis news

The Jets answered their critics quickly Wednesday night, after word came down that former Jet Darrelle Revis decided to link up with the rival New England Patriots, by signing former Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker to a five year deal worth $36 million with $15 million guaranteed.


The Jets have agreed to terms with WR Eric Decker, team announces.

Call it a game of chess between both New York and New England.

Regardless, the Jets desperately need wide receiver help. They had the 31st ranked pass offense in the NFL, with little production from the likes of Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill. Santonio Holmes was released the other day after his turbulent four year stay in Green and White.

Decker brings to the Jets a solid possession receiver who has very good speed, and racks up chunks of yards. He is great on slants and comebacks, and is lethal in the red zone. He will be a favorite target to whomever the Jets quarterback might be.

It is important to remember, however that while Decker put up impressive statistics, he was catching passes from arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Peyton Manning the past two years.

With Manning as his quarterback Decker had 2,352 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns over a two year period. It's impressive, but Decker is not a classic number one wide receiver. He is a perfect second receiver, who takes a lot of pressure off of the big receiver a la Demarious Thomas in Denver.

The Jets should, and likely will, still pursue another top flight receiver. Some have linked James Jones, the Packers third string receiver as a possible Jet. Or New York could still look to jump into the Emmanuel Sanders sweepstakes for a true number one. Miles Austin, a Garfield, NJ product, was released from the Cowboys this week; he'd be a perfect fit and complement to Decker.

While this won't totally take the sting out of the Darrelle Revis situation that erupted into a frenzy earlier Wednesday evening, Decker's signing should get a lot Jets fans to relax a little bit.

It's a very good signing, and one that I think the Jets will ultimately be happy they made.

Revis sticks it to Woody Johnson & Jets, Signs with Patriots

Now the nightmare scenario that the Jets feared would happen a year ago when they couldn't restructure Darrelle Revis' contract has finally happened. Darrelle Revis is becoming a New England Patriot.

Hours after Revis was released by the Buccaneers, he agreed to a 1-year $12 million contract with the Patriots, all but sticking a knife into the heart of the Jets and its fans, as the Patriots try to fill the vacant cornerback slot in New England vacated by Aquib Talib.

For the Jets this is an enormous disaster, at least on paper. In fact, check out this Twitter from Jets beat writer Rich Cimini:


Good deal for Patriots. Bad deal for Jets' fans. btw, never reached out to Revis. His agent contacted them. All posturing.


Izdik and Woody are just so tired of Revis/Schwartz/Feinsod. They are done with them.

The fans of course have been even more livid. 

If these tweets are true this is a huge black eye for the New York Jets and owner Woody Johnson. Johnson wouldn't burry the hatchet after his fued with Revis and his agents over last year's contract dispute. Johnson didn't even try to pick up the phone to make his maya culpas and move on, instead opting to allow the best corner to play for the franchise to go to its arch rival.

Bringing back Revis was a slam dunk both on the field and publicly; the Jets decided not to budge. Instead New York is still waiting for a big jump into free agency, even though they did re-sign Nick Folk, and acquired right tackle Breno Giacomini formally of the Seattle Seahawks.

And trust me, from what I hear, Giacomini is going to be a starter on the O-line, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Yet, this is a transaction, or lack thereof, that is going to haunt the Jets for as long as Revis plays in Foxboro. They will now have to face him twice a year, every year -- because most likely the Patriots will extend him beyond this year in 2015.

The Jets could have prevented this a long time ago. They knew that if they didn't sign Revis last year, there was a distinct possibility he was going to New England. They should not have blown off Revis and his agents a year ago after the two sides couldn't come to terms on a deal. Both sides were to blame, and they should have acted like professionals and not school children. The Jets made it public that they wanted him out of town, and shipped him to the Bucs -- probably hoping that this day would not come.

Revis made it public that he felt betrayed last year.

Now a year later Revis made it be known (whether it was a ploy or not) that he wanted to come home, and the Jets, still hurt, didn't care.

Rex Ryan could've had his favorite player back, but because of the egos by both the Jets and likely the Revis party, a reunion was not going to happen.

What hurts most of all is the fact that the Jets have $40 million in cap space, and could have paid Revis now. The Patriots, who just signed him, had only $15 million in cap space.

The only way the Jets can take the sting out of this situation is to sign some big name players in free agency almost immediately, i.e. Eric Decker, who was rumored to be visiting the Jets on Wednesday.

The Jets have no choice but to re-sign Anotonio Cromartie. While he is not as good as Revis, and is starting to get up their in football age, Cromartie is the only big name corner left on the market next to his own brother, Domique-Rodgers Cromartie.

The Jets could have made a big statement to their fans by bringing Revis back that they want to win now. Instead, the only statement they sent was that bitterness still is bliss and will be even more as the Jets-Patriots rivalry takes another new turn.

Bucs Release Revis, Now Jets Must Move In

Darrelle Revis is now a free agent. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released the All Pro cornerback after they failed to trade him to either Cleveland or Oakland on Tuesday afternoon.

By cutting him the Bucs save $1.5 million that were due Revis this month in a signing bonus. In addition the Bucs do not have to pay Revis $16 million per year for the remainder of his contract, and they do not owe the Jets a third round pick this year.

With Revis now free, the Jets are now in a battle for Revis' rights with the Philadelphia Eagles, reportedly the Atlanta Falcons, and of course, the New England Patriots. But for all intents and purposes, this is really a two team race; Patriots vs. Jets.

Both teams desperately need a corner, and with the amount of hatred between both teams, Revis would only become the latest in a long line of subplots in the rivalry.

The Jets traded Revis last year, because they didn't want to pay him $16 million, when they were still paying both Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez big money. Plus, Woody Johnson grew tired of Revis holding out in New York and asking for more money. But perhaps the reason Johnson traded Revis last year was to avoid the potential of a Jets-Patriots off-season battle for Revis.

Why? Because Revis was supposed to be a free agent this year, when the Jets were trying to negotiate with him. They couldn't agree, and New York felt compelled to trade him to avoid this very moment.

Word around the league is that Revis wants the Jets. Rex Ryan wants Revis, but Johnson doesn't want Revis. If Johnson is smart, he will put his ego aside, and realize that mistakes were made by both parties, and bring Revis back to New York.

Revis would change the complexion of the Jets entire off-season. He would breath life back into the franchise, and the Jets front office would look like concurring heros that they brought the best corner in franchise history back home.

Make it happen Woody, don't waste any time.

Giants Extend Jon Beason to multi-year deal

The Giants stayed busy on the second day of free agency, this time keeping on of their most important pieces in place.

The Giants agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jon Beason that will keep the linebacker in New York. While terms were not released as of 5:00 p.m. Beason's return is huge for the Giants. Acquired last September, Beason strengthened a Giants defense that got off to a hideous start in 2013.

The Giants gave up 110 points in the first three games of the year, before Beason came aboard. In the 11 games he played for Big Blue the Giants defense played markedly better. Beason became a leader on the team, recording 93 tackles for the club.

With Beason aboard, the Giants can target other needs like the secondary and wide receiver. Jacoby Jones, whom the Giants were interviewing decided to sign a contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

Giants Sign Five Players on Busy First Day of Free Agency

While they didn't sign any big names, the New York Giants wasted little time in retooling their football team for the 2014 season signing five different players to contracts.

First, they re-signed running back Peyton Hillis and cornerback Steve Brown to contracts. Hillis was one of the many running backs the Giants used last year, and for the most part he provided enough of a spark for New York to bring him back in 2014. Brown returns to the Giants after suffering an ACL tear last year. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2012, so the Giants are hoping he can return to form this season.

As the afternoon wore on the Giants started looking down the free agent isle, and came away with three new names to Big Blue. While none of these names jump out on paper, they could have an impact on the team when fall arrives.

First the Giants took a big step in improving their beaten up offensive line when the signed former Kansas City Chiefs' guard Geoff Schwartz. Schwartz who is 6'6", 340 lbs. was the top interior lineman on the market, and he will slide right into left guard for the Giants, with Chris Snee moving over to right guard. The addition of Schwartz means that Big Blue is dead serious about improving their line play which played a big roll in the Giants horrific 2013 season.

Next the Giants went out and signed former Seahawks linebacker O'Brien Schofield to a two year deal, which will add depth to the Giants linebacker corps, and signed former Raiders running back Rashad Jennings.

While Jennings is not a known quantity, and there were more experienced backs on the market, the Giants decided to take a flyer on a guy who has been mostly a back-up running back in his career with the Jaguars and Raiders. He did run for 700 yards last year with the Raiders. Perhaps the Giants are hoping he can be a nice surprise for them, the way Chris Ivory, another proverbial third down back, was for the cross-town Jets in 2013.

Even though Big Blue was busy signing guys, they couldn't sign everyone. Linval Joesph, who anchored the Giants defense in recent seasons, signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If Buccaneers Release Darrelle Revis, Jets Should Sign Him

A year ago at this time, the New York Jets did everything in their power to not only insult their best player in contract negotiations, they shipped him out of town. Darrelle Revis was supposed to be a Jet for life as former GM Mike Tannenbaum told him during previous talks in 2010, but last season the relationship between Revis and the Jets deteriorated, and the marriage -- which seemed destined for a long career -- ended in a trade to Tampa Bay.

A season hidden in the sunlight and heat of central Florida, enduring a miserable season with the Buccaneers, Tamapa Bay is now ready to part ways with Revis. Perhaps partly out of the fact that Revis was being Revis, when he trashed former Bucs coach Greg Schiano, or perhaps it has more to do with his enormous contract. Whatever it may be, Revis is not long for Tampa.

The Bucs are reported to either deal Revis, who is due $16 million per year, or, release him come Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Obviously it is highly unlikely that someone will inherit the $16 million per year deal that Revis signed with Tampa Bay last off-season. It is more likely that the All Pro is going to get his walking papers, and if he does, Rex Ryan needs to convince both Woody Johnson and John Idzik that time heals all wounds, and bring Revis back home to New York.

Revis was Ryan's best player for four years. He was the centerpiece of his defense, becoming one of the games best cover corners. The Jets defense had a up and down 2013 season; their front seven was fantastic led by Sheldon Richardson and Mohammad Wilkerson, but the secondary was suspect. If only Revis were there then the Jets defense would have been scary good last fall.

The Jets are need of a corner after released Antonio Cromartie the other day. New York is rumored to be favorites to land free agent safety Donte Whitner (SF), and possibly cornerback Alterraun Verner (TEN). Verner who had five interceptions last season is high on the Jets radar, as well as New England's. He is going to ink a big deal very quickly when free agency starts.

That could change if the Bucs let Revis go. According to ESPN, the Eagles and, yes, the Patriots are interested in Revis if he is released. If nothing else, the Jets should jump into the mix just to prevent the disaster scenario that they feared a year ago.

Last year, Woody Johnson wanted to trade Revis with the thought that if he couldn't sign him to a long term deal, he didn't want New England to sign him come 2014, when Revis was originally expected to hit free agency.

Now, if Revis hits the market, and the Patriots sign him the Jets worst fears will come true. Darrelle Revis with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is not a scenario that will go down well in New York. It certainly won't down well with the fans, and the Jets will have egg on their face big time.

The question of course is does Revis want to come back? He felt betrayed by the Jets last year, so it will take a lot of kissing and making up to get these two sides together again. Perhaps that is where Rex Ryan can come in. He is a master at communicating and is quite persuasive. Heck, it was Ryan's own persuasive personality that kept him as head coach for 2014. Rex will have to put his best foot forward to convince the Jets and Revis to re-unite.

Unless New York signs Verner between now and Wednesday, Revis' return to New York will be a topic of discussion. If the Jets are smart they should consider this strongly, and bring their best player back home.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Jets Release Troubled Receiver Santonio Holmes

Jets fans celebrate. One of the major distractions and albatross' of the past few years is now off the roster. No not Mark Sanchez, not yet anyway. But, rather Santonio Homes.

The Jets bid adieu to Holmes and their four year roller-coaster ride of a relationship with the troubled receiver. What started out as a promising when the Jets acquired him from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 soon became a nightmare.

Whether it was throwing temper tantrums on the field and sideline during Week 17 of the 2011 season, blasting his quarterback in the media, and fighting both teammates and coaches in the public eye and in the locker room, Holmes quickly wore out his welcome in New York.

In addition he missed 33 games in his Jets career that were either due to injury or suspension. This past season, he barely played because of injury, and when he did it was a lackluster effort at that.

By cutting the troubled wide out, the Jets save $8.25 million in salary cap space. Look for the Jets to spend some money on inking a wide receiver or two. There are plenty of recievers in free agency, including Golden Tate, Eric Decker, Nate Burleson, and Hakeem Nicks to name a few.

The Jets desperately need wide receiver help after having one of the most anemic passing attacks the past two seasons. Part of the blame of course goes to the quarterback, but without some legit receivers on this team, it made a bad situation even worse.

Don't be shocked if the Jets come out of free agency with two receivers signed to contracts. New York has over $40 million to spend, and will have even more after they release the Buttfumbler himself, Mark Sanchez.

As for Holmes, someone will give him another shot, but this will likely be his last shot to make it in the NFL.

Phil Jackson "Likely" Heading To Knicks

James Dolan's decade long pursuit of Phil Jackson might finally be bearing some fruit.

Last week rumors started swirling that the Knicks were once again in hot pursuit of the former Bulls and Lakers head coach, making him an offer to become the newest coach of the Knicks, which he quickly declined. Then Dolan came back with a front office job offer, leaving the Master of Zen to think about it at his home in California.

As unlikely a marriage as it seems on paper, reports are now surfacing that Jackson is likely coming to New York to take over the Knicks front office. The two sides are still working on contract parameters, such as Jackson's official job title, how often he has to be in New York (since he has been leery of leaving his So-Cal home), and when he will start the job.

What this means for current Knicks GM Steven Mills is a question mark, but previous reports by the Daily News and New York Post both said Mills would keep his job as GM. We shall see, especially if Jackson is going to have a big say in personnel and the run of the shop. Maybe Mills will become more of a salary cap guru instead -- just speculation on my part.

Jackson's hire would also affect the status of Assistant GM Allen Houston, and, obviously Head Coach Mike Woodson.

Jackson as a young man in NY.
Jackson has stated that he is not interested in coaching the team. His second knee surgery is keeping him from the bench. He will instead look, probably, to one of his old assistants from the Lakers or Bulls to take the head coaching job. Jackson instead will have a front office presence a la Pat Riley in Miami.

Jackson would bring instant credibility to the franchise; he would be a draw to free agents, and give the Knicks the needed facelift they have been looking for ever since Jeff Van Gundy left in the early 2000s.

It is anyone's guess as to how the relationship between Jackson and James Dolan will play out. Dolan is a hands on owner when it comes to basketball. He's already chased out Hall of Famers like Lenny Wilkins, Larry Brown and Donnie Walsh in the past. While those men are all established winners, none of them brought a pouch full of a 13 NBA championship rings to MSG the way Jackson will.

If Dolan gets in the way, Jackson won't be long for the job -- he'll walk away after a couple of years. This job won't be easy. Jackson is not entering the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaq; he's not entering the Bulls with Michael Jordan. He's coming to a Knicks team where its ball hogging super star is looking toward free agency, and has already said he's not crazy about Jackson coming here.

Carmelo Anthony is going to be a hard negotiation. Jackson has in the past ripped both Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in the past. Can these two get past their differences and work together? After Anthony, Jackson has to retool a roster with aging and injured players, i.e. Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, and the underperforming Raymond Felton.

This won't be easy for a 68-year-old Jackson, but if he accepts the job just the thrill of him coming to New York is enough to get Knicks fans excited.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Jets Cut Cromartie, More Cuts On the Way

The New York Jets took the first step to clensing themselves of some horrid contracts, Sunday, when they cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was due a $5 million roster bonus this season. By cutting the former Pro Bowl corner, the Jets essentially saved $9.5 million of cap space.

According to Rich Cimini of ESPN NY, Cromartie's release means the Jets will have $30 million in cap room, which will grow when the team releases Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez.

There is always the chance that Cromartie could re-sign with New York for a much more cap friendly contract, but at age 30, and having come off his worst year as a Jet, perhaps it is time to move on. The Jets made no effort to even renegotiate Cromartie's current deal.

That being said New York needs a shut down corner, and after the franchise let go of Darrelle Revis last year, they are without a big time corner now.

The Jets could pursue the likes of Aquib Talib or Quentin Jammer, both are free agents, but that is just pure speculation; it is not known publicly how the Jets will address the cornerback situation, but they need a definite upgrade at the position especially after how poorly both Cromartie and Dee Milliner played in 2013.

There are even rumors flying around the Jets could tab former 49ers safety Donte Whitner once free agency begins on Tuesday.

However now the attention turns to both Holmes and Sanchez. We all know what an albatross both players have been for the Jets the past few seasons, especially Sanchez who went from promising rookie in 2009 to total disaster a couple seasons later. The Jets can't get Sanchez out of New York fast enough.

As for Holmes, his poor performance and bad attitude did him in. I think the Jets had their fill with Holmes going back to the 2011 season finale, when he was screaming at Sanchez, and benched himself on the sideline while his team lost to Miami.

The Jets will save $17 million when these two get cut, freeing up close to $50 million in cap room for New York.

Get ready to hear the Jets named called a lot in the next couple of days.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Knicks Latest Pursuit of Phil Jackson is Laughable

The Knicks are once again going down Phil Jackson Road.

The most popular rumor for well over a decade, the Knicks are once again trying to do everything they can to lure the former Bulls and Lakers coach to New York to fix this woebegone franchise.

And as usual, when Jackson is ready to give them his final word, don't expect the Legend of Basketball Zen to come to Manhattan anytime soon, unless he is taking a vacation.

Already current Knicks GM Steve Mills spoke with Jackson about taking over for Mike Woodson as head coach, and Jackson quickly declined. The latest now, owner James Dolan is trying to convince Jackson to take a front office job with the organization -- likely Mills' job -- where he will have power to run the franchise. See ya Steve Mills.

If Jackson takes the job he would obviously bring instant credibility back to the franchise, and yes, take the headlines away from the surging Brooklyn Nets. For Dolan it would also shut up all of his critics who consider him one of the worst owners in all of sports.

That being said, Jackson has made a career of going to teams that fit not only his personality, but also were ready to win immediately, something the Knicks (as usual) lack.

Jackson would have to accept the fact that Dolan is a hands-on owner, who likes to get his hands dirty in basketball business. Not to mention, Jackson would also have to deal with Dolan's invisible friend Isaiah Thomas, who seems to always influence Dolan, even to this day.  He doesn't mess with the Rangers, since Glenn Sather has done a nice job running that franchise into the turf for well over a decade.

Dolan is responsible for the exit of Donnie Walsh, a famed executive, who did everything he could to get the Knicks out of salary cap hell a few years ago. Walsh left because Dolan had to interfere in the Carmelo Anthony negotiations.

And speaking of Anthony. He can opt out of his contract July 1, and go free agent. Jackson has in the past called the Knicks roster clumsy and cited both Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire as culprits to the Knicks mediocrity. Would Jackson be comfortable with Anthony still on the Knicks? And, at the same time, would a Anthony-less Knicks team be of any interest to Jackson?

There are so many question that would have to be answered if Jackson does indeed agree to come to New York to run the Knicks. If he does, it would be the hardest job he has ever undertaken. At 68-years old, it would be fascinating how long he would even want to stay in New York and put up with Dolan's nonsense. That is why I find extremely hard, and unlikely that Jackson would even take the Knicks job. I am sure he has, and will be speaking to people who have worked with Dolan in the recent past.

And here is another reason to believe that Jackson, ultimately will not take the Knicks job. According to ESPN, a source close to Jackson said he would be open to coaching, as long as that team can guarantee him a strong powerful say in personnel, a la Pat Riley style in Miami. Jackson has already told the Knicks he doesn't want to coach them.

Guess, New York is out of the running ... again.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nets Jump Over .500 With Win Over Grizz

NETS 103
GRIZZLIES 94

It has taken 59 games, five months, and 126 days for the Brooklyn Nets to reach this point in their season. For the first time this year, the Nets are over .500.

Even for a team that has had as many expectations as the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday night was a defining moment for both the players and coaches of this franchise. It was the culmination of a long struggle back from a hideous start.

Go back to the December when this Nets team was 10-21. Everyone was calling for Jason Kidd to quit as head coach. He was in over his head, had just fired his old coach, and recent assistant Lawrence Frank, limiting him to "daily reports," and was struggling to get his compeers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams to buy into his system.

He had to deal with a roster of overpaid, and aging superstars; injuries, specifically to Williams, and Brook Lopez who was lost for the year, and a bench full of unknowns.

Well that bench is partly responsible for helping resurrect this Nets season, along with Joe Johnson, the lone consistently good superstar on this team. It was fitting in a way that it was Johnson and the Nets bench that starred for them against the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the Western Conference's better teams.

Johnson led the Nets with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including knocking down five three-pointers. Marcus Thorton, who was so good the other night in Milwaukee, had another big night with 20 points of his own. Even Williams and Pierce got into the action. Williams posted 16 points with seven assists, and Pierce contributed 14 points and eight boards.

It was an all around team effort for Brooklyn, who pulled away from Memphis in the third quarter, scoring 33 points to take an 87-60 lead, thanks to a barrage of three-pointers by Williams, Johnson and Thorton.

With the victory, the Nets have now won four in a row, and six in a row at home. At 30-29, this Nets are now 20-8 since January 1 when the turnaround began. For the first time this year, they look and feel like the team that a lot people predicted at the start of the year -- it just took awhile for them, and head coach Jason Kidd to adjust.

Now that Brooklyn is over .500, they have to keep pedal to the metal. With games against Boston, Sacramento and Toronto coming up, this is a great opportunity for the Nets to climb the standings, and with they way they are playing -- they look poised to grab this division from the Raptors and take the coveted three seed.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Nets Sloppily Effective In Milwaukee

NETS 107
BUCKS 98

It wasn't pretty, and for the most part their big stars had almost little to contribute on Saturday night, but the Nets did just enough to hold off one of the NBA's worst franchises, the Milwaukee Bucks, 107-98 concluding a six game road trip at 4-2.

More importantly, the Nets are now a game under .500, at 28-29, a record they will bring home Monday against the Chicago Bulls.

Was it the kind of performance one would expect against the hapless Bucks? No. The Nets struggled to shake off the Bucks for much of the evening. Three times, Brooklyn built leads of 10 or more, and each time the Bucks came back to cut the Nets lead to as little as four or five points.

Yet, the hero of the night had to be the newest Net, Marcus Thorton and this Nets bench. Thorton led the Nets with 25 points. He was 4-for-4 in the second quarter and 13 points to keep New Jersey in front by the slim margin of 55-53. In the fourth quarter he helped ice with four of eight shooting in the final period, including two big three pointers down the stretch.

The Nets needed every point that Thorton and the bench contributed. They got nothing from Deron Williams (6-of-16, 15 points); Joe Johnson (2-of-9, 7 points), and Paul Pierce (3-of-7, 12 points). Heck, Kevin Garnett didn't even suit up for this game.

So the Nets had to rely on the shooting of Thorton, Andre Blatche (19 points), and the inside pressence of Shaun Livingston to get the job done. Livingston was a monster, especially in the third quarter. He finished with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

The game was a bit of a microcosm of this Nets team. They have struggled to get consistently good performances from their big players, and have had to rely on their lesser known pieces to get the job done. Tonight it worked. Will it work against the likes of Chicago, Miami and Indiana is another story.

Yet, here are the Nets a game under .500. A couple months ago when this team was just awful at 10-21, with Head Coach Jason Kidd on the hot seat in December this team has turned it around. While Kidd is still learning the facets of coaching, he's game management has improved. The results are there too. The Nets are 18-8 in their last 26 games.

The playoffs are very likely for this team, especially in the horrendous Eastern Conference. But the Nets still struggle rebounding; still struggle shooting from the behind the arch, and the age and propensity for their big guys, like Williams and Garnett to slump during games is a big concern too. Winning is going to be huge for this team as it heads down the stretch -- they do not want to get saddled with the seven or eight seed, where they will have to face Miami or Indiana in the first round.

Winning the Atlantic is still a possibility, since Toronto leads by only 3.5 games. The six and fifth seeds are also out there too for the taking.

While Saturday night won't blow you out of your seat, the Nets 4-2 road trip lets us all know that Brooklyn is coming.