By: Justin Lester, Sports Radio KJR
(Photo: Getty Images)
- The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl tight end is reportedly playing in the preseason finale against Oakland after sitting out the first three games with a foot injury. Miller talked about his health and chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I feel 100 percent now. It’s just getting back in shape, getting back in football mode, and not so much just running to make sure it feels good. I have to make plays, make blocks, and make catches. There’s a difference.”
“There’s not much catching up to do. But the way last year finished, I really wanted to have a lot of camp time with him [Wilson]. I’ll have to get caught up with him and get on the same page because I want that relationship to keep developing.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
- Seattle’s first string right guard spot was settled when the Seahawks traded away John Moffitt, leaving the job to 24-year-old J.R. Sweezy. Head coach Pete Carroll and Sweezy spoke on the battle for the starting job, and Sweezy talked about his improvement since last season.
Carroll: “We gave him [Moffitt] a really good chance. We alternated all through camp. J.R. beat him out and did a nice job, but we would not have been able to trade like that if the young guys hadn’t been doing a good job. I think it’s really a statement about those guys growing, coming in and helping us.”
Sweezy: “He’s [Moffitt] a great friend and it’s rough to see him leave, but it’s a business, and it kind of shows how much of a business it is. Best of luck to him.”
Sweezy: “It’s unbelievable how much I didn’t know last year compared to this year. Just basic things like keying the right backers, and when the line moves, knowing the right combos to go to. I could say a million things. It’s night and day.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
Jermaine Kearse and Luke Wilson
- Kearse and Wilson each appear to have an opportunity to play a part in the Seahawks’ 2013 campaign in their first chance to play a full-time role in the NFL. Kearse, a former Washington Husky, is No. 4 on the depth chart at wide receiver and has also been getting plenty of chances to return kicks. Wilson is a rookie out of Rice who is the lead candidate at tight end in the instance that Miller is banged up. He has four catches during the preseason. Carroll spoke about using guys who have minimal experience playing in the NFL, wide receiver Golden Tate talked about Kearse’s noticeable development, and Miller spoke on Wilson’s performance during training camp.
Carroll: “The last years at USC, we played freshmen all the time. Before though, it just was kind of unheard of. A guy had to be a remarkable player on a team that just absolutely needed a guy to jump up and play. The thinking was that you didn’t want to play rookies. You wanted to bring them on slowly and not expose them too early. I don’t know why it’s changed, but it’s certainly changed in my mind. I adapted it a long time ago. As we threw guys in, we learned that if we put them in comfortable roles, they could contribute. We try to do that across the board. I think we’re going to continue to see young guys play.”
Tate: “He’s [Kearse] grown a lot. You can see it. It’s funny because a few years ago, people were saying we had one of the worst receiving cores. And I think now people are talking about us more, how explosive we are, and how many game changers we have.”
Miller: “I think he’s [Wilson] doing really well. He’s doing everything we want him to do and he’s just got to pick up some of the finer points of the game and see coverage a little bit more, but that comes with experience.”
Decided to do an intern roundtable and see what everyone thinks about certain sports topics. We will be using first names, so check out our bios if you don’t know who is who. Thanks and enjoy.
Q: Should the Mariners sell at the trade deadline?
Robin: They should sell Morales and Perez for pieces, but not anyone else. We are starting to see signs of hope in this ball club. As this core plays together longer, they will get better. Plus, Raul is the man and I want to see him retire as a Mariner.
Nate: No way. This is a team just gaining traction. Why would you derail a train when you just got the engine fixed? Raul Ibanez brings back a B prospect or a back-end starting pitcher. His production and leadership for August and September are much more valuable. Morales is an interesting situation because of Smoak’s recent success and the Mariners playing DJ Peterson at first base. If Zduriencik thinks he can re-sign Morales in the offseason then he should keep him. Oliver Perez may be dealt but that’s because he has value to contenders. If he brings back quality prospects, I don’t consider that selling.
Adam: Yes and no. I would trade Kendrys Morales. The likelihood if Morales resigning in Seattle is slim to none so I would see what kind of prospects the Mariners can get for him. I would not trade Raul Ibanez because I think the intangibles that he brings to the clubhouse are worth more than what the Mariners could get for him.
Trevor: My gut feeling: No. Many of the Mariners’ previous sales attempts have been big busts. If the front office holds on to what they have right now, I think it will show their confidence in their previous draft and free agent choices. If the Mariners start selling and jumping ship on plans they’ve set after just one year, we are sure to be constantly rebuilding.
Cameron: No, however, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t explore all options available to them. I would be totally fine with them dealing Iwakuma, if they could get a deal similar to what the Cubs got for Garza. Wedge has gone on record saying not to expect any major moves, and with the way the Mariners are playing right now, you don’t want to mess with any chemistry. I expect the Mariners try to trade Brendan Ryan, Oliver Perez, and Endy Chavez to give the team some flexibility with Morse and Gutierrez coming off the disabled list.
Justin: I could see why the Mariners want to trade Kendrys Morales, but I would love to see where this team finishes with Morales contributing. Who knows, maybe Morales will re-sign with Seattle if the Mariners continue their hot streak and finish with a respectable record.
Q: Who will be the next Mariner position player to make the All Star Game?
Robin: Nick Franklin, or I guess Officer Franklin. He has been a perfect fit for the Mariners, a type of player that could hit 20-25 HRs and .300 average at his best. That’s pretty good for a 2nd Baseman. And Cano is already 30, Franklin could get in as a utility guy.
Nate: Brad Miller. He has the best work ethic out of all the young Mariners. He is constantly getting better and will make multiple All-Star teams. Plus, shortstop is the most open position in the American League right now. J.J. Hardy and Jhonny Peralta were the two shortstops this year. Granted, Jose Reyes has been hurt and Asdrubal Cabrera and Elvis Andrus have had down years. Also, who knows if Jurickson Profar stays in the American League?
Adam: Kyle Seager is the most talented of the current young position players. The problem is that he plays the most stacked position in the American League. I am going to say it will be Mike Zunino because he has the potential to be a great defensive catcher with a solid bat.
Trevor: With the current M’s roster, all signs point to Nick Franklin. Franklin is a stellar young player with a great glove and surprising power. His unique double-flap helmet reflects a style that seems to resonate with and make him lovable in the fan’s eye. I think second base is a position in the AL that has the best competition level for Franklin (It’s not first, third, or short which are EXTREMELY strong).
Cameron: Brad Miller AKA Sergio Miller AKA Crazy Legs. Miller, 19 games in, has done a fantastic job in the lead off role, as well as fielding his position (no one expected him to field this well). Miller has the perfect combination of speed, and getting on base that the Mariners have not had since the early days of Ichiro. I expect Jeter to capture the fan vote next season (fan vote needs to be fixed), but with the American League weak at short stop, it is total conceivable that Miller could be in Minneapolis as a reserve.
Justin: I'm not sold on any of the guys on the current roster, but if I had to choose I would put my money on Kyle Seager. He's just about the only position player that seems like a lock to start next year. Seager does lead the team in a variety of offensive categories, but then again we are talking about the Mariners. It could be a while before anyone besides a pitcher is an All-Star.
Q: Will Russell Wilson continue to progress or will he have a sophomore slump?
Robin: He’ll progress, I feel all these sophomore QBs will progress. I know that never happens, but this past rookie class of QBs will never happen again. Wilson was very limited last year and without Percy Harvin as well.
Nate: Progress. I expect him to be the quarterback we saw during the second half last season and return to the Pro Bowl. He’s got so many weapons around him. Defenses may better defend running quarterbacks this year, but Wilson isn’t a run-first quarterback. He’s a passer with the ability to run. He’s smart, accurate and has taste for the moment.
Adam: I don’t think he will have a sophomore slump. I also don’t think he will improve as much as a lot of people think. He will establish himself as an above average NFL Quarterback but not as an elite one.
Trevor: Progress, Progress, Progress. Wilson is an intense competitor, who according to the Hawks’ coaching staff, has put in a lot of work this offseason. When a player, like Wilson, is dedicated and surrounded by immense talent the possibilities are endless.
Cameron: If the Seahawks did not go out and draft Christine Michael, and acquire Percy Harvin, I would have been more likely to say Russell would slump. With the weapons the Seahawks have this year, and Russell’s strong mental makeup, I would be very surprised if he slumped.
Justin: It will be hard to top his rookie campaign, but nothing points to any sort of a slump in the near future. Percy Harvin's arrival will only make Wilson's job easier. He doesn't have to carry the load as much as Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck, so I could see Wilson having another solid year.
Q: Which game are you most excited for this season?
Robin: I’ll be different and say Oct 6th against the Colts. It’ll be the first time Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck faced each other in the NFL. Both were playoff teams last year and are considered on the rise.
Nate: Week 14, at San Francisco. I expect Seattle to win at home. Beating the 49ers on the road would be the biggest win this team could have this year. It would put them up 3 games on San Fran for the division (2 wins + tiebreaker), which would mean the Seahawks probably play at home at least until the NFC Championship game.
Adam: Week two against San Francisco for sure. That is becoming the best rivalry in the game.
Trevor: November 10th, at the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons avoided disaster with a game winning field goal to end the Hawks 2012 season. You better believe this Seattle roster hasn’t forgotten what that game and crushing loss felt like. On the road again, they will be looking for revenge and I can’t wait to see the energy they bring to that road game against a great opponent.
Cameron: Is there a bigger game on the schedule then week two versus the 49ers? If so, please tweet me @CameronRohde. The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry is the best in football, and the Niners will want to avenge the ass-whopping they got the last time they came to the Clink. This game will be an early season barometer of which team will hold the NFC West crown come week 17, and I can’t wait to see who comes out on top.
Justin: I can't wait to watch the Buccaneers game on the first Sunday of November. Pete Carroll should put Richard Sherman at wide receiver for a series just to see what happens. The post-game handshake between Sherman and Darrelle Revis should be interesting.
Q: Team with the best off-season so far?
Robin: Golden State has been quiet, but the Andre Iguodala signing was perfect for that team. It brings toughness to that somewhat soft team and defense. Also, Harrison Barnes as a sixth man shows the depth.
Nate: It’s a battle between Brooklyn and Houston but I’m going to go with the Nets. The addition of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry puts them right on par with the Pacers and Bulls as challengers to the Heat. Joe Johnson is a fantastic regular season player, which will give Pierce opportunities to rest so he will be ready for a full postseason workload. Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez could give Miami fits.
Adam: This comes down to the Clippers and the Nets. I am going to go with the Clippers because they added pieces that really fit. The will have a great starting five with a very deep bench. They also added a top five coach in Doc Rivers.
Trevor: Brooklyn Nets. They have had a flurry of off season moves that I like and are too numerous to write about here. Also, we found out Jason Kidd will be making his coaching debut with Brooklyn and I’m excited to see the energy he brings to a dynamic Nets organization.
Cameron: Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have not made a bad move so far this off season. They had the opportunity of drafting number one overall in a weak draft, and came out with Anthony Bennett. Bennett may have the most potential out of anyone in the draft. The signing of Jarrett Jack, gives them flexibility and the opportunity to play Kyrie off-ball. The combo of Curry-Jack was amazing this year, and I expect the Cavs to use the combo in a similar way. The last notable off-season acquisition: the Andrew Bynum signing. With the way the contract is structured (salary is only partially guaranteed, with a team option in the second year), this is a high-reward type of signing. If Bynum can avoid bowling and tango dancing in Cleveland, then this could be a dangerous Cleveland team come playoff time.
Justin: The Nets acquiring Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett puts them in a position to contend in the Eastern Conference. Deron Williams is quietly one of the best point guards in the league, and he'll only get better playing for one of the best to ever play the position.
Q: Who will improve more, The Cougars or the Huskies?
Robin: I’ll say the Cougars, just because you really can’t digress from last season, seeing that it was pretty bad. The Cougs do have a harder schedule this year, but a year under Leach’s belt will show this year. Plus, my bold prediction is the freshman QB will start this year. And it improving doesn’t mean number of wins, it means will be better than last year.
Nate: This hurts to say but the Huskies because of the quarterbacks. Connor Halliday is awful. Keith Price is a better than what he played last year. I expect him to return to his 2011 form with an improved offensive line. I see the Huskies winning seven or eight games this year. Although the improvement will not be fully shown with wins, this will be Sarkisian’s best team.
Adam: While I don’t see either team making any giant leaps, I am going to say the Huskies. I just think they have more pieces to be competitive in the Pac-12.
Trevor: I believe WSU will see more improvement, mostly because they have more room to improve. With the Cougars coming off a disappointing season and having a well-established off season with Coach Leach, I believe the up-side is tremendous. Don’t sleep on the Huskies though. UW has some outstanding senior leadership and young players who should continue to grow with more Pac-12 experience.
Cameron: The Huskies. The offensive line play will be much improved, allowing Keith Price to have a much better season, one similar to his 2011 campaign. This, with the continued improvement of the defense under Josh Wilcox, will propel the Huskies to a 9 or 10 win year. The Cougars meanwhile, do not have the QB to take the team to new strides. They will have a similar campaign to last year but will boast an improved defense.
Justin: If the Huskies finish with seven or fewer wins for the fourth consecutive season, Steve Sarkisian could be on the hot seat. The UW has the potential to reach the Rose Bowl but could just as easily be left out of this year's postseason. I say the Huskies win eight, a slight improvement. That school on the other side of the state doesn't even cross my mind when it comes to football.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)
By: Justin Lester, Sports Radio KJR
Call me crazy for watching the NBA Summer League, but keeping an eye on the third-stringers in Orlando and Las Vegas has given me a new perspective on professional basketball.
Tony Wroten’s 1-for-14 performance against Cleveland this past Sunday insinuates that he is not ready to back up Mike Conley at point guard for the Grizzlies. Jon Brockman is in an unfavorable battle with a dozen other players for the right to be the 13th man in New Orleans next season. Brock Motum is riding the bench for Philadelphia’s summer squad, and Abdul Gaddy has scored one point in two games with the Bobcats.
It's no secret that the state of Washington is a hotbed for generating top-notch basketball talent, producing high school All-Americans and having its collegiate players get drafted almost annually. But just how hard is it to make an NBA roster?
Gaddy was rated the second best point guard prospect in his class behind John Wall, and 20-year-old Wroten was compared to Rajon Rondo after becoming the first-ever freshman to be named to the All-Pac-12 first team. Motum led the conference in scoring during his junior and senior years. Brockman was a five-star recruit by Scout.com and is the UW's all-time leading rebounder.
The NBA is point guard-driven and lacking in quality post players, yet none of these guys appear to be destined for a meaningful career in the league at the moment.
Sure, there are plenty of players with local ties whose jobs in the NBA are safe: Jamal Crawford, Klay Thompson, Spencer Hawes, Avery Bradley, and more. But only 360 people in the entire world get to suit up each night of the season. Fans in this country don’t realize how spoiled they are when they watch NBA games.
Following a remarkable postseason with the Bulls, free agent Nate Robison is drawing very little interest around the league. Think about how impressive Robinson was – especially considering his size – at the UW and during the past decade he spent in the NBA, and then try to imagine hundreds of people being undeniably better than him.
Meanwhile, former Gonzaga stars Adam Morrison, Dan Dickau, and Jeremy Pargo are each out of the league after bouncing around from team to team. Seattle natives Aaron Brooks and Terrence Williams were waived by their respective clubs in June, and Kyle Weaver is stuck in the D-League five years after being drafted 38th overall out of WSU.
My point? Just appreciate the quality of players that do get the chance to lace up their sneakers every night. The NBA is a special organization. Even among the best of the best, there are sizeable gaps between the 150 starters, the hundreds who come off the bench, and those who are forced to play overseas. The vast amount of money the stars make is well-deserved because of the countless hours they spent in the gym to reach the pinnacle of basketball.
(Photo by Nick Laham / Getty Images)
There's also a lesson to be learned for players thinking about leaving college early.
Wroten should be preparing for his junior year at the UW. Yes, there’s still an ample amount of time for him to develop NBA-caliber skills before it’s too late, but the 6-foot-6 lefty would improve so much more by playing in the Pac-12 than he will by sitting on the bench in Memphis. Wroten and former UW teammate Terrence Ross could end up just like Morrison – who left Gonzaga one year early – unless they make good impressions this season.
College guys should try to emulate the path of Brandon Roy: stay in school for all four years, improve your stock each season, get drafted in the lottery, and become an NBA All-Star. They need to realize that the NBA doesn't have room for all 60 players who get drafted each year. It's wise to wait as long as possible before making the jump.
The NBA is a cutthroat league, one that leaves numerous young men heartbroken, and one that fans must cherish while they have it. Sonics faithful can attest to this.