These 6 decisions spelled doom for Magic Johnson’s Lakers

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Johnson stepped down as Lakers president on Tuesday. His tenure was underscored by six decisions he likely wishes he could have back.

Magic Johnson has stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations, a moment that has inspired mixed emotions from fans across the country. The Lakers have been one of the most disappointing stories of the season. After signing the best player in basketball, they will miss the playoffs with the sixth-worst record in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles’ struggles are not all LeBron James’ fault, though his groin injury cost the Lakers some games, and his despondent, lackadaisical temperament rubbed off on his teammates. The brunt of the blame falls on the front office, for setting up this team for failure, one botched decision after another.

Not trading for Paul George

Magic Johnson officially replaced Jim Buss as president of basketball operations on Feb. 21, 2017. The NBA’s trade deadline was Feb. 23, but George didn’t inform the Pacers he wouldn’t be re-signing with them until June.

The Pacers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, would have dealt George to the Lakers if they included one of Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft in the deal. Johnson chose not to.

Instead he bet that George would sign with his hometown team when his free agency rolled around one summer later. He didn’t want to pony up the assets or young players Indiana wanted.

He lost that bet, badly.

The Pacers dealt George to Oklahoma City for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo (a steal for the Thunder at the time, which has since proven to be an incredible deal for Indiana), and Russell Westbrook convinced his new All-Star teammate to re-sign in OKC — at a discount: four years, $137 million.

Yikes.

Trading D’Angelo Russell

Forget the fact that Russell has turned into a legitimate star in Brooklyn, the type of player who could take the pressure off of LeBron James as a real-life playmaker on this Lakers roster. (Actually, don’t forget that. Let it marinate.)

Johnson said Russell wasn’t a leader, then traded him to Brooklyn before drafting his replacement. Talk about workplace culture. Who would feel secure in their job after watching the best point guard of all-time publicly humiliate a budding star before sending him off elsewhere?

The jury is still out on Russell, and the Lakers did get the pick that became Kyle Kuzma as part of the deal. The Lakers also unloaded Timofey Mozgov’s contract in the Russell trade, which allows them to pursue a second max free agent they otherwise would not have been able to afford.

The 2019 free agency

No, signing LeBron James wasn’t a bad idea. It was the best possible outcome for the Lakers to land the biggest fish on the face of the planet.

But when you sign LeBron James, you absolutely have to have at least a second star, ideally a third. James can’t do it all — not anymore, not at his age, not with the mileage that’s been accrued over the course of his Hall of Fame career.

LeBron, though, is at his absolute best when you surround him with sharpshooters. So what did Johnson and Rob Pelinka do? They put absolute non-shooters on the roster. Johnson said he looked at what worked in the playoffs, and he astutely gathered that the teams with success had multiple players who could handle the ball.

So Johnson signed Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Hindsight is 20/20 and if Johnson could do it all over again, he probably wouldn’t sign so many non-shooters. But everyone knew this was an awful idea. Everyone except the person who handed out the contracts.

All the tampering

If there’s one rule an NBA executive shouldn’t break, it’s this: you can’t tamper with other teams’ players. Especially if you’re already the biggest name in the history of the team in the biggest (or second-biggest) market in the NBA. Not only is it not necessary, but it’s disrespectful to the teams that don’t have the allure of a Los Angeles, or a New York, or a Philly or Chicago.

It’s not even like Magic was discreet with his tampering: he literally went on Jimmy Kimmel Live and played out a hypothetical scenario about bending the tampering rules if he ever saw Paul George.

The Lakers were fined $500,000 soon after (not because of this, but because of Rob Pelinka’s “impermissible contact” with George) — THEN THEY DIDN’T SIGN PAUL GEORGE.

Los Angeles was also fined $50,000 for Johnson’s comments praising Giannis Antetokounmpo, created a controversy after almost agreeing to train Ben Simmons, and also got into the hot seat for trying to poach Anthony Davis in broad daylight.

More on that coming soon.

Chasing after Anthony Davis

Ah yes, how could we forget? Not only did Johnson chase after Davis — likely at the behest of LeBron James and Rich Paul — but he literally offered every single player or asset not named LeBron James as part of the deal.

Literally. This is a real trade offer:

Other versions of this trade included Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac. Johnson literally offered every single player for Davis. The Pelicans, it appeared, never intended to trade him there in the first place.

The thing about this offer, though, is that it was public — super public. NBA trade rumors usually are. It was so public that it was embarrassing for the players, and it created a real-life rift between LeBron — who obviously was the engine behind the Davis trade attempt — and the rest of the team, who were set to be cast aside like cattle, as if they meant nothing.

This was the critical moment that doomed the Lakers in the LeBron James era. Just like he blew the Cavaliers up when things went sour in his final year in Cleveland, he wielded the power to obliterate Los Angeles’ roster at a whim. And Johnson sided with one player instead of the majority.

Trading Ivica Zubac for Mike Muscala

Zubac was a beloved Laker. He was a young big man who many believe still has a promising future, and most of all, he was reportedly a locker room favorite among his younger teammates.

Johnson dealt that player and Michael Beasley for Mike Muscala, a streaky shooting stretch four who was just traded to the Clippers from the 76ers. Not only is Muscala having a down shooting season from behind the arc, he’s also only playing just 14 minutes a game.

That trade was such a terrible idea, Doc Rivers didn’t believe it would actually happen. And when it did, Clippers brass laughed at the Lakers after the deal was done. Literally. The headline for Bleacher Report’s Timothy Rapp’s story was “Jerry West, Clippers Brass Reportedly Laughed at Lakers After Ivica Zubac Trade.”

Read this:

“Shortly after the trade deadline, Clippers consultant Jerry West—who spent more than 40 years with the Lakers as a player, coach and executive—got together for dinner with old friends who also had former Laker ties, sources said. He couldn’t believe how Zubac fell into his lap. The Clippers, sources said, never even called the Lakers to inquire about Zubac. The Lakers made the offer and the Clippers gladly accepted.

“Sources said those at the dinner table shared a hearty laugh at the Lakers’ expense.”


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Magic Johnson stepped down as Lakers president in the most bizarre way possible

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He did it at a surprise press conference, before even informing Jeanie Buss.

Magic Johnson announced he will step down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations. He delivered the news himself in an unscheduled 45-minute press conference before the Lakers’ season finale on Tuesday, telling the world before even told his own boss.

“I think that with [Jeanie Buss] and I, I want to always preserve our relationship with her,” he said. “And I think I had more fun when I was able to the be big brother and ambassador.”

Johnson confirmed he did not inform Buss of his decision before announcing it.

He then lingered, looking to find Buss. When told she would not be attending the game, he then addressed the media again.

Calling the decision to resign a “monkey off my back,” Johnson admitted he was “happier” when he was not the Lakers’ president.

He admitted that he was especially stung when a comment about Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons reaching out for advice to improve his game turned into a tampering investigation. He did not always seem invested in the job, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Silver Screen and Roll’s Christian Rivas wrote:

In spite of having early success starting with the 2017 NBA Draft, where the team was able to pick up Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant, it appears as though the job was harder than Johnson anticipated it to be.

Like the front office regime before him, Johnson was banking on the luster of the Lakers to lure free agents to Los Angeles and while he was able to sign LeBron James — the biggest fish in the pond — last summer, every move he’s made since then has been subject to strong but warranted criticism, including his decision to let Thomas Bryant, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez walk in free agency, his decision not to pair James with shooters and most recently his decision to trade Ivica Zubac to the LA Clippers for Mike Muscala.

Johnson took over the Lakers’ front office from Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss in February of 2017. His tenure was defined by cap-clearing moves that eventually secured LeBron James, followed by a disastrous offseason and 2018-19 campaign that ended in another losing record, multiple fines for tampering, and the embarrassing Anthony Davis saga.

So what happens now?

It’s unclear. Johnson’s announcement appears to have been a surprise to others with the Lakers as well.

Johnson and Walton have reportedly clashed all season, which was widely expected to lead to a coaching change in the summer. Johnson initially denied the decision to step down was explicitly due to those disagreements, but later admitted he didn’t feel comfortable having to potentially make a new coaching hire.

The future of general manager Rob Pelinka is also unclear. Johnson did not offer him much of an endorsement.

But Johnson did express optimism about the franchise’s future, joking that Buss will get tons of calls about the position.


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The NFL’s best remaining free agents

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Many of the top names have already agreed to deals, but as free agency officially begins, these are the top names available.

The NFL’s official start to their new league year is here, but due to the league’s negotiating or “legal tampering” period, many of the big-name free agents are already off the market. That’s because the negotiating period allows agents and teams to enter into contract talks even though pen cannot be put to paper until the start of the new league year.

Last year was a frenzy during the negotiating period, with most of the top players gone by the time the market actually opened. A whole bunch of deals were cemented right at 4 p.m. ET when the league year started, and that’s the case this year as well. Players can continue negotiating with other teams after agreeing in principle to a new deal — nothing is final until the contract is signed and submitted to the league office. But once something is reported as a done deal, there is minimal flip-flopping.

It’s likely this trend — the biggest players agreeing to deals before free agency actually starts — will continue.

That said, there are still plenty of good to great players still out there, waiting to find a team for the 2019 season. Below, we’re going to point you to the best still available — in alphabetical order — at each offensive and defensive position.

Quarterback

Signed: Derek Anderson, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles, Blaine Gabbert, Mike Glennon, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Griffin, Taylor Heinicke, Kevin Hogan, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion, EJ Manuel, AJ McCarron, Tom Savage, Matt Schaub, Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor, Joe Webb
Best Available: Colin Kaepernick

Nick Foles is getting paid a ton of money by the Jaguars, and after that the market gets a little bit stale. Obviously, the best available quarterback (Kaepernick) is probably not going to get signed, while another team will surely try and kick the tires on old standbys like McCown.

Others available: Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, Josh Johnson, Josh McCown, Brock Osweiler, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith

Running Back

Signed: Ameer Abdullah, C.J. Anderson, Kenjon Barner, Le’Veon Bell, Alfred Blue, Tevin Coleman, Isaiah Crowell, Mike Davis, Andre Ellington, Frank Gore, Kareem Hunt, Carlos Hyde, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray, Adrian Peterson, Zach Zenner
Best Available: Jay Ajayi, Marshawn Lynch, T.J. Yeldon

There’s still a strong market for running backs, with young guys like Ajayi and Yeldon available. It’s a strong group of running backs, and even the players below all have shown they have something to offer.

Others available: LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Ty Montgomery, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley, Darren Sproles, Jonathan Stewart, Spencer Ware

Wide Receiver

Signed: Danny Amendola, Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley, Josh Bellamy, John Brown, Randall Cobb, Chris Conley, Jamison Crowder, Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Devin Funchess, Maurice Harris, Marvin Hall, Justin Hardy, Adam Humphries, Jordan Matthews, Donte Moncrief, J.J. Nelson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Breshad Perriman, Andre Roberts, Eli Rogers, Golden Tate, Kevin White, Tyrell Williams
Best Available: Michael Crabtree

The biggest names to change teams at the wide receiver position were not free agents — Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. were both traded — but there are still some talented pass catchers out there. Veterans like Crabtree are always looking to prove they still got it.

Others available: Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon, Chris Hogan, Dontrelle Inman, Jermaine Kearse, Rishard Matthews, De’Anthony Thomas, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Wallace, Terrance Williams

Tight End

Signed: Dwayne Allen, Nick Boyle, Charles Clay, Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert, Darren Fells, Demetrius Harris, Jeff Heuerman, Jesse James, Tyler Kroft, Matt LaCosse, Marcedes Lewis, James O’Shaughnessy, Logan Paulsen, Richard Rogers, Luke Stocker, Geoff Swaim, Logan Thomas, C.J. Uzomah, Clive Walford, Luke Willson
Best Available: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Lance Kendricks, Maxx Williams

Most of what remains in the tight end market includes veterans who never quite developed as receiving threats or veterans who have a history of injuries. It’s not a great market, one of the weaker ones in recent years.

Others available: Antonio Gates, MarQueis Gray, Jermaine Gresham, Michael Hoomanawanui, Dion Sims, Levin Toilolo

Offensive Line

Signed: Oday Aboushi, Jamon Brown, Trent Brown, James Carpenter, A.J. Cann, Nick Easton, Jon Feliciano, Ereck Flowers, D.J. Fluker, Ramon Foster, Max Garcia, Mark Glowinski, Denzelle Good, Jonotthan Harrison, Bobby Hart, Seantrel Henderson, Mike Iupati, Ja’Wuan James, Matt Kalil, Josh Kline, Eric Kush, Kendall Lamm, Ted Larsen, Spencer Long, Cornelius Lucas, Bobby Massie, John Miller, Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, Cedric Ogbuehi, Michael Ola, Kevin Pamphile, Matt Paradis, Mike Person, Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Ty Sambrailo, Brian Schwenke, Donovan Smith, J.R. Sweezy, Billy Turner, LaAdrian Waddle, Earl Watford, Daryl Williams
Best Available: Jeremy Parnell, Donald Penn, Ryan Schraeder

As usual, teams did their best to re-sign their own offensive linemen. It’s rare that a high-end tackle or guard makes it to free agency, and when they do, they are quickly snatched up, as was the case with Brown and Paradis.

Others available: Jeff Allen, Joe Barksdale, T.J. Clemmings, Chris Clark, Cameron Fleming, Garry Gilliam, Ryan Groy, Ulrick John, Andy Levitre, Jordan Mills, Marshall Newhouse, Tyler Shatley, Quinton Spain, John Sullivan, Travis Swanson, Jared Veldheer, Josh Wells, Stefen Wisniewski

Edge Rusher

Signed: Jerry Attaochu, Shaq Barrett, Anthony Chickillo, Frank Clark (franchise tag), Adrian Clayborn, Jadeveon Clowney (franchise tag), Vinny Curry, Dee Ford, Trey Flowers, Dante Fowler Jr., Markus Golden, Brandon Graham, Justin Houston, Bruce Irvin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Aaron Lynch, Cassius Marsh, Clay Matthews, Steven Means, Alex Okafor, Brooks Reed, John Simon, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Terrell Suggs, Cameron Wake
Best Available: Ezekiel Ansah, Shane Ray

Just look at the signings to determine the value of the edge rusher position in the NFL — all of the top players got franchise tags except for Flowers and Fowler, who were quickly locked up.

Others available: Sam Acho, Connor Barwin, Kony Ealy, Eli Harold, William Hayes, Michael Johnson, Dion Jordan, Matt Longacre, Benson Mayowa, Pernell McPhee, Derrick Morgan, Nick Perry, Frostee Rucker, Derrick Shelby, Frank Zombo

Defensive Tackle

Signed: Tyson Alualu, Henry Anderson, Angelo Blackson, Malcom Brown, Christian Covington, Carl Davis, Mario Edwards, Johnathan Hankins, Margus Hunt, Malik Jackson, Grady Jarrett (franchise tag), Brandon Mebane, Mike Pennel, Jordan Phillips, Darius Philon, Sheldon Richardson, Shamar Stephen
Best Available: Timmy Jernigan, Corey Liuget, Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson

There weren’t many top-end defensive tackle talents available in free agency. The ones who have had recent success on the field either agreed to terms quickly, or were given the franchise tag.

Others available: Allen Bailey, Tyeler Davison, Dominique Easley, Rodney Gunter, Ziggy Hood, Ricky Jean-Francois, Zach Kerr, Earl Mitchell, Ahtyba Rubin, Danny Shelton, Brent Urban

Linebacker

Signed: Kwon Alexander, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Anthony Barr, Mark Barron, Preston Brown, Deone Bucannon, Vontaze Burfict, Bruce Carter, Thomas Davis, , L.J. Fort, Neville Hewitt, Jordan Hicks, Mike Hull, Mychal Kendricks, Justin March-Lillard, David Mayo, Brandon Marshall, C.J. Mosley, Denzel Perryman, Jake Ryan, Craig Robertson, Adarius Taylor, Damien Wilson, Paul Worrilow, K.J. Wright
Best Available: Jamie Collins, Gerald Hodges

C.J. Mosley, Kwon Alexander, and Anthony Barr got big-time deals to kick off free agency and there’s still a few quality players left on the market — especially for teams looking for run stoppers.

Others available: Stephone Anthony, Josh Bynes, Will Compton, Kyle Emanuel, Najee Goode, Cameron Lynch, Kevin Minter, Mark Nzeocha, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Vincent Rey, Kelvin Sheppard, Nathan Stupar, Manti Te’o, Ramik Wilson

Cornerback

Signed: Robert Alford, Justin Bethel, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Bashaud Breeland,Tramaine Brock, Bryce Callahan, Justin Coleman, Ronald Darby, Darqueze Dennard, Pierre Desir, E.J. Gaines, Phillip Gaines, Antonio Hamilton, Kareem Jackson, Kevin Johnson, Nevin Lawson, Tony Lippett, Jason McCourty, Rashaan Melvin, Steven Nelson, Brian Poole, Darryl Roberts, Bradley Roby, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eric Rowe, Buster Skrine, Jason Verrett, B.W. Webb, Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Best Available: Morris Claiborne

There weren’t many big-name cornerbacks on the market this year, but there are still a few names who can help defensive units. Teams looking for a quality cornerback that isn’t a world-beater, but still effective should be able to find some value in free agency.

Others available: Brent Grimes, Davon House, Captain Munnerlyn, Orlando Scandrick, Sam Shields, Kayvon Webster, Shareece Wright

Safety

Signed: Adrian Amos, Chris Banjo, Antoine Bethea, Terrence Brooks, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Landon Collins, Clayton Geathers, Tashaun Gipson, George Iloka, Colin Jones, LaMarcus Joyner, Tyrann Mathieu, Adrian Phillips, Eric Reid, Curtis Riley, Andrew Sendejo, Earl Thomas, Kenny Vaccaro, Jaylen Watkins, Jimmie Ward, Eric Weddle
Best Available: Eric Berry, Tre Boston, Morgan Burnett, Johnathan Cyprien, Glover Quin

Yet another strong year for the safety position, and this time, they didn’t wait around to get deals done. Notable guys like Landon Collins and Tyrann Mathieu made it to the open market, and quickly agreed to deals with their new teams. However, there is still some meat left on the bone at the position.

Others available: Mike Adams, Jahleel Addae, Kurt Coleman, Chris Conte, Marcus Gilchrist, Kendrick Lewis, Mike Mitchell, Reggie Nelson, Ron Parker, Darian Stewart


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The AAF’s dramatic collapse, explained

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The AAF went from the hottest thing in sports to gone in a matter of weeks. How did we get here?

The AAF arrived with excitement, fanfare, and hope. Less than two months later, operations were suspended and a shutdown of the entire league is imminent. The drama played out with anger, backbiting, and pointed fingers. Was the league poised to break out before having its knees cut out from under it, or was the league swallowed up in a billionaire’s scheme to get his hands on some gambling technology?

Many questions are left unanswered in the wake of the AAF’s rapid collapse, but it’s unquestionable that the move caused a lot of pain for a great many people. Players, coaches, officials, and league employees uprooted their lives with the promise of an ideal of an alternate football league, only to have those hopes dashed 60 days later. Now we’ll do our best to make sense of how things went so badly, and why the league is dead.

How it all began.

Influential TV producer Charlie Ebersol (son of former NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol) formed the idea for the AAF in 2016 after working on ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary on the collapse of the XFL. In researching and producing the documentary, Ebersol came to the conclusion that the concept for a secondary football league was viable in the US, but the XFL’s on-field product and presentation was its downfall. Feeling he could correct the XFL’s errors, Ebersol planned out how the AAF would operate for a launch in 2019.

During those early planning stages Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO of WWE, announced he would be re-launching the XFL, starting in 2020. Initially Ebersol approached McMahon in the hopes of parlaying his idea for the AAF with McMahon’s vision, but ultimately the sides didn’t reach an agreement — which included Ebersol wanting ownership of the XFL brand.

Ebersol continued work on his concept for a football league, and it wasn’t until 2018 that the public heard more information about the AAF. Ebersol secured the services of renowned household names and football minds, including Bill Polian, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, J.K. McKay, and Justin Tuck. He followed this up by announcing Steve Spurrier would be the league’s first head coach, lending more credence to the idea that the AAF was a league in its own right, not the machination of a TV producer.

Ebersol explained how he saw the AAF fitting in when he spoke to SBNation.com in February:

“If you’re a player who wants to play in the NFL, another league comes along, you look at that league as an opportunity to show your skills off and get back in the big show. The problem is, if they screw with the game, which all these people have done, you can’t get back in the NFL because if you’re playing in the CFL or another league like that, and NFL’s looking at that the game, it’s so wildly different.”

On Feb. 9, 2019 the league launched and things were wonderful … for a week.

The AAF gets bailed out.

Signs of trouble emerged in the AAF’s second week with reports that the league was in severe financial trouble. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported the league missed payroll in its inaugural week, which was initially claimed to be a “glitch” by AAF officials, before news dropped that the league was on the verge of collapse unless an investor stepped in and propped up the organization.

One major issue was that Reggie Fowler, slated to be a $170 million investor in the AAF pulled back, committing only $28 million to the league and leaving the AAF in a lurch.

How was a league in this much trouble, this quickly, considering its early ratings were promising and people were excited? NFL insider Benjamin Allbright said on the radio show Pushing The Odds that the AAF wasn’t making any money off its broadcasts, no matter how many people were tuning in. Part of its partnership with CBS called for the AAF to provide CBS with programming, free of charge, for the first year. This was designed to be a proof of concept, engendering goodwill with broadcasters in the hopes of cashing in for the second season. This ensured the AAF would get plenty of exposure, but did nothing to actually keep the league afloat.

It’s here where billionaire Tom Dundon enters the picture. Dundon, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, made his fortune off subprime car loans, before parlaying that into a 55 percent purchase of “TopGolf,” which marries sport and technology. Dundon came through as the AAF’s bailout, committing a reported $250 million to ensure operations could continue, but in reality only gave $70 million to the AAF and was operating on a weekly basis. The result of this investment was that Dundon became chairman of the board — and had full control of its future.

Initially, it seemed like the league would survive as a result of the investment, but it wasn’t long before things went bad again.

A plea to the NFLPA.

It’s here where things get muddy. It appears that Polian and Dundon had differing views about how the league should position itself moving forward. Polian saw the AAF as a potential feeder league for the NFL — giving undrafted and cut players an opportunity to showcase their talents in the hopes of returning to the NFL.

Rovell explained the differing opinion:

“Ebersol and Polian’s plan was to develop the league for three years on its own before becoming a feeder system to the NFL. Dundon, however, wanted to create that minor league relationship immediately and sought to use the leverage of folding the AAF to get a deal with the NFL Players Association to better insure a flow between leagues.”

USA Today reported that Ebersol and Polian’s plan had reached a point where they were having informal discussions with the NFL, but nothing had been cemented. Executives believed it would always be a 2-3 year plan to become a minor league for the NFL.

Dundon, on the other hand, wanted to secure a talent-sharing agreement with the NFL immediately. This would allow signed NFL players to compete in the AAF during their offseason. Reports indicate Dundon was so adamant about the NFL supplying the AAF with players that he indicated he could fold the league without an agreement, but the problem was that any kind of deal like Dundon proposed went against the collective bargaining agreement signed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2011.

Players can’t simply be asked to play in another league, and that’s before talking about injury risks. Essentially Dundon wanted NFL players to play in his league, away from their teams, doctors, strength and conditioning staff — allegedly delivering a quick-turnaround ultimatum on an issue that would take months for the NFL and NFLPA to agree upon, assuming they saw value in working with the AAF in the first place. Especially considering they had a CBA negotiation looming.

The end of the AAF.

Reports emerged less than a week after Dundon floated the idea of dissolving the league that the AAF would cease operations at 5 p.m. on April 2. Players and coaches learned of the decision mid-practice, weeks removed from the playoffs and a championship game slated for a primetime slot on CBS, which would have turned more eyes to the league than ever before.

Polian issued a statement prior to Dundon’s announcement blaming the chairman for dissolving the league.

“I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football,” Polian said. “When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.”

Then, at 5 p.m. Dundon made a statement to AAF players announcing the league would cease operations. No press release was made public, and the AAF’s own website makes no mention of the league dissolving.

Why did this need to happen?

Currently there’s no good answer. It’s unclear why Dundon felt the issue needed to be forced with the NFL just a year out from the league needing to negotiate a new CBA with the NFLPA. Trying to play hardball with the NFL at a time its hands were tied seemed misguided, at best.

The league now needs an estimated $20M. That would keep the AAF operational for the remainder of the season and through the playoffs, but that seems unlikely unless a Hail Mary investor emerges immediately.

There’s an alternate timeline here where the AAF could have continued its operations until the NFL/NFLPA negotiations and attempted to be added to the CBA as a viable play alternative to young players, securing Dundon’s longterm goal, instead of pushing for it early.

However, there’s speculation that none of this was really about football. One of the AAF’s most valuable assets was proprietary gambling software the league had built into its app. This combination of real-time fantasy football paired with sports gambling had attractive potential, especially at a time where more states are legalizing sports gambling. Some believe that Dundon’s interest in the AAF was only to secure the technology behind the gambling app.

It’s unclear if Dundon has the right to claim ownership to the technology, should that be his play. Everything hinges on whether his investment agreement with the AAF included AAF technologies, or just the league itself — in addition it’s murky whether the AAF owned the intellectual property of the app in the first place, or whether MGM Casinos owned the app and licensed it to the AAF. Reports indicate that Dundon does not own the technology, regardless of what happens.

If this speculation is true, it could be a long time before we see how it plays out, with the court system getting involved.

It’s important not to forget the human toll of this situation.

It’s easy to look at the AAF as a curiosity, or laugh at its failure — but the reality is that dozens of athletes, coaches, and employees relied on the AAF for their livelihood. Even if the league was mismanaged the people associated with the league didn’t deserve to have the rug pulled out from under them like this.

Players went from preparing for a game one day, to being kicked out of their hotel rooms and stranded.

Things reached a point where players weren’t even fed before games. It was on them to find their own food, using a per diem to cover their costs.

Employees were sent a cold email notifying them that their employment had been terminated.

Charles James II, cornerback for the Memphis Express is used to being forced to make changes over the course of his football career — but the collapse of the AAF hit him hard.

“A lot of these guys are younger guys who had never been through this process,” James said. “I’ve never been in the process of a league ending, but I’ve been cut before. Seven times. I’m used to picking up and being in another place. But this is too fast, too soon. We’re talking about relationships, memories, all that — gone.”

Other players just wanted to know about their healthcare and paychecks.

“Questions immediately shifted to how long their health insurance would last, and whether they’d just received a final paycheck. Some coaches simply sent their teams home.”

Numerous entities are out in the cold as a result of the AAF’s problems. UCF lost $1 million it was promised for hosting Orlando Apollos games. Vendors in San Antonio are owed $4 million, and it’s unclear if they’ll ever see a cent. The ripples of the league’s collapse extend far beyond those directly employed or playing for the league. It’s impacting lives everywhere.

Now, players are in limbo. On Thursday, shortly after the NFL reportedly released a memo barring teams from signing former AAF players due to the league’s legal problems, the AAF announced that its players were free to sign with NFL teams.

It didn’t take long for players to be signed, with more than 30 players getting signed within a week of the AAF’s demise. That includes:

There were laudable things the AAF attempted to do that would have changed football for the better. It tried to provide opportunities to overlooked players. It gave them healthcare. The league brought innovation and integrated fans into the experience in a way the NFL has never done. The early returns showed that these were influential enough to have the NFL considering some innovations, with variations appearing at the NFL owner’s meeting in March.

In the end, the story of the AAF might not be one of a league full of promise that flew too close to the sun, and instead the tale of a billionaire destroying a league to get some software. Nobody is better off for the AAF dying, and it’s all a shame.


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mikenov on Twitter: The Global Security News: 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: Elisabeth Moss says ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ runs ‘parallel’ to her Scientology beliefs bklynradio.com/blog/2019/04/0…

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The Global Security News: 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: Elisabeth Moss says ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ runs ‘parallel’ to her Scientology beliefs bklynradio.com/blog/2019/04/0…


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 8:48pm

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Todd McShay’s mock draft reveals the trends he is (and isn’t) buying

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McShay thinks there’s going to be a feeding frenzy for receivers in Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The 2019 NFL Draft is now just over two weeks away and mock drafts are approaching their final predictions. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Todd McShay took another stab at projecting the picks with the added caveat that he’s playing general manager this time around.

“This is what I see as the best selection for the team,” McShay writes. “It’s how I would pick based on needs, value, and availability. Each team’s preferences don’t matter here.”

It’s a similar premise to our writer’s mock draft that had Dwayne Haskins scooped up by the Jaguars, even thought it’s unlikely Jacksonville actually makes that pick.

But the problem is McShay’s “best case scenario” mock draft really doesn’t look that much different than his usual projections. The entire top eight was the same as his last mock draft, except he moved Quinnen Williams up from No. 4 to No. 3 — swapping him with Josh Allen.

Still, there are a few interesting nuggets in the three-round mock draft that provide some insight into where McShay agrees with recent trends and where he disagrees. Here are six observations from his latest mock draft:

1. Ed Oliver and Rashan Gary swapped spots

Just six days ago, McShay’s mock draft had Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary slated to the Buffalo Bills at No. 9 overall and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver headed to the Miami Dolphins four picks later. Mel Kiper Jr. disagreed and thought Buffalo would go with Oliver.

McShay has apparently come to agree with Kiper.

In this mock, McShay flipped his selections and has Oliver going to Buffalo and Gary headed to Miami.

Both players are potential top-10 picks, but analysts haven’t been able to agree on which player is likelier to get picked first. In Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft, he also has Oliver to the Bills with Gary five picks later to the Falcons.

Oliver has been picking up steam in mock drafts in the final weeks before draft day, while Gary has been all over the board from the start. A blue-chip recruit out of high school, Gary wasn’t very productive at Michigan, while Oliver had 53.5 tackles for loss in just three seasons at Houston.

There are still analysts that think Gary will come off the board before Oliver, but McShay is jumping on the growing bandwagon that think the Houston product will be the one in the top 10.

2. Is TCU’s L.J. Collier a first-round pick?

McShay’s most against-the-grain take is the Patriots taking TCU defensive end L.J. Collier at the end of the first round.

In over 50 mock drafts surveyed in our SB Nation database, it’s the only time Collier appears in the first round. In his mock draft six days ago, McShay had Collier just outside the first round at No. 35 to the Raiders.

There are surprising first-round picks every year (nobody projected Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds in the first round last year), so it’s certainly possible that Collier gets his name called.

Collier’s athletic profile doesn’t scream first-round pick, nor do his 14.5 sacks in four seasons. But McShay clearly sees something in the TCU pass rusher that most others don’t.

3. The Patriots snag Daniel Jones in the second round

Even if New England may have reached a bit for Collier in McShay’s mock draft, he makes up for it by giving the team some serious value in the second round. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones has been a frequent projection for Washington and the New York Giants in the middle of the first round of mock drafts. McShay has him dropping out of the top 50 and all the way into the waiting arms of Bill Belichick.

There’s a lot to like about the 6’5, 221-pound passer, but McShay clearly isn’t buying the first-round hype.

That’d make him the quarterback of the future for the Patriots — ready to step into the starting role whenever Tom Brady actually gets old. There’s also the possibility that Brady never gets old, signs an extension when he’s 45, and Jones gets traded for two first-round picks to some poor team that finds out he’s not even good in the first place.

4. Ryan Finley is the fourth quarterback off the board

Most mock drafts have Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray at the top of the class and they usually have Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Missouri’s Drew Lock not too far behind. Then almost all of them have Daniel Jones as the fourth quarterback after the top tier.

McShay diverts from that by projecting NC State’s Ryan Finley gets picked by the Dolphins in the middle of the second round.

That’s not a new opinion from the analyst — he had Finley and Jones in the same spots last week. He’s mostly alone on that one, though. Kiper had Jones in the top of the first round and Finley’s name didn’t appear in his two-round mock draft.

5. There are quality receivers in Day 2

The 2019 NFL Draft class doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver who’s a sure-fire top-10 pick. What it does have is a long list of receivers who have a shot at cracking the back half of the first round.

McShay has 13 receivers in his latest draft with two in the first round, five in the second, and four in the third. The relatively surprising first receiver off the board is Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Packers at No. 12, followed by D.K. Metcalf to Washington three picks later.

But woo buddy there are value picks at the position in Day 2.

The Colts get A.J. Brown and the Jaguars get N’Keal Harry early in the second round. The Lions and Jets get Hakeem Butler and Kelvin Harmon, respectively, late in the third round.

There’s enough depth at receiver that there will be plenty of talent after the first round, regardless. But McShay’s projection really cranked it up by only having two in the first 32 picks. If that comes to fruition, expect a gold mine of receiver talent on the second day of the draft.

6. Why does McShay call this his “Grade A” mock draft?

Every year he does a “best-case scenario” mock draft where every team supposedly makes the perfect pick and gets graded with an A. It looks exactly like his normal mock draft.


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mikenov on Twitter: 1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (110 sites): “Borough Park Brooklyn” – Google News: Exit Poll: Netanyahu, Gantz Tied In Israeli Election – The Forward – Forward bklyn-ny.net/blog/2019/04/0…

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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (110 sites): “Borough Park Brooklyn” – Google News: Exit Poll: Netanyahu, Gantz Tied In Israeli Election – The Forward – Forward bklyn-ny.net/blog/2019/04/0…


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 8:05pm

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: 1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (110 sites): “Borough Park Brooklyn” – Google News: Exit Poll: Netanyahu, Gantz Tied In Israeli Election – The Forward – Forward bklyn-ny.net/blog/2019/04/0…

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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (110 sites): “Borough Park Brooklyn” – Google News: Exit Poll: Netanyahu, Gantz Tied In Israeli Election – The Forward – Forward bklyn-ny.net/blog/2019/04/0…


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 7:38pm

1 retweet

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: mikenov on Twitter: PBSNewsHour’s YouTube Videos: WATCH: Will Barr let any members of Congress see the full report? (Trump News TV from…) michael_novakhov.newsblur.com/story/pbsnewsh… pic.twitter.com/MVZaDKLxV5 bklyn-ny.net/blog/2019/04/0…

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mikenov on Twitter: PBSNewsHour’s YouTube Videos: WATCH: Will Barr let any members of Congress see the full report? (Trump News TV from…) michael_novakhov.newsblur.com/story/pbsnewshpic.twitter.com/MVZaDKLxV5 bklyn-ny.net/blog/2019/04/0…



Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 7:36pm

mikenov on Twitter


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T.J. Hockenson could be Josh Allen’s favorite target

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A tight end could help the Bills’ second-year QB take the next step as a pro.

In last year’s draft, the Buffalo Bills made a big trade to get up to No. 7 overall to take quarterback Josh Allen. It was a calculated risk to get the big-armed Wyoming quarterback.

The problem for Buffalo was the talent around him. These were Buffalo’s leading receivers in 2018: Zay Jones (652 yards), Robert Foster (541 yards), Kelvin Benjamin (354 yards), and Jason Croom (259 yards). That’s not exactly Andre Reed and James Lofton.

It was so bad for Buffalo on offense last season that Allen had the most rushing yards for the Bills with 631. Buffalo’s offense was putrid by almost every measure, so it’s hard to totally judge Allen.

This offseason for Buffalo is about surrounding Allen with real talent. That can happen with the ninth pick in the draft. In the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft Matt Warren and the team from Buffalo Rumblings are here to deliver a safety blanket to Allen.

9. Buffalo Bills: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Warren: The Buffalo Bills have several holes on their roster, but none more glaring than at tight end. Head coach Sean McDermott has frequently mentioned it in interviews this offseason. After Buffalo signed six offensive linemen and three wide receivers in free agency, they need a dynamic and complete player at tight end to help quarterback Josh Allen develop.

While we considered Jawaan Taylor with this selection, taking a right tackle over a multi-dimensional player was ultimately too much for us when adequate right tackles will be available later. Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf was also on our short list, but Hockenson’s blocking ability made him the pick over the receiver.

Analysis: A scroll is needed to keep track of all the free agency moves the Bills have made this offseason. In addition to those six offensive linemen and three receivers, don’t forget the Bills added serviceable, and immortal, running back Frank Gore and tight end Tyler Kroft.

As much as the Bills have done, you do have to wonder what they think of Metcalf. While they did sign three receivers — Cole Beasley, John Brown, and Andre Roberts — they’re all smaller receivers or play in the slot. Metcalf is a big outside target who excels on the type of deep routes that Allen specializes in throwing. Metcalf should still be in play for the Bills.

None of that is to say that Hockenson is a bad pick, though. He can help the run game with his blocking and is a very good receiver at tight end. If the Bills want a player who can work the underneath game while players like Brown and Roberts get deep, Hockenson is an excellent choice.

Top five remaining players:

  • 8. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
  • 10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  • 12. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
  • 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
  • 14. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

That closes out our three picks for the day in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. Check back at 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday for pick No. 10 belonging to the Denver Broncos and Mile High Report.


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PBSNewsHour’s YouTube Videos: WATCH: Will Barr let any members of Congress see the full report?

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From: PBSNewsHour
Duration: 07:20

Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a hearing whether Barr thought that there was any circumstance that any member of Congress would have access to the full Mueller report. “We’re sitting here, from my persepctive, with virtually unlimited discretion for you to redact from that document,” Case said. “And maybe if I trusted my government more, I would be comfortable with that.” Case said he was looking for some way that Barr’s discretion would be subject to oversight. Barr said that, when the report was ready for release, he would give it to the chairmen of the judiciary committees and discuss what additional information they wanted and why.

Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG
Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour
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A historic rebuke, a historic foreign policy debacle – The Washington Post

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A historic rebuke, a historic foreign policy debacle  The Washington Post

President Trump is unique in his lack of credibility and consistency on foreign policy. It therefore was stunning but not surprising that, after losing control of policy …


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Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate, bucks progressives on free college – Inside Higher Ed

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Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate, bucks progressives on free college  Inside Higher Ed

After debate over free college defined 2016 Democratic primary campaign, South Bend, Ind., mayor is the second Democratic presidential candidate to take a …


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Top US lawmakers demand Turkey choose between America’s F-35 and Russia’s S-400 – DefenseNews.com

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Top US lawmakers demand Turkey choose between America’s F-35 and Russia’s S-400  DefenseNews.com

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. lawmakers are threatening to pass legislation that would bar NATO ally Turkey from buying the F-35 fighter jet, and sanction the …


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