Detroit Tigers Reportedly Interested in Doug Fister

Per a Tweet form ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Detroit Tigers are interested in free agent pitcher Doug Fister.

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It would be a reunion for the two sides as Fister pitched for the Tigers for two and a half years from midway 2011 through 2013. During his time in Motown, the right-handed pitcher won 32 games while posting a sparkling 3.29 ERA. His FIP was an even-more impressive 3.20. While he isn’t a pitcher who will pile on the strikeouts, Fister works fast and keeps the ball in the yard. In 2011 he led the league with only 0.5 home runs allowed per nine innings. Fister spent the second half of that season in Detroit where he went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and a 57 strikeouts compared to only five walks.

Additionally, the former Mariner transformed into a standout playoff performer with the Tigers. Fister posted a 2.98 ERA in 48.1 postseason innings with Detroit. His team was 6-2 in those contests.

While he thrived on the field, most fans will remember how cheaply Fister was acquired.

Dave Dombrowski acquired the starter (along with David Pauley) for Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and Casper Wells. Furbush is an effective reliever for the Mariners, but that’s about all Seattle received. Both Wells and Ruffin last appeared in the majors in 2013 while Martinez never reached the big leagues with Seattle. He was dealt back to Detroit in 2013.

Fister also left Detroit in a one-sided trade. Dombrowski dealt him to the Washington Nationals for Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi and Robbie Ray. Only Krol remains with the Tigers, and he posted a 5.79 ERA and a 5.17 FIP last season.

Doug Fister is now a free agent after his contract with the Washington Nationals expired. The team didn’t extend a qualifying offer to the pitcher, making him free to sign without surrendering a draft pick.

In addition to not costing a draft pick, Fister will also be comparatively cheap. His value will have gone down after going 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts for the Nationals this season. Opponents hit .302 off him during those starts. He was relegated to the bullpen after that stretch.

(You May Also Like: Why the Tigers Should Sign Doug Fister in the Offseason)

While not as expensive as David Price or Zack Greinke, Doug Fister could provide the Tigers with the rotation upgrade the team has been seeking.

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All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Ben is on Twitter. He promises that he doesn’t always refer to himself in the third person.

Khedira and Dybala Transfers Step in Right Direction for Juventus

Sami Khedira and Paulo Dybala have both been linked with Champions League finalist Juventus, and now according to the Guardian’s Ed Aarons, the Bianconeri could announce the announce the signings soon.

(RELATED: 2015 Champions League Final Storylines to Watch: #Juventus vs #Barcelona)

Both are monumental signings for the club and signal a step in the right direction for Juventus. Here are just a few reasons why the signings are good for the Old Lady.

Transfer Fees

Sami Khedira is about to join a select club that features the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Fernando Llorente and Kingsley Coman. What do an Italian, a Spaniard and two Frenchman have in common? They were all signed on free transfers by Beppe Marotta.

Adding Khedira, a player who at 28 has already won the Bundesliga, La Liga, the Champions League and the World Cup, for no money may go down as one of Marotta’s best acquisitions. It probably would have been his best if he, you know, hadn’t acquired Pirlo and Pogba for a combined zero dollars/euros/pounds.

While Khedira is arriving on a free transfer, Dybala’s fee isn’t public knowledge. It’s likely in the €30 million range, and while that may seem like a ton of cash, the soon-to-be former Palermo striker has world-class upside. In five years, he and Alvaro Morata may provide Juve with the most dangerous attacking duo in world football.

If you still don’t like the fact that Juve paid €30 million for a player, just think of Dybala and Khedira’s signings as a package deal. Paying €30 million combined for the two is a steal.

Beating the Competition

The perception of Premier League teams, at least the upper-echelon ones, is that they can buy pretty much whoever they want. These British teams are flush with cash and generally can pry international players away from their old teams. However with Khedira and Dybala, two of the most typed/printed names in the transfer rumor sections, set to join Italian giants Juventus, it represents a major win for Juve.

Both have been linked with big-money spenders Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United with Dybala also being targeted by Liverpool.

Depth

Maybe the biggest positive about signing Khedira and Dybala is that neither represent a current area of need for the Old Lady.

The midfield is set with Pirlo, Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and Roberto Pereyra, but Khedira adds extra quality and a player who will push for a starting spot in a midfield that is quickly becoming one of the best in Europe.

Dybala joins a similarly talented attack force that includes the likes of Morata, Coman, Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.

It is completely feasible that neither player is a consistent starter for Juventus next season given the talent on the team, but the club will need depth and rotation for a shot at potential back-to-back trebles.

(RELATED: #Juventus Transfer Rumors: Players Who Could Leave Turin in the Summer Transfer Window)

Selling Club

Khedira and Dybala weren’t brought in as replacements for outgoing players and arrived before any departures, signaling that Juve has no desire to be a selling club.

Given the economic state of Italian football, it may not seem like Juve are prime candidates to be a buying club, but that’s exactly what the Bianconeri are doing.

Additionally, the club must have seen what happened to other clubs who made the Champions League final in past seasons and then saw their squads disassemble.

Borussia Dortmund lost Mario Gotze the season after reaching the final and saw Robert Lewandowski leave soon after. The German giants are set to lose manager Jurgen Klopp with Ilkay Gundogan likely to follow him out the door. In terms of the Champions League, they haven’t made it past the quarter-finals since losing to Bayern in the final.

Similarly, Atletico Madrid weren’t the same team this season after making it to the Champions League Final last term. Thibaut Courtois returning to Chelsea was a given after a long loan spell, but Atleti also lost Diego Costa and Felipe Luis to the west London club while David Villa departed for MLS club New York City F.C.

Atleti beat Barcelona by three points in last season’s title race, but finished 16 points behind the Catalan club as they finished third. Atletico also finished 14 points off cross-town rivals Real Madrid for second place.

Even if Pirlo leaves as rumored, Juve won’t lose much of their core, or first team at that. Adding Khedira and Dybala only strengthens the team ahead of next season.

For more Juventus, click here. For more from the world of Serie A, click here. For more Soccer/Football, click here. For Vine videos (including Champions League highlights and Europa League highlights), click here.

Three Stats from the Detroit Tigers 3-2 Loss vs the Houston Astros

  • Seven

The total number of baserunners by the Tigers. The team had six hits and a walk. Jose Iglesias and Miguel Cabrera each reached base twice with Iglesias notching two hits while Cabrera had a hit and a walk.

  • Zero

Another clean day for the bullpen as Al Alburquerque, Tom Gorzelanny and Blaine Hardy all pitched scoreless innings. They combined to strike out seven hitters in just 3.1 innings pitched.

  • One

The number of triple plays grounded into by the Tigers, who couldn’t seem to get their offense going against the ‘Stros.

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Three Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-2 Win vs the Houston Astros

  • Three

The number of RBI by cleanup hitter J.D. Martinez. The outfielder also added two hits and scored a run.

  • Five

The number of Tigers hitters with multiple hits in the game. Anthony Gose, Miguel Cabrera, Martinez, Rajai Davis and James McCann all had two hits apiece. Detroit totaled 12 hits on the day.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny each threw perfect innings. Each had a strikeout as well.

For more Tigers, click here. For more baseball, click here. For more Tigers stats, click here. 

Detroit Tigers: Don’t Count the Tigers Out of the Playoffs

Thanks to the Kansas City Royals being reigning American League Champions and the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians making significant improvements in the offseason, the trendy pick is to not pick the Tigers to win their fifth consecutive AL Central crown. Another trendy pick, thanks to a vastly improved Central division, is to leave the Tigers out of the playoffs completely.

This may not be the most prudent of selections.

Everything comes to an end at some point, but do you really think the Tigers are going to let an unprecedented fifth straight division title slip away? Granted there have been some close calls in the past, but this year’s team has the mental advantage of having something to prove. Manager Brad Ausmus was still ticked that they got swept in January and says the team can be “successful and widely respected” and “still have that proverbial chip on its shoulder.”

So there’s the fact that they got swept in the first round as a rallying point after making three straight American League Championship Series. That run included a trip to the World Series and another October dream that came up just short thanks to other-worldly, clutch hitting from the Boston Red Sox. There’s also some of the whole “everyone says were through” business floating around as well.

The Tigers may be the best team not to win a World Series in the last decade. Since 2006, the Tigers have won at least 86 games every season with the exception of anomalies in 2008 and 2010. One of those seasons’ high draft pick that came as a result of a poor record netted the team Jacob Turner, who was used as the centerpiece of the Anibal Sanchez trade. Sanchez is one of the Tigers’ best pitchers and one of the most underrated hurlers in the league. He’s been one of the catalysts of Detroit’s recent success.

(RELATED: My ancient reaction “column” on the Sanchez/Omar Infante Trade).

Detroit’s baseball team wants a World Series title, leaving them out of playoff predictions is foolish. Obviously the predictions don’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but the point is you shouldn’t be counting out the Tigers.

Detroit’s main competition for the division crown will come from Kansas City, Chicago and Cleveland. I’m sorry Minnesota, but even before being obliterated over the first two games of the season, you weren’t close to the pack.

The Royals essentially replaced James Shields, Nori Aoki and Billy Butler with Edinson Volquez, Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales. That’s secret code for a step down. Kansas City still has a good defense and bullpen, but they won’t be the same team. The fact that the Royals only managed six wins in 18 games against the Tigers doesn’t bode well for KC’s chances.

Chicago added some exciting pieces over the offseason in Melky Cabrera, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Zach Duke and Adam LaRoche. Add those to a core that features Chris Sale and Jose Abreu and you have the makings of a playoff team—however the team was swept by Kansas City to start the year and lost the series by a cumulative score of 21-6.

It’s still extremely early, but the White Sox are going take time to mesh. Given how competitive the Central is, they may be too far behind once they mesh to make a run at the division title. It would surprise no one if the Sox made the playoffs, but right now they aren’t the well-oiled machine that Detroit, Kansas City or even Cleveland is.

Speaking of Cleveland, the Indians added Brandon Moss to fill a need offensively. Cleveland essentially swapped out Jason Giambi for Moss. This trade off will help the team, but the Indians have holes just like everyone else. Shortstop Jose Ramirez isn’t exactly a world-beater offensively while the Tribe’s outfield is hit and miss. Michael Brantly was an All Star last season, but outside of him there are definite question marks.

Michael Bourn arrived in Cleveland as a career .272 hitter who averaged 39 stolen bases a season. His best season came in 2011 when he hit .294 with 61 stolen bases for Houston and Atlanta. From 2009 to 2011 the speedster averaged 58 swipes a season. Last season Bourn led the league in triples with 10, but hit .257, drove in a measly 28 runs and posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 114/32. He only stole 10 bases.  

Bourn isn’t alone in the outfield in terms of seeing his numbers dip upon arrival in Ohio. David Murphy was able to rebound from a down season in Texas during his first year with the Indians, but was unable to replicate the success he’d found earlier in his career when he hit .283 from 2008 to 2012. He averaged 14 home runs and 61 runs driven in per season over that span while swiping 10 bags a season. Murphy only managed 8 bombs, 58 RBI and a .262 average last season.

Like Bourn, Nick Swisher entered the Tribe as a quality hitter. He hit .272 in his last season in New York and made the All Star team in 2010 with a .288 batting average. In his first season in Cleveland (2013), Swisher hit .246. His RBI numbers went from 93 in his last season with the Yankees to 63 in his first season with the Indians. That’s right, his RBI total dropped by thirty. Swisher struggled mightily in 2014, posting a mere 8 home runs and 42 RBI. He was limited to only 97 games, but he only hit .208 and posted an ugly 111/36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Cleveland’s other two outfielders, Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles, hit .200 and .247 respectively last season.

The heart of the Indians’ order (Brantly, Yan Gomes, Moss and Carlos Santana) can holds its own against most teams, but the Tribe will need other positions to step up offensively if they’re going to seriously contend. Based on the outfield’s struggles last season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cleveland fall short again.

Counting the Tigers out of playoffs probably isn’t a smart thing to do. Kansas City isn’t what they once were while the White Sox have yet to mesh and the Tribe have holes on offense. Expect another American League Central Title and another playoff berth for the Tigers this season. Did I mention they haven’t allowed an earned run yet this season?

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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5 Stats to Know from the Detroit Tigers’ 11-0 Win over the Minnesota Twins

 

  1. 4

The number of runs scored by catcher Alex Avila. Avila went 1-for-1 with three walks. His batting average on the season is .750. Shortstop Jose Iglesias had four hits for the Tigers. Avila and Iglesias, the team’s 8 and 9 hitters, combined to go 5-for-5 with four walks and seven runs scored. This is a good trend.

  1. 3

The number of hits by center fielder Anthony Gose in his Tigers debut. The former Blue Jay finished a home run short of the cycle. He also scored a run and drove in three runs while batting leadoff.

  1. .500

Ian Kinsler’s batting average over the first two games. The second baseman has multi-hit games in both contests this season while also contributing two runs scored, a double and four runs batted in—most of which came on Wednesday.

  1. 2

The number of runs driven in by Miguel Cabrera after going hitless in the first game. The future Hall of Famer drove in two runs on two hits, one of which was a double. He also registered a walk.

  1. 1

The number of hits allowed by four Detroit relievers after Anibal Sanchez threw 6.2 innings of 3-hit ball. Angel Nesbitt, Ian Krol,Al Alburquerque and Joakim Soria shut down the Twins in relief with Alburquerque allowing the only hit. Krol and two strikeouts in his inning of work while Alburquerque also struck out a batter.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011 Recruiting Class Paying Massive Dividends for Mark Few & Zags

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have never quite been able to recruit the same level of talent out of high school as the likes of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas, however GU has firmly cemented its place alongside those three schools in the College Basketball hierarchy by recruiting players who not only fit their system and culture, but players that they can develop.

The Zags also tend to find gems on the international market with future NBA players Ronny Turiaf, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre all coming from outside the states. The Zags have two future NBA players on their roster in European big men Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis.

Despite the lack of McDonalds All-Americans, Mark Few has put together impressive recruiting classes in the past. 2007 brought Sacre and another future NBA player in Austin Daye as well as fellow top-100 recruit Steven Gray who flourished as one of the team’s best players.

While the 2011 class didn’t bring the size that 2007’s brought, the group of players to arrive in Spokane in 2011 has helped propel GU to its first Sweet 16 since 2009. This year’s incarnation of Gonzaga may be Mark Few’s best, and could reach the school’s first Final Four. While a lot of this has to do with the Zags’ daunting frontline, featuring a three-headed monster of Karnowski, Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer, a lot of it has to do with the backcourt.

Starting guards, and products of the 2011 recruiting class, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. have sacrificed a lot in order to make the team better. Both have seen their per-game scoring numbers drop by nearly three points each. Bell Jr. is often tasked with checking the opposition’s best permitted defender while Pangos rarely gets a breather, playing 35 or minutes on 22 occasions this season.

Despite their sacrifices, Pangos and Bell Jr. form one of the best backcourts in the country.

Pangos is an unflappable floor-general who is lethal from three-point land (44.9% this season) and can beat you off the dribble with a potent array of layups and floaters. If Gonzaga weren’t incredibly blessed with a wealth of scoring options, it would surprise no one to see Pangos’ per-game scoring approach 20 points. Oh yeah, he’d probably start on just about every team in the country… including Kentucky.

His backcourt mate Bell Jr. is one of the best defenders in the country. Despite a 6’2” frame that puts him at a height disadvantage, Bell Jr. can lock down almost anyone on the perimeter. Just ask BYU’s Tyler Haws, who despite having a height advantage of three inches and being one of the best scores in the country, struggled mightily against the Zags due to the presence of Bell Jr. Haws’ bread and butter is the contested mid-range jumper, but he managed shooting nights of 6-14, 3-11 and 4-12 against Gonzaga. And oh yeah, Bell Jr. can knock down the three as well. He shot 47.7% as a freshman and still manages a similarly deadly 37.7 clip this season. Similar to Pangos, if GU had fewer weapons or if Bell Jr. were at a bigger school with less firepower, he’d likely be a 15 point-per-game scorer.

In addition to Pangos and Bell Jr., Few also brought in Idaho native Kyle Dranginis as well.  Dranginis operates as the team’s hustle monger off the bench, always challenging for offensive rebounds, loose balls and blocked shots despite being shorter than a good portion of the opposition. He only averages 4.1 points a contest, but if it weren’t for the presence of USC-transfer Byron Wesley, Dranginis would be starting and easily averaging double-figures in points per game. Despite only scoring three points in the team’s round-of-32 win over Iowa, he had a steal, a block, two rebounds and four assists. He fills the stat sheet for the Zags. In win at Sweet Sixteen opponent UCLA in December, Dranginis totaled five points, six rebounds and five assists. He also had a steal and a made three pointer.

Due to freshman Josh Perkins’ broken jaw and Eric McClellan’s acclimation process, Few has largely depended on a backcourt rotation of Pangos, Bell Jr. and Dranginis down the stretch.

In addition to those three, GU’s 2011 recruiting class is also paying dividends elsewhere. Forward Ryan Spangler transferred to Oklahoma to be closer to home and has helped the Sooners to the Sweet Sixteen with 9.9 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per contest. He posted seven double-doubles this season and reached double-figures in rebounding in 12 contests.

The remaining members of the 2011 class have propelled the Zags to a point where they can reach the program’s first final four. They’ve definitely earned it.

Gonzaga Sweet Sixteen: Stats to Know from Zags First Two Wins

  • 20

20, the number of rebounds by freshman Domantas Sabonis over the first two games. The burgeoning star also poured in 27 points over the weekend, including 18 in the round of 32 trashing of Iowa.

  • 34

24, the number of points scored by Kevin Pangos in the opening two games, including a whopping eight three pointers with four coming in teach game. Pangos handed out eight assists and only turned the ball over twice.

  • 23

23, points scored by Kyle Wiltjer in the opening round win over North Dakota State. Wiltjer outdid himself in the next round, posting 24 points in the win over Iowa. The former Kentucky Wildcat dropped 57 points on a mere 24 shots. Overall he’s 18-for-24. Talk about efficiency.

  • 2

2, maybe the most important stat of all, Gonzaga recorded two wins over the first two games of the tournament, advancing to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2009.

  • 62.5

62.5, the percentage GU shot from distance in the 87-68 thumping of Iowa.

For more March Madness coverage from Know Hitter, click here. You can also view my tournament picks (some good some bad) for the West and South Regions here, my picks for the Midwest and East regions can be found here. My largely intact Final Four picks can be found by clicking this wonderful link. For more Gonzaga, click here.

5 Stats from Gonzaga’s Win over San Francisco

Gonzaga rolled over the University of San Francisco 81-72 in the West Coast Conference Tournament, here are five stats to know from the win.

  • 2

2—the number of blocks by reserve big man Angel Nunez. The Louisville transfer played one minute.

  • 24

24—points scored by starting center Przemek Karnowski, a career and game high.

  • 4

4—the number of assists by Kyle Wiltjer. This is the sixth time this season that the big man has had four or more assists.

  • 18

18—the number of points Gonzaga outscored the Dons by on a 19-1 run to change the momentum of the game. San Francisco never really recovered.

  • 52.7

52.7—or GU’s field goal percentage during the game. They held San Francisco to 36.9% shooting from the field.

 

Where are They Now: Players the Minnesota Timberwolves Acquired for Kevin Garnett

With Kevin Garnett once again a fixture in Minnesota sports thanks to a deadline trade that sent him from Brooklyn to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young (you can check out what I thought of the trade here) it’s time to look back at the players Minnesota received from the Celtics when they traded away Garnett eight years ago.

The Trade:  Minnesota Acquires: Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first-round pick (Wayne Ellington) and a 2009 first-round pick (Johnny Flynn).

Boston Acquires: Kevin Garnett.

The Players:

Ryan Gomes

Combo forward Ryan Gomes would have some solid years in Minnesota after coming over in the trade. He averaged 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game during his tenure with the Timberwolves.

Minnesota traded him and Luke Babbitt to Portland for Martell Webster. Gomes was soon waived by the Blazers and caught on with the Clippers, where he spent two seasons, averaging 5.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest in a reduced role. He played five games with Kevin Durant’s team last year and has not appeared in an NBA game this season.

Gerald Green

Gerald Green bounced around after leaving Boston. He only spent 29 games with Minnesota before moving on to Houston. He also had stops in Dallas, New Jersey and Indiana before winding up with Phoenix where he currently fills the role of “bench scorer”. The former Celtic is averaging 14.1 points per contest since joining the Suns.

Since the Garnett trade, Green has been involved in trades for Kirk Snyder (Houston) and was dealt to Phoenix with Miles Plumlee and a future first-round draft pick for Luis Scola.

Al Jefferson

Possibly the most accomplished player on this list, Jefferson certainly had the scoring touch while he was in Minnesota. Big Al averaged 20.1 points per game as a Timberwolves player, including a career best 23.1 points per outing in 2008/2009. He was later dealt to Utah for Kosta Koufos and two future first-round picks (Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones were later selected).

Jefferson spent three seasons in Utah before departing via free agency for Charlotte where he has elevated the now-Hornets to playoff contender status.

Theo Ratliff

Theo Ratliff lasted only 10 games with Minnesota before being waived and signing with Detroit. Ratliff would later play for Philadelphia, San Antonio, Charlotte and the Lakers before playing his final NBA game in the 2010/2011 season.

He averaged 6.3 points per contest as a member of the Timberwolves.

Sebastian Telfair

After two seasons of receiving the lion’s share of starts in Minnesota, Telfair spent 2009/2010 with the Clippers and Cavaliers, before returning to the Twin Cities the next season.

“Bassy” Telfair has bounced around in the NBA, along with Boston and Minnesota, he’s suited up for Portland, Los Angeles (Clippers), Cleveland, Phoenix, Toronto and Kevin Durant’s team. He was Durant’s teammate up until November 26th of last year, but was waived.

For his career, Telfair averages 7.4 points per game, 3.5 assists per contest and 1.6 rebounds a game. He also commits 2.1 fouls per contest.

Wayne Ellington

Fun fact: Wayne Ellington has been involved in two salary-dump trades in his career. He was shipped, along with Josh Selby, Marreese Speights and a future first-round pick, to Cleveland for the considerably cheaper Jon Leuer.

Later on in his career, he’d be on the other side of the trade being acquired in exchange for a large salary. The Knicks acquired him from Dallas with Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and two 2014 second-round draft pick (Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Cleanthony Early) for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton.

He would eventually end up with the Lakers where he is averaging 9.6 points per contest in 52 appearances (27 starts).

Johnny Flynn

After a somewhat promising rookie campaign in which Flynn posted 13.5 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game, he struggled to find consistent playing time.

The point guard only started eight games in his second season after starting 81 in his rookie year. He averaged 5.3 points per outing in his sophomore campaign and was out of Minnesota soon after that.

Flynn split his third season between the Rockets and Trail Blazers, and has been out of the NBA ever since. He signed a contract with Pistons in 2012 but was unable to make the team.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.