NBA FREE AGENCY

NBA FREE AGENCY

(James Harden declined his player option for a max deal)
From James Harden Declining his $47 million option with the 76ers to Kevin Durant requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, free agency has begun with a bang. Arguably the biggest name was thrown out there, Kevin Durant, was not expected to enter the market after teammate Kyrie Irving wanted out of Brooklyn days before. However, on Thursday, sources told ESPN.s Adrian Wojnarowski the 12-time all-star was seeking to leave the State of New York.

The blockbuster news came as a shock to many thinking everything was alright after Irving decided to stay. With KD, it is rumored that his preference is to go to a ready-made team contesting for a championship, teams such as the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, and even the Denver Nuggets.

(Durant testing the trade market)
The Eastern Conference has brewed up other moves with Zach LaVine agreeing to a $215 million extension to STAY in Chicago. The Boston Celtics have finally addressed the problem of no true playmaker by acquiring Malcolm Brogdon from the Indiana Pacers to go along with Marcus Smart in the backcourt.
(Zach LaVine getting his money to stay in the windy city)
The Knicks have cleared house to make cap space for the signing of Jalen Brunson, with the contract rumored to be for 4 years, $100 million. Champion Center Kevon Looney signed to a three-year, $25.5 million deal to return to the Warriors, and Dejounte Murray was traded to the Hawks from San Antonio.

The biggest news came from Washington and from Denver. Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic agreed to a max extension worth $264 million, the highest EVER contract deal in NBA history. Bradley Beal in D.C opted out of his $36.4 million player option which sent supporters into a frenzy thinking he could leave, but he made a U-turn to sign an extension with the Wizards worth $251 million.

(Washington Wizards Point Guard Bradley Beal)
Is all that money thrown out so far but is it all worth it? Beal won 3 playoff games in 5 years so some say maybe not. With a rebuild going on in Portland, what’s happening with Dame? Where does KD end up if this trade comes to fruition? It’s been just over 24 hours so we’re gonna have to wait a while.
THE RETURN OF THE BEAST

THE RETURN OF THE BEAST

(Yohan Blake celebrating his World Championship triumph in 2011)
It has been 11 years since Yohan Blake has been in shape like this, and it couldn’t come at a better time. For those who don’t know I am Jamaican so when it comes to IAAF events I’ll put my country first. On Friday night, Blake lined up in the 100-meter finals at the Jamaica National trials after speeding to 9.98 seconds in the semi-final round.

The final was to be contested between Yohan Blake, the 2nd fastest man of all-time, Oblique Seville, the fastest Jamaican over the distance this year (9.86 seconds), Ackeem Blake (9.92 seconds), and a returning Kemar Bailey-Cole, who has a personal best of 9.92 seconds set in London, 2015.

(Blake after his national triumph)
To win this race, Blake would have to run sub-9.90 seconds; something he hasn’t done in a decade. However, cometh the hour, cometh the man as Yohan sped to victory in 9.85 seconds, looking like he is in 2010 shape. Seville got up well and had the race in the bag for 60 meters before the experienced campaigner came through for victory, Seville second (9.88s) and Ackeem Blake 3rd (9.93s).
(American 100m champion Fred Kerley)
This outing is serving up for a hotly contested affair in Oregon after it was just minutes before Blake when American Fred Kerley became the fastest man in the world, finishing in 9.76 seconds.

With Kerley in the form he’s in, Blake coming back to his best with the emergence of Seville and other youngsters, not forgetting Olympic Champion Lamont Jacobs from Italy and if all goes in person as it does on paper this should be a mouth-watering affair.

EUROPEAN ROUNDUP

EUROPEAN ROUNDUP

(Real Madrid president Florentino Perez (left) with new signing Aurelien Tchouameni)
The European transfer market opened on the 10th of June and some clubs, agents, and players have already been making moves in the market this summer. This was the year of free agents with notable names Antonio Rudiger, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, and Frank Yannick Kessie making blockbusters moves [and stays].

UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid have made just a couple of additions in Center Back Antonio Rudiger and spending up to $105 million on Aurelien Tchouameni from AS Monaco, looking to repeat as UCL champions. Florentino Perez, the owner of the Madrid club, has bolstered his manager’s midfield options for the upcoming season.

(Clinical goalscorer Robert Lewandowski)
For rivals Barcelona, a financial crisis was nearly averted by an $845 million windfall to save them, however, they are looking to sell Frenkie De Jong to Manchester United to remove 350k a week off their wage bill for the upcoming season.

With incomings, they have agreed to deals with Frank Kessie, and Andreas Christensen, and tied down teenager Gavi and defender Sergi Roberto for the future. They have also been linked to 50-goal a-season striker Robert Lewandowski with reports of a fee in the range of $53 million will be able to persuade Bayern Munich to sell the forward.

(Paul Pogba in his 1st spell with the Italian giants)
Italian champions AC Milan are fighting a lot of interest to keep Rafael Leao on board to the team. They have brought Divock Origi in from Liverpool, looking to complete a deal for Sven Botman from Lille after missing out on Renato Sanches as he is being sent to French champions Paris Saint-German for $32 million.

Former Italian dominants Juventus are looking to regain the top spot in the Serie A, adding to the January signing of Dusan Vlahovic by welcoming Paul Pogba for the 2nd time on a free transfer. Inter Milan is competing again when they welcome the Lukaku x Martinez combo upfront after getting the big Belgian on loan for the upcoming season.

(Man City’s Erling Halaand and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez)
In England, champions Manchester City have begun the defense of their title. They have signed world-class talent Erling Halaand from Borussia Dortmund, and Julian Alvarez, and looking to sign Marc Cucurella, and Kalvin Phillips while trying to keep hold of Bernardo Silva. Challengers Liverpool have signed Darwin Nunez for $105 million to somewhat replace the departed Sadio Mane, and also Scottish wonderkid Calvin Ramsey to add some squad depth.

Chelsea and Arsenal are looking to keep up with the top two by fighting for the signature of Raheem Sterling. Tottenham is doing the business by signing Fraser Forster as a backup keeper, Ivan Perisic, and midfield destroyer Yves Bissouma to add to their champions league roster.

(United fans disgusted with the treatment of the club by the Glazer family)
Manchester United who came off their worst ever Premier League season still have not made improvements to a torrid squad. After letting go Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Nemanja Matic go for free, no additions have been made.

Nine weeks of negotiating for Frenkie De Jong, and interest in Antony, Pau Torres, and Lisandro Martinez have been a shocking summer for the club so far. To make matters worse, the greedy Glazer owners are gonna be taking $14 million before they improve the squad.

(Nick Pope, who will be the new Newcastle goalkeeper)
Money boys Newcastle have secured their first signing with Nick Pope leaving Burnley for the Toon army. Other players linked to moves are Hugo Ekitike, Sven Botman, and Eric Bailly some names being shopped around at the St. James’ Park club. Aston Villa has bolstered their team to fight for Europe with the signings of Boubacar Kamara and Diego Carlos with other moves pausing for now.

German Champions Bayern Munich welcomed Ryan Gravenberch, and Sadio Mane, and are looking to accompany him with Konrad Laimer, while challengers Dortmund are trying to compete with the acquisitions of Niklas Sule, Nico Schlotterbeck, and Karim Adeyemi. To dethrone the champions of the last ten years will require a bit more.

(Karim Adeyemi at his unveiling with agent Thomas Solomon)
WE GOT FOUR

WE GOT FOUR

(The Warriors players at the Championship Parade)
After two convincing close-out games against the Boston Celtics, the Golden State Warriors lifted their 4th trophy in the last 8 years, reviving the dynasty after a 2-year drought. The Warriors are back at the top of the NBA pyramid, some saying that is where they belong.

However, one still wonders what could have been if Jordan Poole did not twist Ja Morant’s knee earlier in their title run. Would they even be the topic of conversation? Would Steph Curry be touted as the great he is now rather than what he was?

(FROM LEFT: Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry)
Steph Curry albeit is one of the best distance shooters of all time, but not winning this would have more of a negative effect than positive. Could he carry this team with an aging Draymond and an out-of-form Klay? Was it all Durant? Well, first off that’s a no.

Curry, even though wasn’t the MVP before now, was more influential and important than Durant in those championships. Carrying a team was always the worry with Stephen and right now all critics have been silenced.

(Stephen Curry hitting the ‘Night Night’)
This is Steph’s first Finals MVP award cementing him as one of the better players of this generation, creating the narrative “best shooting guard of all time”. For me, with a game on the line, I’d still put the ball in the hands of Ray Allen.

Ranking all-time greats, the top 5 [MJ, Magic, Kareem, Kobe, LeBron] are untouchable and apart from 3-point shooting, it is hard for Steph to even be a top 10 of all-time. Night night.

UNSUNG HERO

UNSUNG HERO

(Derrick White and coach Ime Udoka)
Born on July 2, 1994, in Parker, Colorado, Derrick White has been a key member of the Boston Celtics championship run this season. Since the trade deadline, White joined from San Antonio, where the coach of Boston Ime Udoka was an assistant for the better part of 7 years.

When Derrick joined he wasn’t lighting up the nights scoring 20+ points and having 5+ assists a game. To be completely honest, White was on thin ice with a 3-point shot make percentage of around 30%. This however was turned around in the playoffs and now he has been 6th man of the playoffs.

(Derrick White)
Trading for White meant that Boston gave up Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and a couple of 1st round draft picks (2022 & 2028). Derrick White’s first game in Boston saw him finish with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists, showing that he could be a “bit-part player”.

The 6’4″ shooting guard then miraculously developed his game in the second round of the playoffs knocking ’em from downtown like it’s nobody’s business. This is shocking for someone who has a 3-pt % of 30%, but stats didn’t matter there. In game 1 of the finals, the Celtics battled from 14 down to win by 12 with White hitting 5-of-8 (62.5%) from beyond the arc.

(White scoring a 3 over G Jordan Poole)
Some, or most people don’t know that coming out of high school, Derrick had no offers from prestigious colleges after sending tapes to over 50 schools. He had one offer from Jeff Culver, then head coach of NAIA school Johnson and Wales. In a moment of good luck, Culver took a job at Division II University of Colorado, where he brought White over on a scholarship deal.

After three years, White became the school’s all-time leader in points and assists, being promoted to Division I. This move transformed him into a great prospect, averaging 18 PPG, 4 APG, and 4 RPG, making him the 29th overall pick to San Antonio in 2017.

(White competing for University of Colorado)

The reasoning for his sudden transformation in the postseason could be the “dad effect”. In the Toronto Raptors’ title win in 2019, Point-Guard Fred VanVleet had his son born and he moved from an average player to a key reason they beat the Warriors.

Before the birth of his son, Derrick White averaged just over 6 points with a 24% three-point shot. After Hendrix, that points tally doubled (12.7) and he caught fire from deep (43.8%) making him an offensive weapon. The 27-year-old has stepped up in a way that others weren’t expecting, now having the Warriors wondering what to do.

This may be a stretch because of the talent Boston has in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. but Derrick White may be a good shout for finals MVP. Think about it. Even though Jaylen Brown is who is remembered for the comeback in the 4th quarter of game 1, Derrick White hit decisive shots, created decisive plays for others, and even did some defensive work against Jordan Poole.

He may not be a starter but if he has two more games as he did in game 1, then he cannot be ignored any longer. This is a great underdog story, from no college offers to a key finals player, a true unsung hero. #ALLABOUT18

(Celtics players around coach Ime Udoka)