Kevin Durant to Debut Tonight?

It is still not official, but it appears that Kevin Durant will be making his NBA debut tonight in Denver against the Nuggets. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN and will begin at 10:30 EST.

Schilling Starts Begging Process

Curt Schilling announced yesterday that there are 13 teams he would consider playing for next season, with the Boston Red Socks on the top of the list. Following his most recent team are the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles, San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers.

“There are a million little things that go into this from stadiums to school districts to travel to spring training to etc. etc. etc.,” Schilling wrote on his blog, “but the list represents the teams after Boston that have some of the off the field things that are big to us, plus the potential to go into October next year.”

Schilling seems to have forgotten that the above teams also need to be desperate enough to sign a 41-year old pitcher who does not talk to the media and has been known to speak his mind whenever the hell he feels like it.

ESPN deemed it necessary to note that the New York Yankees were not included on the list, as if they would be interested in a player who has publicly ridiculed them for most of the past decade and brings nothing positive to the clubhouse or the field.

Schilling claims that he is looking for a one-year contract and announced earlier this season that he would like his pay to be similar to this past season, which earned him $13 million. Though most of the teams that he listed could potentially afford that price tag, they would have to recognize that flushing it down the toilet would probably be a better option.

He is tied for 79th overall in career victories, which leaves him 14 behind Jamie Moyer, 23 behind David Wells and 34 behind Mike Mussina.

NBA on LairdNYC

Kobe drops 45 points on opening night in a home loss to the Houston Rockets, who were led by Tracy McGrady who dropped 30 and Yao Ming who had 25 and 12.

LaMarcus Aldridge showed he might be a good foundation for the future, scoring 27 points last night against Tim Duncan (or whoever the Spurs had covering him).

And how about that game from Carlos Boozer? 32 points, 15 rebounds and zero blocks. Andrei Kirilenko, who was willing to give up the $60 million owed to him to not play for Jerry Sloan, almost finished with a triple double, scoring nine points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out eight assists. To make it even better, he also had five blocks.

A solid night in the NBA, which will lead to me expense some random thoughts for the season:

– Memphis is going to be much better than people think and it will have nothing to do with Mike Conley, Jr.

– Indiana may have had a good pre-season, but there is no way they are making the playoffs.

– Golden State will also be on the outside looking in come June.

– Despite his good FIBA Americas Tournament, Carmelo Anthony will not be anywhere near the top of the MVP voting. Look for names like Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, Yao Ming, Gilbert Arenas and LeBron James to be in front of him.

– Even though we’ve heard great things about Kenyon Martin’s comeback, he won’t play more than 50 games this year…

– …And neither will Grant Hill.

– Minnesota will NOT be the worst team in the league this year…

– …And neither will Seattle….

– …It’s going to be Clippers.

– Atlanta is going to be much better than they’ve been, but they still aren’t going to make the playoffs.

– People have been sleeping on Toronto because of how much Boston has improved, but the Raptors will finish ahead of at least the Nets this year.

– Milwaukee is going to the playoffs and Michael Redd is going to have a great year.

– Kobe is going to win the scoring title, no matter who he plays for.

– Miami will miss the playoffs again.

– And Washington will be back in the playoffs, but will be much more dangerous because they will have Agent 0, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison all healthy.

– Kevin Durant will lead all rookies in scoring and it will be enough to win Rookie of the Year. Al Horford will finish right behind him.

– Rashard Lewis’ scoring will be up this year, but the team will be completely dependent on Dwight Howard…

– …and the Magic won’t make the playoffs.

– The Eastern Conference playoffs will look like this:
(1) Detroit over (8) New Jersey
(2) Chicago over (7) Milwaukee
(3) Boston over (6) Cleveland
(4) Washington over (5) Toronto

Washington over Detroit
Chicago over Boston

Chicago over Washington

– The Western Conference playoffs will look like this:
(1) San Antonio over (8) New Orleans
(2) Phoenix over (7) Memphis
(6) Denver over (3) Dallas
(4) Houston over (5) Utah

San Antonio over Houston
Phoenix over Denver

San Antonio over Phoenix

– San Antonio repeats as NBA Champions.

– If Eddy Curry is healthy and plays to his abilities, the Knicks will go 30-52 and there will be no repercussions against Isiah Thomas.

– If Eddy Curry is not healthy and is forced to miss the entire season, the Knicks will go 82-0 and will be remembered as the greatest team in the history of the NBA.

– Marc Iavaroni will win Coach of the Year.

– Danny Ainge will win Executive of the Year and thank Kevin McHale in his acceptance press release.

– First Team All-NBA: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Nash

– Second Team All-NBA: Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Michael Redd, LeBron James

– Third Team All-NBA: Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade

– Tim Duncan wins his third MVP.

Yanks Agree with Girardi

ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that Joe Girardi has agreed to accept a three-year, $7.5 million contract to be the next manager of the New York Yankees. Girardi, who has three World Series rings from his time as a player in New York, was the National League Manager of the Year in 2006 while with the Florida Marlins. Though his award-winning season in Florida was his lone as a manager, he also worked previously as a bench coach under Joe Torre.

The former catcher beat out Yankee superstar Don Mattingly, who was Torre’s bench coach this past season, and former Royals manager and Yankees first base coach Tony Pena for the job. According to Olney, Girardi would be interested in bringing in former Cubs pitcher Mike Harkey as his pitching coach. No decisions have been made in regards to the other coaching opportunities, but Larry Bowa, Pena and Mattingly will not be returning.

The choice of Girardi could also play a roll in the Yankee free agents, who have yet to decide whether they will rejoin the club or not. Catcher Jorge Posada played at the same time as Girardi and it wasn’t clear whether the two had a positive relationship together. Andy Pettitte might be a little easier, as Girardi was his personal catcher when he played in the 1990s and early 2000s. There doesn’t seem to be an indication whether Mariano Rivera cared who was chosen between Mattingly or Girardi.

Mattingly has been involved in rumors recently that have him following Joe Torre out to California to join the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles. Though Grady Little is currently under contract with the club, it is expected that he would be fired if Torre were willing to move across the country to manage the team he used to cheer for while the team was still in Brooklyn. Mattingly would join Torre as his bench coach once again and could potentially coach his son Preston, who was drafted by the club in 2006.

Mangini (FINALLY) Turns to Clemens

New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini announced today that Kellen Clemens will be the starting quarterback this Sunday when the team takes on the Washington Redskins at Giants Stadium. Chad Pennington will finally assume the roll he was destined to play this season, wearing a headset and holding a clipboard. Mangini tried to play the decision off as a result of a team issue, but it’s clear that the top problem this year was at the quarterback position.

“I made this decision not based on singling out Chad for where we are, but based on the fact that I think Kellen has earned this opportunity,” Mangini said. “I want to give him this opportunity. It’s in no way an indication that Chad is solely responsible. We all are.”

Clemens, who is not only able to throw the ball hard, but far as well, takes over a struggling Jets team that is now 1-7 and has lost their last 5 games. Pennington has been atrocious during the losing streak and deserved this benching two weeks ago.

Mangini refused to solidify Clemens as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, but felt that he earned a least one start for having to watch Pennington almost single handedly destroy the Jets season this year.

The former Oregon quarterback is in his second season in the NFL. He was the 17th pick in the second round of the 2006 Draft.

Pennington Breaks Interception Streak, Jets Still Lose

Chad Pennington went 13-20 for 106 yards and no touchdowns yesterday, as the New York Jets lost their fifth straight game and seventh of the season. Though Pennington did not throw an interception for the first time in four games, his complete inability to get the Jets down field led to their three points in the entire game.

That’s right, three points. Against the Buffalo Bills. At home.

Eric Mangini MUST make the move to Kellen Clemens at this point. Pennington is not only losing ballgames, he is also losing receivers. Jets #1 wide receiver Laveraues Coles was smashed in the fourth quarter while jumping up to catch a Pennington “pass.” As Coles caught the ball at the height of his jump, Bills cornerback Terrence McGee crushed him from behind, as the soft and hight throw from Pennington left Coles completely vulnerable to that kind of hit. Coles’ chest and head slammed to the turf and he remained face-down for nearly five minutes at trainers looked him over. He was finally able to walk off the field under his own accord.

Clearly Eric Mangini knows something about Kellen Clemens that he doesn’t like, or else he would have made the switch already. The difficulty is, he’s never stated what it is. Regardless, Pennington is not giving the Jets their best chance to win and the coach needs to finally recognize that and bench Chad Pennington.

Alex Rodriguez Opts Out of Largest Sports Contract in History

Alex Rodriguez, the greatest regular season player in baseball today, has decided to opt out of his 10-year $252 million contract with the New York Yankees, according to his agent Scott Boras. The ex-Yankees third baseman was due to make $72 million over the next three years and also apparently rejected a 5-year $150 million extension that the Yankees were set to offer him, trumping the previous record for a per-year salary in the game.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had previously stated that if Rodriguez opted out of his deal, the Yankees would not be at the bargaining table against other teams. Because of that point, many believed that the most money would come from the Yankees and therefore Rodriguez would take it. In the end, the money wasn’t enough.

“It’s clear he didn’t want to be a Yankee,” Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News. “He doesn’t understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field. I don’t want anybody on my team that doesn’t want to be a Yankee.”

Though he had until 10 days following the end of the World Series, Rodriguez apparently made his decision before the Series even ended. It’s not apparent who will be the leading candidates to sign the regular-season slugger, but it’s clear now that it will not be the Yankees. Whoever it is, Boras thinks there is someone out there who could trump the 8-years $230 million that the Yankees were willing to give the slugger.

Boras noted that the uncertainty with the Yankees managerial situation, as well as the stances of free agents Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte contributed to Rodriguez’s decision. I don’t buy that for a second, as Rodriguez still has 10 days to consider his options and the Yankees are expected to make their decision regarding their new manager early this week. Additionally, it’s expected the Yankees will offer Rivera and Posada 3-year $40 million contracts each, which should be enough to keep both players in pinstripes for the rest of their careers.

The Yankees are now in search of a third baseman for the first time since they last won the World Series, when Aaron Boone was a major contributor to the ball club in October (something Rodriguez was completely unable to duplicate). Because it’s the Yankees, one can assume that some of the best third basemen in baseball will be on their target list, most notably Miguel Cabrera from the Florida Marlins. Though he is a major liability with his glove, his bat may be enough to overcome that factor. Additionally, Joe Girardi, who appears to be the front-runner for the Yankees managerial position, managed Cabrera in Florida when he won the NL Manager of the Year.