The Ovechkin era in Washington is coming to an end

It’s been quite the run for Alex Ovechkin in Washington D.C. After being taken first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Ovechkin would change the NHL with his explosiveness, size and raw ability to put the puck in the back of the net. Over 12 seasons in Washington, Ovechkin has tallied 558 goals and 1,035 points in 921 games with the Capitals, and is easily the best player in the franchise’s 43 year run. However, there’s something missing in Ovechkin’s long list of accomplishments and awards during his time in the NHL, a Stanley Cup ring. And if there’s no ring in his trophy case by the end of the 2017-18 season, Ovechkin is likely headed elsewhere.

It’s not Ovechkin’s fault, the Capitals have had some of the best teams in recent memory over the past decade, all with the 31 year old Russian at the helm of the team. However, a failure to lead his team deep into the playoffs has left a hole in his legacy, and to this point, it hasn’t been fixed. After taking home the President’s Trophy as the top regular season team for the second consecutive season, the Caps were once again bested by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The two teams have always been compared to one another since the Capitals took Ovechkin in 2004 and the Penguins drafted Crosby in 2005, and to this point, the Penguins have owned the Capitals over the last 12 years. While the Capitals are still a Stanley Cup contender heading into 2017-18, the room for error has vanished. Immediate results are expected from the Capitals this season, and after the blame has fallen on coaches and the front office in the past, it will be coming for the players if it doesn’t work out this season.

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With Ovechkin signed through the 2020-21 season, the Capitals will have a bit of a hard time unloading the Russian superstar given his cap hit is $9.5 million per season. However, If they’re willing to either take on a bad contract for a year or two or find a trade partner who isn’t tight to the cap, a deal is still reachable. Teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets all have enough cap room at the moment to make a deal seamlessly. Plus, Ovechkin is nearing the end of his prime years, and only has 3-4 seasons left of 40-50 goal seasons in him. Throw in the fact that Ovechkin could bolt back to Russia to play in the KHL at any time, and it seems like a given that the Capitals should move Ovechkin if a Stanley Cup isn’t in the picture.

The window is slowly closing for the Washington Capitals, and if they want a decent return for Ovechkin, the deal will have to be before Ovechkin turns 33. After that, with only one year left on his contract, and an aging star, the Capitals won’t be able to re-tool let alone re-build with the pieces they get in return.

To be honest, I can’t see Ovechkin in another NHL uniform, and he could just leave for Russia if the Capitals don’t win a cup in the next year or two, but my gut says his rights will at least be moved for 2018-19, even if he leaves for his home country in the offseason. With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang nearing, and the NHL currently absent from the event, with Ovechkin’s intentions of playing in the games regardless, it could just throw another wrench into this whole argument.

Either way, whether it’s another NHL team or the KHL, I believe Alex Ovechkin’s time in Washington is nearly finished.

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S/D reacts to the Kyrie Irving/Isaiah Thomas trade

It was the blockbuster move of the NBA Offseason. One of the top, young point guards in the league, going to a conference rival for their face of the franchise and possibly the 1st overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Obviously, it wasn’t a shock being that Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers back in late July, but to see the trade come together as fast as it did yesterday, and with a fierce conference rival, stopped the sports world in its tracks. What did we think about it? Read below to find out.

Hayden’s Take

A trade that both teams had to make, but makes both teams worse.

Almost a month ago to the day, the NBA world was in shock when it came out the Kyrie Irving had requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then it has been rampant speculation or whether the Cavaliers would comply with his request and if so where he would be sent. After the signing of former MVP Derrick Rose it was clear the Cavaliers were prepared to move on from Kyrie, and today they sent the former number one overall pick to Boston in Exchange for Isiah Thomas two other players and a number one pick in 2018. The Celtics won this trade, they obtained the best point guard in the east, and more importantly the severely weakened the Cavaliers, their biggest competition. Both teams will experience slightly worse seasons than last year.  

From the Celtics perspective:  After the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward this past offseason for roughly 30 million a year, the Celtics were beginning to get short on cash. To give themselves a bit of cap room they dealt shooting guard avery bradley to the Pistons. This still didn’t solve the problem that the expiring contract of Isiah Thomas caused. With the enormous contract of Horford and Hayward there is no way the Celtics could add another max contract next year and they didn’t want to simply lose the all star point guard. Lucky for the Celtics they have tremendous resources in terms of draft picks and quality rookies. Feeling confident in Jason Tatum the Celtics opted to trade away their final Nets pick that they acquired many years ago.

PG: Irving               

SG: Smart

SF: Hayward

PF: Morris

C: Horford

Brown

Tatum

With Kyrie replacing Isaiah at point the celtics have a greatly improved defender and slightly better offensive threat leading their team, unfortunately Smart at shooting guard is a big downgrade defensively from Avery Bradley. With Jae Crowder gone the Celtics youth will get thrown onto the court for minutes whether they are ready or not. Most important for the Celtics Kyrie will likely resign after his contract ends in a couple years, if they can somehow manage to deal away the horrible Horford contract.

From the Cavaliers perspective: Faced with trading one of the league’s best players in a time where most teams willing to spend big had already dealt away most major assets, the Cavaliers were desperate for any deal that allowed them to perform well next year and prepared them for the future. The trade completed allows the Cavaliers to most likely return to yet another Eastern Conference Championship while preparing the inevitable departure of LeBron James.  

PG: Thomas

SG:  Shumpert

SF: James

PF: Love

C: Thompson

Rose

Korver

Smith

Crowder

Frye

The Cavaliers regular season will be filled with a constantly shifting lineup, with the players frantically trying to figure out how to play together. Aside from the chemistry issues the addition of Isaiah causes the Cavaliers now have a log jam at SF and a stacked bench filled with players that want a lot more minutes that they are going to get. This trade also causes a big defensive liability at point, Rose might have to play the last few minutes of games to avoid major defensive issues. This roster reminds me a lot of the Heat from LeBron’s first season after he left Cleveland, in that they will be sheer talent alone make the NBA finals but will fail to topple the Warriors.  

Tyler’s Take

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The Cleveland Cavaliers front office should be pretty happy welcoming Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 1st round pick, considering what they had to work with. With Kyrie’s trade request back on July 31st, the Cavs lost all their leverage in trade negotiations when the trade request went public. The 25-year-old out of Duke still has his best years ahead of him, and is already a four-time NBA all-star and NBA champion. While the Cavaliers are now without much defence at all in the back court, they at least managed to get a star in return for Irving, in Isaiah Thomas. While Thomas is a few years older, and is one of the worst defensive players in the league, Thomas led the Celtics to over 50 wins last season, and was absolutely money in the 4th quarter all season long. With the acquisition of a lock down guard before the playoffs roll around, the Cavaliers will be just as strong, if not stronger than they were last year with Irving.

On the Celtics side of things, Danny Ainge knew to pull the trigger once he realized he could upgrade the point guard position, and get younger at the same time. While I personally believe the Celtics still gave up too much for Irving with how much leverage they had on Cleveland, the Celtics’ depth allowed them to overpay a little for Uncle Drew. With the departure of Avery Bradley as well, there’s a bit of a hole as to who will join Irving in the back court. Marcus Smart seems to be the front runner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics try and move Jaylen Brown over to try and fill the spot, considering the log jam the Celtics currently have at small forward with Gordon Hayward, Brown and Jayson Tatum.

The only thing with this trade is, in one summer, the Cavaliers could lose pretty much everything they got in this trade. With Isaiah Thomas only under contract for next season, and rumors of LeBron already planning to leave the Cavaliers after this season, whose to say that Thomas won’t follow suit? I have a gut feeling that Thomas will enter free agency, like LeBron in 2018, and the Cavs will enter full-on rebuild mode. So, the 2018 Brooklyn pick is a wonderful asset for Irving, but Thomas almost feels like a rental at this point. Ante Zizic is an interesting pick up for the Cavaliers as well. The Croatian 7-footer is an enticing prospect, who brings back some of the old-school big man traits that could help the Cavaliers down the road when they’re ready to contend one day. Crowder is signed through 2020, so he’ll be in Cleveland no matter what happens next offseason.

So, in closing, I truly believe the Cleveland Cavaliers won this trade, considering what they have to work with, and the fact they probably snagged the top pick in next year’s NBA Draft, or at least a top-3 pick. Isaiah Thomas will help the Cavaliers win now, and the Brooklyn pick will help rebuild the team in the future. The additions of Zizic and Crowder are just bonuses. The Boston Celtics didn’t do too bad either, but were lucky they had lots of talent ready in the wings. Personally, I felt the Celtics gave up too much in this deal, but having Kyrie Irving leading the way isn’t so bad either.

So Cleveland wins the trade… For now.

Jordan’s Take (VIA Twitter DM’s)

Guess [Kyrie] got his wish to get away from James

Too bad for him he has to play against him a bunch…haha

Jesus. That could be a terrible trade…

Just renting Thomas. And he wants bank next year. Haha

No matter who we think won or lost this trade, we can’t wait for Tuesday, October 17th, when Irving and the Celtics open their regular season, on the road, in Cleveland, against Thomas and the Cavaliers.

Feel free to comment below or tweet us @SplitDecisionPC on Twitter.

Yu Darvish makes the Dodgers instant World Series favourites

With the addition of Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, it’s hard not to picture the Los Angeles Dodgers raising the 2017 World Series Championship come October.

The 30-year-old is in the prime of his career, and despite a slow first half of the 2017 season, the switch from the American League West to the National League West will do wonders for Darvish’s numbers. Other than the Rockies’ ballpark, there’s not much to be feared with the San Francisco Giants out of the mix for this year. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are having surprisingly successful seasons, but history shows the NL is much more comforting to pitchers than the AL is.

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With the Dodgers currently sitting at 75-31 (that’s a win percentage of .708,) it’s almost a guarantee that the Dodgers will be making the playoffs as NL West champions. It’s also pretty much a guarantee that Los Dodgers will also be thinning down to a four-man rotation for the 2017 postseason. So, you have Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood as your four-man rotation, plus you have Kenta Maeda and Hyun Jin Ryu out of the bullpen in long-term relief situations. Just to add onto that, you have Tony Watson as your new setup pitcher, and the always dominant Kenley Jansen to close out games. Pitching wise, the Dodgers rotation is nearly perfect.

Hitting wise, the Dodgers are no slouches either. With Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal and the rest of the crew, the Dodgers can still keep up with some of the league’s top hitting teams. However, it’ll be pitching that will ultimately win the Dodgers games.

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Of course, the Dodgers got Darvish for a very low price due to the fact that Darvish is a free agent in the upcoming offseason. Odds are that Darvish would’ve probably left Texas in the offseason for a contender anyways, so it made sense for the Rangers to get something for Darvish while they still could, and gear up to make an offer to try and retain his services through free agency next year. Will it happen? Personally, I doubt it. The Dodgers are a great fit for the right hander, and he’ll have a chance each and every year to compete for a championship ring as long as he’s in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are one of those teams that seem to have never-ending pockets, so signing Darvish to a long-term contract isn’t out of the question, and it’s not a bad idea if they can persuade Darvish to stay. However, things don’t always work out the way teams want it to. Back in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays made a similar move to get David Price for their 2015 postseason run. After failing to beat the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 ALCS, Price jumped ship to the Jays’ rival, the Boston Red Sox on a huge deal. While I don’t really see Darvish doing the same, the San Francisco Giants have seen a dismal year from Johnny Cueto, who is signed until 2021, but if they can find a way to move his contract, the Giants would definitely be interested in Darvish.

Realistically, Darvish’s intentions for free agency are completely up in the air, but for the time being, he’s a Dodger. And that’s a very scary thing.

The New York Yankees are becoming a dynasty all over again

With the acquisition of Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the New York Yankees are speeding up the process of becoming the perennial MLB powerhouses once again.

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Todd Frazier is a terrific add for the Yankees, and is the definite centerpiece of the deal for New York. With elite power, the 31 year old is riding a 40 home run season with the White Sox last season, and while he’s had a down year, still boasts 17 bombs on the season and 44 runs batted in. Chase Headley will be booted across the diamond to first base to accommodate the trade, and it’s a definite upgrade for the Yankees in the hot corner. Headley is batting .257 with just four homers on the year, and it seems his prime is well past him now. Frazier on the other hand, despite being just two years younger, is still playing his best baseball. The only red flag for Frazier is his average. Despite keeping an OPS that flirts with .800, Frazier is batting just .207 this season, something that definitely needs some improvement. It’s been a common trend across the majors for a while now, teams don’t value one-dimensional power hitters as much as they used to. That being said, Frazier is a nice replacement for Headley at third and will be used to try and knock in the Bronx Bombers’ on base players such as Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.

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Tommy Kahlne (pronounced Cain-Lee) is a solid middle reliever for the Yankees, only bolstering New York’s powerhouse bullpen even more. He’s been very good for the White Sox this season, sporting a 2.50 ERA and a WHIP of 0.97. It’s surprising the Yankees still went after more relief pitchers given that they already have Betances and Chapman, but I guess the more, the merrier. It also could be that the White Sox weren’t willing to do the trade unless they got Blake Rutherford, and the Yankees simply took on Robertson and Kahnle because it was the only other value they could get. That being said, the White Sox have a pair of Garcia’s that have been playing outstanding baseball this year, and I’m surprised that one of them wasn’t swapped in for one of the two relievers included in the deal.

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And lastly, a former Yankee returns to the Bronx, David Robertson. Robertson, who was drafted by New York, broke into the league with the Yankees and spent seven seasons there, returns hoping to recapture the success he created back in 2011, when he was selected to the all-star game for the lone time. Robertson will assume the same role he had in 2011-2013 as one of the Yankees’ setup men alongside Dellin Betances. While Robertson was the closer for the White Sox and did serve as the Yankees closer for one season in 2014, there’s no way the Yankees relieve Aroldis Chapman from his duties. That being said, Chapman is very injury prone, so having Robertson and Betances as a backup plan isn’t a bad idea. Again, I don’t really see the need for the Yankees acquiring two more relievers when they already have two of the best in their bullpen, but it must’ve been the best return that Yankees GM Brian Cashman could’ve got in this deal when Rutherford had to be included in the deal for Frazier to happen, at least that’s how it plays out in my head.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees

The loss of top prospect Rutherford is a big hit for the future; but for the Yankees, the time to win is now. With Luis Severino turning the corner this season, Aaron Judge mashing the baseball, Gary Sanchez returning to his 2016 form, Clint Frazier looking promising, and of course that monster bullpen, the Yankees are scary. The addition of Todd Frazier and company make the Yankees favourites to finish atop the AL East and make a big push in the postseason. Chemistry could take a little while, and Yankees skipper Joe Girardi will have to find where Frazier works best in the line-up card, but with their current roster, it’s not hard to see the Yankees leapfrogging the Rays and Red Sox in the clustered AL East.

Even scarier? Reportedly, Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t done making moves yet.

With a week and half remaining, the MLB Trade Deadline has already been very active, and it appears the shake-ups could continue right up until July 31st.

Five potential landing spots for Carmelo Anthony

What was once speculation has now turned into truth; Carmelo Anthony wants out of the New York Knicks organization. And it’s pretty hard to blame him. With a furious NBA off-season to this point, the incoming Carmelo trade could once again shake up the league. After going through one of the darkest periods in Knicks history, it’s time for Anthony to chase a championship. There’s already multiple reports that Anthony wants to go to the Houston Rockets, but we’re going to look at five potential destinations for the 33-year-old out of Syracuse.

Houston Rockets

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Lets begin with the most obvious choice, being that Anthony has reportedly asked to be dealt to the Houston Rockets and join James Harden and Chris Paul in attempting to take down the Golden State Warriors. While Anthony’s $26.2 million salary next season is hefty, the Rockets are able to take on the contract if they’re willing to dip into the luxury tax. With no true starting small forward on the roster to begin with, Anthony is a great fit for the Rockets. On the receiving end, the Knicks will be inquiring about Eric Gordon, but if the Rockets can play their cards right, they can probably snag Carmelo for next year’s first round pick and a prospect, seeing as Carmelo’s trade rumors are beginning to become public, and the Knicks are losing value fast in terms of what they can get for their star forward. For Anthony, this is a chance he’s been waiting for, a chance to compete for a ring. Obviously, the Golden State Warriors are the clear-cut favourites to repeat as NBA Champions next season, but with Anthony on the team, the Rockets are a legitimate contender to dethrone the Warriors.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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Now we get into the fringe landing destinations; teams that have had some rumors swirling, but not nearly as much as the Rockets have. We begin with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have took on those Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the past three seasons. While there isn’t necessarily a ‘need’ for Anthony’s skill set, there have been some talks that the Cavs organization is unhappy with the production of power forward Kevin Love. He had some good games in the finals last year, but overall he hasn’t made the impact the Cavaliers hoped when they dealt Andrew Wiggins to the Timberwolves for him. If the Cavaliers are looking for some more offence out of their four, Carmelo could slide into the position and help the Cavs march back to the Finals and take another crack at the defending champs. This trade ultimately comes down to if Cleveland is willing to part ways with Love or not. For the Knicks, this is probably the best return they’re going to get from anyone, so they should pounce on it if the Cavaliers do open up talks.

Portland Trail Blazers

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Another team that’s had some interest around the league, but none directly from Anthony or the Knicks has been the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers, who are desperate for some more star power behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, haven’t had a big, scoring threat since LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland in free agency to join the San Antonio Spurs in 2015. The Blazers had hoped to fill the void at SF through free agency last summer by signing Evan Turner, but he’s been arguably one of the worst contracts in the NBA so far, and Allen Crabbe simply doesn’t have the size or defensive awareness to be a starting small forward. The New York Knicks are never strapped for cash, so they could easily take on the contracts of Allen Crabbe and/or Evan Turner, plus they would get a first round pick out of the deal as well. In Portland, Jake Layman looks promising in terms of being a starting three in the NBA one day, and getting some help from Carmelo in his early years could benefit the Blazers down the road. In terms of competitiveness, the Blazers might not be as high on the radar as the Rockets or the Cavaliers, but if those teams aren’t a fit for him, the Blazers are still a much better place to be than in New York right now. Plus, I wouldn’t mind seeing my team pick up a ten time all-star.

Miami Heat

why-trading-for-carmelo-anthony-makes-sense-for-the-miami-heat

Now we’re getting to the more low-end side of things, a shot in the dark if you will. Teams that would make sense for Anthony, but haven’t really been brought up as a potential destination for Carmelo. First, the Miami Heat. The Heat were in serious discussion to land Gordon Hayward before he chose to go to the Boston Celtics, and with Carmelo on the team, the Heat would be in the mix of the eastern conference’s elite. With Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters joining him in the starting line-up, the Heat would have an underrated, yet powerful team. Again, the Heat aren’t perennial championship contenders, but with Carmelo’s services, this definitely puts them into a top-4 situation in a pretty weak eastern conference, and again, anything is better than New York at this point for Anthony. The location factor always helps the Heat as well, and if the Heat can’t crack the east’s best, at least Carmelo has some nice beaches and casinos to spend his spare time at. Obviously, basketball comes first for Anthony, and he wants to win, but you can’t tell me players are upset when they’re told they have been dealt to Miami. The Heat don’t have a whole lot to try and bargain with, other than future first round picks, but again, with Carmelo’s age and contract, the deal can still be done.

Utah Jazz

NBA: Utah Jazz at New York Knicks

Lastly, another team affected by the Gordon Hayward decision; the team he left. Last season, the Utah Jazz finished tied for fourth in the western conference with 51 wins, which is very impressive for that group. Now, the team takes a definite step backward with the departure of their star small forward. The best solution? Pick up another star small forward. With plenty of young, rising talent, Anthony would provide veteran leadership, something that was missing last season. A lot of things would have to fall into place for the Jazz to get a chance at landing Carmelo, but positionally, the move makes perfect sense. In terms of what the Knicks would receive, the Jazz’s 2018 1st round pick would almost certainly be in play, along with a combination of Alec Burks, Joe Johnson and Ricky Rubio. Again, this is a long shot, but something that’s not entirely out of the question.

With Carmelo Anthony’s age, contract status and uncertainty, teams can get the star small forward for a pretty good price. And for the Knicks, Anthony’s trade value is dropping by the day, and it’s time to get Carmelo out of New York while you can still get something for him.

Where do you think Carmelo is headed? Let us know in the comments below!