Dodgers star signs a massive new contract

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Dodgers star signs a massive new contract

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Andre Ethier to an 85 million, five-year deal through 2017 on Tuesday, keeping him and Matt Kemp together in the middle of the lineup. It's the team's first major move under a new ownership group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson. The new deal includes salaries of 13.5 million for next year, 15.5 million for 2014, 18 million each for 2015 and 2016 and 17.5 million for 2017. The Dodgers have a 17.5 million option for 2018 with a 2.5 million buyout, and Ethier's 2018 salary could become guaranteed based on plate appearances in 2017 or 2016-17 combined. The option vests with 1,100 plate appearances in 2016-17 combined or 550 plate appearances in 2017. If the option does not vest and is declined, a buyout is payable on Jan. 15, 2018. Ethier avoided arbitration last winter, agreeing to a 10.95 million contract for this season. He could have tested free agency at season's end. "I knew there were options at the end of the day, but why look at them when the best option is here?" he said. "A friend of mine said a couple weeks ago, You were meant to play here and you wouldn't play good anywhere else,'" he said. "That kind of rang true and let me think what's the purpose of holding out a few more months?" General manager Ned Colletti and new President and CEO Stan Kasten joined Ethier at a news conference overlooking the field at Dodger Stadium. Manager Don Mattingly, along with All-Star slugger Matt Kemp and pitcher Javy Guerra were there. Ethier's wife, Maggie, the couple's two young sons, who wore their dad's No. 16 jersey, and his parents also attended. "We signed Matt last winter and now we've signed Andre long-term, which to me says basically that you want to get better as an organization looking forward," Mattingly said. "These two guys are our cornerstones, so it makes a commitment to the fans. Right now, Dre's in a good spot and his teammates care about him." Ethier leads the National League with 53 RBIs. The 30-year-old right fielder is a two-time All-Star who is batting .287 with 10 home runs going into Tuesday night's game against the Angels. He's been with the team for six seasons, winning a Silver Slugger award in 2009 and a Gold Glove award last year. "He's part of the core, part of what we're trying to build on," Colletti said. "You got to keep guys like that around. If you believe in your core guys and you develop them, it's tough to replace guys like that." Colletti, who rarely does deals during the season, said he told all of the team's prospective owners that signing Ethier to a long-term deal was a priority if they were to take control of the team. "These owners aren't messing around with making this team and stadium the best it can be," Ethier said. He said Kasten talked to him two weeks ago about the ownership group's plans for the team. "Obviously, that set my mind at ease," Ethier said. "I knew things were going to get better around here no matter what." Last season, Ethier had a 30-game hitting streak and batted .292 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs before having left knee surgery in September. Colletti said he doesn't expect the deal to affect Ethier's future performance. "He's proven himself over the long haul," he said. "It gives him a sense of knowing how we feel." Colletti flew to Ethier's offseason home in Arizona to meet with him in December, when both sides let each other know he wanted to remain in Los Angeles. The deal couldn't get going until last month because of the ownership transition, but it took just a couple weeks to get one. "In season you can't let it drag or it's a perilous time of year to be doing it," Colletti said. In November, the Dodgers signed Kemp to a 160 million, eight-year deal that equaled the seventh-highest contract in baseball history. That was the team's last major deal under former owner Frank McCourt. It is the richest agreement in club history, topping pitcher Kevin Brown's 105 million, seven-year deal before the 1999 season. Kemp is currently on the disabled list for the second time this season, although the Dodgers have maintained the best record in baseball. Ethier and Kemp anchor the Dodgers' defense, with Ethier in center and Kemp in right. "They've got a quiet competitiveness and great respect for one another," Colletti said. Ethier added, "I can look up and know where Matty's at most of the time. You don't see that often in baseball where two guys can do it defensively as well as being at the same level offensively." Ethier and Kemp's relationship dates back to when they played on the same Arizona Fall League team, although Ethier belonged to the Oakland Athletics and Kemp was with the Dodgers. "It's unbelievable to know I'm going to get the chance to play by his side for the next five years," Ethier said. "Me and Matty know we have to go out there and do our thing. When you start adding other key guys it definitely does allow everyone around you to play better baseball." Ethier said he knew from the start of spring training that good things were in store for the team after the last few years of turbulence under McCourt. "You could definitely tell by the way this group came together this spring," he said. "By far this is the best clubhouse and best group of guys in the seven years I've been here. I want to give them a lot of credit for the start we've had and the start I've had." Ethier also gets use of a luxury suite at the stadium eight times per season for community and charity work in the Los Angeles area.

3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

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3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

Melo Trimble, by many estimations, made the "right" decision by returning to Maryland for his junior season.

Of course, there could be any number of unforeseen circumstances in the future that could change that opinion, but given the current set of conditions, he returns to a team that could legitimately make the NCAA tournament with another year to prove to NBA scouts that he can play at the next level.

But there are still challenges ahead for Trimble. Here are three of them. 

1) Less on-paper talent than the 2015-16 team

Mark Turgeon made two enormous, late-signing period splashes last year by landing five-star center Diamond Stone, then Rasheed Sulaimon from Duke as a graduate transfer. That helped to solidify a starting five that already included Trimble, then-senior Jake Layman, and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter, Jr.

The Terrapins had arguably the most purely talented starting five in the country. The attention on a given night was off of Trimble in a way because on any given night any one of those five players could carry the offensive load. It will be on Trimble during his junior season.

The starting five likely projects something like this (with some variation, depending on how Turgeon wants to utilize his guard and wing depth): PG: Melo Trimble | SG: Dion Wiley | SF: Jared Nickens | PF: L.G. Gill | C: Damonte Dodd.

Freshman guard Anthony Cowan will assuredly be in the mix, but that still pins most all of the offensive pressure on Trimble. Can he thrive when he is the focal point of the defense's game plan? 

Wiley, Nickens, and Gill hitting their shots would help. But who becomes the reliable pick-and-roll options like Carter and Stone were last season?

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2) The foul problem

Throughout the 2015-16 season, Turgeon mentioned whenever he could the fact that Trimble was getting to the rim at the same rate that he was his freshman season, but not getting foul calls at the same rate. That meant the same wear and tear on his body, but without the benefit of an efficient scoring line to go with it. 

Turgeon would never publicly, explicitly pin it on the referees, but look at the difference between Trimble's average field goal attempts as a sophomore during Big Ten play (4.4) and during the NCAA tournament (10.6). That cannot all be accounted for by saying he got to the basket more often in the tournament. 

Because Trimble hits at such a high rate from the free-throw line (86.8 percent), he becomes lethal in the pick-and-roll because he can hit shots if the defense goes under a screen, pass to an open man if they hedge out, or drive past and draw a foul if they go over. 

No fouls in the lane? Less effective pick-and-roll for a player who feasts in that set. What indicates that something will change when he is a junior?

3) The looming 2017 NBA Draft

By returning to Maryland, Trimble buys himself time and gives himself an opportunity to show what he can do during his junior season in hopes that he returns to a form closer to what we saw in 2014-15 or early 2015-16. 

That will all build up likely to the 2017 NBA Draft, assuming Trimble enters. He has questions that he now has to answer and some things that will be real concerns.

He will be 22 years old at the time of next year's draft. Only three players projected to be taken in the first round of this year's draft, according to DraftExpress.com's current mock, will be 22 years of age or older on draft night -- Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, and Providence's Kris Dunn.

Player of the Year finalist. Player of the Year finalist. Projected lottery pick back in 2015 who decided to stay anyway.

That's tough company to break into for Trimble and it speaks to the type of junior season he would have to have to get into the first round. 

And the foundation of his overall game won't be changing. His length will still be subpar, compared to his peers, at next year's Combine. It's unlikely that his max vertical will improve by much, which means he'll have to answer those questions another way -- simply by playing basketball. 

Master the pick-and-roll. Shoot a high percentage from three. Get back to the line at a high rate. That should be the formula for Trimble.

With season over, what did Kevin Durant say about his future?

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With season over, what did Kevin Durant say about his future?

The offseason of Kevin Durant is underway now that the Oklahoma City Thunder have been eliminated in shocking fashion from the Western Conference Finals — and the Wizards wait in line for a chance to put their best foot forward.

It’s not shocking in that they lost to the defending Golden State Warriors, but that they had a 3-1 series lead before succumbing in seven games.

It’s how they unraveled with Durant and Russell Westbrook reverting to their old form of panicking down the stretch, making bad decisions and blowing a 13-point first-half lead.

Durant, a D.C. native, is an unrestricted free agent who remains on the Wizards’ radar. And a host of other teams such as the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks want a shot to make their pitch.

“We just lost like 30 minutes ago,” said Durant, who had a team-high 27 points in a 96-88 loss that included a personal 7-0 run in a crucial fourth-quarter stretch. “I haven’t even thought about it yet. I’m embracing my teammates, just reflecting on the season. I’ll think about that stuff, I don’t know when.”

Durant earned $20 million with the Thunder this season. He could opt to sign a two-year deal with the second of it being an opt-out. That would allow Durant to play with Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, both of whom will be unrestricted in 2017, one more season so he can make his decision concurrent with theirs.

And with the salary cap expected to grow from $70 million in 2015-16 to $108 million for 2017-18, financially it would make more sense for Durant to wait.

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Gausman looks for that elusive win against Red Sox

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Gausman looks for that elusive win against Red Sox

Tonight's Game:

Boston Red Sox (31-20) vs. Baltimore Orioles (28-21), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, 7:05 p.m.

Starting pitchers:

Eduardo Rodriguez (2016 debut) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-2, 3.24)

Keys to the Game: 

Can the Orioles get to Rodriguez early in the game? He is making his first start of 2016

Can Gausman finally get that first win? He hasn't won in seven starts, but the Orioles have won three of them. 

News and Notes:

— Caleb Joseph injured his groin in the eighth inning and was taken to the hospital for an examination.

— Gausman has won just three of his last 31 starts since Aug. 2014. 

— David Ortiz is batting .462 (6-for-13) with two home runs and four RBIs against Gausman.

— Ortiz has hit 26 home runs in 113 games in Baltimore. 

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