Casey up for NBA top coach honours, VanVleet sixth man nominee - Canadanewsmedia
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Casey up for NBA top coach honours, VanVleet sixth man nominee



Five days after he was fired by the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey was named a finalist for NBA coach of the year.

On a night when the 2015 winner, Mike Budenholzer, reached a deal to coach the Milwaukee Bucks — scratching his name off the list of candidates for the Raptors job, the 61-year-old Casey made the shortlist after the best regular season in Raptor history: 59 wins and the top seed in the East for the first time. The other coaching finalists are Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics) and Quin Snyder (Utah Jazz).

Dwane Casey made the shortlist for NBA coach of the year. The award will be handed out June 25.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet also earned a shot at the NBA’s sixth man award. VanVleet is a finalist along with former Raptor Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers) and Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets).

Other nominees for major awards, which will be handed out June 25 in Santa Monica, Calif.:

MVP: James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis

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TOP ROOKIE: Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum

MOST IMPROVED: Clint Capela, Spencer Dinwiddie, Victor Oladipo

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Can the Jets Afford Stastny?




When Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff acquired Paul Stastny at the trade deadline, the general consensus was that he was the quintessential “rental” — one that turned out quite well for the Jets. But can he be more than that?

Going into the offseason, one of Cheveldayoff’s main quandaries will be whether he has the greenbacks to go after Stastny and plant him in the middle of his second line for years to come.

Stastny Open to Re-Signing With Jets

A discussion on whether the Jets can afford Stastny would be pointless if he didn’t want to stay in Winnipeg. It’s a cold, unforgiving city bereft of most of the extra perks — like nightlife or year-round access to beautiful beaches — one can glean from playing in markets like New York or Florida.

However, Stastny recently told Winnipeg media he is open to returning to the Jets, saying coming to Winnipeg “made the game that much more fun again” and that it was the best decision of his career to waive his no-trade clause.

Paul Stastny was very productive in his stint with Winnipeg. Between the regular season and the playoffs, he had 28 points. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

He posted 13 points in 19 regular-season games plus 15 more in 17 playoff games, and he found quick chemistry with prolific young guns Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. In so doing, he added yet another dimension to the Jets’ already multi-faceted and dangerous offense.

Money Matters

Finding enough money to entice Stastny won’t be easy. The Jets currently have $54.4 million dollars committed for next season, which gives them roughly $25 million to work with.

However, there are several restricted free-agent youngsters Cheveldayoff needs to ink before he can shift the focus to re-signing Stastny. Simply put, the Jets’ GM owes a lot of dudes a lot of dollars. Stastny understands this and knows the Jets’ brass will target homegrown guys first.

“We all know there are a lot of players who need to be signed here,” Statsny said. “There’s not just one person. When you have success like this, a lot of guys need to get rewarded. And you’ve got to take care of those young guys first. Those guys really earned it. We’ll talk with Chevy down the road.”

Hellebuyck Will Get Big Bucks

The first man to be paid will likely be Connor Hellebuyck. The 25-year-old goaltender was signed to a one-year, “ship up or ship out” deal prior to the 2017-18 season and wasn’t even slated to be the starter. He shattered all expectations and had a 44-win, Vezina-calibre campaign, acting as the cornerstone for the Jets’ success.

Hellebuyck is obviously not going settle for a modest, short-term bridge deal now. He’s going to cash in big time (and deservedly so). He will likely command $5 million per year — if not more.

Defensemen and Depth Forwards Will Get Payday, Too

Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey, the pair of defensemen who were often tasked with shutting down opponents’ top players this year, are also both restricted free agents.

It’s been two years since Trouba’s infamous 2016 holdout. He’s now committed to Winnipeg and wants to sign a long-term deal.

Jacob Trouba Winnipeg Jets

Jacob Trouba is just one of many home-grown players Cheveldayoff must focus on locking up before he can think about Stastny. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“(Trouba has) done enough to earn a long-term pact and join the likes of Morgan Rielly, Colton Parayko and Seth Jones in the $5-million-plus range,” Matt Larkin of The Hockey News wrote recently.

Morrissey, too, has become a big part of the Jets’ present and future. While he won’t elicit as handsome a salary as his partner, one could conservatively estimate that the steady blueliner’s salary will at least double, if not triple, landing him in the $2-million to $3-million-per-year range.

Moving to depth forwards, half of the Jets’ bottom-six are unsigned. Adam Lowry, Joel Armia, and Brandon Tanev will chew up cap space as well — probably between $1.5 million and $2 million each.

If you’ve been doing the math in your head as you go, that’s about $19 million committed. That figure doesn’t factor in players who are less of a guarantee — but still a possibility — to be back in Jets colours come October, such as Marko Dano, Tucker Poolman, and Joe Morrow.

Stastny Will Be in High Demand

Stastny, an unrestricted free agent, is free to go wherever he pleases this offseason. He’ll be sought after: the field of UFA centres is looking like it’ll be a bit bare come summertime. 

The 32-year-old veteran of 12 NHL seasons is one of the best options available for teams looking to bolster their top-six. John Tavares is the belle of the free-agent ball, but his asking price could scare away potential suitors. Joe Thornton will be 39 years old by the time the puck drops on the 2018-19 season and was limited to 47 games as he suffered a knee injury. Tyler Bozak is only debatably a top-six forward.

Several squads will certainly be seeking Statsny out, and he knows he can charge whatever the market will bear for his services.

How Much is Stastny Worth?

Statsny is coming off a five-year deal worth $33 million, an average of $6.6 million per year. He could command a similar figure this time around based on the factors at play. He’ll be looking for a long-term deal to take him all the way to retirement.

Paul Stastny - Winnipeg Jets

Stastny is fetch a handsome salary this year given the short supply of top-six centres.  (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If Statsny does command $6 million-plus, the Jets may be hard-pressed to come up with the scratch to sign him, given the $20 million they will likely be spending on their aforementioned in-house talent.

Obviously, Statsny likes Winnipeg and enjoyed finishing his season with the Jets. However, it’s doubtful the city, the hockey culture, or the organization — regardless of the fact that it’s poised to be a strong Stanley Cup contender for the next several seasons — made enough of an impression in three months for him to give the Jets a “hometown discount.” Winnipeg isn’t his hometown, after all.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Even if Stastny has played his last game for the Jets, the trade should be considered a win. He was about as good as a “rental” could be. He was a key contributor in both the Jets’ final quarter of their historic regular season and their deep playoff run. Perhaps just as importantly, the Jets’ acquisition of Stastny communicated to the fan base, in the clearest possible terms, that the organization was done being patient and ready to compete in the present.

If the Jets can’t re-sign Stastny, the two sides will part amicably — like two people in a relationship that could have worked out if the circumstances were a little different. It’s truly just a numbers game. Sometimes you just can’t afford to fill your entire wish list.

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5 ways Unai Emery can improve Arsenal




LONDON — Arsenal’s new head coach will have to overcome some problems that developed both on and off the field during the final part of Arsene Wenger’s long tenure.

Unai Emery, who was hired Wednesday to replace Wenger after 22 seasons in north London, will take over a club that finished sixth in the Premier League last season — its worst showing under the French coach.

But Emery has proven himself both in domestic soccer and in Europe, winning league titles at Paris Saint-Germain and the Europa League at Sevilla. Still, he was fired by PSG after failing to deliver Champions League success to the French club.

Here are some issues Emery must address at Arsenal:


The Arsenal teams that finished in the Premier League’s top two places for eight consecutive seasons at the turn of the millennium was packed with leaders, including players like Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams. Following a third and final title-winning campaign under Wenger in 2004, the squad gradually lost its experienced core.

Emery will look to fill that void and consider the character – as well as the quality – of the players he brings in this off-season.


Arsenal already needed a new central defender, and that was before captain Laurent Koscielny ruptured his Achilles tendon in the final weeks of the season.

With the France defender set to be out until the end of 2018, Emery may be in the market for two new centre backs.

Arsenal conceded only five fewer Premier League goals than Swansea and West Bromwich Albion, who were both relegated.

Shkodran Mustafi has also struggled, and while there is still hope that the youthful duo of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers can develop into first-team regulars, the pair have yet to prove they are ready.


One of the reasons Arsenal’s defenders have been so often exposed is the lack of protection in front of them.

During Wenger’s final two seasons in charge, he insisted on playing Granit Xhaka in a holding role, despite the Switzerland midfielder’s defensive frailties.

While Xhaka certainly has the ability to be a useful player, Emery will be looking to recruit someone with more discipline to sit at the base of his midfield.


On paper, the strongest part of Arsenal’s squad is up front. Strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both joined the club over the past 12 months for a combined total of more than 100 million pounds ($133 million).

After arriving last year, Lacazette had a mixed first Premier League campaign and was in and out of the starting lineup, eventually scoring 14 goals. Aubameyang settled in quickly after his mid-season arrival and netted an impressive 10 goals in 13 appearances. However, there was still a feeling that Arsenal wasn’t fully utilizing all of the Gabon forward’s assets, particularly his blistering pace.

Emery will attempt to avoid alienating either of the club’s major investments by finding a way to incorporate two of his most talented players into the starting lineup.


A toxic atmosphere has surrounded the club in recent seasons, mainly because of fan opposition to Wenger.

This discontent was even felt in the team, highlighted by a divide between Alexis Sanchez and his teammates before the Chile forward departed for Manchester United.

Emery is likely to benefit from a warm welcome from the club’s fan base, but maintaining unity, both on and off the field, will be high on his list of priorities.

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Arsenal hires Emery as Wenger's successor




LONDON — Arsenal hired Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger’s successor on Wednesday in the Premier League club’s first managerial appointment in 22 years.

The 46-year-old Spaniard will not enjoy the same authority as Wenger built up at Arsenal, being handed the title of head coach rather than manager.

Arsenal backed off from a gamble on former player Mikel Arteta, who is part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff at Premier League champion Manchester City. Instead, Arsenal opted for an established coach — and one who has constantly delivered trophies at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain.

“Several things stood out during his interview and the entire process; his football knowledge, energy, determination and love of the game,” Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke said. “His familiarity with our club and our players, the Premier League and the game in Europe were all very impressive. He shares our vision to move forward, to build on the platform created by Arsene Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success.”

Emery has the task of restoring Arsenal to the Champions League — and to ultimately deliver the club’s first Premier League title since 2004. But he picks up at London team at a low after finishing sixth in the league — the lowest in Wenger’s reign.

“I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game,” Emery said. “Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history.”

Emery left PSG earlier this month after two years, a consequence of the failure to carry the dominance on the domestic stage into the Champions League. He has struggled to impose his authority on a talent-packed squad featuring Neymar.

A former midfielder with Real Sociedad, Emery coached Valencia from 2008-12 before taking charge of Sevilla in 2013, following a brief spell at Spartak Moscow.

Emery’s reputation was elevated after guiding Sevilla to three straight Europa League titles, but he couldn’t make an impact in the continent’s more illustrious competition.

PSG became the first team in the Champions League to be eliminated from the knockout stage after winning the first match 4-0, losing 6-1 at Barcelona in the return leg of the last 16 in 2017.

PSG failed to reach the quarterfinals again in Emery’s final season, beaten home and away by Real Madrid.

Arsenal, though, is sure it has a “serial winner.”

“Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly,” Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. “His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward.”

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