Flyers' Front-Loaded Weber Deal Is for 110 Million, Preds on the Clock

Flyers' Front-Loaded Weber Deal Is for 110 Million, Preds on the Clock

When news broke overnight that the Flyers and defenseman Shea Weber had agreed to an offer sheet, Darren Dreger's report did not specify the exact dollar amount of the offer that enticed the highly coveted restricted free agent to sign, saying only "upwards of $100 million."
This morning, Nick Kypreos of SportsNet breaks down the offer as follows:

It's simultaneously a ton of money overall and somehow also a reasonable deal for the Flyers, but the upfront and early year bonuses will be the key in whether Nashville GM David Poile can afford to make good on his pledge to match any offer sheet. His previously stated position was understandable in that it may have kept an offer or two from being made to Weber's camp alone, rather than trading with the team (along with the overall rarity of NHL GM's trying to snipe RFAs at all). But can Nashville match that coin, even amidst a presumed need to spend up to the current NHL salary floor (which is subject to change as part of the labor negotiations and next CBA)? 
The coming week will determine whether that was a bluff or a promise.
Many folks seem to believe Poile will stay true to his pledge and match the offer, but it's clearly not as simple as just crossing out "Philadelphia Flyers" on the current offer sheet and scrawling in "Nashville Predators." And, there's a growing sentiment that they simply might not be able to afford matching, even if they wanted to.
While we'd like to think the Preds would want the situation resolved expeditiously (which benefits our own lack of patience), this could be a long week while the Flyers and the rest of the league wait to see what Nashville will do. Presumably, they've been crunching numbers on what they can afford all along, but a fair amount of short- and long-term budgeting and number crunching is obviously warranted in a franchise-altering deal like this. If the Predators can't or won't match, there could be other reasons why they wouldn't come out and say so before they have to, not the least of which is the pride of not wanting to promptly admit being unable to afford to keep their transient Cup-contending team together. Having already lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild this month, the Preds and their fans would be that much more devastated to lose Weber too. 
Paul Holmgren has made his move, guaranteeing that if Weber is leaving Tennessee, he's coming to Philly and nowhere else. If he's not destined to be a Flyer, we don't have to worry about seeing him patrolling the blue line for an Atlantic foe over the next decade-plus. Dreger listed the Rangers among a small group of teams who were in the hunt for Weber. In so doing, Homer has also painted Poile into the kind of financial corner that has presumably made RFA offer sheet deals largely taboo among GMs. Of course, these two guys know each other well and have a history of trading together. Poile's dad was also the first GM of the Flyers.
However, reports (notably the initial tweets from Dreger) indicate that the Flyers grew tired of waiting as Nashville sat on Weber trade offers. Friendship, collegiality, and family ties all have their limits, and there was always the possibility that any of the interested teams could do exactly what the Flyers just did. This is not a front office that enjoys waiting around while others dictate the market landscape. And of course, there may be more to the negotiations than we currently know; Flyers beat man Dave Isaac points out that while the money is going to be tough to match, Homer's agreement with Weber also effectively paves the way for Weber to stay in Nashville for the next 14 years if the Predators so choose, something a lot less likely to happen if he went to unrestricted free agency next year. And, he doesn't end up hanging his jersey in Nik Lidstrom's locker stall. 
But the Flyers' agreement with Weber isn't designed merely to make him a rich Predator/non-Penguin-Ranger-Red Wing; in addition to needing to make it sweet enough to entice Weber to leave Nashville, the architecture might also be designed to include a financial wall the Preds might not be able to scale. While it appears to pass The Kovalchuk Test both in terms of league legality and the presumption that Weber should actually be able to play fairly well until its term expires, the bonuses on the front end are massive, including a total haul of $27 million in the first year. As Travis at BSH mentioned in a post on the difficulties Nashville faces in matching, Forbes recently valued the entire Predators franchise at $163 million. By comparison, the Flyers come in at $290 million.
Weber has obviously made his move too, solidifying his financial future as best he can with a looming NHL labor climate hellbent on limiting what players of his caliber can earn and where they can earn it. We won't know what's left standing until a new CBA is reached, but perhaps after seeing the early reports on the owners' demands, Weber's side wanted to move before any changes were in place. They found a willing partner with deep pockets in need of a franchise defenseman, a team that hasn't shied away from the kinds of long-term deals that the next CBA may abolish... 
Stay tuned, it should be an interesting week. 
Matt P. contributed to this posting.

West wins NBA All-Star Game; Anthony Davis earns MVP with record performance

West wins NBA All-Star Game; Anthony Davis earns MVP with record performance

NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had an All-Star Game for the record books.

And on a night when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant provided a glimpse of the past, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he's clearly part of the future and a midcourt lob attempt from James Harden even went in, Davis absolutely stole the show.

He scored 52 points, 10 more than Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star record that had stood for 55 years, and the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182 on Sunday night -- the highest-scoring game in league history.

Davis made 26 shots and took 39, both of those also All-Star records. He even outdid Westbrook, who had 41 points in just 20 minutes -- which ordinarily would have been enough to merit him what would have been a third straight MVP award.

Not this time. It was Davis hoisting the trophy, to the delight of his New Orleans fans.

"It was a lot of fun," Davis said. "My teammates did a great job of looking for me."

Durant had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Stephen Curry added 21 points for the West -- where a subplot emerged as DeMarcus Cousins played only two minutes, prompting some speculation that a trade sending him out of Sacramento might be looming.

Antetokounmpo had 30 points for the East, with 12 dunks in his night. LeBron James scored 23 points to become the first All-Star to eclipse 300 in a career, Kyrie Irving had 22 points and 14 assists, and Isaiah Thomas scored 20 for the East.

Davis became the story that overshadowed The Story coming into this game, that being the Durant-Westbrook whatever.

And if there is any animus remaining between Durant and Westbrook, it was hidden. They passed each other the ball and slapped hands in the pregame layup line, and not long after Westbrook checked into the game the former Oklahoma City teammates provided one of the game's top highlights -- a give-and-go, capped by Durant lobbing the ball to set Westbrook up for a dunk.

"OH MY GOD! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" Curry shouted on the West bench, which moments later broke into celebration. Players jumped and threw hands skyward, Curry tossing a cupful of water onto a smiling Durant amid it all.

Draymond Green called the play "cute," and Westbrook and Durant seemed happy with it as well.

"It was a nice give-and-go, man," Westbrook said. "Good give-and-go. Made a good pass. I barely got over the rim, but it was a nice give-and-go."

Added Durant: "It was a great basketball play. He was open so I threw him the lob. He can jump really high so yeah, good play."

Some fans were shouting "De-Fense!" in the fourth quarter. West center DeAndre Jordan heard them, rising from his seat on the West bench to yell "No, no, no" back in their direction.

If those fans were serious, they were disappointed.

Westbrook scored 12 points -- all on 3s -- in a 63-second span late in the third quarter, coming off the bench and firing over and over and over again. And then he opened the fourth quarter with another 3, giving him 34 points in just under 14 minutes played to that point.

It looked like he was a cinch for MVP honors, until Davis scored 20 points in the fourth.

Tip-ins
East: Irving also led the East in rebounds with seven. ... Kyle Lowry scored 19 points and DeMar DeRozan added 16. ... No East player logged more than 24 minutes.

West: Curry took cover in the third quarter, comically hitting the deck face-first as Antetokounmpo went in for yet another dunk. So later in the quarter, Antetokounmpo went over Curry for a rebound slam -- one that left Curry staring at the scoreboard for a replay. ... Kawhi Leonard had a steal and dunk in the opening minute, a defensive display that left West coach Steve Kerr in hysterics.

Celeb watch
A huge roar greeted Jon Batiste, who performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" pregame, when he started the song.

It wasn't for him.

That happened to be the moment when John Legend -- the halftime performer -- and Chrissy Teigen were shown at their sideline seats on the video screens around the arena. And a louder cheer came not long afterward when Beyonce and Jay Z got on-screen.

Among the other celebs in the seats: Guy Fieri, Dave Chappelle, Julius Erving, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and The Roots.

Up next
The next All-Star Game is Feb. 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, which will host for a record sixth time.

Temple's youth shows again as lead slips away late in loss to UConn

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Temple's youth shows again as lead slips away late in loss to UConn

BOX SCORE

Temple’s Sunday tilt with UConn at the Liacouras Center was the embodiment of a young team trying to find its way.

The Owls had a double-digit lead against one of the hottest teams in the nation, thanks in part to their young guys producing in pivotal moments in the game.

However, the inability to finish cost Temple again, as the Owls allowed Jalen Adams to convert a reverse layup with 2.9 seconds remaining in a 64-63 loss to the Huskies (see Instant Replay).

“It’s hard,” Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy said after the loss. “We have two of these now. We have Tulsa (70-68 on Jan. 14) and Connecticut at the buzzer at home. There’s not a lot to say.

“If we all make one better decision, including me, whether it’s a defensive set, a substitution or whatever. They hold onto the ball, they get a rebound, they make a shot, whatever it happens to be. We all make one better decision and we’re coming away with two great wins in Tulsa and UConn and not sitting here after two tough losses.”

After UConn hit a three to tie the game at 60, Temple freshman Quinton Rose made a huge three-pointer of his own to put the Owls back up 63-60 with 2:32 left in the game.

With Temple (14-14, 5-10 AAC) still clinging to a three-point lead, sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. came up with a huge offensive rebound, only to turn it over with 1:08 left on the clock. Adams came up with the steal and raced up the court, but was fouled by Rose while attempting a dunk.

Following Adams’ two makes at the free-throw line, Temple’s lead was trimmed to just 63-62. On the ensuing possession, senior Daniel Dingle was fouled by UConn guard Rodney Purvis.

Dingle missed the front end of a one-and-one set at the line, which set the stage for Adams’ acrobatic shot to give the Huskies (14-12, 9-5 AAC) their seventh win in the last eight games.

“We knew they were going to come off that high ball screen with Adams,” Dunphy said. “We needed to sit down and keep him in front of us. One guy could have helped a little bit more than he did. It would have been a drive and kick for an open jumper, but it would have been better than [a layup]. The other guy just needs to sit down on that play and keep Adams in front of him, but we knew that ball screen was coming.”

“I honestly thought the ball was going to Purvis because he made the last three shots, so I did my best to deny him,” Dingle said. “[Adams] did a fantastic move.”

Things had been going Temple’s way for a majority of the night. The Owls led for the vast majority of game time thanks in part to 5 of 9 shooting from three in the first half, which gave them a 35-29 halftime lead. The lead increased to 56-46 with 8:29 left in the contest.

Dingle’s all-around play and leadership helped push Temple ahead. Freshmen Damien Moore and Alani Moore II combined for 22 points on 9 of 10 shooting.

However, the Owls went cold late. Temple made only 2 of 12 three-point shots in the second half.

UConn's day went in the opposite direction as the Huskies shot a blistering 54.2 percent in the second half and 62.5 percent from downtown. Purvis poured in 13 of his game-high 18 after intermission.

“The younger guys are doing very well,” said Dingle, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. “We’re going to learn how to win. They’re doing a great job. It just so happens that we let one get away again.”

The Owls have made close defeats a habit. Sunday marked their fifth loss this season by five points or less.

These type of losses are the reason why Temple is in the eighth spot in the American Athletic Conference. With three regular-season games left and the AAC conference tournament quickly approaching, this Temple team, which holds victories over No. 9 West Virginia and No. 17 Florida State, will need to start showing the same promise it had earlier in the season to keep alive any dreams of dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

“I definitely talk to the guys about having that sense of urgency,” Dingle said. “For me, time is running out, so that’s the sense of urgency I’ve got. We’ve got to get there as a whole. I say that in the huddle, ‘We’ve got to get there.’ I remember being a freshman to now I’m in my fifth year. Time is not waiting, so every game we’ve got to go out there and play like it’s our last.

“The sense of urgency I think is all right but it has to increase. In order for us to get an opportunity to play in the NCAA [Tournament] – that’s something I want to do and I know the team wants bad for us as a whole and definitely for the seniors. Coach talks about the sense of urgency has to pick up.”