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.

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Redskins RB Thompson still will be nervous on cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still will be nervous on cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program. But he says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club. “For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

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Best unrestricted free-agent point guards to help Wizards back up John Wall

Best unrestricted free-agent point guards to help Wizards back up John Wall

John Wall and Bradley Beal were uniform in their message about where the Wizards were lacking in 2016-17, and it was the backups in a 49-win season. 

In a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards relied on Beal for 45 minutes and Wall, who shot 0-for-11 in tthe second half, for 44. 

Specifically, let's focus on point guards. Trey Burke couldn't do the the job early in the season and coach Scott Brooks had to find ways to take the ball out of his hands to keep him on the floor. Then the Wizards signed Brandon Jennings as a free agent, who had better moments but remained a low-efficiency shooter and defensive liability. 

They represented a major step down from Ramon Sessions, who spent the previous two seasons behind Wall. Sessions, however, was a shoot-first point guard who lacked three-point range and wasn't strong on pick-and-roll coverages.

The Wizards don't have a lot of cap room so whoever they bring in has to be relatively affordable and willing to accept a backup role. If they require starters' minutes or money, they're not an option with Wall and Beal firmly in place.

5. Ty Lawson (Kings): The 5-11 point guard had a bit of a bounce back season. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 assists. Lawson doesn't stretch the floor as well as others on this list, shooting a career-low 28.8% from three-point range in 69 appearances. His issues with alcohol has made him a risky proposition for most teams but he was formerly a quality starter who probably can be had for a reasonable price. He earned the vet minimum $1.3 million.

[RELATED: NBA Draft: Targets for Wizards In Round Two]

4. Deron Williams (Mavs/Cavs): A 6-3 point guard, he accepted a reduced role to compete for a championship with 11.0 points, 5.6 assists and 36.3% three-point shooting. His final year of his deal netted him $14.8 million but that'll plummet signficantly if he hopes to continue playing for contenders. On the downside, he'll be 33 and can be injury-prone.

3. Darren Collison (Kings): Also a 6-foot point guard, Collison averaged 13.2 points, 4.6 assists and a career-high 41.7% from three-point range. He also started 64 games in earning $5.2 million. He has been a backup most of his career. 

2. Shaun Livingston (Warriors): The biggest point guard on this list, the Wizard had the 6-7 Livingston as he tried to rebuild his career after a catastrophic knee injury but he was cut by Randy Wittnan during the 2012-13 season. He's averaging just 5.1 points off the bench for Golden State and isn't a three-point shooter but he can get his own shot. He shot 54.7% from the field overall in earning $5.7 million. 

1. Patty Mills (Spurs): A 6-foot point guard, he averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 assists and shot 41.3% from three-point range in his sixth season in San Antonio. Mills earned $3.2 million in 22 minutes per game off the bench. He can handle the ball, run the offense, stretch the floor and has developed into a good perimeter defender. Mills has never started more than eight games in his eight-year career.

(Langston Galloway might've made this list but he has a player option with the Kings. He could hit the unrestricted free agent market, too.)

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Breaking down a possible Wall extension]