Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 25 No. 28

Franchises

Foster was also arrested Jan. 12 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on suspicion of marijuana possession
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

49ers CEO Jed York said that he will "ultimately make the call" on LB Reuben Foster's status with the team after the player was charged with felony domestic violence, according to Lyons, Ravani, Branch & Kawahara of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Santa Clara County officials, who charged Foster on Thursday, said that he "beat up his girlfriend and ruptured her eardrum." The incident was Foster’s "second arrest in a month." He was also "arrested Jan. 12 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on suspicion of marijuana possession." In '17, Foster "failed a drug test at the NFL combine" after allegedly submitting a diluted urine sample. The 49ers’ "wait-and-see approach to Foster’s arrest had been compared with the swift action they took last April" when they released CB Tramaine Brock a day after he was "arrested and accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend." 49ers GM John Lynch said that he was "aware of the criticism he’d taken for releasing Brock, a player he inherited, but retaining Foster," his second draft pick as GM (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/13). The 49ers are still "evaluating whether Foster will be welcomed to participate in the voluntary offseason program that opens Monday" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 4/13). Outside of being released from the 49ers, any other discipline of Foster "would have to come from the NFL" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 4/13).

SHOWING POOR FORM? In S.F., Ann Killion in a front-page piece writes under the header, "49ers' Response To Foster Charges Is Shameful." Killion: "Let me translate the 49ers’ statement for you: Don’t believe us when we say we will hold our employees accountable. Don’t believe us when we say we want to be a good community partner. Only believe that talent trumps trouble." The 49ers will "bend over backwards to accommodate a talented player whom we personally selected." The 49ers’ plan may be to "bide their time and wait out the legal process and the NFL process and hope they can someday, somehow get their prized linebacker back." If so, they will "spend that time struggling in ethical quicksand" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/13). ESPN’s Trey Wingo said the mindset among NFL personnel is "never going to change" -- the “better they think you are as a player, the more leeway they’re going to give you.” ESPN Radio’s Mike Golic noted if “half of this stuff is true” that Foster is charged with, then "why the hell is that person in the league?" He compared this situation to that of Colin Kaepernick by saying, "We’ve got people trying to get money and help others. ... They’re ostracized from the league” ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 4/13).

INACTION SAYS A LOT: THE ATHLETIC's Tim Kawakami wrote the 49ers "ducked the main issue" by deciding to "not do anything, with the football universe watching." If the 49ers braintrust had "just taken one step back, read the Santa Clara County District Attorney's description ... and thought about what the DA says happened to the victim, then the decision should have been simple." Kawakami: "It should have been morally and ethically clear" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/12). In San Jose, Dieter Kurtenbach writes the 49ers have, again, "sided with Foster when the writing on the wall is easy-to-read and says to do the opposite." Kurtenbach: "Do they believe that the DA is overzealous? If so, that’s one a bold-as-hell stance for the organization to take." The 49ers had 14 players arrested between '12-16 -- the most in the NFL -- and coach Kyle Shanahan and Lynch "promised they would change the culture in Santa Clara when they took over the team last offseason" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 4/13).

WAITING TO DECIDE? ESPN’s Jeff Saturday said the 49ers are handling the situation "the best way they can” by waiting for the legal process "to play out” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 4/12). However, BLEACHER REPORT's Mike Tanier asked, "Are teams still waiting for convictions before they act upon charges of violent crimes? And if the charges are eventually dropped ... do the 49ers plan to pretend to act like nothing happened and that Foster doesn't have a profoundly troubling pattern of behavior?" Tanier: "It's as if the Ray Rice incident never happened. Or Greg Hardy. Or Josh Brown. We were supposed to have learned all of these lessons and gotten smarter. What happened?" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 4/12).

Alibaba co-Founder Joe Tsai has "finally completed his long-pending purchase" of 49% of the Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov, along with the "right to buy controlling interest in the team within three years," according to Brian Lewis of the N.Y. POST. A source said that the deal values the Nets at $2.35B -- a "record for the NBA" -- and "does not include Barclays Center." The purchase -- unanimously approved by the NBA BOG -- is being made from Tsai's "personal fortune." Prokhorov for now "remains the controlling owner." Prokhorov earlier this season had said that Tsai would be "good for the league," while NBA Commissioner Adam Silver "noted the impact he could have on the Nets’ continued international push" (N.Y. POST, 4/13). CNBC’s Mike Santoli said, "You’re nobody in (Silicon) Valley if you don’t have a stake in an NBA team.” CNBC’s Melissa Lee: “It’s the thing to do” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 4/13).

Perry (l) and Mills are looking to hire a coach who will be able to connect to today's players
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The Knicks after firing coach Jeff Hornacek are "taking a patient approach" to rebuilding, rather than "looking for 'quick fixes' that have hampered" the organization in recent years, according to Chris Iseman of the Bergen RECORD. That starts with "hiring a new head coach" to replace Hornacek, who was hired by former team President Phil Jackson and fired after just two seasons. When it comes to hiring a new coach, accountability and communication "will be among the factors" Knicks President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are "hoping to improve." They also want to "hire someone who can connect with 'today's players.'" And they "want to bring in a coach who will embrace all parts of the organization." Mills "maintained their plan has gotten approval" from Knicks Owner James Dolan (Bergen RECORD, 4/13). In N.Y., George Willis writes this is the "moment Mills has been groomed for -- the chance to step out of the shadows" of Jackson and Dolan, and "prove he can be more than just a loyal lieutenant." His hiring of Perry as the GM in July "seems to be a good fit, absent of the power struggles that have hurt the Knicks in the past" (N.Y. POST, 4/13). Also in N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes the "unwritten rule is that a front office is allowed one coaching change before the responsibility turns heavy." Two is the "max." Mills and Perry "have their shot and are already making phone calls" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/13). In New Jersey, Steve Popper writes, "While we wonder just how the next coach will end up different it’s worth remembering what is the same." Dolan is "still running the show" (Bergen RECORD, 4/13).

IT'S A KIND OF MAGIC: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes the Magic, who fired head coach Frank Vogel on Thursday, are "no closer to being a playoff team today than they were on the day Dwight Howard left." In fact, they are in "worse shape -- much worse shape -- now than they were six years ago." Give Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman "credit, he’s not sugarcoating where the Magic are as a franchise." He admitted that a new coach "won’t make much [of] a difference until the roster is significantly upgraded." It is "pretty clear Weltman knows he took over a team" that has been "sucked into the abyss" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/13).

Virtually every level of the Orioles organization is "in flux, and some with the club believe the ongoing transformation will leave the franchise in a better place," according to sources cited by Ken Rosenthal of THE ATHLETIC. Orioles Chair & CEO Peter Angelos, who turns 89 on July 4, is "less involved than at any point in his tenure, which began" in '93. Angelos has "not appeared regularly at his law office, his principal workplace, since around the first of the year." Angelos’ sons, Exec VP & COO John Angelos and Ownership Representative Lou Angelos, are "taking a more active role in the operation of the club, accelerating the decision-making process while methodically gathering information about each department." Orioles VP/Baseball Operations Brady Anderson "continues to assume significant responsibility," while Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette "appears to be losing influence." Anderson, not Duquette, was the "point man in the signings" of free-agent Ps Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman and Alex Cobb. Angelos’ sons have "been involved with the Orioles for some time, but concerns exist in the industry about their ability to run a franchise." Neither son is a "seasoned baseball executive." Peter Angelos was "always the dominant force in the organization, ceding little responsibility." The Orioles’ recent "introduction of their innovative 'Kids Cheer Free' program is viewed by some as the type of idea that Peter Angelos never would have implemented, fearing a loss of revenue" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/13).

Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Pierre Dorion on Wednesday held two more town hall talks with season-ticket holders, and the "most interesting topic was LeBreton Flats and the future for the new downtown arena because the Senators would like [to] have shovels in the ground" midway through '19, according to Bruce Garrioch of the OTTAWA SUN. The RendezVous LeBreton Group and National Capital Commission "reached an agreement in principle in January to finalize a deal to redevelop the land 10 minutes west of downtown, and the two sides are now working on finalizing that deal." But Melnyk indicated that the deal "isn’t close." Melnyk: "It’s a very difficult, much more than I thought, process. It’s not the NCC that’s holding it up. They’ve actually been very, very good throughout this whole process. The problems we’re finding there are much more complicated than I can describe to you." Melnyk said that he will "continue to try to get the LeBreton deal across the finish line." At the end of the town hall talks, Melnyk "indicated he’d like to do this two or three times a year to get the club’s message directly to the most important stakeholders in the team." The reviews on social media "are mixed." But Garrioch wrote, "You have to give the Senators credit for giving people access because that doesn’t happen in every NHL market" (OTTAWA SUN, 4/12). In Ottawa, Ken Warren wrote many season-ticket holders and Melnyk "don't see eye to eye on the state of the franchise." Meeting with the "most dedicated base of supporters and directly answering some of their issues surrounding the team and arena is a positive" (OTTAWA SUN, 4/12).

Golden Knights' helmet came onto the ice with a red glow in the interior edged with yellow lighting
Photo: GOLDEN KNIGHTS

A 20-foot-tall Golden Knights helmet was lowered from the T-Mobile Arena rafters to introduce players prior to their postseason debut against the Kings on Wednesday, and a team exec said that the club will "deploy the gigantic knight helmet prop before each of the remaining home playoff games," according to Alan Snel of LVSPORTSBIZ.com. The helmet made a 45-second descent as the team's "ominous intro music played" before Game 1, and its "dramatic delivery and its arrival on the ice came off well-choreographed with a red glow in the helmet’s interior edged with yellow lighting." Nevada-based Water FX Special Projects Estimator Robert Waroway, who oversees large-scale props at the firm, said that the team "started planning the giant helmet prop about 12 weeks ago." Waroway said that to deliver the giant helmet to the ice in a "timely manner, new motors were replaced in the arena ceiling so that the helmet could be delivered in 45 seconds instead of the seven minutes it would have taken with the original motors." The prop was "such a crowd-pleaser that the Golden Knights are working on making a mini helmet replica of the prop to sell." Golden Knights CMO Brian Killingsworth said it “might be more of a next season item." Waroway said that the helmet will "have a fog effect working that will make it appear as if the players are hitting the ice through a haze of smoke" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 4/12).

In Cleveland, Chris Fedor notes the Cavaliers "unveiled their new playoff slogan ... 'Whatever it Takes.'" The new slogan "becomes the latest theme, just as 'All In' and 'Defend the Land' were used in past playoff runs." Signage went up Friday morning on the "exterior of Quicken Loans Arena, with massive banners and window wraps to [be] displayed all around the arena" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/13).

BETTER DAYS AHEAD: In Edmonton, Terry Jones notes Oilers CEO & Vice Chair Bob Nicholson gave a "public vote of confidence" when he announced that President of Hockey Operations & GM Peter Chiarelli would return next season. In doing so, however, the Oilers left coach Todd McLellan "hanging in limbo." Nicholson has previously "offered the opinion that the Oilers made far too many coaching changes during the decade of darkness." He said this is about "going forward, starting with the decision to keep Chiarelli at the helm" (EDMONTON SUN, 4/13).

TROUBLING TREND: BLEACHER REPORT's Mike Freeman noted Panthers LB Thomas Davis "received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy." Players suspect the NFL is "paying close attention to the Panthers because of the team's recent history." Panthers DE Charles Johnson received a four-game suspension in '17 for violating the league's PED policy, while G Chris Scott was suspended for four games for a PED violation in '16 and DE Wes Horton received the same punishment in '15. The league "watches these sort of trends closely" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 4/11).