Posts Tagged ‘Free Agency’

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Just like old times, Joe Montana and Steve Young have contradictory opinions.

While Montana believes fellow former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s lack of employment is justified, his former teammate is startled to see the pass-thrower without a team.

“I’m surprised, even with the situation last year with the kneel-down during the national anthem, that people can’t see through that and see, here’s a good player that wants to play and is not toxic in the locker room,” Young told KNBR of Kaepernick, according to Daniel Mano of The Mercury News. “But he’s got to fit too. He’s the kind of guy who’s going to come off a play fake, see a guy, throw it.

“If you want him to read through, you want him to find the fourth receiver, the outlet – that’s probably not his game. So he’s got to find the right spot for himself.”

Young understands teams’ potential skepticism of Kaepernick’s focus and says he would want to “look him in the eye” when discussing the quarterback’s commitment to football.

Kaepernick was briefly linked to the Seattle Seahawks this spring, but a contract was not reached. He has reportedly had no other interest from potential suitors.

 NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings
Gordon Hayward is officially bound for Beantown, with the Boston Celtics announcing Friday they signed the prized unrestricted free agent.

After spending the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward tested the open market for the first time this summer, meeting with his incumbent team in addition to the Celtics and Miami Heat.

In a saga documented by his agent, Mark Bartelstein, Hayward changed his mind multiple times before making the “gut-wrenching” choice to leave the only club he’s ever known for greener pastures in Boston.

Hayward personally announced the decision with a post on The Players’ Tribune, indicating he thinks he can win a title with the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals this past season. The Indiana native is also excited to reunite with Brad Stevens, who was his coach at Butler and currently mans the sidelines for the men in green.

The Jazz and Celtics reportedly discussed sign-and-trade options involving Hayward and small forward Jae Crowder, but Danny Ainge ultimately elected against compensating his new star’s former club.

Although nothing materialized on that front, Boston did need to clear cap space in order to pay Hayward the max, so the organization shipped off starting shooting guard Avery Bradley – who has one year and $8.8 million left on his contract – to the Detroit Pistons.

The Celtics rolled out the red carpet for the 27-year-old Hayward, enhancing their recruiting meeting with a video at Fenway Park and appearances from stars he’d join in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.

Hayward’s coming off his best season yet, as he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and a steal over 73 games. He also earned his first All-Star nod and led the Jazz to the West semifinals.

In Boston, he’ll round out a talented Big Three and boost the club’s chances of taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers, who eliminated the Celtics in five games in the East finals.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings

The Boston Celtics jersey has been Photoshopped on his image, and the next chapter in Gordon Hayward‘s career is about to begin.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, despite all reports of Hayward “agonizing” over his decision to part ways with the Utah Jazz, the writing was very much all over the wall prior to his official announcement.

Brooklyn Nets forward and former Jazz player Trevor Booker told the Tribune the weight of having the Utah franchise on his shoulders was something Hayward never wanted.

“Gordon’s a guy who doesn’t really want to be the man,” Booker said. “… I’m not sure he wanted a franchise on his shoulders. Gordon’s a great player, and one of the best players in the league. But I wasn’t really surprised at his choice. I heard the rumors.”

As the Tribune outlines, the Jazz spent most of the past year trying to orchestrate the correct moves that would keep Hayward in Utah, which most recently prompted them to acquire point guard and expert playmaker Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a first-round draft pick.

While the Jazz worked on creating a strong core for Hayward, his inclinations to leave have been apparent to others since before this year’s draft. Sources told the Tribune that Hayward made it clear to teammate and friend George Hill in a phone call that returning to Utah “was nowhere close to guaranteed.”

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Joe Montana doesn’t seem bothered by Colin Kaepernick‘s inability to land a new NFL contract. In fact, it makes perfect sense to him.

While some claim Kaepernick’s acts of protest have led to his unemployment, the Hall of Famer believes his fellow former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s playing style doesn’t jell with the NFL’s current state.

“That style of quarterback, everybody thought was going to take over the NFL,” Montana told For The Win’s Charles Curtis on Tuesday, referring to Kaepernick’s tendency to play outside the pocket. “You look at guys who had success in college, that only had success one year. Usually those guys, the next year, it’s very difficult on them.”

Kaepernick looked like he was on his way to becoming a star when he broke through as a starter in 2012 and 2013, using his legs as his primary weapon, but struggled in the following three seasons.

“The league has figured out how to defend it,” said Montana. “If I’m playing defense, I want the quarterback to run so I can hit him. In the pocket, you can’t really hit him. So you look at Tim Tebow – he’s a great guy, does a lot of great things. But when you complete 40-something percent of your passes, even in the low 50s, you’re not going to make it.”

Kaepernick’s completion percentage has never dipped below 58.4 percent over a season in his six seasons, though his career high is only 62.4 percent.

Montana admits he has some admiration for Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, but he understands how those demonstrations could affect the quarterback’s job prospects as well.

“I’m sure there are some distraction issues,” Montana said. “When we were playing with Bill Walsh, if you were a distraction, he didn’t care how good you were, if you didn’t mix in with the team, you weren’t there very long.”

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It appears Bryce Harper isn’t fond of the fans in Atlanta and at Citi Field in New York, which could single out the Braves and Mets as destinations the Washington Nationals slugger may avoid when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.

On Monday, when asked about his upcoming free agency, Harper made a point of mentioning how rude Braves and Mets fans can be with some poignant remarks.

“Mets fans are kind of rude. Braves fans are kind of rude. Phillies fans … not as bad,” Harper said, according to Randy Miller of NJ.com.

“Those are the (places) you hear the most about family members and things like that where you want to turn around and punch somebody in the mouth because of those reasons.”

Even though the remarks appear to irritate the 2015 National League MVP, he attempts to let the rude comments slide off of him so he can focus on helping the Nationals in their pursuit of a division title.

“You control what you hear and what you don’t hear,” Harper said. “It’s like a little room and you try to put your furniture here. I want this chair here. I want this clock up on the wall. I want to listen to this type of music. So you try to do the best you can to not really listen to it. … I just try lock it in that day as best I can.”

Harper will hit third for the NL at Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Miami after a great first half where he slashed .325/.431/.590 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs.

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Dan Girardi was expecting to be back with the New York Rangers next season.

Instead, with three years left on a contract that carried a salary-cap hit of $5.5 million, Girardi was bought out by the Blueshirts on June 14, allowing him to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

He’s happy where he landed, but it took some time to come to grips with the Rangers’ decision.

“I gotta say I was surprised,” Girardi told Jim Cerny of Sporting News on Friday. “Obviously, it’s a (salary) cap era and my contract did not help, but at the end of the day, after a decent year and good playoffs and the (exit) meetings, I just started working out, preparing for next season. When I first heard the news it was disappointing and it hit me pretty hard, but that’s part of the game these days.”

Girardi appeared in 788 regular-season games and an additional 122 playoff games since signing with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2006.

But New York was looking to free up cap space and get younger, according to Cerny.

The veteran defenseman inked a two-year, $6-million contract with Tampa Bay, and Girardi said he’s ready to move on with his new club.

“I have no hard feelings towards the Rangers. They gave me a great chance to play for 11 years, and as time went on, it’s helped me to heal a little bit – it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“Once other teams started showing interest, I was like, ‘OK here we go, turn the page, start a new chapter.’ And now I feel really good about the season coming up.”

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames

It wasn’t just the Texas lifestyle that drew free agents to the Dallas Stars.

So too did Ben Bishop, the Stars’ new netminder who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings earlier this offseason and later signed a six-year extension with his new club.

“When we were talking to all of these free agents during the interview period, (Ben’s) name always came up,” Stars general manager Jim Nill told “NHL Tonight” on Wednesday. “He’s a quality guy. He’s got a great resume and I think that’s a big part in what enticed a lot of these players to want to join us.”

The veteran goaltender split last season between the Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning, where in recent seasons he established himself as one of the NHL’s top netminders. In 2015-16, he appeared in 61 games, producing 35 wins and a .926 save percentage to finish as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

The Stars hope Bishop can replicate that play in his new surroundings. It’s undoubtedly a big upgrade for Dallas, which struggled to keep pucks out of its own net last season, as the tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi owned an NHL-worst combined save percentage of .893.

Niemi has since moved on, with the Stars buying out the final year of his contract, leaving Lehtonen to hold down the second-string duties behind Bishop.

Dallas has talents like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and John Klingberg, but it’s Bishop’s addition in the crease which Nill believes was the catalyst for Dallas’ offseason makeover.

“Ben was a big pickup for us,” Nill added. “He was probably the one that started this turnaround for us this signing season. We made the trade for him and he showed the commitment to want to be here.”

In addition to Bishop, the Stars also dipped into free agency to add shutdown center Martin Hanzal on a three-year deal, while former Montreal Canadiens winger Alexander Radulov was recruited on a five-year pact. The possibility exists he could complete one of the league’s most intriguing trios with Seguin and Benn.

After finishing with just 79 points last season, the potential exists for a big bounce-back in Dallas, with Bishop sure to play a major role in the upswing.