, providing a bridge to a group of highly anticipated prospe

, providing a bridge to a group of highly anticipated prospe

Postprzez bellis555 » 21 paź 2017, 08:29

With the regular season right around the corner, TSN. Patrick Sharp Jersey .ca profiles each NBA division before the first tip. TSN Basketball analyst Jack Armstrong also gives his pick for division champ and a player to keep an eye on this season. We jump over to the Eastern Conference for the first time with the Atlantic Division where Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors look to repeat as division champions, Derek Fisher takes the reins of Phil Jacksons New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers continue a rebuild in earnest. Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo in 2013-14 (30 games): 11.7 PPG, 8.4 APG, .403 FG% Coach: Brad Stevens (second season) GM: Danny Ainge (12th season) Last year: 25-57, fourth in Atlantic (12th in Eastern Conference) Playoffs: Did not qualify Notable additions: PG Marcus Smart (drafted), SG/SF James Young (drafted), SF Evan Turner ($6.7M, two-year deal), SG/PG Marcus Thornton (acquired from Nets), PF/C Tyler Zeller (acquired from Cavaliers), PG Will Bynum (acquired from Pistons) Notable subtractions: PF/C Kris Humphries (traded to Wizards), PG/SG Jerryd Bayless (signed with Bucks) and C Joel Anthony (traded to Pistons) Celtics Depth Chart Position Starter Bench Point Guard Rajon Rondo Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey, Will Bynum Shooting Guard Avery Bradley Marcus Thornton, James Young Small Forward Jeff Green Evan Turner, Gerald Wallace Power Forward Jared Sullinger Brandon Bass, Dwight Powell Centre Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller, Vitor Faverani The Celtics opened up the post-Doc Rivers era by missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. What happened in 2008, the year after the Celtics last were on the outside looking in on the postseason? The Celtics won the NBA Title. So naturally, history will repeat itself and the Celtics will win the 2015 NBA Title…or maybe not…not even close. When the Celtics last missed the playoffs, Danny Ainge went out and got Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, drafted Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo and the rest is history. The pressure to win like there was seven years ago doesn’t exist now and Ainge is going to let his rebuild under sophomore coach, Brad Stevens, take place in earnest and that will undoubtedly mean another lean year in Beantown with the potential exit of the closest thing the Celtics have to a star in Rondo. Rondo’s contract expires after this season and he’s unlikely to stay in Boston. Really, it doesn’t make much sense for either party to continue the union. The Celts took Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State with the sixth-overall pick and he’s the heir apparent. Smart could be the complete package. He’s got great pace and he’s a tremendous passer, who can muscle into the paint. His jumper needs work and he can be overly selfish, but this is the perfect environment for Smart to grow. In fact, Smart’s emergence could go a long as to when Ainge pulls the trigger on a Rondo move. Obviously, Rondo’s value will likely crest towards the deadline (with the likes of the Knicks and Rockets being potential destinations), but that wouldn’t preclude Ainge from making a move sooner that. There isn’t much turnover for the Celtics last season aside from the departure of Kris Humphries. Kamloops, BC’s Kelly Olynyk had a fine rookie season and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, but he’s power forward who was stuck as an undersized centre for a lot of last season. He’s still expected to play at the five, though the acquisition of Tyler Zeller will likely allow Olynyk to play in his natural position more often. Like so many other young bigs, Olynyk will also want to cut down on the fouls, but that’s a combination of the mistakes of youth and the fact that inexperienced players don’t get respect calls from officials. Both issues should abate with time. Though it got better, the Eastern Conference is still a bit of a garbage fire compared to the Western Conference. That said, the Celtics are stuck in a bit of a no man’s land, much like they were last season. They aren’t abysmal enough to be looking at a top-three pick and they aren’t good enough to make the playoffs. That’s okay, though, because they still have three first-round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft and another three in 2016. They’ll likely recoup even more picks in any Rondo move, so the future will be very bright in terms of sheer asset numbers. There’s no guarantee that these picks will translate into quality players, but the problem that Ainge faces is one that any GM in the midst of a rebuild would gladly welcome. The Celtics will be better soon…just not yet. Another season outside the playoffs is just what the doctor ordered, even if fans might not love the idea. Projection: Fourth in the Atlantic (13th in Eastern Conference) Brooklyn Nets Joe Johnson in 2013-14: 15.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, .454 FG% Coach: Lionel Hollins (first season) GM: Billy King (fifth season) Last year: 44-38, second in Atlantic (sixth in Eastern Conference) Playoffs: Lost to Heat in Eastern Conference semi-finals Notable additions: PG Jarrett Jack (acquired from Cavaliers) and SG/SF Sergey Karasev (acquired from Cavaliers) Notable subtractions: SG Shaun Livingston (signed with Warriors), SF Paul Pierce (signed with Wizards), PF/C Andray Blatche (signed with Xinjiang Flying Tigers), PG Marquis Teague (traded to Sixers) and C Jason Collins (unsigned) Nets Depth Chart Position Starter Bench Point Guard Deron Williams Jarrett Jack, Jorge Gutierrez Shooting Guard Joe Johnson Alan Anderson, Markel Brown Small Forward Bojan Bogdanovic Andrei Kirilenko, Sergey Karasev Power Forward Kevin Garnett Mirza Teletovic, Cory Jefferson Centre Brook Lopez Mason Plumlee Having a fourth head coach in four seasons probably wasn’t on the Nets’ wish list going into the new season, but Jason Kidd’s exit to the Bucks could benefit the Nets even more than the two second-round picks they’ve already received. Though they struggled mightily to start the season, the Nets came together to take a hard-fought first-round series win over the Raptors under Kidd’s guidance. Still, Lionel Hollins is a superior coach to Kidd, especially on the defensive side of things, but success for the Nets this season could be greatly limited by what Hollins can get out of his charges. There’s also the matter of Billy King failing to adequately replace the personnel who left in the offseason. Getting Robin Lopez back to health is a huge boost for the team. Easily the most athletic of Brooklyn’s bigs, the Nets’ ability to compete with the top tier in the Eastern Conference last season took a massive hit when Lopez was lost for the year after only 17 games with a fractured foot. Though Lopez might not be ready to dress on opening night, the team expects at 100 per cent shortly. With the Grizzlies, Hollins molded Marc Gasol into a fine two-way centre and will look to do the same with Lopez. There is certainly work to be done with a player whose rebounding has been suspect and is poor defending pick-and-rolls. The rest of Hollins’s frontcourt is in flux. Andrei Kirilenko is still a fine shooter, but he’ll be 34 in February. Rookie Bojan Bogdanovic, a 2011 second-rounder, looks like he’s going to get a chance to start at small forward and has a lot of promise, though, he’s going to take his lumps adjusting to the North American game after three seasons with Fenerbahce of the Turkish league. And then there’s Kevin Garnett, who is another problem altogether. The full repercussions of the trade that brought Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn are yet to be felt (the Celtics are still to receive two more first-rounders from the Nets and Boston holds the option to swap firsts in 2017), but the Truth has already left town for DC and Garnett, 38, only appeared in 57 games last season. The trade was meant to make the Nets contenders and it failed. Garnett is too beaten up to be expected to contribute any more than 20 minutes a night at the very best and he’s nothing close to the offensive output that made him a 15-time All-Star. You never want to see a legend go out with bit-part status, but Garnett still possesses the drive that made him a champion in the past and that’s something that’s not going away. With Lopez healthy, Mason Plumlee can shift into the four to eat minutes and the sharpshooting Mirza Teletovic should also see increased responsibility and absorb some of Garnett’s workload. It’s safe to say that this season, Garnett’s 20th in the NBA, will be his last. If there as any clear strength that the Nets possess, it’s a very good backcourt. At one time, Deron Williams was in the conversation for the best point guard in the NBA. It’s been a couple of years since then and his exit from the Jazz might forever taint his reputation, but Williams is only 30 and very capable of still being an elite point guard. Firstly, he’s mostly healthy (he will carry a hand injury to the start of the season, but it’s not expected to be anything serious) after missing 18 games last season and offseason ankle surgery and the acquisition of Jarrett Jack will provide relief to take some of the pressure off of Williams. Still, Williams has the expectation of a massive contract to live up to and Williams’s headstrong nature isn’t one to back down. While we may not see him hit the heights that he once hit in Utah, expect Williams to bounce back significantly this season and reemerge among the likes of John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving as one of the top point guards in the conference. His partner in the back, Joe Johnson, was dynamite in the postseason and, perhaps, the main reason why the Nets were able to slip by the Raptors. He’s come into camp leaner and looks to pick up right where he left off. There are not many guys in the entire league who have as big a knack as Johnson does for hitting shots in crunch time. Though his contract might be hefty, Johnson is arguably the best player on this team and a force to be reckoned with in the East. Still, losing Pierce and Shaun Livingston will hurt and Hollins needs to be given time to put his system in place and for it to work, so there might be some short term regression for the Nets akin to what we saw last season under Kidd. The Nets are a playoff team again this year, but a first-round victory might just be too big an ask for team with this many question marks. Projection: Second in the Atlantic (seventh in Eastern Conference) New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony in 2013-14: 27.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, .402 3P% Coach: Derek Fisher (first season) GM: Steve Mills (second season) Last year: 37-45, third in Atlantic (ninth in Eastern Conference) Playoffs: Did not qualify Notable additions: PG Jose Calderon (acquired from Mavericks), C Samuel Dalembert (acquired from Mavericks), PG Shane Larkin (acquired from Mavericks), SF Quincy Acy (acquired from Kings), SF/PF Travis Outlaw (acquired from Kings), PF Jason Smith ($3.78M, one-year deal) and SF Cleanthony Early (drafted) Notable subtractions: C Tyson Chandler (traded to Mavericks), PG Raymond Felton (traded to Mavericks), SG/PG Toure Murry (signed with Jazz) and PF Kenyon Martin (unsigned) Knicks Depth Chart Position Starter Bench Point Guard Jose Calderon Pablo Prigioni, Shane Larkin Shooting Guard Iman Shumpert JR Smith, Tim Hardaway, Jr. Small Forward Carmelo Anthony Cleanthony Early, Travis Outlaw Power Forward Amare Stoudemire Andrea Bargnani, Quincy Acy Centre Samuel Dalembert Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich Improbably, Phil Jackson joined the Knicks. Sure, Jackson played 12 seasons for the team and won a title in New York in 1973, but helming the Knicks is by the far the greatest challenge of Jackson’s career. The team has only flirted with relevance in the 15 years since an NBA Finals appearance in 1999 and is a long way from contending again. This isn’t the Bulls and this isn’t the Lakers. The chances of failure are considerably greater than they are for glory, which makes Jackson’s New York adventure all the more interesting. He’s not coaching the team, though. Derek Fisher is. After 18 years and five NBA titles, Fisher called time on his playing career to tackle this Knicks project. This might be a thankless job for Fisher. If the Knicks are (by some measure) successful this season, people will be falling over themselves to pass the credit along to the Zen Master, but make no mistake about it, this team you’re going to see on the floor is Derek Fisher’s team. It has to be. In saying all that, the triangle offence that the Knicks are running is very much Jackson’s. Whether it’s going to work in practice is another thing altogether when there’s no Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant on the court. The Knicks insist it can work and their superstar, Carmelo Anthony, can thrive in it. Anthony flirted with leaving Manhattan in the summer, but ultimately, discovered that the Knicks were his best fit. The issue with Anthony in the triangle isn’t so much that he can’t play it, it’s just that he hasn’t. Anthony is one of this generation’s most gifted pure scorers and he will make it work. It just depends on where. The triangle is all about ball and player movement (obviously, Anthony can’t go it alone) and Anthony could fit in best in the high post. There will be growing pains in adapting to the system for both ‘Melo and the rest of the team. The key is making sure the adjustment period is as short as possible. The Knicks are much weaker when it comes to frontcourt defence. Say what you will about Tyson Chandler mentally checking out on the Knicks, he’s still a borderline elite defender and his trade to Dallas creates a huge hole (But it also greatly upgraded the point guard position in the acquisition of Jose Calderon). Samuel Dalembert is a serviceable replacement, but you’re apt to get a Keystone Kops routine from Andrea Bagnani and Amar’e Stoudemire. Dalembert will likely have to carry a greater workload defensively than he did with the Mavericks. Still, the Knicks fancy themselves a playoff team and that’s not wishful thinking in the Eastern Conference. If they can get a good feel for the new offensive scheme quickly enough and make sure Anthony gets his touches in what is undoubtedly a set-up based on the team as a whole rather than individual pieces, the Knicks should have no problem competing for one of the final playoff spots in the East. This team has gaping holes on defence, but being just a shade better than mediocre is good enough in the East. Look for the Knicks to flirt with .500 and sneak into the postseason. Projection: Third in the Atlantic (eighth in the Eastern Conference) Philadelphia 76ers Michael Carter-Williams in 2013-14: 16.7 PPG, 6.3 APG, 6.2 RPG Coach: Brett Brown (second season) GM: Sam Hinkie (second season) Last year: 19-63, fifth in Atlantic (14th in Eastern Conference) Playoffs: Did not qualify Notable additions: C Joel Embiid (drafted), PF Dario Saric (acquired by Magic), SF/PF Luc Mbah a Moute (acquired from Timberwolves), PG/SG Alexey Shved (acquired from Timberwolves), PG Marquis Teague (acquired from Nets), Notable subtractions: PF Thad Young (traded to Timberwolves) Sixers Depth Chart Position Starter Bench Point Guard Michael Carter-Williams Tony Wroten, Marquis Teague Shooting Guard KJ McDaniels Alexey Shved, Elliot Williams, Jason Richardson (IR) Small Foward Hollis Thompson Chris Johnson, Jerami Grant Power Forward Nerlens Noel Luc Mbah a Moute, Arnett Moultrie Centre Henry Sims Brandon Davies, Joel Embiid (IR) Coming off of a season where snapping a 26-game losing streak was a highlight, you would think things couldn’t get worse for the Philadelphia 76ers, but hey, here we are. Simply put, this is team is not very good, but when you’re gonna tank, you tank all the way. Brett Brown’s team will likely be the worst team in the NBA this season, but that’s the plan. The team made no key additions and traded away one of its better players in Thad Young and, if you believe rumours, will even entertain a trade for the reigning Rookie of the Year in point guard Michael Carter-Williams. The Sixers are going to be young and cheap and look to be at the top of next year’s draft class again when the likes of Kansas’s Kelly Oubre and Michigan’s Caris LeVert will be available. Nerlens Noel could be the steal of 2013 NBA Draft when the Sixers grabbed him at sixth-overall. Prior to tearing his ACL in February, the Kentucky power forward appeared to be on course to be the first-overall pick. He fell to the Sixers and missed all of last season. There was a chance he was healthy enough to get into a couple of garbage games (Yes, probably redundant when talking about the 2013-14 Sixers) in the season’s final month, but the team took no further chances and kept him out until now. Noel has a monstrous wingspan (7’4) and could become the league’s premier shot-blocker in short order. He’s a good athlete, who isn’t afraid to fight inside and is solid on the glass. The glaring weakness on Noel’s game is a lack of polish on offence. He’s fine under the hoop, but gets the vast majority of his buckets on put-backs. He isn’t a great free-throw shooter and his post game is wanting. Still, Noel is a tantalizing building block for the future who the Sixers feel will grow at every aspect of his game, especially offensively. Their top pick this past June, Joel Embiid, is almost in a carbon copy position to what Noel was in last year. Expected to be the top pick in a very deep draft before going down with a stress fracture in his back, the Kansas pivot missed last year’s NCAA Tournament and his draft stock suffered. This was compounded by a fracture in his right foot that ensured he wouldn’t be taken over Kansas teammate Andrew Wiggins. Embiid didn’t fall as far as Noel (Philly grabbed him third-overall), but the Sixers once again believe they have the best player in a second-straight draft class. The question is, like it was with Noel, will we see Embiid this season? Though he could conceivably be ready to go in March or April, look for the Sixers to adopt a similar tact that they did with Noel and hold him out until 2015-16. One pick from this past draft that you will see is Dario Saric, acquired in a draft night trade with the Magic. An aggressive rebounder, Saric is just as capable of playing at the three as he is at the four. Great in transition and an incredibly smart player, the Sixers believe Saric will be a big part of their rebuild. The Sixers were the second-worst team in the NBA last season. This year they’re the worst. That’s okay, though, because they truly believe that short term dreadfulness will result in long-term prosperity. Let’s hope they’re right. Projection: Fifth in the Atlantic (15th in Eastern Conference) Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson in 2013-14: 10.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 28.8 MPG Coach: Dwane Casey (fourth season) GM: Masai Ujiri (second season) Last year: 48-36, first in Atlantic (third in Eastern Conference) Playoffs: Lost to Nets in first round Notable additions: SG Louis Williams (acquired from Hawks), SF James Johnson ($5M, two-year deal), SF Bruno Caboclo (drafted), C Lucas Bebe Nogueira (acquired from Hawks) and C Greg Stiemsma ($980K, one-year deal) Notable subtractions: SF John Salmons (traded to Hawks), SF Steve Novak (traded to Jazz) and PG Nando de Colo (signed with CSKA Moscow) Raptors Depth Chart Position Starter Bench Point Guard Kyle Lowry Greivis Vasquez Shooting Guard DeMar DeRozan Louis Williams Small Forward Terrence Ross James Johnson, Landry Fields, Bruno Caboclo Power Forward Amir Johnson Patrick Patterson, Tyler Hansbrough Centre Jonas Valanciunas Chuck Hayes, Greg Stiemsma, Bebe Nogueira The Toronto Raptors will sneak up on absolutely nobody this season. They are no longer a team unfettered by expectations and lowly cellar-dwellers who opponents can afford to take lightly. Dwane Casey’s team is the defending Atlantic Division champion and they’ll be treated accordingly by the rest of the Eastern Conference. After establishing a franchise-best 48 wins last season, the team bowed out in seven games in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs to an experienced Brooklyn Nets team. This left a bad taste in the mouth of the Raptors and they’re intent to build upon last year’s success. In fact, anything less than at least one series victory will be viewed as a major disappointment for the Raptors. Casey has just about everybody back. Kyle Lowry returns after his breakout season (17.9 PPG, 7.4 APG and .380 3P%, eschewing the advances of other suitors to remain in Toronto on a long term deal. With a bit of an enfant terrible reputation and a proclivity to butt heads with coaches, Lowry matured into arguably the best point guard in the Eastern Conference last season when the Raptors were unburdened by the yoke that was Rudy Gay’s .388 field goal percentage in December. Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, acquired in the deal with the Kings for Gay, also re-upped and James Johnson, not necessarily a model citizen in his first tour of duty with the club, returns to the team from the Grizzlies. Johnson will provide some sorely needed wing defence after being burned by Joe Johnson and Shaun Livingston in the playoffs. The team also bought (potentially ridiculously) low on Lou Williams. Two seasons ago, Williams was the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year as a member of the Sixers. An ACL tear would derail most of his two seasons with the Hawks, but the Raptors feel that a fully healthy Williams can provide scoring as the first man off of the bench. All Williams cost was John Salmons, who really didn’t make much of an impact of the Raptors since coming over from the Kings. Williams could prove to be a steal by Masai Ujiri. Prior to training camp (and fracturing his wrist, shelving him until December), Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal declared that he and John Wall made up the best backcourt in the NBA. DeMar DeRozan will have something to say about that. Rewarded with his first All-Star nod, DeRozan set career highs across the board last season (22.7 PPG, 4.0 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG and .305 3P%) and won a gold medal in Spain as part of USA Basketball’s FIBA World Cup contingent. The combo of Lowry and DeRozan was efficient, fun to watch and capable of turning any game on its head. While Beal and Wall and the Splash Brothers are elite tandems, the Raptors’ backcourt is certainly in the conversation for the league’s best. Jonas Valanciunas took another step towards becoming an NBA force last season (11.3 PPG and 8.9 RPG) and the team will need more of that from him this year. Valanciunas was the starting centre for the Lithuanian entry to the FIBA World Cup (enraging DeMarcus Cousins in their game against the USA) and then spent the rest of the summer working on his interior game with Hall of Famer (and former Raptor…still feels weird saying that), Hakeem Olajuwon. Valanciunas was prone to lapses at times last season, looking lost in Casey’s defensive scheme, but overall, the growth was evident. Valanciunas was 10th in the league in personal fouls and that’s a number that should come down with the third-year man starting to earn more respect from officials. Not only did the big Lithuanian grow, so did Terrence Ross. Ross’s season was highlighted by a filthy posterization of Kenneth Faried and then equaling the Raptors’ record for points in a season with 51 in a January game against the Clippers. Though it seemed that Ross struggled with confidence in the playoffs, he was a dependable third option for most of the season and even showed flashes of brilliance. His defending leaves something to be desired (and the return of Johnson will aid the Raptors in picking that up), but the team thinks there could be another gear for the lanky Ross, heading into his third pro season. A beast from beyond the arc, Casey expects Ross to drive more and attempt to get to the line this season. One key factor in the Raptors’ success last year: health. Lowry and DeRozan missed only three games apiece, while the team as a whole lost an estimated 49 man games to injury (not an official stat recorded by the NBA), putting it in the lower-10th of the league (Conversely, the Lakers lost an estimated 313). They shouldn’t count on similar results this season, as the injury bug bites everybody and doesn’t discriminate, so it will be interesting to see how the team will respond to a serious injury. The Atlantic is the Raptors’ to lose and the team should win 50 games this year barring the unforeseen. That’s all well and good, but the postseason is the benchmark for the Dinos this year. Though not in the same tier as the Cavs or Bulls, the Raptors are capable of going on a run in the East, but will not be overlooked by any opposition. Still, the 2014-15 edition of the Raptors could very well be the best edition of this club in its 20-year existence. Projection: First in the Atlantic (third in the Eastern Conference) Jack Armstrongs Pick: Kyle Lowry in 2013-14: 17.9 PPG, 7.4 APG, .380 3P% Toronto Raptors - This is a good, solid club that should grow into a team poised to make noise come the spring. The second unit is sound and their depth will carry them a long way. The Brooklyn Nets will be right on their backs, so it wont be easy. Jack Armstrongs Player to Watch: Andrea Bargnani in 2013-14 (42 games): 13.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, .442 FG% Andrea Bargnani, Knicks - This is a contract year, so its now or never. Injuries have been an issue the past few years, but motivation? Bargnani should have a ton, yet hes always been an enigma. If he stays healthy and plays to his capabilit,y he gives the Knicks a chance to make playoffs. Otherwise, a career crossroads is coming. Martin Havlat Jersey . Ontario Superior Court Case Management Master Ronald Dash released the decision on Monday, saying John McCaw Jr. must testify in front of a jury by live video conference. Moores lawyer, Tim Danson, asked the court to compel McCaw - who is based in Seattle - to testify in the case back on February 27. Brandon Saad Jersey . Dallas (2-0-1) sits atop the Western Conference with an MLS-best seven points. Castillo opened the scoring in the 71st minute off a Mauro Diaz set piece, and Watson outran defender Tony Lochhead on a long ball and then juked goalkeeper Ian Kennedy for the eventual game-winner in the 78th minute. http://www.officialblackhawksauthority.com/michal-rozsival-blackhawks-jersey-c-33/ . George Hill had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Pacers, who stayed atop the overall NBA standings despite losing twice on their West Coast trip. Los Angeles kept it close into the second half before the Pacers finished an easy win over the injury-riddled Lakers, who have lost five straight.MINNEAPOLIS - Torii Hunter is coming back to the place it all began.Hunter agreed to a $10.5 million, one-year contract to return to the Minnesota Twins, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the agreement had not yet been announced.A five-time All-Star outfielder who turns 40 in July, Hunter became a star with the Twins from 1997-07 before signing a $90 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He then signed a $26 million, two-year deal with Detroit.Congrats on @toriihunter48 going back home, tweeted Nationals outfielder Denard Span, a former Twins centre fielder who was mentored by Hunter at the start of his career.His agreement was first reported by USA Today.Even though Hunter has been gone for seven years, he always has had a special place in his heart for the organization that groomed him from an 18-year-old first-round draft pick in 1993 into one of the best defensive players of his generation. On trips back to Minnesota to play the Twins with the Angels and Tigers, Hunter always spoke fondly of his time with the Twins and was open to finishing his career at Target Field, the teams jewel of a ballpark that opened a few years after he left the Metrodome for Los Angeles.Now hes going to get that chance.In his second tour with the Twins, Hunter will be heavily relied upon to be the kind of hard-driving veteran a young clubhouse needs to set an example. The Twins have lost at least 92 games in each of the last four seasons, and the lack of leadership was a big concern for the front office and new manager Paul Molitor.During his first run with the Twins, Hunter was a vocal pillar in the clubhouse, and the team adopted his fiery mentality. He challenged teammates when he thought they were not competing, served as aa team spokesman when results were poor and, most importantly, won seven of his nine Gold Gloves while providing consistent production in the middle of the Twins order. Clark Griswold Jersey. It will be a honour to play alongside my hero growing up, Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks tweeted.Hunter isnt the same defensive dynamo he was when he left for the big payday with the Angels, but he can still swing the bat. Last season he hit .286 with 17 homers and 83 RBIs for the Tigers, numbers comparable to the two seasons before then, as well. Last season Trevor Plouffe led the Twins with 80 RBIs.His salary with Minnesota matches the average of former Twin Michael Cuddyer in his $21 million, two-year deal with the New York Mets.Hunter will be slotted into the everyday lineup as a right fielder and perhaps an occasional designated hitter, providing a bridge to a group of highly anticipated prospects that include prized centre fielder Byron Buxton, considered by many in the organization to be the next Hunter. Oswaldo Arcia, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano are among the other young players who could benefit from Hunters presence.When Molitor took over for the fired Ron Gardenhire as manager, he spoke about the need for a strong-willed group of veterans to show the youngsters how to play the right way. Molitor did the same thing for the Twins in the final two seasons of his career, which overlapped with Hunters first two seasons in a Twins uniform.Hunters return also figures to help out Joe Mauer, the face of the franchise who has always preferred to lead by example and has never been comfortable with speaking up and holding teammates accountable.Now Hunter is back to take up that responsibility, and he has the resume, the paycheque and the on-field skills to pull it off.___AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '
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