You won't read these words or hear them spillfrom my mug very often, but the boyhood Giants fan in me has to say it rightnow:I LOVE THE YANKEES!Why? Because it looks like the Bombers areabout to save the G's from making a big mistake.New York is said to be on the verge of signingNick Johnson, to whom the Giants are rumored to have recently increased aone-year contract offer from 5.5 million to 6 mil.I know a lot of Giants fans are frustrated bythe team's lack of actual movement this offseason, but this is good news. NickJohnson is not the answer here. I don't think he would have been part of theanswer, either. First of all, the Giants need more than onehitter. They've already parted ways with two of their top three hitters fromlast season -- Bengie Molina and Juan Uribe -- and in my opinion they were twohitters away from being legitimate championship contenders evenwith Big Money and Juan. More important is what Johnson brings to thetable. Yes, he's a great on-base guy, and he's a plus defender by mostaccounts. But he'd also be bringing a ridiculous history of injury. This is aman who has been on the disabled list at least once for each of the past 10years, and we're not talking about two weeks here and there with a slight hammypull. We're talking long stretches on the DL with major injuries. TEN YEARS! And he's going to make 6 mil as an everydayplayer? Yeah, right. And Tiger Woods is about to take a vow of celibacy.Johnson knows that he's never going to play afull year if it includes taking ground balls and stretching for throws five orsix times a week. That's why he took 500,000 less to join the Yanks -- they'resigning him to be a DH! OK, maybe the whole 27 world titles andlimitless resources and history and New York nightlife had a little somethingto do with Johnson's decision, too, but still. He knows damn well he's asreliable health-wise as a Warriors big man, so he jumped at the chance to donothing but swing the pole.Now the Giants move on, turning their attentionto Mark DeRosa and Adam LaRoche, apparently. Well, guess what? Those namesdon't exactly make my hair stand on end, either. I say re-visit a return forUribe, try to get Adrian Beltre to come down from his comically high demands,or -- better yet -- go get Miguel Tejada to play third base. That's my holidaywish for the Giants: Miggy in a Santa hat. By the way, just heard that the Yankees areinterested in DeRosa, too. I LOVE THE YANKEES!--Mychael Urban
Steph Curry will be one of the leading players in the NBA's new experiment with the All-Star Game.
Curry and LeBron James will pick the teams from the pool of available All-Stars. Conferences are no more, giving the game a completely different look.
"It's the first time it's happened in the league, so you really don't know what to expect or how it's going to unfold, and just specifically, what it will look like on the floor with mixmatched rosters. LeBron has been an All-Star, what 14 straight years? And he's been with Eastern Conference guys every year, so to see him have to pick some Western Conference guys and vica versa, us in the West, you have the staple guys that are there every year. So to switch it up, I think it's going to be a fun look on the floor. Might take some getting used to, but the actual draft part of it will be cool<' Curry said to reporters after shootaround in Houston on Saturday.
LeBron has the first pick since he received more total votes than Curry. So that sets up the dynamic that LeBron picks Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
"That's a possibility. I'm putting together an assistant GM staff that can help me get my draft board and all that stuff and know how to respond if he picks a certain way. Get the algorythm going," Curry said.
Curry's assistant GM staff will consist of his father Dell and brother Seth.
"I may have to ask Riley and see what she thinks," Curry joked.
All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and it's possible Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could be among the players Curry can select. Does he feel an obligation to pick them if they are available?
"I don't feel obligated. I would want to. To have the opportunity to play with them on the All-Star Game court, that's what it's all about, kind of embracing that moment, so we'll see how it goes," Curry said.
The big debate surrounding the new All-Star Game format is whether or not the draft should be televised or the results made public. As of right now, the NBA has no plans to show the draft on TV or reveals the order in which players were drafted.
"We've had a lot of dicsussions around that. There's a lot of people in favor of watching it live. There's also a lot of people that understand the reasoning why it's not this year. I'm sure as the new format unfolds year after year, it'll happen. But it won't be this first time," Curry said.
So which way does Curry lean in the debate?
"I've always been a proponent of protecting the players. I know that's kind of the unpopular position. I know we're all grown men, we can all handle it, We're all All-Stars, but we want to see how the new format the first time so it's presented in the right light," Curry said.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn't believe players should worry about where they get drafted.
"No shame in being the last All-Star picked. You're still an All-Star," Kerr said after shootaround.
The All-Star teams will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 and game will take play Sunday, Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.
Paul Guenther and Jay Gruden are great friends. The bond formed in Cincinnati, when both guys were Bengals assistants.
Jay Gruden moved on to Washington, and has been that club’s head coach since 2014. Last year, Jay Gruden tried to bring Guenther with him. The Bengals, however, wouldn’t let Guenther out of his contract.
It expired this month, allowing Jay’s brother Jon Gruden to purchase this hot commodity. The Bengals tried to keep him with a lucrative contract offer, but Guenther’s mind was made. He took the job as Gruden’s defensive coordinator, and the four-year contract that came with it. This is about more than money. Jon Gruden presented a unique opportunity worthy of Guenther moving on after 15 years in Cincinnati.
“I’ve known Jon for a long time,” Guenther said this week in a conference call. “Just the ability to come with him and start something fresh from the ground up really excited me. I’ve been in Cincinnati for a long time. My kids were basically raised there. I know a lot of the players. But to have this opportunity with Jon coming to the Raiders and the brand of the Raiders really attracted me. Overall, just an opportunity to come coach with him, see him do it, see how he runs this organization, this team, would be a great thing for me to learn from.”
The Guenther hire was important. He’ll be installing a new system and will have considerable clout running the defense with Gruden focused on the process of scoring points.
Guenther’s defense was built in Cincinnati, with current Minnesota head coach and former Bengals DC Mike Zimmer also contributing to the scheme. He runs a 4-3 defensive front with single-gap responsibilities. What you’ll see from Minnesota in the NFC championship will look a lot like the Silver and Black scheme next season.
“Structurally they’re very, very similar,” Guenther said. “I would say 80, 90 percent of the defense, the calls, the fronts, the coverages, the terminology is all about the same. I spent a long time with Mike. Really, when he came over from Dallas and Atlanta to Cincinnati, he had the system that was probably 60 percent intact and then we kind of built up to where we are today. Certainly, I have my own little things that I added to the defense as I went along. He’s added things. We’re always talking in the offseason, just because we’re close friends, about the things that he’s doing, things that I’m doing. I would say it’s very similar.”
The Bengals didn’t blltz much under Guenther, especially last season. He isn’t averse to bringing extra guys. He just didn’t need to dial up those plays with the Bengals pressuring the passer without extra help.
“It all depends on how many we can get home with four (pass rushers),” Guenther said. “I think the thing you really have to look at is the amount of pressure you’re getting on a quarterback. If you don’t have to blitz and you can get home with four guys.
“…I love blitzing, I got every blitz in the book up on my board here. We got it all – double A’s, overloads – any blitz you can imagine, we have it. That was what my role was with Mike Zimmer (when he was Bengals DC) coming up with the third-down blitzes. I’m certainly all for it, but I think from a team perspective, and you’ve got to really see how the game is going.”
Guenther inherits a defensive depth chart with some star power, young talent and holes aplenty. The Raiders have some issues at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle and cornerback. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are solid off the edge, but the unit needs a talent infusion. There’s roster flexibility, with high-priced veterans easily cut if Guenther and Gruden so choose.
“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” he said. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there’s a lot of good pieces here for a foundation for sure. Obviously, every year, whether you’re the number one defense in the league or the number 32 defense in the league, you’re always looking to add pieces and fill out your lineup card. That’s what we’re going to be working through this spring and through the draft and through free agency as well as developing the young players that we have here. This day and age in the NFL when you draft guys and you think they’re worthy, you have to get them out on the field. You can’t sit on these guys for a couple of years because before you know it, their rookie contracts are over and they’re out the door. I certainly think there’s some good, young prospects here that I’m eager to work with.”