Warriors

Meet the new highest-paid player in NFL history

520016.jpg

Meet the new highest-paid player in NFL history

From Comcast SportsNet
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Lions have signed wide receiver Calvin Johnson to an eight-year contract worth up to 132 million, the biggest deal in NFL history. The player's agent, Bus Cook, said the contract announced Wednesday is worth 60 million guaranteed. That figure and the total value of the contract are both NFL records. "This kind of deal doesn't come around too often," Cook said. "He's the best." Johnson helped Detroit reach the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years. The Lions have built one of the league's most exciting young teams by drafting Johnson in 2007, quarterback Matthew Stafford two years later and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2010. The challenge now will be keeping all those stars long term. Johnson, nicknamed Megatron, is a two-time Pro Bowler and his 45 touchdowns receiving are the most in the NFL since 2008. He signed a six-year deal worth up to 64 million after Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2007, and was entering the final year of that contract. This extension starts immediately and runs through the 2019 season. "They were happy to get this thing done with, and I was happy as well," Johnson said. "It wasn't a lot of confrontation. We weren't butting heads or anything. It was just something that we knew needed to get done." The deal tops the one given to receiver Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona last year -- an eight-year deal that could pay him as much as 120 million. "Calvin's one of those guys -- we've said this about a few guys that we have in our building -- whatever they pay him is not enough," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's truly a special player." Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he did what only Jerry Rice and Randy Moss have done. Rice, Moss and Johnson are the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season. Johnson finished with 96 catches for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 TDs. Johnson is also one of six receivers in league history with at least 45 TD catches and 5,000 yards receiving in a four-season span, along with Rice, Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Lance Alworth. In the playoffs, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in a loss to New Orleans, becoming the first player with 200 receiving yards in a playoff debut. Johnson said the conclusion of Peyton Manning's tenure in Indianapolis made him appreciate the opportunity to stay with the Lions for a while. "The comfort level you receive, being able to be in one place for a long time, is unlike any other," Johnson said. "Having security, not having to worry about where I'm going to be next year. And then two -- having a good team, having a lot of guys locked up on this team that you've had success with, and that you just continue to grow with." Stafford has three years left on the deal he signed as a rookie, so the Lions appear set with arguably the league's top quarterback-receiver tandem for the foreseeable future. "When you're fortunate to have a good quarterback, those don't come by a lot in the league," Johnson said. "How many teams are looking for a No. 1 quarterback right now? I would have to be beside myself to leave here."

5 Factors that will dictate fortunes of the Warriors down the stretch

warriorsusatsi.jpg
USATSI

5 Factors that will dictate fortunes of the Warriors down the stretch

OAKLAND – The Warriors reconvened Wednesday, settling in for a sprint they hope ends with triumph in June. Knowing what lies ahead and recognizing the clearest path to that goal, they scrimmaged for maybe the fourth time since preseason.

There are five issues that, if not solved, could derail hopes for a third consecutive championship and one last Warriors parade through the streets of Oakland.

Here are those issues, in order of importance:

1)

STAYING HEALTHY

This is easily the most essential component, though much of its fate is more dependent on luck than any other factor.

This is about more than keeping the five All-Stars – DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – upright and productive. That’s the obvious.

But it can’t stop there. The Warriors come out of the break with six games in nine days. They have five back-to-back sets over the final seven weeks, including three over the final 18 days.

“Our health will be the No. 1 priority, over everything, entering the playoffs,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “If we need to rest guys, we’ll rest ‘em.”

To get Playoff Andre (Iguodala) and Peak Draymond, for example, it’s imperative to manage minutes.

2)

COPING AMID THE NOISE

The Warriors pride themselves on their positive culture, citing their work/fun balance as a primary aspect of their success. That will be tested like never before.

Durant’s impending free agency already has been a source of agitation for some, and it has not always been kept in the locker room. It was at the crux of the very public squabble between Durant-Green in November.

It could get worse. On top of teammates already teasing KD about joining the Knicks, we know have All-Star Weekend chatter and video of Celtics free agent Kyrie Irving (also speculated as a future Knick) and Durant having one-on-one conversations.

This is not going away. How the Warriors navigate this will take plenty of skill. One more wrong move could threaten their goal.

3)

DEFENDING WITH A VENGEANCE

The Warriors were a top-10 defense four years running – until last season. They finished 11th in defensive rating, but dialed it up in the postseason to finish No. 1.

With 25 regular-season games remaining, they are 15th. That won’t be good enough. Can they crank it up before the postseason? Can they find it in the postseason? They are acutely aware of the matter and believe believe they know how to fix it.

“Our communication on the defensive end could get better,” Green said. “Everything on defense for us over the course of the last the last three, four or five years, it’s been second nature because we’ve been playing together. You can call a switch and the other guy will just know to switch.

“We’ve added so many pieces this year that it’s not second nature. You have to communicate a bit more. We weren’t necessarily great at that, so we’ve got to improve upon that.”

4)

SECOND-UNIT COHESION

Kerr has spent four months tinkering and adjusting with his rotations. He’s not done, either. As long as there are matchups to consider and inconsistencies impacting decisions, this could be fluid.

The important thing here is to find a group that won’t open the second and fourth quarters surrendering much of, if not all of, the cushions built by the starters.

That means, for the most part, finding offense when Curry and Durant are resting. It has been an issue for much of this season, and it often forces the Warriors to win the game two or three times before it’s officially won.

That means getting offense from Thompson and Cousins and also a third party. Could be Iguodala. Could be Jonas Jerebko or Alfonzo McKinnie. Could be the player who fills the open roster spot (assuming one is signed). Has to be somebody.

5)

TAKING BACK ORACLE<>/h2>

The Warriors in Kerr’s first two seasons were practically invincible at home, going 39-2 each year before dropping to a superb 36-6 in 2016-17.

They lost that touch last season, posting 29-12 records both home and away.

The Warriors are 22-7 at home this season, the last at Oracle Arena. With 14 dates remaining, anything less than 12-2 could imperil chances of getting the No. 1 overall seed. It won’t be simple – unless they master the four aforementioned factors.

NHL rumors: Sharks, Ducks discussing trade for goaltender Ryan Miller

ryanmillerusatsi.jpg
USATSI

NHL rumors: Sharks, Ducks discussing trade for goaltender Ryan Miller

The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching. There's already been some movement on the Sharks' front, and it appears more may be coming down the pipe.

According to John Hoven of Mayor's Manor, the Sharks and Ducks are involved in trade discussions surrounding Anaheim goaltender Ryan Miller.

The Sharks (35-17-8) possess the second-best record in the Western Conference, sitting a single point behind Calgary, but goaltending is a potential area of improvement. San Jose ranks dead-last in 5-on-5 save percentage (.897) per Natural Stat Trick, while Aaron Dell (.907) and Martin Jones (.881) rank 55th and 67th among the 68 goalies who played 500 minutes at full strength this season.

Miller has posted a 6-2-1 record with a 2.39 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 12 games in a backup role for the Ducks this season. He's appeared in 57 career playoff games, considerably more than both Jones and Dell combined (44 games).

[RELATED: Here's what Sharks fans need to know before trade deadline]

The Sharks aren't exactly loaded with assets to send the other way in a potential trade, but if it costs San Jose just a third-round pick as Hoven suggests, perhaps they'd find that palatable.

In any case, it appears as if the Sharks aren't entirely comfortable with their current goaltending situation.