Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch embracing true self is what Oakland wants and needs

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, just one year removed from his NFL retirement, is back to being his crazy, even chaotic self. And that’s not a bad thing.

Lynch now on the Raiders is having a great time. He’s living the good life as Kanye West would say.

This seemed abundantly clear on Sunday when he was dancing all around the Oakland sideline in the fourth quarter of a blowout win against the New York Jets.

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(Photo via AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Oakland Coliseum was behind Lynch completely, roaring in agreement with the 31-year-old running back. He appeared as happy as a teenager that hears his favorite song on the radio and wants to just smile and dance.

What else could Lynch be happy about?

The Raiders are now 2-0 and look as dominant as ever after recording convincing wins over the Tennessee Titans and the Jets.

Lynch, hasn’t been a bystander but a catalyst to the aforementioned success. He’s had 121 yards on the ground on 30 attempts with one touchdown.

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(Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

He hasn’t been all-worldly but the Oakland native is averaging over 4 yards per carry and his energy has seemed infectious to the team. A major reason why the diehard fans were making the stadium so loud on Sunday.

In Week 1, Lynch flipped off the Titans on the field. The one thing he has publicly admitted he is trying to avoid occurred.

“I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” Lynch famously said during the Super Bowl media day in 2015.

Lynch was fined $12,000 ($6,000 for each finger) but that didn’t seem to impact his attitude against New York.

Lynch has strong ties to the Bay Area as he attended Oakland Technical High School and proceeded to wear the Blue and Gold playing in the city right next to his birthplace at the University of California, Berkeley.

After moving on from Cal, the Buffalo Bills drafted the Oakland native. He then moved on to the Seattle Seahawks after three seasons in Buffalo. After the move, he finally became the elite running back he was projected to become.

The former Cal Bear rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in four consecutive seasons from 2011-2014, capped off by a championship victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

After stepping away from the game after the 2015 season, Lynch decided he wanted to lace up his cleats one more time, but this time he wanted to do it in his hometown.

He requested a trade from Seattle and eventually got his way. The Seahawks got the Raiders’ 2018 fifth-round pick for Lynch and a sixth-round pick in 2018.

With the franchise set to move from its roots in Oakland to Las Vegas, Lynch embracing the great Oakland culture seems perfectly timed.

Will Lynch have an all-pro year?

Probably not. But that’s not the point. Lynch is exciting Oakland and the Raider Nation and is someone for kids to recognize and look up to. The Bay Area youth can see the way he takes on the persona that is Oakland in a positive and happy light.

In a time when the Golden State Warriors are leaving the East Bay, the Oakland Athletics are relocating to a different part of the city and the Raiders will soon be leaving for Vegas, saying Oakland lacks stability is a complete understatement.

Lynch is more than just football. He is a special role model and represents hope and excitement for not only the city of Oakland but the entire Bay Area.


Rob Werner is a contributing writer for The JR Report. For more news follow him on twitter @robwerner28.

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NFL predictions: Raiders improve despite decline in 2017 win/loss record

With the Oakland Raiders’ 2017 preseason wrapping up, it is time to start looking forward to the 2017 NFL regular season.

As such, here are The JR Report’s win-loss projections for the 2017 Raiders.

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) scrambles away from Tennessee Titans nose tackle Al Woods (96) in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Week 1: at Tennessee Titans

Starting the regular season off on the road against an up and coming team in the Tennessee Titans would be tough for any team to overcome.

Running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and even quarterback Marcus Mariota could cause many issues on the Oakland defense. With so many weapons on the Tennessee offense, the Raiders’ poor defensive communication could be exposed.

With that being said, the Oakland defense will get gashed often, but the Raiders have an MVP caliber quarterback on the other side who will lead Oakland to a nail-biter victory in Week 1 carrying over the common theme from 2016.

Until the defense learns to communicate and gets defensive backs Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu up to speed, they will look a lot like the 2016 Raiders, just with fewer victories.

Raiders 34 Titans 30

Week 2: vs. New York Jets

This game will be the first home opener in Oakland since the organization announced their move to Las Vegas.

A blow out victory against the New York Jets should do well in pleasing the fans and keeping the Oakland Coliseum hospitable with the relocation on everyone’s mind.

Raiders 27 Jets 10

Week 3: at Washington Redskins (SNF)

The Raiders are a better team than the Washington Redskins and, despite what the salaries might say in the future, Carr has a major advantage over quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Nonetheless, it is still early in the season and the Oakland defense will be vulnerable. Cousins will have a monster game and Carr’s late magic will not be enough to carry his team on the road against a possible playoff team on Sunday Night Football.

Redskins 27 Raiders 24

Week 4: at Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos just do not have the star-power at quarterback to compete with a talent like Carr.

The Raiders, like last year’s home win, will use running back Marshawn Lynch to run over the defense and open the play action passing game for Carr to complete a few game-changing strikes.

The Broncos might not admit it, but they are about to enter a rebuilding phase as they need to find their quarterback of the future. Also, placing safety TJ Ward on the trading block does suggest a possible rebuilding period.

Raiders 23 Broncos 17

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BALTIMORE, MD – OCTOBER 2: Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Week 5: vs. Baltimore Ravens

Oakland has defeated the Baltimore Ravens two seasons in a row. Moreover, quarterback Joe Flacco might not even be ready or healthy for this game in Oakland.

As a result, the outcome will be no different from the last two meetings.

Raiders 20 Ravens 13

Week 6: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Upset alert!

Quarterback Philip Rivers is going to have a field day against the porous Raiders secondary. The Los Angeles Chargers are a much-improved team, maybe the most in the NFL, and will sneak up on Oakland a few days before they have to play the Kansas City Chiefs on national television.

Chargers 31 Raiders 27

Week 7: vs. Kansas City Chiefs (TNF)

A game under the lights at home will help Carr turn around his poor history against the Chiefs (lost five straight games to KC) since there is no team Carr and company will want to beat more than Kansas City.

The game also becomes a must-win after the previous week’s loss to the Chargers.

Lynch has a beast quake type game as the Coliseum erupts on Thursday Night Football during the team’s first victory over the Chiefs since Carr’s first NFL win.

Raiders 27 Chiefs 20

Week 8: at Buffalo Bills

As long as Tyrod Taylor is the quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, they won’t stand any chance against Carr and the Raiders.

Oakland would need a major off-day to lose to Buffalo, especially as the Bills subtly begin their rebuild, which they should until Tom Brady exits the division.

Raiders 24 Bills 13

For second half of season click here


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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Why Thunder G Russell Westbrook should bolt to LA

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is in no rush to sign his mega-max extension with Oklahoma and it is not without reason.

Westbrook is one of the most competitive players the NBA has ever seen and, without a doubt, he wants to do whatever he can to add an NBA championship to his résumé. However, it is unlikely OKC could ever bring the former Bruin to the promise land.

As such, it would be smart for Westbrook to not the sign the extension and look to become a free agent after the 2017-18 NBA season.

Here are The JR Report’s reasons why.

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Staples Center hosting a Los Angeles Laker game (Photo via Juan Berna)

Build Westbrook’s brand

Westbrook has yet to sign an extension that would bring him at least $200 million over five years, a contract that would be very tough to pass up. Nonetheless, a move out of OKC might hurt his NBA salary, but would not hurt his bank account.

In Oklahoma City, Westbrook would be able to bring in one of the highest salaries out of anyone in the league, however, greatness off the basketball court isn’t earned through salary but through endorsements and ownership of a brand.

It would be difficult for Westbrook to attain an elite status off the court while being in Oklahoma City since his current city holds the No. 45 biggest television market in the country compared to Los Angeles’ No. 2 rated market, per Station Index. 

If Westbrook took his talents to Los Angeles, he would be met by an incredible market with many opportunities for his flamboyant style and outspoken personality.

It is possible that Westbrook could be the face of a clothing company, build his own shoe brand and be the face of one of the most notable franchises in the world.

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January 18, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 121-100. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Winning is most important

To be mentioned among the all-time greats, one must win championships, except for a few exceptions including Charles Barkley.

Therefore, Westbrook’s easiest path to cementing himself in NBA history is by winning.

Los Angeles has plenty of cap room in the future to assemble a very talented team. The organization also has a young core that could offer impeccable depth in combination with the expected arrival of NBA superstars in the coming years.

The Lakers, currently, have forward Brandon Ingram, forward Julius Randle, guard Jordan Clarkson and guard Lonzo Ball.

Most importantly, the organization will have Ingram and Ball for just over $13 million in the 2018/19 season, per Spotrac. Consequently, the team will have plenty of flexibility to sign players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook with smart maneuvering.

Los Angles would probably have to part ways with Randle and center Brook Lopez, but it would be worth the price of acquiring George and Westbrook.

If they can find a clever way to get rid of Clarkson and Deng, maybe in a deal together, they could shed another $30 million in cap space to help go after another star, maybe LeBron James.

If James, George and Westbrook go to Los Angeles, which is completely possible, the Lakers would immediately become the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors in the West.

If the aforementioned trio could knock the Warriors off, then each of their legacies will skyrocket as they were able to topple what some believe to be the greatest NBA team ever.

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Photo via Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook, head home

Westbrook moving to Los Angeles makes too much sense. It makes sense on the court as he will infinitely improve his chances of winning an NBA title. The former Bruin will also be able to catapult his brand to new heights. Lastly, he will be heading home since he was born in Long Beach, California and played for the UCLA Bruins.

With those three reasons, it should not surprise anyone to see Westbrook in a Laker uniform come the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton is murdering baseballs

Photo via Warwick Saint/ESPN

Since the All-Star Break, Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has been the hottest player in baseball.  On the flip side, his American League home run leading counterpart, Aaron Judge, has been one of the coldest. Judge’s struggles have sparked and enabled the “why do guys still compete in the HR Derby when it ruins their swing” argument to resurface.

While Judge has been this year’s poster child for the anti-Derby argument, for some reason Giancarlo Stanton has not been for the other side of the argument. Stanton competed in the same HR Derby as Judge yet his performance since the break has been historic.

Stanton did compete in two fewer rounds than Judge this year, but to claim the amount of swings a hitter takes in the derby impacts their post ASG performance would be even crazier than suggesting the Derby itself ruins swings.

In the last 34 games and 149 plate appearances, Stanton is hitting .311/.436/.836 good for a 1.272 OPS, to go along with 19 HR and 39 RBI. In that stretch, Stanton has also posted a 213 wRC+, a statistic that measures offensive ability vs the league average. The league average is 100, so a score of 213 says that Stanton has been 113% better than a league-average hitter.

One of the most incredible aspects of Stanton’s torrid pace right now is that he’s done it while having just a .268 BABIP compared to his career average of .319 and season average of .293.  This means that Stanton has been unlucky on balls he has hit in play and would have been even more dominant over this stretch if he’d just been average on balls in play.

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Stanton hits homer out of Dodger Stadium Via Houston Mitchell/LA Times

From August 10-15, Stanton homered in 6 straight games and had done so in two of the three games prior. Overall, he has 12 homers in his last 16 games.

Stanton now has 45 home runs on the season. If he keeps hitting at this pace, he has a great chance to challenge and beat Roger Maris single-season record of 60 HR which some people believe to be the true HR record based on steroid allegations against all those who have hit over 60.

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Via Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

While the Marlins playoff hopes are all but gone with a mediocre 60-62 record, Stanton’s chase for 60 will continue to put butts in seats and eyeballs on screens.

With most of the MLB’s playoff picture decided, Stanton’s pursuit of 61 might be the most exciting thing left in the regular season.

Moreover, Stanton’s incredible run could be great for baseball as the sport needs stars and individual performances to rally behind to compete with the NBA and NFL.

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Crimson Tide vs. Seminoles: CFB opener of the century

Photo via Chris Kirschner/ SEC Country

The college football season draws inexorably closer, and the hype is mounting for what some are calling the season opener of the century: Alabama Crimson Tide vs Florida State Seminoles.

Most predict that the Crimson Tide will be ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll when it comes out, and most estimates put the Seminoles at either third or fourth. Regardless of their actual rankings starting out the season, nobody can deny that this will be one of the biggest games of the year.

FSU is considered the underdog coming into the contest, but you can’t rule out Jimbo Fisher’s squad and their prowess.Alabama has to wash the bad taste of their national championship loss to Clemson out of its mouth, while FSU has to prove they have what it takes to be considered for the CFB playoffs. Although the game isn’t the end of the world for the loser, it shows the college football world who the clear powerhouse will be for much of the season. Whoever wins will have one of their hardest-fought victories of the entire season out of the way early.

Alabama has to wash the bad taste of their national championship loss to Clemson out of its mouth, while FSU has to prove they have what it takes to be considered for the CFB playoffs. Although the game isn’t the end of the world for the loser, it shows the college football world who the clear powerhouse will be for much of the season. Whoever wins will have one of their hardest-fought victories of the entire season out of the way early.

Here’s some ways that either team can win.

Why Alabama will win

Alabama is a clear favorite to win this one in many people’s minds. The Alabama team is as powerful as ever, and Saban’s incoming recruiting class is one of his best.

Image result for tua tagovailoa
Quarterback recruit Tua Tagovailoa might give Jalen Hurts a run for his money. Photo via ROBERT SUTTON / ALABAMA ATHLETICS

The Tide bring in running back Najee Harris, a 6-foot-2, 224 pound powerhouse. They also bring in 5-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a native Hawaiian who some say might be able to challenge Jalen Hurts for quarterback dominance. Along with these two guys, the Alabama team brings in a whole slew of other talent.

As far as opening games go, Nick Saban has a pretty hard record to beat at Alabama. In fact, he hasn’t lost a single one and is 10-0. Additionally, the Crimson Tide don’t just have history on their side: their defense is the best in the nation every year.

Although Alabama lost six of their best defensive players, the incoming recruiting class looks promising, and whispers from Saban’s closed practices suggest that this year’s defense might be even greater than last year’s.

If this is the case, FSU is going to have a hard time getting anything through the Alabama line. Unless the incoming FSU offensive talent is as good as it can be, the Tide defense is going to keep the Seminoles to quite a low score during the game. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick makes a case for being one of the best in the league at his position, and this game gives him the perfect opportunity to show what he’s got.

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DB Minkah Fitzpatrick is the key to the Alabama defense this year. Photo via Rolltide.com

In addition, there are still some questions surrounding the FSU offense. The team still isn’t 100 percent clear who they’re fielding at running back, and much of their receiving corps is untrained.

This year there is much to be said about the 2017 Tide offense. Although a lot of it is hype, Jalen Hurts has matured since we saw him last. He has another offseason under his belt and has a great offensive unit to back him up once again. The offense has a lot going for it, but will it be enough in the face of FSU’s surprisingly strong defense?

Why Florida State will win

Last year’s FSU team would have lost to last year’s Alabama team. This year, however, it’s a lot more difficult to make the same argument. Although many do not want to get their hopes up, FSU’s team this year has the chance to bring down Alabama.

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After missing almost all of the 2016 season, Derwin James has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Photo via Greg Oyster / 247 Sports.

The hopes and dreams of the Nole nation ride not on the offense, but on the defense: specifically, on safety Derwin James. He’s being hyped up by virtually every college football commentator, and it’s easy to see why. In his true freshman season back in 2015, James racked up 91 tackles with 4.5 sacks. Last season, he was injured for all but two games.

If he lives up to the hype, he might very well stop Jalen Hurts and his offense in their tracks. Along with the rest of the Seminole defense, James will own the night when they go up against Alabama.

A victory from the Seminoles also comes down to how well quarterback Deondre Francois can deliver. He’s top ten in almost all “Heisman prediction” lists, and is predicted as being one of next year’s best quarterbacks.

Heading into his second year, you can tell that he’s confident in himself in his abilities. His teammates point to him having taken on a key leadership role after the departure of Dalvin Cook. He needs to, now that passing power might be FSU’s greatest strength.

Against Alabama, who has put up an iron grid against run plays, effective passing is a must.

The FSU defense is up to the challenge, but is the offense?

The winner is…

Alabama. It’s hard to predict against them, and this time FSU just doesn’t have the steam. It’ll be a close game, but Francois won’t be able to locate his targets often enough. It’s the season opener, his first chance of the season to test his chops, and it’s against the best team in the nation.

In the end, the Crimson Tide can perform just a bit better offensively in spite of FSU’s defense.

Alabama 14 FSU 10


For a more in-depth analysis of the game, check back on the JR Report a couple days before the big game.

Nicholai Babis is a lead contributor for The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @nibabis.

NBA trade machine: How to send Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving to Spurs

The turmoil in Cleveland involving Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and forward LeBron James has not stopped since the moment the Golden State Warriors won the 2017 NBA Finals in five games.

James, according to Chris Sheridan, will be leaving Cleveland after this upcoming season.

For fans still holding out hope that James will come back to Ohio in 2018, it just is not realistic. Unless the team wins a championship this season, there is no hope James will re-sign. Even Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd is writing off a return.

With James assuredly on his way out, Cleveland can’t let James and Irving walk without getting something in return. As such, the Cavaliers should look to move Irving immediately, before it becomes a Paul George situation where they have to ship him off for worthless pieces.

Luckily, it is a little easier for the organization to move Irving as he would commit to signing an extension with the San Antonio Spurs, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Below is a plausible trade scenario that would send Irving to San Antonio.

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Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving and San Antonio Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge chase after a loose ball during first half action Monday March 27, 2017 at the AT&T Center. (Photo via Edward A. Ornelas /San Antonio Express-News)

Cleveland receives: LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, 2018 first round pick

San Antonio receives: Kyrie Irving

First and foremost, this trade would be accepted by the NBA’s rules thanks to ESPN’s NBA trade machine.

Moreover, the trade isn’t a win-win scenario since Cleveland is already in a losing situation. The team is bound to lose both of their superstars after the 2017-18 season. However, this deal would give the opportunity for Dan Gilbert to get something in return for Irving to help build for the future.

Currently, the Spurs are not the best option for Cleveland. They don’t have as many available assets as the Phoenix Suns or Boston Celtics, but it is the only place Irving would sign an extension.

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Photo via Jason Miller/Getty Images

Why the Kyrie Irving deal makes sense

Cleveland Cavaliers

This could be the only trade, except with the Celtics, that would send a sure-fire all-star, LaMarcus Aldridge, to Cleveland in return for Irving.

As a result, the Cavaliers would have a star to pair with James for 2017 and would remain atop the Eastern Conference. For their future, they will have the young and talented Dejounte Murray, a 20-year-old 6-foot-5 guard from Washington, and a first round selection in the 2018 NBA draft.

In all honesty, it isn’t a great move for the Cavaliers. They will be in a tough situation in the future, pending LeBron’s departure. Regardless, this is a deal that makes sense and makes them better off for a post-James era.

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Photo via Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are missing a superstar to combine with forward Kawhi Leonard. Without one, they will never have any realistic shot of beating the Warriors and will probably lose noticeable ground on the up and coming Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets, who have two superstars each.

If the aforementioned trade went through, the Spurs would have their second superstar in Kyrie Irving. Most importantly, they would have acquired him without giving up any valuable assets.

For example, Aldridge is a great player, but is not a great fit in San Antonio. The tension between him and the organization would likely make the Spurs jump at any reasonable opportunity to trade him away.

In this scenario, San Antonio could get rid of Aldridge while bringing in a better superstar in Irving. They would have to part ways with a first round pick, but losing a first round pick from where the Spurs are selecting will not hinder any future success.

As expected, San Antonio would come away as the major winner in this deal. The team getting the superstar usually is, just look at the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, they will be on the losing end in almost any deal. It is time for them to get the best losing deal.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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What to do with Raiders CB Sean Smith

Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith has the fourth highest cap hit on the Raiders’ roster in 2017, yet he is obviously not the fourth best player on the team and comes nowhere close to cracking the top 10.

Smith’s $9.5 million cap hit, per Spotrac, lands him in dangerous waters. He is due No. 1 cornerback money, but will probably be the No. 3 or No. 4 cornerback on the team this fall. Moreover, Oakland ranked just No. 24 against the pass in 2016, so being third or fourth on the depth chart is nothing to get excited about.

The Raiders will be moving on from Smith at some point. Whether it is this year or next year, we do not know.

If Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to see Smith in a new uniform in 2017, here are McKenzie’s options.

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Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith (21) celebrates after defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-10 at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Cut Raiders CB Sean Smith

Many of Raider Nation might clamor for Smith to be cut, however, that would make zero sense for the football team.

If McKenzie chooses to cut him, he would only save the franchise $250,000 since $9.25 million would still count against the cap as dead money, via Spotrac. Therefore, there is absolutely no benefit to seeing Smith cut this season.

Oakland would also not be able to find an equally talented replacement for $250,000. In addition, Smith has performed poorly, for his price tag, but is still a decent starting cornerback in the NFL as long as the team plays around his weaknesses.

If no cap space is to be gained from his departure, it is safe to say he will be on the roster come Week 1 of the NFL regular season unless McKenzie surprises the NFL by making a trade.

Lastly, the Raiders can cut Smith in 2018 without penalty since there would be no dead money by releasing him then.

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Photo via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Raiders CB Sean Smith

A trade scenario is extremely unlikely since McKenzie has never been eager to make trades and no team would want to take on Smith’s contract without getting something in return.

Regardless, here is a hypothetical trade scenario that would help out two teams and send Smith out of Oakland.

First and foremost, the Raiders must find a team that is not expecting to win this season and has cap space to spare.

Luckily, the three teams with the most cap space, the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars, are not expected to be a winning team in 2017.

Proposed trade: Raiders’ Sean Smith and 2018 6th round pick to San Francisco

Currently, the 49ers’ two starting cornerbacks, Dontae Johnson and Rashard Robinson, have Pro Football Focus player grades of 65.8 and 50.4 respectively.

If Smith came in, he would immediately become a starter Day 1 and could give valuable leadership to the young pieces in San Francisco. After Smith’s one year with the Niners, the organization could release him without any penalty and would have accrued an extra sixth round selection to help build the team for the future.

In regards to Oakland, McKenzie would be extremely hesitant to part ways with a sixth round draft pick, but he would save the team $5.25 million, via Spotrac.

With Carr and Jackson’s recent contracts and Mack’s future contract, $5.25 million could go a long way in helping keep the Raiders’ young core together. In essence, the $5.25 million could be more valuable than having one sixth round pick in 2018.

Maybe, that $5.25 million will help bring Raiders tackle Donald Penn to training camp.

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Photo via Getty Images

What McKenzie should do

Personally, parting ways with any assets is not the smartest move for the Raiders.

Oakland should keep Smith on the 53 man roster and cut him the following season. Then, they can have his services for 2017, not lose any draft picks and move on from him in 2018 when they can do so without hurting the team’s cap space.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Why Lakers should trade for Bulls’ Dwyane Wade

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a great position to ascend rather quickly among the NBA ranks as long as they make the proper moves from now until the beginning of the 2018 NBA regular season.

First and foremost, Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have been smart by making moves that have put them in a flexible spot for the future.

For example, Los Angeles has just under $54 million on the books for the 2018-19 season. The majority of it comes from Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson who are due $18 million and $12.5 million respectively, via Spotrac.

However, players like Brook Lopez ($22.6 M) and Corey Brewer ($7.5M) are not under contract and will free up over $30 million in cap space, just enough to bring in a max player like Paul George.

For reference, Gordon Hayward’s contract has an average salary just under $32 million, just two million more than the cap space freed up by Lopez and Brewer.

Whether or not they sign Lopez in the future will depend on what free agents they can entice to come to SoCal. However, they were smart as they have the maneuverability to do what they want. Personally, him coming back at a right price would be a great move to lock up the center position for the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, here is one step the Lakers can take now to improve their chances of becoming a contender in 2018.

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Photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

 

Package Deng and Clarkson

Obviously, the Deng contract is a major issue going forward as he is due close to $18 million per year over the next three seasons. An absurd number for a 32-year-old who scored just 7.6 points per game last season and just played in 56 games.

Unfortunately, no team, except maybe the New York Knicks, would take on Deng’s contract without getting something in return. Los Angeles will need to use Clarkson smartly.

A winning team could use Clarkson as a role player and a poor team could use him as a rebuilding piece, much like the Lakers, yet no winning team would want to take on Deng’s massive contract. Therefore, Los Angeles would need to ship him to a rebuilding team.

Essentially, the Lakers need to give up Deng and Clarkson for nothing in return. Then, the rebuilding team can take on a $18 million contract, for they have no one else good to pay and they got a future asset for taking on the contract.

With the aforementioned circumstances, it is hard to find a trade that works for Los Angeles and another team, but we worked hard to find a plausible trade offer that is a win-win for the two teams.

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Photo via Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

 

Dwyane Wade for Deng, Clarkson, 2020 first round pick

The first trade offer involves sending Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade to Los Angeles for Clarkson, Deng and the Lakers’ 2020 first round pick.

The trade works out since Wade’s salary is close to equaling Deng and Clarkson’s salary, per ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.

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Photo via Getty Images

 

How Los Angeles wins

At the moment, this trade would be a major win for Los Angeles. They would become better now, with Wade, and are better for the future since they shedded Deng’s $18 million contract. The only negative is that they would lose a nice piece in Clarkson, but getting rid of Deng far outweighs keeping Clarkson.

Wade is due $23.8 million in 2017, but he only has one year left on his contract so he doesn’t impact their future free agency plans.

Moreover, Wade will offer a veteran presence to nurture Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram.

The Lakers would also improve their ability to land LeBron James next year. Remember, James wants to play with his best friends again, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. If Wade is in Los Angeles, then it would increase the chances of being able to land LeBron.

In regards to the draft pick, Los Angeles should be a good team by 2020, so their draft pick will have much less value.

All in all, the trade would free the Lakers of horrible contracts, bring in a better player who can develop the young guys and improve their chances of landing the greatest basketball player in the world.

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Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

 

How Chicago wins

The Chicago Bulls are not going to win any playoff series anytime soon after the departure of guard Jimmy Butler. Even with him, the odds would not be in their favor to win a playoff series.

As such, it is now rebuilding time for Chicago. They need to acquire as many draft picks as possible, gather young assets and cut salary cap.

In this deal, the organization would cut Wade’s $23.8 million and would acquire Clarkson who has three years left on his contract.

Deng’s contract is messy, but the Bulls are in the for the long haul. Deng would also be making a return to Chicago which would be a nice sight for the fans to see him retire as a Bull.

In addition, the Bulls would be bringing in a first round selection to help build for the future.

It is time for the organization to focus on winning and not worry about a relationship with Wade. Do what is best for the future.

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Photo via Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

 

Send it

The only way this deal doesn’t make sense is if the Bulls don’t want to part ways with their hometown hero Dwyane Wade. If they can get over that, then it would be a sound sports decision for both the Lakers and Chicago.

For Magic Johnson, the Lakers should be building through free agency by bringing marquee stars to Hollywood, not by drafting players.


*** All data and information on salary cap and contracts via Spotrac ***

Indians’ Corey Kluber making under the radar case for Cy Young

On May 2, 2017, Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians had finished his No. 6 start of the season, lasting just three innings while allowing 5 ER, bumping his ERA up to an uncharacteristic 5.06.  The next day Kluber was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a back injury.  Since his return on June 1, Kluber has been arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball.

In his 13 starts since returning from the DL, Kluber has been unhittable and has nearly cut his ERA in half to 2.65. Over that same stretch, he has had double-digit strikeouts in 11 starts, including at least 11 Ks in his last five.  Altogether he leads the MLB by a significant margin with 142 Ks in that time frame.

Via Jason Miller/Getty Images

The man closest to Kluber in the K department since his return just so happens to be the same man who has overshadowed his ridiculous season, Chris Sale.  While Kluber was struggling through April and was hurt for basically all of May, Sale was dominating his competition.  Through his first 11 starts, Sale had racked up 110 Ks, a 6-2 record, a 2.77 ERA, and had gone less than seven innings in just two starts.

Sale was a strong, early Cy Young candidate, and has remained the leader in a seemingly one-horse race as his performance has only improved in his last 12 starts.  The problem is that while Sale still deserves to be the leader in the Cy Young race, Corey Kluber has pitched his way into the conversation but is getting limited recognition.

Via Getty Images

Since June 1st, Kluber has outpitched Sale and every other pitcher in the MLB. Kluber leads baseball in strikeouts, IP, OBP against, SLG against, wOBA against and is No. 2 to only Clayton Kershaw with a 1.70 ERA.  He recently passed Kershaw and Max Scherzer into second place behind Sale for pitchers WAR according to FanGraphs with a 4.9.

While Kluber did struggle to start the season, his season long stats still nearly mirror Sale’s.  What helps put Sale ahead of Kluber is the 28.2 extra innings he’s pitched along with his incredible 1.98 FIP.  A couple of the two aces important rate statistics, K/9, BB/9, HR/9, and ERA, are all nearly the same showing that Sale’s strong WAR lead comes down to more playing time.

If not for Kluber’s DL time it would be interesting to see how close the gap would be between the two.  Kluber and Sale are the only two SPs averaging more than seven IP per start this season so it seems to follow that Kluber would have made up the 28-inning gap over his four missed starts.

Last night Sale went eight innings with 13 Ks allowing no runs on two hits and one walk, following up his worst outing of the season in which he allowed seven ER against Kluber’s Indians. Kluber kept pace with Boston’s ace by going the distance for the second game in a row with eerily identical pitching lines. In both games he fanned 11, allowed 1 ER on a solo HR and held the opposing lineup to just three hits.

It’s impossible to correctly answer which guy is pitching better right now but the consistency of Sale rightly keeps him atop the Cy Young and WAR leaderboards. With another 7-8 weeks in the season there is plenty of time for Kluber to gain ground if Sale sputters because despite what the mainstream media has said, this is not a one-horse race.

Corey Kluber pitches during 2016 ALDS at Fenway Park Via Jason Miler/Getty Images

 

For the fans, all we can do is hope that both stay healthy and dominant heading into the postseason.  The AL East leading Red Sox and Central leading Indians are slated to face each other in the ALDS of the 2017 Playoffs and if they hold their division leads we could be in for one of the greatest postseason pitching matchups of All-Time will Kluber and Sale both toeing the rubber for Game 1 and possibly games 4 or 5.

NBA trade machine: How to send Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving to Celtics

Everything surrounding Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is up in flames. His team has a minimal shot at winning the 2018 NBA Finals and has its second best player, superstar guard Kyrie Irving, asking for a trade.

Here is the proposed JR Report trade that would send Irving from Cleveland to the Celtics.

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Photo via Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

 

Cleveland receives: Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Ante Zizic

Boston receives: Kyrie Irving

Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY SportsThe only issue, that could arise between the two teams, is getting the salaries to match to make the trade acceptable. Thanks to ESPN’s trade machine, we made sure this trade would be allowed by the NBA.

To balance out Irving’s $18 million salary, Ante Zizic and Terry Rozier were added to the trade.

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Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Why the trade is a win for Boston

Boston may have given up a lot of assets in this trade, including Morris and Zizic, but it solidifies a major need moving forward, having a truly transcendent superstar.

Isaiah Thomas is an exciting and great player, but there are limitations to his game. He is the No. 464 best player in the NBA when it comes to defensive box plus/minus, per Basketball Reference. 

In comparison, Irving ranks No. 420, which isn’t much better, but we know Irving has the potential to pick up his defense in times of need.

Just think, the Golden State Warriors will be the team to beat for at least the next five seasons. Would one rather Irving guarding Warriors guard Stephen Curry or the 5-foot-9 Thomas?

As great as Thomas’s stats are, he is going to struggle down the stretch of games to defend and get his shot off over taller players. If Klay Thompson is guarding Thomas late in games, it will be tough for Thomas. However, we have seen what Irving can do to Thompson.

In this proposed scenario, Boston would finally have their superstar player that they can build around for a decade. It is not to say that Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Thomas aren’t good players, but they aren’t transcendent. A title will not be won if any of those guys are the best player on the team.

If Irving is there with Hayward and Horford, along with Jason Tatum and the other young pieces, then there is a realistic shot of winning.

The Celtics will improve their chances to win the Eastern Conference and would be one smart move away from being able to contend with the Warriors in a seven game series.

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Photo via David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

 

Why the trade is a win for Cleveland

At this point, Irving is out of Cleveland and James will probably be wearing a different uniform after the 2017 season.

As a result, the Cavaliers need to start building for the future, something they never did while James held the franchise hostage. Cleveland won’t get anything for LeBron if he chooses to leave, so they should at least get something for Irving if the opportunity presents itself.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert might not feel the greatest giving a superstar player away to Cleveland’s biggest rival, the Celtics, but it is not a time to be stubborn. Boston can provide the best assets in return for Irving giving Cleveland the ability to build for the future but also help James win now.

Gilbert shouldn’t pull a move like the Indiana Pacers by trading away a superstar for nothing out of spite. It might have made Pacers owner Herbert Simon feel better the day of the trade, but it won’t make him feel any better in the future as his team will be battling for the No. 1 overall pick for the next five years.

Cleveland, in this deal, would be getting Thomas in return. He is a slight downgrade from Irving, but should do well in combination with James.

The Cavaliers will also get Morris, who can come off the bench and be a great role player. The combination of Morris and Thomas might be better off than Irving in Cleveland. Also, there would be no issues with team chemistry as Irving would be on his way out.

Zizic is a massive seven footer who has potential to become a superstar in the league. Obviously, there is a long way to go, lowering his value, but he is still an important asset for the future and would be a piece Danny Ainge would be hesitant to give away.

Therefore, Cleveland would have Thomas and Morris to help now and will have Zizic in the future if it does become a total rebuild after a possible James departure.

Boston could also throw in a first round pick, but it is doubtful Irving’s trade value will be extremely high since the Cavaliers do not have a ton of leverage considering Irving could just leave the team in two years, much like the Paul George situation.

If the first round pick is the difference, it would make sense for Boston to part ways with it instead of waiting another four years for a draft pick to turn out. Better to get a sure-fire superstar than having the possibility of getting one four years down the line.

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Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge speaks during a news conference Friday, June 24, 2016, in Waltham, Mass. where the team introduced their 2016 NBA draft picks. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

 

Get it done

The deal is a win-win for everyone. Thomas leaves Boston, but gets to play with the greatest player on the planet. Irving gets to be the man on the team while still being able to contend for a title.

Boston gets their superstar player and Cleveland can build for the future and add a little more talent around James for now.

The two teams should get this deal done immediately. It is a true win-win.