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Celtics Sign Amir Johnson to 2-Year, $24 Million Deal

By on July 2, 2015 at 8:29am
amir johnson Amir Johnson joins the Celtics next season (Photo Credit: http://www.rantsports.com)

The Boston Celtics signed Amir Johnson to a 2-year, $24 million deal on Wednesday.

Last season he spent his sixth season with the Toronto Raptors, in which he averaged 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He helped the Raptors earn the Atlantic division championship last season and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Detroit Pistons in 2005.

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martin jones usa today

The Bruins sent recently acquired goalie Martin Jones to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2016 first round pick on Tuesday. The Bruins also received center prospect Sean Kuraly as part of the deal. Jones had been acquired last week from Los Angeles as part of the return package for Milan Lucic.

Essentially, the Bruins dealt Lucic and have gotten a return of two first round picks and two prospects, which is a pretty impressive haul if the draft picks end up being used correctly. Although this move may not make the team better in 2015-16, it sets up well for the future. Jones, who had been a back up goalie for the Kings, was unlikely to stick around and this was likely the best offer Boston received for him.

The Sharks picked ninth in this years draft and aren’t likely to get better so this pick could end up being a high one for Boston. The Bruins also extended qualifying offers for Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly on Tuesday, which are likely to be accepted. Don Sweeney has already made four trades in the last week and it is likely he is not done yet.

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lucic hamilton

The Bruins were busy for the early part of Friday, trading away both Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic. The Bruins then made three selections in a row in the first round,a  move that was unprecedented across the NHL. Hamilton was the best young defenseman the Bruins had and Lucic was a major piece on two Stanley Cup Finalist teams who embodied much of hard-nosed, physical style the Bruins have been known for. The shakeup comes at time when the team is bumped up against the cap and still reeling from missing the playoffs.

The day began with Hamilton being shipped off to the Calagry Flames. The Bruins received the 15th, 45th, and 52nd picks in the 2015 draft in return. Not long after, the Bruins sent Lucic to the L.A. Kings in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2015 draft, goalie Martin Jones, and defenseman prospect Colin Miller. The Bruins absorbed $2.75 million of Lucic’s 2015-16 cap hit to make the deal work.

Hamilton was an unrestricted free agent and his unwillingness to accept Boston’s contract offer ended up being the major factor behind the Bruins decision to move him. It is definitely a downgrade to their defense corps overall and will force the Bruins to rely heavily on young, unproven players next season. Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow have seen limited action with Boston and may end up playing a majority of the season with big club. Miller could also factor in as well.

Lucic was in the final year of a contract that would have cost the Bruins a $6 million cap hit. The power forward suffered through one of his worst NHL seasons in 2015, leaving some to question if had begun breaking down. There is no question that the Bruins will miss his presence both on the ice and in the locker room and he could be a major help to a Kings team trying to return to Stanley Cup form.

These moves left the Bruins with picks 13 (Kings), 14 (their own), and 15 (Flames) in the draft and the team used all three. They became the first team since 1968 to make three straight first round picks. With the 13th pick, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril, a defenseman who plays a tough style at 6’1″, 185 pounds. The Bruins then took left wing Jake DeBrusk with the 14th pick and  wing Zachary Senyshyn with the 15th pick. Zboril is the most NHL ready of the three and Senyshyn has the farthest to go in terms of development. It was reported that the Bruins tried hard tp move in to the top five to take impact defenseman Noah Hanifin, but they were unable to close the deal.

The Bruins still have the rest of the Summer to alter and upgrade their roster but barring anything else drastic, this will be a much younger looking Black and Gold Squad when the puck drops in October.

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Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won the 2015 Selke Trophy on Wednesday for the league’s best defensive forward. It was his second Selke win in a row and his third overall. Bergeron won the award in 2012 and 2014 while finishing second in 2013.

His 60.2% faceoff percentage was the best in the NHL and he also led the Bruins in points with 55. It was also the second year in a  row Bergeron led the league in total faceoff wins. According to analytics, Bergeron was one of the best puck possession players in the league in 2014-15.

He finished ahead of Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar in the voting, two players Bergeron has a lot of respect for.

“You’re always very happy about that, and obviously it’s all about the help you get from your teammates. But I’m not surprised to see Jonathan and Anze again this year. They’re two amazing players, and I’m very honored to be nominated in the same category as them,” Bergeron said in an interview.

 

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Major League Baseball cancelled 60-65 million All-star game votes due to a high percentage of votes going to Kansas City Royals players. Can the MLB do this? Is it fair?

If voting were to close today eight Kansas City players would be part of the team. This is a classic case of technology beating the system.

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Tom Brady will meet face to face with Roger Goodell on Tuesday in the much anticipated “deflategate” appeal. Brady will be looking to have his four game suspension completely wiped out. Goodell will be the arbitrator and have final say on whether or not Brady’s  case merits a change in his discipline. If he chooses to uphold the punishment, Brady will likely sue the league in Federal Court.

Brady has some science on his side as several organizations have recently come out to debunk the science in the Wells Report, including a lengthy New York Times article.(http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/opinion/deflating-deflategate.html?_r=0)

Brady also has the issue of precedent on his side as no violation of this minor a magnitude has ever been punished so severely. There is also no direct proof that Brady ordered the footballs to be lowered below the league minimum or that he endorsed the practice.

However, Brady will still have to overcome the fact that he refused to turn records of text messages over to investigators and he will have to prove no wrongdoing. If he cannot do this, it is unlikely that Goodell will wipe his entire punishment away, something that would cause the league to lose face and would be a waste of the Wells Report cost, which was reportedly over $5 million.

The decision will have lasting effect on both the NFL and the Patriots. If the suspension is overturned, the entire process in which the NFL investigated the Patriots and Brady will be questioned. Also, Goodell’s handling of all discipline would be questioned also, as this would not be the first time he had a major decision overturned. If the suspension is upheld, the league will be facing a court battle with one of its biggest stars. Needless to say, the fireworks for the NFL are going to come early this summer, and they will begin tomorrow.

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Through the first four games of last season, the Patriots offense was in shambles. Tom Brady was constantly under pressure and the team was struggling to move the ball even against inferior opponents, such as the Raiders and Vikings. The woes culminated in a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The offensive line began to play better in the loss to the Chiefs, thanks to the insertion of Bryan Stork as starting center. The line stabilized and was solid through the rest of the Patriots championship season. That does not mean that the problems went away, however. Brady was sacked four times in a late season game against the Jets and twice in the Divisional Playoff win against the Ravens. The Patriots did a much better job of protecting and getting the ball out quicker as the season wore on, but it was an area that needed to be addressed.

The Patriots drafted Florida State guard (and former Stork teammate) Tre Jackson as well as Georgia Tech guard/center Shaq Mason. Dan Connolly, a mainstay on the Patriots offensive line, has not been re-signed after his play dipped a bit last season and Ryan Wendell has proven to be an adept run blocker but has had inconsistencies in pass protection. Currently, the Patriots would have Wendell, Stork, and Marcus Cannon as their three interior offensive lineman if the season began today. Cannon struggled mightily last season and despite having a full offseason to work at guard, his performance should not be expected to be strong.

Enter Jackson. The 6’4″, 326 pound lineman played 49 games for Florida State in his career there and was a unanimous All-American in 2014. He played both guard and center for the team in his career and could play either guard spot for the Patriots but he played mostly on  the right in college. His could potentially solidify the interior of the line next to Stork, so long as he improves his technique which was lacking at times in college. Dave DeGuglielmo will have the responsibility of improving Jackson’s technique so he can excel at the NFL level.

It is possible that both Jackson and Mason start for the Patriots at points this season, but the better bet is for Jackson. Mason is an excellent run blocker, but he is coming from a Georgia Tech team that rarely passed (203 total attempts in 2014) and his pass blocking skills need work. Jackson could be an immediate starter and contributor. There would be growing pains, as with any rookie, but if Jackson earns a starting nod the Patriots would go a long way in have a stable interior line for the foreseeable future.

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