Tagged in: Contract extension

Giannis Antetokounmpo says focus not on extension with Milwaukee Bucks

There’s a multimillion-dollar question looming over the NBA that only Giannis Antetokounmpo has the answer to.

However, the Bucks superstar didn’t put to bed any speculation on his long-term future in Milwaukee on Wednesday, instead saying that he will put faith in his agent and the team’s front office to reach a potential supermax contract extension.

“I’m not focused on that,” Antetokounmpo stated. “I know my agent, Alex [Saratsis], and [Bucks general manager] Jon Horst and the Bucks ownership are focusing on those discussions, but I’m just trying to focus on myself — how I can get better, how I can help my teammates get better, how can we be ready Saturday to play our first preseason game?”

Antetokounmpo has until Dec. 21 to sign a five-year, $228 million supermax extension.

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On Wednesday, he wouldn’t go into the details of his process, though he admitted that “it’s probably one of the big decisions that I’m gonna make.”

He could play out the season in Milwaukee and enter free agency as an unrestricted free agent next summer, or he could sign the same deal with the Bucks next offseason.

One thing is for sure: His communication with his agent will stay private.

“I think about everything,” he said. “I think about Milwaukee. I think about my teammates. I think about my family. I think about what’s the best decision for me, but that’s pretty much it. Then, after that, I realize that I’ve got so far because I’ve focused on how I can improve every single day.

“I love the city of Milwaukee. I love the organization. I love my family to death. I love winning, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be in this situation if I wasn’t working hard, I wasn’t winning games, I wasn’t improving every day and I didn’t have this mentality”.

Milwaukee was eliminated by the Miami Heat in five matches in the Eastern Conference semifinals in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida. This campaign, Antetokounmpo won’t put any additional pressure on himself or the team.

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Mookie Betts agrees to 12 year extension with Dodgers

The Dodgers and outfielder Mookie Betts agreed to a 12-year, $365 million contract extension Wednesday that should keep Betts in Los Angeles for the rest of his career. The deal involves a $65 million signing bonus. Betts will make $10 million during this abbreviated season before the new deal starts in 2021.

The deal is the second-largest of all time, exceeded only by the 12-year, $426.5 million extension Mike Trout signed with the Angels in March 2019.

The development comes a day before the Dodgers open their 2020 season versus the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. The pandemic-shortened 60-game season was in jeopardy during the league’s shutdown and ensuing heated negotiations between owners and the union. Not staging a season could have meant Betts never would have played a meaningful game for the Dodgers.

Not only will he now play in Los Angeles in 2020, but through 2032.

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The club acquired Betts, a four-time all-star and the 2018 American League MVP, and left-hander David Price from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and two prospects days before players reported for spring training in February.

Betts, 27, arrived as a potential one-year rental with free agency looming in the winter after turning down a $300-million extension offer from the Red Sox. The decision carried risk, but Betts was the elite player the Dodgers sought for their October push to end a 32-year championship drought.

They were confident they could persuade Betts to stay in Los Angeles. The contract would be the richest that Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has given a player. The team has re-signed players to substantial contacts since Friedman took over in October 2014, but none has reached the $100-million threshold. Even in a depressed free-agent market this off-season, Betts would easily smash that ceiling.

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Kirk Cousins, Vikings agree on 2 year extension

The Vikings have decided to extend the quarterback’s contract by two years, according to his agent, Mike McCartney (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the contract extension is worth $66 million, making the total arrangement worth $96 million over three years with $61 million guaranteed.

Cousins, 31, signed a three-year, $84 million deal with Minnesota in 2018 after six campaigns in Washington. When he joined the Vikings, the team was coming off a 13-3 season in which it won the NFC North but lost in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

In 2018, the Vikings took a step back, finishing second in the division and missing the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record. The setback didn’t last long, though. Cousins guided the Vikings to a 10-6 season and a wild-card berth in 2019, beating the New Orleans Saints in the postseason before falling to the San Francisco 49ers.

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He concluded his second season in Minnesota with 3,603 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 107.4 QB rating—the highest mark in his career.

Minnesota’s roster remains competitive in the NFC North, even as the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers remain in lockstep with their rival.

Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook and wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen form an electric group of offensive weapons. While the Vikings finished the year with just the 16th-best offense in the league, there is room to grow.

With the offense locked in behind Cousins, the team can focus on building around it as the Vikings search for their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Cousins was entering the final season of the fully guaranteed, three-year, $84 million contract he signed as a free agent in 2018. He was scheduled to carry a $31 million charge to Minnesota’s salary cap in 2020, so the impetus for doing a new deal now was to give the team with some immediate relief while giving Cousins some additional security.

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Bikerstaff get multi year deal to coach Cavaliers

An encouraging 10-game start to his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers has formally landed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff a contract extension. 

The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo was the first to report that Bickerstaff and the Cavs had agreed to a multiyear deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal is for four years and will run through the 2023-24 campaign. 

The 41-year-old started this season with the Cavaliers as an associate head coach on John Beilein’s staff. He spent the previous two years as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies but was fired after a 33-49 record in 2018-19. 

When Beilein resigned as Cleveland’s head coach on Feb. 19, the team promoted Bickerstaff to take over on a full-time basis. 

“We are very fortunate to have someone of J.B.’s caliber and basketball pedigree lead our franchise as head coach,” Altman said in a statement released by the team. “His wealth of experience, coupled with the respect he has garnered around the NBA and with this team, has made for a seamless transition from associate head coach to head coach.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon reported after Beilein’s resignation that Cavs players “began tuning Beilein out” during training camp and he had “shown no consistency in relating to players or in building lasting relationships with them.”

One unnamed Cavaliers player told Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor the change has been “night and day” going from Beilein to Bickerstaff: “[Beilein] didn’t know how to talk to people. He couldn’t communicate.”

After going 14-40 under Beilein, the Cavaliers have been a respectable 5-5 in 10 matches with Bickerstaff at the helm.

Bickerstaff previously coached in Houston and Memphis before coming to Cleveland. He led the Rockets to the playoffs in 2015-16.

Second-year guard Collin Sexton, a core piece of the rebuild, has been one of the driving forces behind the surge, averaging 25.4 points over the last 10 matches, which ranks 14th in the NBA. Only LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid are averaging more points per match with a higher field goal percentage. Sexton is also averaging 4.1 assists and 10.1 potential assists under Bickerstaff.

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Brewers, Christian Yelich gets contract extension

The Milwaukee Brewers, despite being in one of the smallest markets in the game, are ready to pay big to keep superstar outfielder Christian Yelich.

The Brewers and Yelich are close to agreeing to a contract extension that will keep him in Milwaukee for the long term, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rosenthal added the deal will be a seven-year extension on top of the two remaining years on Yelich’s contract. All told, Yelich is expected to make $215 million over the next nine years with the Brewers.

Yelich, 28, has been among the game’s best players since arriving in Milwaukee two years ago. He hit .326/.402/.598 with 36 home runs en route to winning NL MVP honors in 2018, then followed it up with a .329/.429/.671 batting line and 44 homers in 2019. His 2019 campaign came to an end on Sept. 10, when he fouled a pitch into his knee and suffered a fractured kneecap.

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Clearly, the knee injury is not a long-term concern. Yelich is expected to make his spring debut later this week — he’s shifting back to left field after playing mostly right the last two seasons — and all indications are his knee has healed fine. If you’re going to give a player $200 million, it should be someone like Yelich. He impacts the game at the plate, in the field, and on the bases.

For the Brewers, there was no real urgency to get Yelich signed.

They already had him locked up through 2021 and under team control through 2022. That stems from the seven-year, $49.57 million extension Yelich signed with the Marlins back in March 2015.  

Rosenthal reports Yelich’s new contract will still pay him $12.5 million in 2020 and $14 million in 2021. The 2022 option will be torn up and replaced with a seven-year extension in the $190 million range. The total value is around $215 million and the contract will also include deferrals.

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Oakland Raiders sign Darren Waller to multiyear contract extension

The Oakland Raiders have signed TE Darren Waller to a multi-year contract extension, the club pronounced Wednesday.

Waller, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round (204th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, is in his first complete season with the Silver and Black after signing to the team’s active roster from the Ravens’ practice squad ahead of Week 13 in 2018.

Waller has appeared in 27 contests and made nine starts since entering the NFL, logging 55 receptions for 537 yards and two touchdowns in addition to two rushing attempts for 28 yards.

Now in his fifth year in the league, the athletic tight end has started all five contests for the Raiders in 2019 and leads the club in receptions (37), first-down receptions (17) and receiving yards (359), all of which mark career highs.

His 37 receptions and 88.1 reception percentage both rank second in the NFL among all tight ends this year, while his 2019 season has been highlighted by a Week 3 performance in which he posted the second-most receptions (13) in a game by a player in franchise history. Waller’s 13 receptions in Week 3 are also the most by a tight end in a single game this season.

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A native of Landover, Md., Waller played four years (2011-14) at Georgia Tech, appearing in 50 contests and making 22 starts for the program. He compiled 51 receptions for 971 yards, adding nine scores during his time with the Yellow Jackets.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden stated Waller is an inspiration, not only for his teammates but for others battling substance abuse.

“He’s really a rookie playing tight end; he was a wide receiver in college,” Gruden said last week. “He sat out of football for a year. He leads the league in receiving right now at that position. If you watched him block, I don’t know if there’s a better tight end in football, really.”

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