Posts Tagged ‘Free Agency’

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Philadelphia 76ers

Rudy Gay hasn’t been part of a winning organization since he left the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013.

So when he had his pick of the litter in free agency this summer, Gay chose to join the San Antonio Spurs on a bargain two-year deal because he wanted to get back to winning following four miserable years in Sacramento.

“I think it was a do-or-die point in my career,” Gay told Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express News. “I wanted to be with an organization that was known for winning and can help me raise my game to the next level.”

Gay was rather candid in his introductory interview on Wednesday. The 31-year-old rediscovered his motivation for playing basketball while rehabbing his torn Achilles. Sharing conversations with Kobe Bryant – who suffered the same injury – helped Gay get back into the right mindset.

“I kind of lost that. This injury really made me train like that. I was mad. I trained mad. I trained like an animal,” Gay said.

His only goal is to help the Spurs win another championship. Gay says he’s even willing to change his game and come off the bench if that’s what Gregg Popovich asks of him, even though he’s started nearly every game of his career since his rookie season.

“Whatever it takes. If I’m a sixth man, I’m going to be the best sixth man in the league. If I’m a starter, I’m going to try and be one of the best small forwards in the league. That’s just the type of player I am.”

Gay averaged 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists last season connecting on 37.2 percent from deep while splitting time between small and power forward.

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Despite submitting arguably the best performance of Week 1, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith believes this season will be his last with his current franchise.

Smith revealed on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” that he’s getting the feeling the Chiefs are aiming to move on from him at the end of this year.

“For sure,” Smith said when asked if 2017 feels like his last year with the Chiefs. “It absolutely does. Without a doubt.”

Smith was dismayed by the Chiefs’ decision to trade up 17 spots with the Buffalo Bills during the this year’s draft to choose quarterback Patrick Mahomes II with the No. 10 pick.

Following the selection, many believed Smith would operate as a placeholder until Mahomes is ready to take the reins.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Smith said. “It’s like, man, (we) could’ve added this or this or this position or this player.”

The quarterback also blasted the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent the first seven years of his career after being selected first overall in the 2005 draft.

Forget the coaching changes, I’m talking just the culture of the building was not (good). Unhealthy. Completely dysfunctional. Different people on different wavelengths, not a clear communication, not a clear goal of the entire building. Very separated. And I think that trickled into the locker room. We had a very separated locker room, offense, defense, special teams. It was not a selfless unit. Not everybody put the team first. I think all of those things that come with dysfunction that are the opposite of what healthy organizations and team enviornments have.

In any event, the 33-year-old certainly made a strong impression during Thursday’s season opener, dissecting the New England Patriots by going 28-of-35 for 368 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 42-27 win.

The Chiefs will certainly have to make one of their most difficult decisions in recent memory at the end of the season.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers - Game Seven

In what could be his final season as a member of the New York Rangers, Rick Nash is prepared to give it his all.

Nash admitted he’ll be playing for his next deal as he heads toward free agency at age 34 next summer.

“Every year I want to have the best year possible. But this year, it’s an important year for me personally,” Nash said Friday at Citi Field during an event promoting the Winter Classic, per Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News.

“Your contract’s up and you play for another contract. That’s what I’m facing this year.”

Nash did score a career-high 42 goals in 2014-15, but has struggled to remain healthy and hit the back of the net on a consistent basis since. In 2015-16, he scored only 15 goals in 60 games, but rebounded slightly last season, recording 23 goals in 67 games.

In order to have a healthy measure of term and valuation on his next deal, he’ll need to stay on the ice and score with vintage regularity.

And lest he be labeled as selfish, Nash continues to consider team goals as well.

“It’s an important year for the Rangers, too. We still haven’t achieved that goal (winning the Stanley Cup) that we all want to achieve.”

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The ongoing contract saga between John Tavares and the New York Islanders seems to be farther from a resolution than ever before.

Last week, it was reported that the two sides had yet to even discuss financial details of a new deal, and this week, Tavares himself fanned the flames of speculation.

“Things are a lot more complicated than they think,” Tavares told Brian Compton of NHL.com. “I think everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s circumstances are different, but you look at some of the situations with guys in similar situations that I’m in, it doesn’t always happen the first day or that first month. It takes time.

“It’s a big decision in your life and you want to make sure you’re thorough and you understand everything going forward, so I think anybody making any decision like this in life would approach it the same way.”

Before Tavares commits to the Islanders long term, it’s obvious he’s waiting to see where the club will even be playing its future home games, as the team is expected to put forth a new arena proposal for the Belmont Park site within the next few weeks.

“I’ll take everything into consideration,” Tavares said.

“When the time is right, it’ll all work out. It’s hard for me to just sit here and say what-ifs, because I don’t like to look at it that way. You obviously have an idea of the future and things you want to understand and have an idea, but at the same time, I really try to live in the present.”

Unless the Islanders and Tavares have some unforeseen breakthrough in contract talks over the next few months, he will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018.

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Put Nazem Kadri atop the list of Maple Leafs players excited by the club’s offseason free agent acquisition Patrick Marleau.

“It’s going to be great,” Kadri said of having the 19-year NHL veteran on the team, according to Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. “Experience is the No. 1 thing we need. It builds confidence in those high, stressful games. Patty is going to bring that to us. He’s going to be a leader.”

The 26-year-old Kadri was one of the more senior members on a youthful, budding Maple Leafs team a year ago. Adding a grizzled vet like Marleau will surely be quite refreshing for players like Kadri, who were relied upon for leadership despite being relatively young players themselves.

Marleau has played just about every role possible in his career. There are few things he hasn’t seen or experienced.

He’s played both center and wing. He’s been counted on as a primary scorer in his heyday, and he’s been used as a secondary contributor in recent years. His solid two-way game has allowed coaches to use him in a checking role. He was even the Sharks‘ captain for parts of five seasons. He’s played in 177 playoff games, including six Stanley Cup Final games.

Furthermore, Marleau has played 622 consecutive regular season games, and hasn’t played less than 74 games in any season during his career (except for the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season). For a player who doesn’t shy away from physicality (80 or more hits in three of last four years), this either means he’s incredibly lucky, or takes great care of his body. Assuming it’s the latter, the younger Leafs will learn plenty from the way he trains and prepares for games.

While some questioned the signing, it certainly provides a huge morale boost to players like Kadri, who have never skated alongside someone with the pedigree and vast NHL experience of Marleau.

 NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Boston Celtics
 

When a beloved, high-profile NBA talent elects to take his talents elsewhere in free agency, they’re mostly met with a barrage of negativity from their former fan base and media for a business decision they had every right to make.

But when management moves a player who had every intention to stay around for the long haul, there’s not nearly as much outrage, if any.

All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas feels as such about his move to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thomas said he hopes his trade from the Boston Celtics will open up eyes about the double standard, while using Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors as a prime example to support the other side.

“I actually think this was a good lesson,” Thomas wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “Not only for me, but for the league as a whole. And for the fans and the media, too, you know, just in terms of how they talk about guys changing teams.

“I was thinking about that last year with KD and his free agency – about how people gave him such a hard time for doing what he felt was best for him and his future. How they turned him into a villain, just for doing what was his right to do as a free agent in this league. Suddenly, it was, ‘Oh, he’s selfish,’ or, ‘Oh, he’s a coward.’ Suddenly, just for doing business on his end, and doing right by himself, he was portrayed as this bad guy.”

Thomas added that the pain of being shipped off by the Celtics still lingers to this day, and that loyalty is really “just a word” if players who displayed his level of commitment can be sent packing.

“I want them to see how my getting traded – just like that, without any warning – by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for, and bled for, and put my everything on the line for? That’s why people need to fix their perspective,” Thomas wrote.

“It’s like, man – with a few exceptions, unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100, it’s the owners with the power. So when players are getting moved left and right, and having their lives changed without any say-so, and it’s no big deal … but then the handful of times it flips, and the player has control … then it’s some scandal? Just being honest, but – to me, that says a lot about where we are as a league, and even as a society. And it says a lot about how far we still have to go.”

Nonetheless, Thomas says there’s “no hard feelings” with Boston, although he’s still hopeful the basketball world will look at what happened to him and perhaps think twice the next time it wants to pile on a departing free agent.

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The Calgary Flames signed forward Sam Bennett to a two-year, $3.9-million contract, the team announced Wednesday.

The news comes just a day after it was reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger that there was a “sizable gap” in contract demands from both Bennett and the Flames.

The 21-year-old – who was a restricted free agent – is coming off a 2016-17 campaign that saw regression from his rookie year. Bennett tallied just 13 goals and 26 points in his second season in the league, after finishing with 18 goals and 36 points in 2016.

With Bennett now under contract, the Flames have come to terms with all of their pending free agents.