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Pelton mail: Is Brad Stevens more valuable than a superstar?


With Stevens leading a Boston Celtics team playing without All-Stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, his value has become a popular source of debate. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver put the bar very high indeed, finding nearly 50/50 results on a poll asking respondents to choose between Stevens and MVP contender Giannis Antetokounmpo after the first round of the playoffs.

As Ben Falk laid out in a subscription piece on Cleaning the Glass last week, even determining the general value of coaching remains difficult, let alone assessing individual coaches. Yet, as Kevin O’Connor pointed out on The Ringer,cheap nike nfl jerseys from china  there are compelling arguments for the value of a great coach like Stevens: Not only would a team get him (presuming extensions) for longer than any individual player, rewarding him with a high salary doesn’t affect the team’s salary cap, as is the case with a star player.

If we imagine the NBA decided to put all its players and coaches in a draft, and let the 30 teams pick among them, I think Stevens would probably go in the top 30 or 40 — that is, late in the first round or maybe early in the second. That would put him in the same range as current or future All-Star players.

At the same time, I’m chastened by Stan Van Gundy’s departure from the Detroit Pistons last week. If not ever regarded quite as highly as Stevens, Van Gundy was once one of the league’s most celebrated coaches. Remember, Van Gundy was perhaps the Golden State Warriors’ top target to replace Mark Jackson — a job that eventually went to Steve Kerr — before getting the opportunity to run basketball operations in Detroit.210

The evidence is pretty clear that basically no coaching candidates are good enough to offer a dual role as head coach and front-office executive in order to land them. Something similar is true of Tom Thibodeau with the Minnesota Timberwolves. While it’s less clear whether Thibodeau’s coaching is being undermined by his front-office role, two seasons into his Minnesota tenure, Thibodeau has yet to produce the same defensive results he saw with the Chicago Bulls.

Remember, not that long ago it was Thibodeau’s example we were using to discuss the upper bounds of value of coaches (and by we, I mean me). That’s a pretty good sign that coaches’ skills aren’t as consistent or transferable as those of star players.

While I think Stevens is more likely to fall in the Gregg Popovich category of creating lasting value by changing with the style of play, odds are he won’t look quite as valuable down the road as he does now. Rarely are coaches as good, or as bad, as they seem in the moment.nfl replica jerseys cheap

“I know you often cite that the reason a team lost is not due to how the winning team played, but how poorly the losing team shot when compared to their shot quality as measured by Second Spectrum’s measures. However, is there a team in the NBA where their opponents consistently underperform their expected effective field-goal percentage based on shot quality? If there is, would this be indicative of good defenses being able mentally and physically wear down their opponents to the point where even open shots don’t end up going in?”

Derrius Guice all smiles, a ‘ball of energy’ in rookie minicamp


The smile showed up whenever he answered a question. Or when he bounded onto the field. Or when he ran off the field. Derrius Guice was happy — to be in Washington, to worry only about football and not school, to impress his new coaches.

And, for now at least, he’s not worried that he was the seventh running back selected in the draft. Maybe he’ll renew that slight for fuel during the season. After the draft, he said the Redskins “definitely got a steal.”nfl jersey cheap wholesale china

“I’m not worried about the other running backs,” Guice said. “They’ll do great things there. I’m just worried about me and my organization … it really don’t matter. It’s one of those things you can’t control. All I can do is control what I do for this organization.”200

His stance might change during the season. After all, he likes to run angry and a player who some viewed as a first-round talent only to fall to late in the second round will have plenty of motivation. Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who once endured a similar stumble, said he ran angry for his first five years.

For now, it’s all about learning the plays and getting acclimated to a new city. Guice provides hope for a Redskins run game that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard runner since Alfred Morris in 2014. Nobody topped 751 yards last season. And they haven’t had anyone with Guice’s potential since Portis, who retired after the 2010 season.

But it was hard to miss Guice’s smile, mainly because it was omnipresent. He called it a dream come true being on the field. He said the most fun part was just running with a football and not training for drills he wouldn’t have to worry about again, like the 10-yard shuttle run.cheap nfl jersey wholesale

“Just football all day,” he said. “That’s the best part about being a pro, you don’t have to worry about X, Y or Z or other things to worry about. Just learning these plays and putting it to the test.”

Guice will be part of a backfield that also includes third-down back Chris Thompson. Samaje Perine, a fourth-round pick last year, likely will be part of that group, too. After that, it’s uncertain who will be part of this unit — whether Rob Kelley or one of a handful of options.

Saquon Barkley, the receiver, impresses at Giants minicamp


It was as if there were an adult on the field with teenagers this weekend at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. That’s what it felt like watching New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley catch pass after pass while practicing alongside a good chunk of players who won’t be on NFL rosters this season.

Maybe it’s supposed to be that way. wholesale nfl jerseys cheap He’s the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, playing at a position where instant success is expected. Or maybe he is just that good. Either way, the display in front of a swarm of cameras and reporters was expected and impressive.

That should come in handy. Shane Vereen led Giants running backs last year with 253 receiving yards. Thirty-two other running backs had more. Vereen (5.75) and Wayne Gallman (5.68) were 30th and 31st of the 32 qualifying running backs in yards per catch.

Barkley will help in those categories. He was tied for first in forced missed tackles after the catch (14) among draft-eligible running backs, according to Pro Football Focus. He averaged 11.7 yards per reception after 14.4 yards the previous year.199

Catching the football looks natural for the 6-0, 230-pound running back. By my completely unofficial count while watching the practices stuck behind an obstructed view of 300-plus-pound men, Barkley didn’t drop a ball during Friday or Saturday’s workouts. Linebackers or safeties had no chance to stick with him as he burst and changed direction.

This should make Barkley a nightmare to guard, even when there are more starting-caliber NFL players on the field. It’s reason for the Giants to be excited, even if it was only rookie minicamp.

This weekend was the first look at the entire Giants draft class in uniform. They ran around, learned plays and were given a crash course on professional life.

It begins with essentials for the rookies. There is the weight room, the cafeteria,nfl jersey cheap wholesale china the meeting room, even the bathroom. (No, really, these are things they’re learning.) Signs litter the building this time of year even for the most basic tasks, telling players where they can eat or catch the hotel shuttle.

Very little that happens on the field at rookie minicamp should be viewed as an indicator of what is to come this season. It’s rookie minicamp. Players (most of whom won’t be on the roster this season) are learning the plays. It’s a mess. There are an inordinate number of botched snaps, interceptions and missed assignments. They’re lucky when a majority of the players on the field are running the correct play.

The Jets built Cup contender by drafting, developing talent


Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon was one of the few.

The former owner, general manager and coach of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings said he watched Winnipeg play 20 times last season, giving him a peek at what was to come.

”It was pretty easy to see that it was going to happen,” McCrimmon said. ”This year, certainly it has.”

The Jets earned 114 points during the regular season, trailing only Nashville.nfl nike authentic jerseys

Winnipeg advanced in the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets lost only once to Minnesota in the first round, and eliminated the top-seeded Predators on the road in Game 7 of the second round.

Unlike other NHL teams, which fire general managers and coaches if they don’t quickly have success, the Jets have allowed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to build a championship contender since hiring him in 2011 when they left Atlanta. He was just 20 games above .500 in his first five seasons as Winnipeg’s GM, and its only previous postseason appearance in 2015 lasted just four games against Anaheim.188

Coach Paul Maurice, likewise, was afforded the opportunity to lead the team for fourth-plus season this year. He made the most of it by helping the Jets go 52-20-10 during the regular season.

But ultimately, it comes down to having talented, unselfish players, and the Jets have plenty.

When Winnipeg had high draft picks, as it often did as a struggling team, it didn’t miss.

Patrik Laine, a 20-year-old winger, was drafted second overall two years ago and is one of the league’s best young players. He had 70 points in the regular season and scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Game 1.

Mark Scheifele, selected No. 7 overall in 2011, leads all postseason scorers with 12 goals and has averaged more than a point per game the past two seasons. On the back end, defenseman Jacob Trouba has been exceptional in the playoffs as the franchise hoped he would be eventually after taking him No. 9 overall in 2012.

The Jets have also hit on some late-round picks, including Hellebuyck, whom they took No. 130 overall six years ago.authentic nfl football jerseys

”Hit home run after home run in the draft,” captain Blake Wheeler said . ”A lot of our marquee players are guys we drafted and have taken huge steps in the last year or two to be impact players.”

Winnipeg didn’t draft its best player, Wheeler, but the franchise acquired him from Boston in a trade while it was in Atlanta in 2011 and has built around him. That same year, the Thrashers took advantage of Chicago’s need to get rid of salaries by dealing for Byfuglien.

Capitals pull away, beat Lightning 6-2 for 2-0 series lead


The Washington Capitals scored in the opening minute of the game and twice in the last 1:02 of the second period to pull away to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference final.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller each had a goal and two assists. nfl authentic nike jerseys Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist apiece.

Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Connolly also scored for the Caps, who took the first two games of the best-of-seven matchup on the road. Since 1974-75, teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference final or semifinal have a series record of 39-2 (95.1 percent).

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Washington.187

Braden Point and Steven Stamkos had early power-play goals for Tampa Bay, which rebounded after falling behind on Wilson’s goal 28 seconds into the game.

Smith-Pelly’s one-timer finishing an odd-man rush made it 2-2 at 2:30 of the second period. The Caps took control when Eller scored with 1:02 remaining and Kuznetsov – with assists from Ovechkin and Eller – delivered on a power play less than a minute later.

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was called for tripping Washington’s Andre Burakovsky with 10 seconds left in the period. Kuznetsov scored seven seconds later to make it 4-2, the second time in the series the Caps stunned the Lightning with a power-play goal in the closing seconds of a period.

Ovechkin and Connolly finished the rout with third-period goals. Braden Holtby stopped 33 of 35 shots to improve to 10-3 this postseason.

Ovechkin, playing in the conference final for the first time, also had a goal and an assist in Washington’s 4-2 victory in Game 1.

Vasilevskiy was pulled from the opener after facing 25 shots in two periods, nfl nike authentic jerseys but the Lightning didn’t pin the loss on him. Instead, they vowed to player harder in front of the young goaltender, who finished with 31 saves in Game 2.

Tampa Bay benefited early from a couple of questionable penalties – Wilson for goaltender interference and T.J. Oshie for high-sticking Victor Hedman, when the Tampa Bay defenseman actually was struck by the puck – to score twice in just over three minutes on the power-play for a 2-1 lead.

Stamkos and Hedman assisted on Point’s goal at 7:08 of the first. Stamkos’ fourth goal in five games gave Tampa Bay its first lead of the series.

Everton’s Wayne Rooney could have future decided Wednesday – Sam Allardyce


Everton manager Sam Allardyce has indicated that Wayne Rooney’s future could be decided on Wednesday.

The under-fire Allardyce also repeated an earlier claim that the former England international’s potential move to Major League Soccer side D.C. United was “not in my hands.”

However, it looks like there will be an update this week, nfl nike jerseys cheap china Allardyce revealed on Sky Sports’ Season Review Managers Special.

“There’s no update. I said yesterday it’s not in my hands now,” he told Sky Sports. “I’ve dealt with Wayne, and it’s moved on with his representatives and the board from here on in, which I believe may be Wednesday.”176

Rooney finished the season as the Toffees’ leading scorer with 11 goals but was absent for Everton’s final game of the season with a knee injury.

Multiple reports out of England last week said Rooney had agreed a deal in principle to move to D.C. United, though reports in the U.S., including from ESPN, cautioned the deal is far from finalised.

Sources told ESPN FC on Monday that Allardyce is expected to leave his role as Everton manager later this week. The 63-year-old is due to meet Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri for talks this week, and sources said both parties are expected to agree to a parting of ways.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Speaking about his own future before ESPN’s report, Allardyce told Sky: “Who knows what’s going to happen next? The season has finished, I’m going to have a meeting with [owner] Farhad [Moshiri] this week and then I’m going on my holidays.”

Georginio Wijnaldum: Liverpool can be legends with Champions League title


Georginio Wijnaldum says the opportunity for he and his Liverpool teammates to cement themselves in Anfield folklore is another motivating factor ahead of the Champions League final.

Liverpool can secure their sixth European Cup crown in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, but in doing so they will have to stop Real Madrid, who are looking for their third successive Champions League triumph.

Wijnaldum, who will hope to play in his first cup final as a Liverpool player, nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap believes winning Europe’s premier club competition would ensure Liverpool’s 2017-18 side is forever remembered.

“That’s what makes it more exciting,” the midfielder told reporters. “You can put yourself there with legends that won the Champions League.

“That’s what everyone wants. That is what makes it really exciting for us because we have the opportunity now to win a big trophy with a massive club [that has been] waiting a lot of years for a trophy. We are lucky that we can give them one if we win.175

“I’m really [looking forward to it]. Not only me, but a lot of the players. Two years ago [there was the] Europa League final but the Champions League final is the highest you can play for a club.

“So everyone will look forward to it. For a lot of us it will be the first time in the final, so I’m really excited to play in that one.”

Liverpool are comfortably the highest-scoring side in the Champions League, having scored on 40 occasions in the competition so far this season, with Real Madrid second on 30.

Liverpool have a 13-day gap between their final league game of the season and the Champions League final, nfl nike jerseys cheap china while Real have just a one week to prepare.

“As a player you want a little bit of rest, so we will get the rest we need,” Wijnaldum added. “We will also train hard to stay in shape and to prepare ourselves for Real Madrid.

“It’s been tough because we had a lot of injuries, so there was no time for rest. But to be fair, I enjoyed it. I played a lot of games. As a player you want to play a lot of games. It was intense and hard, but it was OK.”

Dustin Pedroia (knee) starts rehab assignment, goes 1 for 3


Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia began his rehab assignment Monday in Pawtucket, starting at second base and batting third against Buffalo.

Pedroia went 1 for 3 on the night, singling and scoring a run.official nfl jerseys cheap

Pedroia hasn’t played in the majors yet this season after undergoing a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee in October.

Also Monday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Steven Wright from his 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy and placed right-hander Hector Velazquez on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain.164

Pedroia, a four-time All-Star and 2008 American League MVP, dealt with the knee injury all last season, even after having arthroscopic surgery before the season to repair a torn meniscus. He took two turns on the disabled list and played in only one game from July 28 through Sept. 1. Pedroia batted .293 in 2017 but started only 97 games at second base.

Wright’s suspension stemmed from a Dec. 8 incident involving Wright and his wife, Shannon. He was arrested at their Tennessee home on misdemeanor charges of domestic assault and preventing a 911 call. He was released the following day on a $2,500 bond, and his case was later retired by the Williamson County Courthouse and will be dropped if additional offenses don’t occur within the next year.

Wright and his wife have been undergoing counseling.nfl authentic jerseys cheap

Wright hasn’t pitched in the majors in 2018 after starting the season on the 10-day disabled list as he recovered from surgery on his left knee. He made four appearances for the PawSox before being activated and then serving his suspension.

Velazquez is 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 appearances this season, including two starts.

Hawks hire 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce as head coach


The Atlanta Hawks agreed to hire Philadelphia 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce as their new head coach Friday, saying in a news release that it was “critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program.”

Pierce’s deal is for three years with a team option for a fourth, sources said.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said in the statement.

Pierce met with Hawks officials for a third time earlier in the day after emerging as the primary focus of the franchise’s head-coaching search, league sources said. Pierce traveled to Atlanta and met with team officials, including Schlenk, on Friday at the team’s facility.

“This is a day I’ve been working towards for a long time, and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Pierce said. “I have great respect for Travis and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment in and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”152

Pierce first met with Schlenk a week ago, and he met with Atlanta majority owner Tony Ressler earlier this week.

Atlanta parted ways with coach Mike Budenholzer on April 25.

As Atlanta moves into a complete rebuild, Pierce’s experience with Philadelphia’s process and strong background in player development made an impression on Schlenk and ownership. Atlanta has four picks in the top 33 of the NBA draft.

Pierce has been an assistant for 11 years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers.

He spent four years as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Santa Clara, nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap before joining the NBA. He played with Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash at Santa Clara.

Harden, Curry, KD and everything that will decide the West


The Rockets have been preparing for this all season — longer, even — and here is what they face: a Warriors team that is 24-3 in the playoffs since signing Kevin Durant. Houston has to beat them four times in seven games. Golden State with Durant has lost three times in six playoff series. Last season’s Cavaliers might have been one of the greatest single-season teams ever, and certainly were one of the greatest offensive teams ever. They got one game.customized nfl jerseys cheap

But these Rockets were built over the summer, and then tweaked midseason, specifically for this series. They are 50-5 when all three of James Harden, Clint Capela and Chris Paul play. By any measure, they represent the most profound challenge the Warriors have faced in the Durant-Stephen Curry era.

They can match any style: fast, slow, big, small. Hell, they might be able to dictate the style of this series. Some will cast this as a battle for the soul of basketball: isolation showboats and the math geniuses behind them against the protectors of the beautiful game. There is a kernel of truth there. The reality is Golden State has the tools to win both sorts of games. Durant has inoculated them from any stylistic limitations. They have seen every switching scheme in existence, and know how to break them with smart cuts and passes.

Let’s dig into some of the major questions and X-factors:151

? Houston can surround Harden with four good defenders, and Golden State usually offers one safe-ish place to hide him. The matchups will be fun, even if they switch in a blur on every possession.

We don’t even know yet who the Warriors will start: the Death Lineup, with Draymond Green at center, or a more traditional lineup probably featuring Kevon Looney in place of Andre Iguodala. If Golden State starts small, Houston can stash Harden on Iguodala, slot Capela onto Green, Paul onto Curry, Trevor Ariza on Klay Thompson, and the immovable PJ Tucker onto Durant. Against bigger lineups, Houston could match up across positions — with Harden on Thompson (gulp) — or slide Harden onto Green, or even Looney.

I would bet (reluctantly) on the Warriors starting Game 1 with Looney. He defended Anthony Davis well, and it just seems like the Steve Kerr move: start with someone who can body up Capela, and keep one ace in the hole. Golden State is also thin on wings — cheap nfl nike jerseys from china centers compose almost half of the roster for some reason — and starting all the best ones deprives the bench of some pop. Smart staggering can mitigate that, but the Warriors are also concerned about overtaxing Iguodala.

? Whether Golden State’s centers serve any purpose in this series will be one of its pivot points. Only JaVale McGee — and basketball gods help any coach who counts on McGee in this round, against this opponent — can do the Rudy Gobert/Pau Gasol “stand near the rim and raise your arms” thing and bother Harden. None of them can reliably switch onto Paul or Harden. Looney will pull it off one of every three or four times, but he’s walking a tightrope. Kerr might try Jordan Bell at some point for added speed.