Tagged in: future

Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James hold ‘productive’ contract extension talks

LeBron James and the Lakers had a “productive” discussion in regards to their future together on Thursday, Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports Group, told ESPN.

No new deal has been agreed upon yet, however, sources said.

James and Paul met with Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka as well as new Lakers coach Darvin Ham in the war room at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, California, on Thursday. It was the first day James was eligible to sign a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension with the Lakers.

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Paul told ESPN he expects both sides to continue a dialogue moving forward.

James is entering his contract’s final year, worth $44.5 million, and will be 38 years old when his current deal is up.

The maximum length of a contract a player aged 38 or older can sign is two years, according to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

James has until June 30 to sign the extension before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

It is probable James could seek a one-year extension, worth $47 million for the 2023-24 season, with an additional year with a player option for 2024-25.

The optionality could be intentional.

His eldest son, Bronny, is entering his senior year of high school, making him NBA eligible in 2024. James has repeatedly stated his wish to team up with his son on an NBA roster before he retires.

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Outfielder Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros finalize new six-year, $115 million deal

Yordan Álvarez already has brought so much to the Houston Astros.

On the day he and the team concluded a $115 million, six-year contract, general manager James Click spoke about how much more they expect the slugger to do for this franchise.

“A cornerstone player,” Click said. “It allows us to build the roster around him, build a lineup around him. And that sort of security, both for him and for us as we continue to try to compete for World Series championships is huge, knowing that we’re going to have a player of that caliber anchoring our lineup for the foreseeable future.”

The contract covers 2023 through 2028. The 24-year-old has a one-year deal for 2022 calling for $764,600 while in the major leagues and $304,500 should he be assigned to the minors.

“There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into it and seeing the fruits of the labor really means a lot,” Álvarez stated in Spanish through an interpreter.

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His deal announced Monday calls for a $5 million signing bonus payable within 30 days of the contract’s approval by Major League Baseball and salaries of $7 million next year, $10 million in 2024 and $15 million in 2025, covering his three years of arbitration eligibility.

Álvarez, who obtained AL Rookie of the Year in 2019 and was the MVP of last year’s American League Championship Series, receives $26 million annually from 2026 through 2028, when he would have been eligible for free agency.

He said he thought about waiting until free agency to test the market, but in the end he and his agent decided, “it was the right decision to be here.”

His salary can escalate from 2024 to ’27 based on his finish in MVP voting: $1.5 million for first, $750,000 for second and $750,000 for third. The increment would apply to all subsequent seasons.

For 2027 and ’28, Álvarez gets a limited no-trade provision allowing him to list 10 teams he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

After seeing star pitcher Gerrit Cole and shortstop Carlos Correa leave as free agents, veteran second baseman Jose Altuve stated he is relieved to know Álvarez is staying.

“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Altuve said. “And just the fact that he’s going to be here, that most time means that the team is trying to win for six years. And obviously with a guy like him in your lineup, you’re going to win many games.”

Álvarez hit .277 last year and set career highs with 33 homers and 104 RBIs. He entered Monday’s series opener against Seattle with a .295 average, 16 homers and 34 RBIs, all team highs.

While he already has proved to be one of the best young hitters in the game, Álvarez is sure he can do much more.

Manager Dusty Baker agreed and stated that Álvarez is only “scratching the surface” of how good he can be. Álvarez has played just one full major league season after being called up in June 2019 and missing all but two games of the 2020 season after surgery on both knees.

“That’s why you sign a guy to multi years, because you realize the fact that he is only going to get better,” Baker said. “And all he has to do now is to stay healthy and the sky’s the limit.”

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LB Robert Quinn says he hopes Chicago Bears don’t trade him

Chicago Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn stated he experienced disbelief and shock when Khalil Mack, the other half of Chicago’s dominant pass rushing duo, was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers last month for a 2022 second-round pick (No. 48) and 2023 sixth-round selection.

The Mack trade was the first major move executed by new general manager Ryan Poles before the start of free agency. The Bears eventually parted ways with more than 25 players in March via expired contracts or roster cuts.

Quinn, who set the franchise’s single-season record for sacks in 2021 with 18.5, has been the subject of trade speculation this offseason after the Bears dealt his Pro Bowl teammate for draft capital while starting a massive overhaul of the roster.

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The defensive end, who turns 32 in May, faces insecurity about his own future in Chicago, even though he remains under contract through 2024 after the Bears gave him a five-year, $70 million extension in 2020.

“The only thing I thought of was hopefully my résumé or my production from last year gives me a little weight to keep my foot in the building,” Quinn said Tuesday after being presented with the team’s Brian Piccolo Award.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business. Again, you see Khalil Mack getting traded. Again, it’s just a business. Don’t dwell on it, too crazy.”

Quinn then reiterated his desire to stay with the Bears in 2022.

“I didn’t expect to go anywhere, or want to go anywhere, but again, this is a crazy business,” Quinn said.

At the NFL owners meetings last month, Poles was asked whether considering trading Quinn was an option.

“That hasn’t come up,” Poles said in March.

For now, Quinn remains with the Bears, but he’s not particularly a fan of the phrase most would use for the state of the Bears: a rebuild.

“I don’t think that’s the right way we should phrase it, because people in — the guys in the building are professionals and I think everyone carries themselves to high expectations,” Quinn said.

“I believe, me personally, no player is better than me, and I believe everyone else should carry themselves the same way. So to say, ‘a rebuild’ is, I guess, a funny word. I think it’s just getting guys to believe who they truly are, and perform at their high level of expectations, because everyone’s talented enough, because they’re here. Now you’ve just got to go prove it.”

Speaking ahead of his first draft as general manager, Poles addressed the situation the Bears are currently in with a roster that only has 64 players under contract and a host of needs they hope to address with the NFL draft this week, most notably along the offensive line and at wide receiver and cornerback.

The way Poles describes it, the Bears view the state of the team as a remodeling project, not a rebuild.

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Detroit Lions release veteran LB Jamie Collins after exploring trade

After attempting to trade linebacker Jamie Collins, the Detroit Lions revealed Tuesday that he has been released.

Collins, a nine-year veteran, stopped reporting to practice ahead of Week 3 as the Lions explored options for his future. Coach Dan Campbell stated last week that he met with Collins to communicate the team’s plans to seek a trade, but the Lions ultimately couldn’t reach a deal for him.

Collins can sign with another team immediately. He is making a fully guaranteed $8.8 million from Detroit this year ($5 million bonus, $3.8 million salary).

A one-time Pro Bowler, Collins racked up 10 total tackles, with one for a loss, and a fumble recovery in back-to-back defeats to San Francisco and Green Bay this season.

Campbell stated last week that he felt it was “time for a reduced role” for Collins and decided to play the younger members of the roster.

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“We’ve been through two games now and you make your assessment and your judgement after two games and that’s where we’re at,” Campbell said of Collins last Thursday.

“There again, we felt like it was, if you’re going to grow and you’re going to try to get better as a team, as a unit, everything, you better do it now.

“There again, I think this is best for Jamie as well. He gets a chance to go somewhere and do what he does and we’re just in a different place.”

The Lions have turned to rookie Derrick Barnes to fill the role vacated by Collins. Barnes made his first start of the season Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens, and made four stops while playing about half the team’s defensive snaps.

Collins made 101 tackles for the Lions in 2020 under former Lions coach Matt Patricia, for whom Collins played in New England. But he had struggled this season, particularly in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers that spurred Campbell to suggest a move could be in the works.

It proved to be Collins’ last game in Detroit, as he was not at the Lions practice facility Thursday and was designated inactive Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons discuss Julio Jones trade

As the Falcons continue to field calls from teams interested in trading for Julio Jones, the Seahawks have had conversations about a possible trade with Atlanta for the wide receiver, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Jones have been in touch, having phone conversations to discuss the option of playing together, Russini reported.

Seattle already boasts a talented wide receiver corps led by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who each had 10 touchdown receptions and more than 1,000 yards receiving last season.

Sources told Russini on Thursday that the Falcons have an offer of a future first-round draft pick on the table for Jones. Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter last Monday.

The Seahawks do not have a first-round pick in 2022 after sending it to the New York Jets last year to get safety Jamal Adams.

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The rumor mill around Jones started last month when general manager Terry Fontenot told reporters his team would be taking calls about the All-Pro receiver.

Then, on Monday, Jones said “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with FS1’s Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show. It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, 32, requested a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks. The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

The Tennessee Titans have also discussed a trade with the Falcons, but a source described the Titans’ probabilities of landing Jones as a “long shot” to Russini on Thursday.

It is likely that Jones will not be traded until after June 1 because of the salary-cap benefits for the Falcons. Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

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Julio Jones, asked about future with Atlanta Falcons, says ‘I’m outta there’

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones stated Monday he is planning on leaving the franchise during an interview on FS1.

“I’m outta there,” Jones said when reached by telephone by Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

Jones had been the subject of trade talks recently after general manager Terry Fontenot said the team would be taking calls about the former All-Pro receiver last month.

Jones, 32, demanded a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks.

The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told Schefter.

When Jones was asked by Sharpe where he would like to go play, he said he would like to play for a winner.

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“Right now I wanna win,” Jones said.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this campaign, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

Jones has played 10 seasons with the Falcons, who selected him sixth overall in the 2011 draft, leading the NFL in receiving twice (1,871 yards in 2015 and 1,677 yards in 2018) and three times in yards per game (2015, 2016 and 2018).

He made seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2015 and 2016.

He became one of the faces of the Falcons, starting 134 of the 135 matches he played in and making 848 catches for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. He’s the Falcons’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and second to Roddy White in receiving touchdowns (63).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine games due to injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75% was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons did make one receiver move Monday, signing receiver Tajae Sharpe. The 26-year-old spent four seasons in Tennessee with Arthur Smith, now the Falcons’ head coach, from 2016 to 2019, where he caught 92 passes for 1,167 yards and eight touchdowns. He spent 2020 with Minnesota, where he played in four games with no catches.

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Ryan Braun, longtime Milwaukee Brewers slugger, leaning toward retirement

Ryan Braun stated he’s strongly leaning toward retirement, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ home run leader isn’t ready to make any decision regarding his future.

Braun visited the Brewers’ spring training site Monday and said he hasn’t picked up a bat since the end of the 2020 season. The 2011 NL MVP became a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I’m strongly leaning in the direction of being done as an active player,” the 37-year-old Braun said. “But I think you can always push that decision back.

I’m still young enough, still working out, still in shape. If something were to change, I might as well leave that door open as long as possible.”

Braun has spent his entire major league career with the Brewers and said that “I can’t foresee a scenario in which I play for any other major league team.”

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Last campaign, Braun batted a career-low .233 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 matches while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Once the regular season starts and I’m able to watch some games, I feel like that’s when I’ll actually miss the game itself,” Braun said.

“I’m kind of interested to see how I feel, what it feels like. Obviously, I’ve never experienced it before. Time will tell.”

Braun made his debut with Milwaukee in 2007. His 352 homers as a Brewer are the most of anyone in franchise history.

He ranks second among all Brewers in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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