Steph Curry signs well-deserved mammoth contract with Warriors

The NBA’s free agency period officially began Friday night at 12:01 a.m. and the Warriors instantly made headlines by signing their star player to the largest contract in NBA history.

After playing with a very franchise-friendly four-year, $44 million contract, point guard and 3-pointer machine Steph Curry signing a deal Friday which will net him $201 million over the next five years.

These totals make him the highest paid athlete per year in North America right now in addition to being the highest paid player in the NBA, beating out LeBron James by about $7 million in that department.

It should come as no surprise that the Warriors were willing to give Curry the money considering the tear he has been on for the past three years.

Curry has become one of the most dominant offensive weapons in basketball, hitting an astonishing 1,012 3-pointer since 2014 and leading the Warriors to two NBA championships in the last three years.

Curry also garnered two MVPs in that time including becoming the first-ever unanimous MVP in 2016.

Granted, Curry is not the only one who deserves credit for the Warriors’ success. Klay Thompson has been almost as proficient from behind the arc, Draymond Green has become a defensive force who can also punish people inside and players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have provided valuable veteran experience on the court.

The addition of Kevin Durant during the 2016 offseason transformed the Warriors from one of the top teams in the league to a dominant team which ran over everyone en route to the 2017 NBA championship.

However, Curry is the man through which the offense runs through and it is his combination of deadliness from long-range and dangerous passing acumen which has helped turn the Warriors into one of the best teams in basketball for the past three years.

Now the Warriors still have some decisions to make in free agency with the next focus likely on Durant, who declined his player option for next season to structure a favorable deal which will benefit the Warriors in free agency.

Iguodala also sits on the free agency bubble as another member of the Warriors core, but it is hard to see him going anywhere else and he will likely take a veteran discount to stay with the Warriors.

Livingston was another question mark for the Warriors going into free agency, but a three-year, $24 million deal was reported Friday which will keep him around as another versatile option for them.

Assuming these deals go through, the Warriors will return to the court in 2017 with all of their pieces intact and seemingly set for a third title in four years unless another team finds a way to match them from a pure talent perspective.

Curry’s payday is well-deserved given what he has done for the Warriors during his career and it sets up the Warriors to continue their stay at the top of the NBA pecking order.

Kevin Durant joins Warriors to form latest super-team

After weeks of speculation and rumors about where he would play in 2016, Kevin Durant announced Monday he would be signing with the Golden State Warriors.

The contract, which is reportedly for 2 years and $54.5 million, is not the largest one of this year’s free agency period. That honor goes to Mike Conley who rode 13 points and five assists per game to a five-year, $153 million contract with the Grizzlies.

However, it may be the most important contract of the offseason as it brings Durant onto a Warriors team which won 73 games in the regular season before losing to the Cavaliers in seven games in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors only real free agency loss this season will likely be Harrison Barnes, who is rumored for a max contract with the Dallas Mavericks, and the addition of Durant makes the Warriors a super-team.

Durant has been an offensive force since joining the NBA as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, averaging 27 points and four assists per game while also throwing in seven rebounds per appearance.

The Warriors starting five will be hard to top as it will likely now have two-time MVP Steph Curry, three-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson, the aforementioned Durant, all-around player Draymond Green and the underrated Andrew Bogut.

Super-teams have become a more common occurrence over the last ten years or so, but few have been as stacked from top-to-bottom.

The Celtics built one around Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and rode them to two finals appearance in 2008 and 2010 with an NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Miami Heat created their own Big Three when they signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwayne Wade. The Heat took advantage of James in his prime to make four consecutive finals from 2011 to 2014 including two championships in 2012 and 2013.

LeBron was part of another Big Three, and one which is still going, when he returned to Cleveland in 2014 and was joined by Kyrie Irving and a traded-for Kevin Love.  The Cavaliers have made finals appearance the last two years and are the current NBA champions.

However, what the Warriors have now assembled has the potential to top them all because the other recent super-teams have been defined by a Big Three, but the Warriors arguably now what can be described as a Big Four with Curry, Thompson, Green and Durant.

Time will tell if this new version of the Warriors can co-exist and function at a same or higher level as the Warriors of last season did. History shows us that super-teams usually take at least one year of working together before they bring home a championship.

Regardless of how the Durant deal works out down the line, for now the Warriors are the clear favorite for the NBA championship in the 2016-2017 season.

Bold predictions for NFL free agency

By Sam Cowan

NFL free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. EST Wednesday and, just like every year, it has the potential to shake up rosters and shift the hopes of football fans around the country.

The free agency period is the next major step in the NFL offseason schedule and the player movements will be major storylines until the NFL Draft at the end of April.

While there will be an almost-innumerable number of roster moves between now and the start of the 2016 preseason, there are some which will hold more weight than others. Here are five bold predictions on what will happen in free agency between now and the end of April.

Robert Griffin III finds a new home with the Rams

When Griffin was benched in favor of Kirk Cousins for the 2015 season, I wrote a column about his career up to that point.

Given how Cousins performed throughout 2015, it came as no surprise when the Redskins made the decision to cut Griffin and his $16 million guaranteed contract. While Griffin’s last few years in Washington were not pretty, his career is far from over.

I see Griffin finding a home with the Los Angeles Rams as their new starting quarterback because I doubt Rams ownership wants Case Keenum or Nick Foles leading the charge in their return to Los Angeles.

For those scoring at home, the Redskins got Griffin after making a blockbuster trade with the Rams which saw the Rams receive a total of eight draft picks and now it looks like they will get Griffin anyway. I think it’s safe to say the Rams won that trade by a mile.

Johnny Manziel stays a free agent

It’s been a rocky two years in Cleveland for Johnny Manziel.

While his 2015 season was arguably better than his rookie campaign on the field in 2014, Manziel faced plenty of issues off the field including entering rehab, partying when he promised the Browns he wouldn’t, alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend and he even had Nike drop him as a sponsor.

Now with new head coach Hue Jackson making it clear the organization will not tolerate his behavior anymore, Manziel is a certainty to be cut.

Given his track record off the field and his general lack of success as a starter, I find it highly unlikely anyone will pick him up. Some desperate team might prove me wrong, but I don’t see it happening.

Brock Osweiler gets a nice new contract from the Broncos

I would argue the biggest winner from Peyton Manning’s official retirement was Brock Osweiler. The 25-year-old was in contract limbo with an expiring contract upcoming and the Broncos uncertain about whether they would need him to be their starter.

With Manning gone, a lack of big-name quarterbacks in free agency and no fantastic prospects in the draft, I think the Broncos will fall all over themselves to offer Osweiler a new contract.

The Broncos couldn’t give him the franchise tag due to the equally valuable Von Miller also hitting free agency, but I think they will still do everything in their power to get him on a long-term deal.

We will still be talking about Deflategate when the offseason ends

I thought we were done with this in 2015. Roger Goodell and the NFL gave Tom Brady a slightly frivolous four-game suspension, Brady lost his appeal, Brady brought the appeal to court, the NFL lost and the suspension was voided before the start of the season.

Now here we are, one month after the season ends and Deflategate is back in the news with the NFL appealing the appeal decision. The crazy thing is the judges seem to have sided with the NFL during the proceedings and we could see the suspension come back for the 2016 season.

If that happens, we will likely see Brady take this case to the next level of the courts and this will continue ad nauseam. We won’t even hear the ruling on the current appeal for a few weeks or months while the judges deliberate.

I want to remind everyone this all started over some underinflated balls in a 38-point blowout and has turned into one of the biggest courtroom dramas in sports history.

Nobody will replace Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson or Peyton Manning

The number of great players who have called it a career in the past three months has been astounding. Woodson and Manning both completed incredible 18-year careers which place them among the greatest players at their positions ever.

Johnson’s career was much shorter at only nine years, but he still put together an absolutely incredible career which changed the way defensive backs played against receivers.

They aren’t the only players leaving the game either. Marshawn Lynch, Heath Miller, Logan Mankins and Jared Allen have all rode off into the sunset this season with Hall of Fame caliber resumes.

One thing’s for sure, the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot will be one for the ages as you could make arguments for all six of these players making it into the hall someday.

The league will continue on as new players keep cycling through to replace the old, but it will be a while before any of these players are truly forgotten.