How to fix the Lakers

If there is one player that can drastically help the Los Angeles Lakers win a title this year, it is Rajon Rondo. Now, word today from Chris Broussard, is Rondo is being aggresively shopped. The Lakers covet a point guard like Rondo, so here is how the deal would have to work.

Los Angeles gets: Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal

Boston gets: Pau Gasol and Darius Morris

It even works with the ESPN Trade Machine so everything matches up with this deal. Here are the reasons both teams make this deal.

Los Angeles: It’s obvious. They want to land a top five point guard. (They had one in Chris Paul in the beginning of the season but David Stern nixed the deal). Trading Gasol frees up the money to acquire Rondo and build on him and Bynum as the cornerstones of the franchise for the next five years. Rondo currently averages right around ten assists per game and will make it easier for Bryant and Bynum to get open looks.

In addition, players such as Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace will be more involved in the offense. The Lakers take O’Neal back in this deal as well to bring back some size at PF to help with Murphy, McRoberts and Wallace along with the fact that O’Neal will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Boston:  The Celtics make this trade because they realize they are not contenders this season and want to sell their parts and rebuild ASAP. Broussard also mentions that the Celtics don’t trust Rondo as a cornerstone of an organization for years to come and would rather build around someone else. Gasol gives them a legitimate center who still has 2-3 good seasons left in him. Pairing him with Garnett gives them the best big men in the East.

Avery Bradley is more than ready to take over at the point guard position and the Celtics could have a chance to make a run with Bradley, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Gasol. Or, they could decide to rebuild totally and ship off Pierce, Allen and Garnett more picks/players as well. But, Rondo will be the first domino to fall if/when the Celtics sell.

Overall, this deal works for both teams and should give both the opportunity to succeed in the near future.

Ryan Braun’s Suspension Overturned

National League MVP Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned Thursday by baseball arbitrator Shyam Das. Braun’s case marks the first time a player has successfully won a challenge in their positive drug test.

Braun was due into spring training tomorrow so it will help ease the media attention, at least a bit.

Braun released the following statement following the decision: “I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision,” Braun said in a statement. “It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

“We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.”

His attorney T.J. Quinn and Braun questioned the chain of custody and collection procedure. According to one source, the collector, after getting Braun’s sample, was supposed to take the sample to a FedEx Office for shipping. The collector thought FedEx was closed since it was late Saturday and felt the sample wouldn’t get shipped until Monday so he kept it with him over the weekend.

Policy states that the sample is supposed to get to FedEx as soon as possible.

Numerous clean athletes are furious with the latest issue in MLB’s Drug Testing system. Even some offenders of the drug policy are upset over the actions taken by the arbiter.

This will lead to more changes with the drug testing policy, you can be sure on that.

Jeff Carter Traded To Kings

The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded center Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick in either 2012 or 2013. If the Kings don’t make the playoffs, the pick is for 2013. If the Kings make the playoffs, the Blue Jackets can have the pick they desire.

Carter will now be reunited with forward Mike Richards, who was traded by the Flyers to the Kings last June.

During his young career, Johnson, a 25-year-old defencemen, has eight goals and 16 assists this season. In 343 NHL games, Johnson has 30 goals, 94 assists and 256 penalty minutes.

This is only the beginning of what could be a crazy NHL Trade Deadline.

Hall of Famer Gary Carter dies at 57

Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher who helped the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series, died Thursday at age 57. The Carter family used this quote to address the public today.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 pm.,” his daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family’s website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know. He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus.”

Doctors found four brain tumors last May. After months of chemotherapy and other treatments, doctors believed everything was under control. Sadly, back in January, more tumors were found and this time, could not be treated.

Carter, was an 11-time All Star. He finished his 19-year career with a .262 average, 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs. In addition, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 after retiring in 1992.

AJ Burnett trade to Pirates “close”

After much speculation on a trade for AJ Burnett, it looks as though it may be finally completed by this weekend. Joel Sherman on the New York Post believes this trade will definitely be completed and Burnett will not be in Yankees camp when all players need to arrive next week.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York believes the Yankees will receive 13-15 million in salary relief in this deal. Also, he mentioned the Yankees will recieve grade A level prospects in return.

As a sidenote, ESPN learned that AJ Burnett rejected a trade to the Angels that would have given the Yankees Bobby Abreu. Burnett rejected the deal because his wife is afraid of flying and didn’t want to travel across the country.

Overall, say the Yankees get 14 million back on Burnett’s remaining 33 million dollars, the Pirates will pay 42 percent of his remaining deal. For a pitcher that has back to back seasons with an ERA of five, this is a steal for the Yankees. They will save approximately 7 million for the next two seasons and will use that money to go sign a DH (Ibanez/Damon) and a utility infielder in Eric Chavez.

When camp opens next week if the Yankees have subtracted Burnett and added Ibanez and Chavez, they completed a wonderful offseason.

 

Patriots Gronkowski has ankle surgery

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle Friday, according to to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The recovery time is somewhere in the 10 week period.

Gronkowski suffered the injury in the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens. Bernard Pollard made the tackle after a Gronkowski reception and Gronk’s ankle was caught underneath him as they both fell to the ground. Pollard has been bad news for the Patriots as he has been part of the season ending injury to Tom Brady back in 2008. In addition, he was on the field for the play where Wes Welker tore his ACL and missed the 2009 playoffs.

This is more news that will affect Gronkowski. After claiming to be 100 percent in the Super Bowl, he turned out to be a major non factor catching only 2 passes for 26 yards. After the game he was seen dancing and jumping up and down during the Patriots post Super Bowl party.

Now comes word of surgery for Gronkowski after he stated that wouldn’t be necessary. Patriots fans cannot be happy with either bit of information. But, at least their owner seems to be ok with it.

“He’s a young single guy. I’m not sure that Rob … I think he does everything, and then some, that he’s asked to do as it relates to the locker room, the football field, the weight room. And he brings huge time, energy and passion to that.” Kraft stated.

He continued saying, “As 21- and 22-year-old guys grow up and mature, different things happen. He hasn’t broken any laws, he doesn’t do anything else. I think it’s hard to place value judgments on things that are personally right for different people.”

I bet this is just a cover. With his wife passing this year, this season meant more to him than most people know.

Chad OchoCinco Changes Name Again

You won’t be seeing this name on his jersey anymore. According to a report from TMZ.com, Chad OchoCinco is changing his last name back to Johnson. This is because he plans on marrying his “Basketball Wives” fiancee Evelyn Lozada in July in Florida.  You can see the report here. He plans to legally change his last name back to Johnson so Evelyn doesn’t have to take that last name when they tie the knot. Can you blame her?

The real issue for OchoCinco is whether or not he has a team to play for next season. After having only 15 receptions for 276 yards and a TD with the Patriots, he probably won’t be on their roster next season. The question is whether someone else thinks he still has enough left in the tank to be a real contributor.

I think a team who needs another piece to their offense would be a nice destination for OchoCinco (Johnson). He still can be somewhat of a deep threat and if he is figured into an offense, he could bring some coverage his way. Plus, he showed everyone he can mature and play a full season without being stupid.

Texans anyone? They would sure be a good fit in my opinion.

Peyton Manning works out at Duke

 

According to a tweet from Duke offensive lineman Matt Skura, Peyton Manning has been working out outside of the Indianapolis Colts complex.

Manning is being helped by close friend, advisor and Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. This development can be seen as a major step in the other direction for Peyton Manning. It shows he doesn’t want to work at the complex of the organization he is currently under contract with. It could be another sign of the end with Peyton Manning and the Colts.  

Don’t look for this to end anytime soon though. Jim Irsay loves the attention and keeps stirring the pot with every tweet he throws out in the direction of Peyton Manning.

2012 NFL Mock Draft

It’s that time of the year folks. Time for my 2012 NFL Mock Draft. I’ll break it down for you right here. I know the website has been down for a while, but it’s back. So let’s do this! Let me know what you think.

For more of my thoughts on the draft and other sports topics, follow me on twitter @JasonDavis223.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

The easiest pick in the draft. I’m very high on Robert Griffin III, but he’s not as polished as Luck. The Colts will move on from Peyton Manning and what better way than to land your next franchise QB for the next ten years.

2. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kilil, OT, USC

I believe Bradford has had the same misfortune that Matthew Stafford has been through. He isn’t getting protection and therefore getting hurt and his production is suffering. The Rams need to build up the offensive line and hope that Stafford can build off of his rookie campaign.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Reily Reiff, T, Iowa

The Vikings have some pieces offensively to really step up heading into next season. They need to protect their QB first in order to let his WR develop down field. This is where Reiff steps in. He will be able to help protect Ponder and also allow Peterson more chances to step up in the running game.

4. Cleveland Browns: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

I think the Browns aren’t smoke-screening anyone. They want RGIII, and who can blame them. I believe the Redskins will make a strong push to trade for this pick and the Dolphins as well, but in the end RGIII is a Brown. Move on from Colt McCoy and build around a new franchise QB. Teams that miss out on Manning will attempt for a trade, but I think the Browns realize the potential RGIII has.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Ronde Barber cannot play this game forever and there is no one else respectable at corner on that team. Claiborne went under the radar at LSU this season because of Tyrann Mathieu but he is a big impact player. He will greatly improve the Bucs 30th ranked total defense.

6. Washington Redskins: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

The Redskins will get a new QB one way or another this offseason. Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn or even a trade for RGIII. Then, they want a franchise WR to get with it. Enter Blackmon. He is a physical freak and the best WR on the board by far. It will help their offense improve drastically from last year.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Mularkey inherits a young QB that I believe he can greatly improve. Getting some more help at CB will be crucial. If they don’t re-sign Mathis, they will be really short in the CB position. Kirkpatrick is really phyiscal and be a great tackler in the open field.

8. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Coples is a top pass rusher that will help the Panthers pass rush. Getting to the QB quicker will allow their cornerbacks to make plays in the secondary. Coples is one of the top DE in the game and the rush on DE will start with this pick.

9. Miami Dolphins: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

The Dolphins look as though they are making a switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme. They only have Cameron Wake as a legitimate pass rusher. Ingram can line up as the DE and rush off the tackle and help in the run stopping attack as well.

10. Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

I’m a bigger fan of Ingram than Upshaw but I have no other choice at this selection. Without a legitimate WR or CB, Upshaw is the last choice out there. He is a solid LB but I just don’t think he has the greatest pass rushing skills. He is slow in his pass rush which can be a concern. On the other hand, he is great against the run, so that will help immensely. Overall, if this is the pick, I’ll be moderately happy with it. He is an SEC player from Alabama so I know the talent is there, I just wish I would have seen a little more in college.

11. Seattle Seahawks: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Richardson fits into this Seahawk team very well. Even if Lynch comes back after free agency, those two can be one of the top running back tandem’s in the league. Lynch’s power and physical running style combined with Richardson’s speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will be lethal. Plus, it will take some pressure off of Tarvaris Jackson.

12. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

Kuechly is the inside linebacker the Chiefs have been looking for. He can either pair up with Derrick Johnson in a 3-4 scheme or Johnson can move to OLB and Kuechly can line up as the 4-3 ILB. This is one of the best value picks in the draft. Kuechly is a tackling monster and has great instincts in pass coverage. I would love him on the Bills, but with Sheppard already in place as the ILB in their 4-3, that selection wouldn’t make much sense. Great job by the Chiefs.

13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

The Cardinals still have good offensive weapons in Fitzgerald, Heap, Doucet and Beanie Wells. They need to give Kolb time to develop under a new system. He needs time in the pocket as well. Drafting DeCastro will give Kolb protection and help with the running game as well.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

The Cowboys need major help in the secondary but offensive line is something they can’t forget about. Martin here can help to protect Romo’s blindside just as he did for Andrew Luck. Giving Romo more time in the pocket will allow him to be even more improved then he was last season.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State

Even if they lose Desean Jackson, the Eagles still have one of the most high powered offenses in the league. They just need to work on their issues with turnovers. So, they need to focus on their defense. The wide nine defense worked well with Jason Babin and Trent Cole who combined for 29 total sacks. The issue is up the middle with the inside linebackers. Since the ends line up so far outside, it leaves the middle of the field pretty open. They need linebackers who can penetrate and make tackles to prevent long plays. Burfict is that guy. He’s a strong linebacker with good instincts against the run. Does a great job of locating the football and would greatly improve the Eagles defense.

16. New York Jets: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

The Jets have had issues stopping the run every since they lost a powerful defensive tackle. Brockers is the best defensive tackle on the board and weighs 306 lbs. He does a great job of plugging holes and it allows for LB’s to come up and makes plays stopping the run. After being in a great defense at LSU, he should have no problem fitting in with the Jets.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

The Bengals nailed last year’s draft with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. They will look for that same success in this draft. Dennard has great cover skills and will look to replace Jonathan Joseph and become a tandem with Leon Hall. The Bengals have turned their defense around in the last year and this pick should help. Another year with Dalton behind center will help the Bengals improve as well.

18. San Diego Chargers: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

Fleener is the best tight end in the draft. The Chargers realize that Gates is moving up their in age, but also see the potential of Fleener and Gates in the passing game. Looking at the Patriots passing attack of Hernandez and Gronkowski, the Chargers could pair these guys up with Floyd and maybe even Vincent Jackson if he resigns. That would be one of the most elite passing attacks in the game.

19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Cutler finally emerged as a top passing threat last season before his injury. He managed to be successful with Earl Bennett and Roy Williams. Enter a real deep threat. Floyd would provide the Bears the speed to stretch the field and allow Hester to work underneath while Bennett can be the possession WR on the team. This pick will improve Cutler even more.

20. Tennessee Titans: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

The Titans were ranked 24th against the run last season and really need a tackle to penetrate the backfield. Still is their guy. He can fill up force double coverage and allow for other lineman to push the pocket. At Penn State, he was really good against stopping the run, a characteristic that will help shore up the Titans defense.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

With Cedric Benson aging, Miller is a great second pick in the first round. Adding another offensive threat can push the Bengals to be a contender in the AFC North. Miller doesn’t provide much of a receiver threat out of the backfield, but that is what Bernard Scott is for.

22. Cleveland Browns: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Perry will allow the Browns to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They already have a solid core at the cornerback position and now they need to allow them to make plays. Once the pressure amps up on the quarterbacks, there were be quicker throws and more of a chance for turnovers. Perry can stand up as a LB or help the defensive line as an end.

23. Detroit Lions: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Lions are a team that I believe can make real big steps in 2012. They have stars in many positions. Players are also coming back from injuries. The one weak link is at safety, and this is where Barron steps in. He is a playermaker who can step right in and start from day one. The guy is a ball hawk as well. During two seasons at Alabama he totaled 10 INT. Solid player.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

This is a major pick for the Steelers. With Hampton most likely being a cap casualty, the Steelers need a true 3-4 DT. Poe fits that perfectly. Weighing 345 pounds, Poe can provide the Steelers with a body that will occupy blockers in the middle of the field. While this defense is getting older, it still has a few good years left and improving the defensive line will help. I believe the Steelers will use the money they are saving from Hampton, if they dump him, and help bring back the offensive line who are pending free agents.

25. Denver Broncos: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

If the Broncos believe in Tim Tebow, which I believe they should, they need to surround him with talent. Demaryius Thomas is a start, and I think they will look for someone in free agency, but Tebow uses tight ends as a key to his offense. Look what he did with Aaron Hernandez at Florida. Dante Rosario was used a lot this year, but he isn’t the answer. Allen is a big, tall, tight end that can spread the field and give Tebow another threat to move the ball downfield.

26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

The Texans need another WR threat on their team. Johnson has had some injury issues and when he isn’t around, the offense isn’t as close to being as good. Wright gives them a serious deep threat that can really spread the field. Pair him with Johnson and you give defenses a matchup nightmare. Not to mention the fact you still need to stack the box in order to stop Arian Foster.

27. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Everyone noticed the Giants pass rush against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. It is time for the Patriots to land a pass rusher. Mercilus can get after the quarterback and apply much needed pressure against the offense. He can also lineup as a 3-4 OLB which could help the Patriots as well.

28. Green Bay Packers: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Branch provides great value at this pick. He can help the Packers gain a pass rush with just their front four. It will also allow for Matthews and company to get better chances at the quarterback since Raji and Branch can clog up many of the blockers on the offensive line.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

The Ravens need to start to find a replacement for Ray Lewis who only has a few years left in him. Hightower is the perfect fit for this type of play. He plays a very physical game and can really lay a hit against the opponent. Other than suffering a bad knee injury in 2010, there are no major knocks against Hightower.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

The WR core on the 49ers in downright awful. They need to help Alex Smith move the ball down the field. Vernon Davis cannot do it all. Adding a WR like Jeffery will move the coverage around giving Morgan and Davis more looks in the flat. Also, it will allow Frank Gore to have bigger games for the 49ers.

31. New England Patriots: Fletcher Cox, DE/DT, Mississippi State

The Patriots don’t need to address their offense via the draft. They can find a WR in free agency. So, another defensive lineman will only improve their team. Cox can lineup at the tackle position or the defensive end. The Patriots love hybrid players that can play a variety of positions. This is another player who will help stop the run for the Patriots.

32. New York Giants: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

The Giants may be losing a few key members of their defense. Most of those players are defensive lineman or linebackers. Brown can slide in at either position and keep the Giants on a Super Bowl level on defense.

Yankees Contact Cliff Lee’s Agent

The Yankees wasted no time declaring their interest in Cliff Lee. Free agency officially began at 12:01 am November 7th. At that time, teams could start talking contract details with any player on any team.

Early that morning the Yankees contacted Cliff Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker and told him that the Yankees would present an offer later to the lefty Lee. The Yankees have no other solutions to their pitching woes, so getting Cliff Lee is the ONLY move they can make. Establishing their interest right of the bat, lets Darek and Cliff know, the Yankees really want him. I’ll guess we will have to see what happens down the line.

In other baseball news, Jhonny Peralta signed a two-year, $11.25MM contract, according to an AP report (via ESPN.com).  The contract will also include a third year as an option, and a buy-out. Those terms were not included. Peralta did reject his one year option for the Tigers, but the Tigers were very optimistic they could re-sign Peralta at a discount.