Tagged in: Rookie

Luka Doncic signs five-year, $207 million supermax rookie extension with Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic has signed a landmark five-year, $207 million supermax rookie extension, the team revealed Tuesday.

Doncic, one of the most accomplished players in NBA history at 22 years old and rapidly evolving into the future face of the league, becomes the first player eligible for the designated rookie max extension upon signing because he has twice been voted first-team All-NBA.

The deal contains a player option in the final year, agent Bill Duffy of BDA Sports told ESPN on Monday.

A contingent of the franchise’s leaders landed in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Monday to formally present Doncic and Duffy with the contract, including Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, general manager Nico Harrison, coach Jason Kidd, assistant general manager Michael Finley, special adviser Dirk Nowitzki and director of player health and performance Casey Smith.

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“Today is a dream come true,” Doncic told ESPN in a statement. “The game of basketball has given me so much and has taken me to so many amazing places. I am humbled and excited to remain in Dallas as part of the Mavericks.

Doncic became the youngest MVP in EuroLeague history in 2017-18, when he led Real Madrid to a title before being selected with the third overall pick in the NBA draft, immediately getting traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Mavericks for Trae Young and a future first-round pick.

Doncic won Rookie of the Year in 2018-19 and has been a first-team All-NBA selection the past two seasons.

Only four players in NBA history have made All-NBA first team multiple times before their 23rd birthday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Doncic and Kevin Durant are the only players to accomplish the feat since the ABA-NBA merger.

Doncic, who led the Slovenian national team to its first Olympic berth and a fourth-place finish in Tokyo, has NBA career averages of 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. His playoff production has been even more impressive, as he has averaged 33.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 9.5 assists in 13 postseason games.

Despite Doncic’s individual brilliance, the Mavericks are still trying to advance past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Although Dallas has lost to the LA Clippers in each of the past two playoffs, Doncic dominated with five 40-point playoff performances, highlighted by a 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist outing that ended with the winning buzzer-beater in the Mavs’ Game 4 victory in 2020. He had a 46-point, 14-assist effort in last season’s Game 7 loss.

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New York Jets’ Zach Wilson signs rookie deal after missing first 2 days of practice

It took longer than expected, but the New York Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson agreed to terms on his rookie contract Thursday.

The first-round pick and presumptive starter, who missed two days of practice as the two sides haggled over technicalities in the contract language, signed a four-year, $35.15 million contract — a slotted deal that is fully guaranteed.

It contains a $22.9 million signing bonus and a fifth-year team option, standard for all first-round picks.

Wilson, who took a red-eye from Los Angeles and arrived in New Jersey on Thursday morning, was the last unsigned first-round selection from the 2021 NFL draft.

The contract includes offset language and the signing bonus will be paid within 15 days, per a source, details that imply that the sides have compromised because those were the sticking points. Originally, the Jets wanted to defer payments into 2022.

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Coach Robert Saleh, speaking to reporters shortly before news of the deal broke, said he talked to Wilson early in the week.

The conversation was strictly about football, not contract-related, Saleh said. He said he wasn’t worried about the stalemate being a disruption to the team.

“It’s more concern for the kid,” Saleh said. “Every rep is important, so my concern is that it’s two days too many for him. But as far as the installs go and the way we’re preparing the rest of the team, that doesn’t concern me.

“But this young man has a chance to do something special around here that hasn’t been done in a while and every rep matters for him.”

Wilson benefited from a heavy workload in the spring. With no veterans on the roster, he took all the first-team reps.

There was an increased sense of urgency to strike a deal because the Jets are counting on him to be their opening-day starter, although they haven’t revealed that. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are James Morgan and Mike White, neither of whom has regular-season experience. Rookie contract disputes are unusual because the deals are slotted, but teams and agents sometimes haggle over certain clauses.

The Jets include an offset in every contract that has guaranteed money, which provides financial protection if they release the player before the contract is complete. An offset lets a team to cut a player before the end of his four-year contract is completed and have the remaining money reduced by the amount of his next contract.

This isn’t an unusual stance. It’s believed that 30 of the 32 teams use offsets in contracts. The exceptions are the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the latter having signed No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence to a deal with no offsets.

Without an offset, a cut player collects the guarantee from his old team plus the money he receives from his new team — aka double dipping.

What complicated the Jets’ negotiation was that at least two of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round received deals without full offsets — Lawrence and Justin Fields (No. 11 by the Chicago Bears). Fields received a partial offset.

Interestingly, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the top pick in 2020 and represented by the same agency that negotiated Wilson’s contract, signed a contract that includes offset language.

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QB Trevor Lawrence signs $36.8 million rookie contract with Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence signed his four-year rookie contract Monday, clearing the way for him to attend the start of training camp in three weeks.

Under the NFL’s rookie slotting system, Lawrence’s deal was projected to be worth $36.8 million and included a $24.1 million signing bonus. He will count $6.7 million against the salary cap in 2021.

The contract also incorporates a fifth-year option that is attached to every rookie deal for first-round selections.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that details of the contract includes: Lawrence’s signing bonus will be paid within 15 days and the quarterback is deemed to have passed his physical for signing bonus purposes.

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There is no offset language in the contract, meaning that he would still receive the full amount of guaranteed money left in his contract even if he were to be released and sign with another team.

The majority of Lawrence’s compensation will come in his roster bonuses in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

He will earn that bonus if he is on the 90-man roster on the third day after the mandatory reporting date.

Lawrence will earn his roster bonus even if he is on the active non-football injury list.

With Lawrence under contract, Jacksonville has now signed six of its nine draft picks. Running back Travis Etienne (first round), cornerback Tyson Campbell (second) and offensive tackle Walker Little (second) remains unsigned.

Lawrence is anticipated to be an immediate starter in Year 1. He went 34-2 at Clemson, recording the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback (minimum 30 starts) in college football since 1978.

He finished his college career undefeated in regular-season play and led the Tigers to the national championship as a freshman in 2018.

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Agent requests WR N’Keal Harry be traded by New England Patriots

Wide receiver N’Keal Harry’s agent said in a statement Tuesday that he has formally requested the New England Patriots trade his client.

“For the past several months, I have been working in cooperation with the Patriots behind the scenes to put a plan in place to let N’Keal to thrive in New England. Through two seasons, he has 86 targets, which obviously hasn’t met the expectations the Patriots and N’Keal had when they drafted a dominant downfield threat who was virtually unstoppable at the point of attack in college.

Following numerous conversations with the Patriots, I believe it’s time for a fresh start and best for both parties if N’Keal moves on before the start of training camp. That is why I have informed the Patriots today I am formally requesting a trade on behalf of my client,” agent Jamal Tooson said in the statement.

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“N’Keal understands a key ingredient to production is opportunity. He will continue to work hard to develop and refine his craft after missing a large portion of his rookie year to injury. His draft-day expectations for his NFL career have not changed. We are confident success is just around the corner for him and will aggressively pursue it.”

The Patriots picked Harry with the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Injuries limited him to seven matches in his rookie season, in which he caught 12 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Last season he had 33 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games.

The Patriots added receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in free agency, pushing Harry further down the team’s depth chart. He appears to be set to compete for the No. 4 or 5 role behind both those players and Jakobi Meyers, who led the Patriots in receptions (59) and receiving yards (729) last season.

Also Tuesday, rookie quarterback Mac Jones, selected 15th overall by the Patriots in the 2021 draft, officially signed his four-year, $15.6 million deal that also includes a fifth-year option.

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Eagles claim former Lions second-round running back Kerryon Johnson off waivers

The Philadelphia Eagles have taken a flyer on Kerryon Johnson, claiming the former second-round pick off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

Philadelphia adds Johnson to a crowded backfield as the Eagles will pick up the remaining salary on his rookie deal, a cap number of $2,069,359 for 2021 (the final year of his rookie contract). 

Johnson electrified the NFL as a rookie in 2018, rushing for 641 yards and three touchdowns in 10 matches. He became just the 10th rookie since the AFL-NFL merger to average 5.4 yards per carry in his rookie campaign (minimum 100 carries).

Johnson had a chance to become the featured back in 2019, but averaged just 3.6 yards per carry while rushing for 403 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. 

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A meniscus tear in his right knee altered his season in 2019, one year after a knee strain caused him to miss the final six games in his rookie season.

Relegated to third on the Lions’ depth chart, Johnson had 52 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 (averaging 3.5 yards per carry). He has 1,225 rushing yards and and 527 receiving yards in three seasons (4.3 yards per carry). 

Where Johnson fits in the Eagles’ plan at running back will be determined.

Philadelphia has Miles Sanders as the No. 1 running back, but there are spots on the depth chart open for competition. 

Boston Scott and 2021 fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell will compete for playing time on the depth chart, but the Eagles also signed Jordan Howard this offseason on a non-guaranteed deal. The Eagles also have Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins Jr., and Elijah Holyfield on the 90-man roster. 

Johnson should find a way to make the roster and receive snaps if he’s healthy. How Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni will use him in the rotation will be one of the intriguing storylines of offseason minicamp. 

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Williams scores 23, Bulls beat Raptors 118-95

Rookie Patrick Williams had a career-best 23 points to lead the Chicago Bulls past the Toronto Raptors, 118-95 Sunday night.

Zach LaVine scored 15 to help the Bulls end a two-game slide. Coby White had 13 points and Wendell Carter Jr. added 12 points and 11 rebounds after the two were removed from the starting five for the first time this campaign.

Chicago kept a double-digit lead for most of the second half and enjoyed a nice cushion after Denzel Valentine made three 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that pushed the lead to 96-78 with eight minutes remaining. Toronto, which had won 12 consecutive versus Chicago, never got closer than 11 the rest of the night.

Norman Powell scored 32 points as the depleted Raptors, down five regulars, lost their fifth straight. Kyle Lowry had 20 points and eight assists before being ejected in the final minutes after picking up his second technical foul for arguing with officials.

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Lowry stated he didn’t think the pressure of fighting to stay in the playoff hunt — a new experience for the Raptors after several seasons of riding in the upper half of the Eastern Conference standings — or even his actions led to his ejection.

“I really didn’t do anything,” he said. “Sometimes I guess egos get bigger. … This is very unconventional but we’ve just got to find a way to get through it.”

Chicago coach Billy Donovan hinted at lineup changes a day earlier and followed through Sunday as Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky each made their first starts of the campaign, bumping White and Carter from the opening five. Each of the new starters finished with 10 points.

Donovan, disappointed with his regular starters’ lapses after they returned from last weekend’s All-Star break, said the move was hardly meant to punish White and Carter — or set in stone.

“I really appreciate Coby and Wendell making sacrifices for the team,” Donovan said. “It’s not like those guys are out of the rotation or not important pieces of the team.

“It’s more about trying to get a consistent combination through 48 minutes.”

Carter was a reserve most of last season and didn’t seem to take the lineup shift personally.

“It was fun mixing the lineups,” he said. “It was really nothing new to me. I just knew I had to come in and be aggressive. … (The change) had to be made and it is what it is. We weren’t clicking on all cylinders like we’re supposed to.”

The Bulls took the lead for good late in the opening quarter and went on a 9-0 run near the end of the first half to take a 58-49 lead to the break.

Carter, a starter in all 25 games he’d played this season, made his first four shots after entering the game late in the first.

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Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney out at least two weeks with sprained ankle

Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney will be out at least the next two weeks as he keeps to recover from a sprained left ankle, the team informed Wednesday.

Looney suffered the injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics and had an MRI late Tuesday night that confirmed the sprain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks as he continues rehab.

“This was a fluke,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”

Looney’s injury comes at a bad time for the 11-10 Warriors. They are already playing without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in last Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and will be reevaluated in a week.

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Backup big man Marquese Chriss has been out since the first week of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury during a practice in Chicago.

It still unclear if he will comeback this season.

In the short term, Kerr noted that Eric Paschall, Draymond Green and two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson will all get minutes at the 5 spot.

“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond will play a lot of 5 and Eric will get more minutes, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is hopeful that the Warriors can use the small-ball lineup to their advantage as they get set for a four-game road swing to Dallas and San Antonio over the next week. “You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said after Tuesday’s loss.

“Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup, but we can focus on what we can do and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you up the paint on the defensive end. So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball, too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”

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Denver Broncos’ Albert Okwuegbunam heading to IR with torn ACL

Another talented Bronco has been lost for the year.

Rookie tight Albert Okwuegbunam suffered an ACL injury versus the Falcons on Sunday and will miss the rest of the campaign, Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Monday.

“Albert did get an ACL injury and he will miss the rest of the season,” Fangio said. “The fortunate thing of it is it’s just the ACL and the ACL only. Many times when you get an ACL, it involves some other ligaments. His rehab and repair should go clean and he should be back as good as new next season.”

Okwuegbunam suffered the injury while making a 7-yard catch on a third-and-6 in the third quarter. He quickly grabbed his knee and was attended to by trainers. Okwuegbunam went back to the locker room and was ruled out of the game shortly after suffering the injury.

Okwuegbunam joins wide receiver Courtland Sutton, outside linebacker Von Miller, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and nose tackle Mike Purcell among those who have suffered season-ending injuries. The Broncos have placed a slew of other players on IR with shorter-term injuries.

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“It’s hard to pinpoint any one or two things as to why it’s happened,” Fangio said of the injuries. “Obviously you look at it thoroughly. Is it the training? The guys didn’t train here all offseason and we didn’t see them until training camp. Was that part of it? I don’t know. The shortened preseason? No preseason games? I don’t know. I think in each and every case, it’s something different. I don’t think you’re able to pinpoint one or two things right now.”

Okwuegbunam totaled 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in his four matches this season.

Six of his catches went for first downs, and he played a pivotal role in the Broncos’ comeback versus the Chargers. In the fourth quarter, Okwuegbunam caught a touchdown pass and drew a pair of pass-interference calls on the team’s final drive.

Noah Fant and Nick Vannett are the Broncos’ only tight ends who stays on the active roster. Fant suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but he returned to the game. Fangio said he was optimistic that Fant and right tackle Demar Dotson would be able to play in Week 10 versus the Raiders but that it’s “too early to tell.” Dotson (groin) did not return to the game after halftime.

Fangio said he’s hopeful that both Bryce Callahan (ankle) and A.J. Bouye (concussion) will return to practice after missing Sunday’s game.

The Broncos may also receive reinforcements from their Reserve/COVID-19 list, as Fangio believes both Shelby Harris and Graham Glasgow should return to practice on Wednesday.

“That’s the plan,” Fangio said of Glasgow. “He started training here yesterday, which is part of the protocol. They have to go through, I think it’s a three-day training acclimation period before they’re allowed to go back to the full football activities with the team. He started that yesterday, and I think we’re hopeful that Wednesday he’ll be back out there.”

Glasgow has missed the team’s last two games, while Harris was held out of the Broncos’ Week 9 loss to the Falcons.

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Tampa Bay Rays take game 2 to even the series one game apiece

Through all the struggles, all the moments when it looked like he should be dropped down in the lineup or out of it altogether, Brandon Lowe believed.

He had built himself into one of the American League’s best hitters, and no slump, not even one during the playoffs, could derail that. The Tampa Bay Rays kept believing in Lowe, too. And in Game 2 of the World Series, both were rewarded handsomely for their faith.

Lowe became the first player ever to hit two opposite-field home runs in one World Series match, and the Rays’ bullpen bent but didn’t break as they held on for a 6-4 triumph Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece.

The 26-year-old Lowe, an All-Star two years ago as a rookie and a down-ballot MVP candidate this year, had endured a brutal postseason: 6-for-56 with 19 strikeouts and not one multi-hit game among the 15 the Rays had played. And yet Tampa Bay never wavered — he sat only one game and pinch hit in it — confident that Lowe would find his swing.

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Lowe, hitting in the No. 2 hole, punished a 95 mph fastball from rookie starter Tony Gonsolin out to left field, giving the Rays an early advantage. He piled on with a two-run shot off rookie Dustin May in the fifth inning, pushing the Rays’ advantage to 5-0.

In the meantime, Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t permitted a hit, striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings.

Following the fourth, Snell bounded off the mound, shouting into the expanse of Globe Life Field, to no one and everyone among the crowd of 11,472. He looked like his Cy Young-winning self, his fastball, curve ball and slider confounding a group of Dodgers hitters who in Game 1 piled up eight runs through power, patience and proficiency wielding the bat.

Lowe’s multi-homer game was the 55th in World Series history, the seventh by a second baseman and the first by a Rays player. And it continued Tampa Bay’s trend of needing home runs to score. They set a record with 28 home runs this postseason, and entering the World Series, nearly 72% of their runs had come via the longball.

The return of the Lowe who helped lead the Rays to the AL East title was a welcome sign for a Tampa Bay team whose offensive struggles were of paramount concern — particularly with the prospect of falling down 0-2 to the Dodgers. Lowe had hit .269/.362/.554 with 14 home runs in 56 games during the regular season and ranked just behind Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. in wins above replacement.

Now, after a Thursday off-day, the teams return for Game 3 with the best pitching matchup of the series: Dodgers ace Walker Buehler versus Rays stalwart Charlie Morton.

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Packers rookie tight end Josiah Deguara has season ending knee injury

The surging Green Bay Packers lost another offensive weapon to injury, as rookie tight end Josiah Deguara suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday night’s triumph over the Atlanta Falcons.

A source told ESPN that Deguara, a third-round draft pick, suffered a torn ACL.

“Unfortunately it looks to be a pretty bad one,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said without revealing details of the diagnosis. “I hurt for Josiah. I love what he’s all about — the mentality he brings, and he’s certainly somebody we were really excited about.”

Deguara appeared to injury his left knee while blocking on the punt team late in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 30-16 triumph at Lambeau Field.

The Packers had big plans for Deguara, who was seemingly tailor-made for LaFleur’s offense that moves tight ends around within a variety of formations.

He played 24 snaps in the Week 1 win over the Vikings and caught one pass for 12 yards.

But his best play was perhaps a block in which he took out two defenders on an end around by receiver Allen Lazard that gained 19 yards. He missed the next two games due to an ankle injury but returned in Week 4 versus the Falcons.

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“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster because in terms of I thought he had a great game vs. Minnesota in Week 1, and then he goes out with an ankle injury,” LaFleur stated. “It’s been tough. But we expect him to bounce back from it and, you know, we still think he has a really bright future in this league.

The Packers played Monday without their top two receivers, Davante Adams (hamstring) and Lazard (core muscle injury), and also were missing veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee).

The Packers held out Adams, who wanted to play so badly that he tweeted (and then deleted the tweet) that the team was holding him out even though he felt he was ready to play.

LaFleur stated Tuesday that he did not tell Adams to take down his tweet. “I can understand why he’s frustrated,” LaFleur said.

“He’s a competitor, wants to be out there with his brothers, and any time you don’t get a chance to go out there it’s disappointing. He’s worked his tail off ever since this thing occurred, and it’s just one of those deals where the long term, potential long-term effects, you just got to take that into consideration. And we know that in order for us to be at our best he needs to be a part of those long-term plans.”

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