Monthly Archives: July 2017

Here’s why the WNBA’s best player just got traded

Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 MVP of the WNBA and arguably its best player, was traded Monday in a blockbuster deal with two key pieces of context.

First, The New York Times noted, her trade from the Chicago Sky to the Washington Mystics means the most-anticipated offseason in league history begins a bit early.

And, second, it shines a light on the league’s free agent rules, which in the players’ viewpoint, don’t give them a lot of freedom.

The nuts and bolts: Delle Donne, a 6-5 forward/guard, goes to the Mystics, bolstering their high-scoring, perimeter-shooting offense. In return, the Sky get 2015 All-Star center Stefanie Dolson, last season’s No. 7 overall draft pick Kahleah Copper and the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

The backstory: Delle Donne, 27, announced in December she planned to leave the Sky, who drafted her in 2013. She was set to become a restricted free agent, meaning, under the WNBA’s collective-bargaining agreement, Chicago had the right to match any offer she received this offseason. However, Delle Donne said she would consider sitting out the 2017 season to become an unrestricted free agent.

Here’s where the proverbial asterisk in the league’s free-agent rules comes into play.

The league’s “unrestricted” status isn’t exactly unrestricted. Teams can designate one so-called “core player” each season to prevent her from becoming an unrestricted free agent, and teams can use that label on a player up to four times. The Times: “The rule itself, along with how long it lasts, is a frequent complaint among players when the league’s collective bargaining agreement is discussed.”

Just keep in mind a lot of his minutes have come against second units, not starters.

Last week, Westbrook went off for 48 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, becoming just the ninth player in NBA history to score 40 points in four consecutive games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
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He’s putting up video game-like numbers, but the Thunder are far from a championship contender. Thunder have now lost three straight — all to teams with below .500 records — and are now 35-28, good for seventh in the West. A first-round knockout is inevitably waiting for them come playoff time. Fellow MVP candidates James Harden, Isaiah Thomas, Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard have their teams at the top of the standings.

Mark Recchi Limited Jersey Oklahoma City is on pace to win under 50 games. A sub-50-win team hasn’t had the MVP since 1982, when the Moses Malone won it with the Rockets. The Rockets won 46 games and went on to get bounced in the first round.

Over the past 20 seasons, every league MVP has come from a team seeded one or two in their conference.

More importantly, it will be a nice change of pace from Brewer. Brewer played 15.9 minutes per game for the Rockets this season and made 26.6 percent of his open/wide open 3-point attempts. Replacing him with Williams, who has made 42.1 percent of his open/wide open 3-point attempts this season, means teams won’t be able to send multiple defenders at Harden as easily as they have in the past.

Although Williams is a knockdown shooter, he’s actually at his best in the pick-and-roll. Almost half of his points this season have come as the ball handler in those situations, and he’s averaged 1.07 points per possession to rank in the 94.0 percentile. That means he’s scoring more points out of the pick-and-roll than Chris Paul and doing it more efficiently than Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.

Just keep in mind a lot of his minutes have come against second units, not starters.

NBA Draft 2017: Lonzo Ball would rather play for Lakers than be drafted first overall

Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball are widely expected to be the top three picks in June’s NBA Draft, but the order of which they are selected is still up in the air.

Fultz said Tuesday he expects to be taken first overall in the lottery. That honor, though, means little to Ball, who actually prefers to be drafted by his hometown Lakers.

Elite Youth Tom Rathman Jersey George said after the trade deadline ended that he was less than pleased with the constant speculation he was headed out of town. He would have liked to have been in the loop a little more throughout the process.

I was kind of on the ropes, like you guys were, about what was going to happen, George said, via USA Today. It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, thought I’d be in the loop a little bit more on trade talks.

Boston was in a mad dash to move some of its assets for a star. Jimmy Butler, George and Andre Drummond came up quite a bit, but ultimately all three players stayed on their respective teams.

Elite Youth Marcus Smith II Jersey The Pacers (29-28) are sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. George is averaging 22.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

You have a contract situation coming up. Have you discussed a long-term contract or staying with the Clippers with Doc or the team yet?

No, I haven’t had any talks with Doc or the team about staying or going. That’s something we’ll deal with after the season and as free agency approaches. Once July 1 hits, we’ll get into the details of everything. Any guy will tell you, and I’m no different, you’re obviously worried about the future a little bit and you think about it. But my focus right now is on this team and just trying to play good basketball.

Chris Paul’s son was on the bench while the Clippers blew out the Lakers

The Tuesday night game between the Los Angeles franchises was extremely one-sided as the Clippers blew out the Lakers.

The final score was 133-109, and the Clippers’ starters didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul knew the game was so far out of hand that he allowed his son to sit on the bench with him as they enjoyed the Lakers’ beatdown together.

While this is certainly a nice father-son moment, it’s also showing a lot of disrespect toward the Lakers. When was the last time you remember seeing someone’s kid on the bench during a game? Steph Curry got negative feedback for having his daughter at his press conference.

Meanwhile CP3 has his son on the bench with him. A lovely sight. I encourage this love but it’s so disrespectful to a lackluster Laker team.

Garnett’s best days were with the Timberwolves, his original team, where he won the 2004 MVP and established himself as an elite defender and perennial All-NBA selection. But he got Minnesota to one Western Conference Finals, never to a Finals and didn’t do his big winning until 2008 when he was traded to Boston. With the Celtics he won a title in ’08 and advanced to one other Finals in ‘10.

So if he’s going to be considered for a bronzing, it has to be on the basis of what he accomplished in his first 12 seasons with the T’Wolves. There’s no doubt he did more as a player there than anyone else in history; he had two second-place finishes in the MVP (losing to Shaq in 2000 and Duncan in 2003). But in terms of where he stacks up in NBA history against the all-time greats, his Hall of Fame candidacy in 2021, when he’ll be an automatic first-ballot selection, is going to be his crowning achievement. Great worker and terrific competitor. But sorry, no statue.steelers_130

Following canceled flight, Mariners minor leaguers spend $683 on Uber ride to game

It might have been a good thing for a quartet of Mariners prospects that Monday’s Triple-A game between the Tacoma Rainiers and Albuquerque Rainiers had a delayed start.

Four Tacoma players were stranded in Phoenix following a canceled flight and took a seven-hour Uber ride to Albuquerque for the game.

The players, pitchers Mark Lowe and Pat Light, and infielders D.J. Peterson and Dan Vogelbach, had a 3 a.m. flight booked on American Airlines. When that flight was canceled and rental car offices were closed, they found an Uber driver willing to drive them. The total cost for the trip, not including a tip, was $683.52

The group was trying to avoid having to wake up at 3 a.m. to make a flight with a game the same night.

Game Youth Wes Horton Jersey But it’s not just the history that suggests the move, it’s the way the two teams line up both with their farm systems and with their records. The Astros have the best record in the American League, the A’s have the second worst. The Astros have one of the best farm systems in the league, placing four in the top 50 of ESPN analyst Keith Law’s rankings Thursday, and the A’s love to collect assets.
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Houston has assets upon assets, and while it would prefer not to surrender them to a division rival, Luhnow already said he’s willing to make that sacrifice now knowing that it’s on his organization to replenish the system and continue to compete.

Quite frankly, Billy’s style lends to making deals. He’s done a lot of deals; I’ve done a lot of deals, Luhnow said. Billy’s very clear about what he’s looking for, and if you’re able to give him what he’s looking for, you’ve got a chance to get a deal done.

If the Astros and the A’s were to get a deal done it would be the fifth trade they have made with each other since Luhnow took over as GM in December 2011.

Todd Bowles deserves not to be judged by this season.

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Maccagnan is facing the full, fiery blast of New York heat after last year’s meltdown and this year’s … well, apparently tanking is a sensitive term. The miscalculations of last offseason led to tearing things down and starting over this year. The Jets’ eternal curse of being unable to find or develop a quarterback is clawing out of the ground again. He may be facing a coaching decision at the end of this year, too, although, as it’s been said plenty, Todd Bowles deserves not to be judged by this season.
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As unlucky a GM as there was in the NFL last season, thanks to injuries, likely a big reason he survived while the Chargers changed head coaches. Anthony Lynn was a hot prospect, so winning that competition reflects well on Telesco. The foolishness over contracts (Eric Weddle, Joey Bosa) in recent years land in ownership’s lap. He hasn’t done anything egregious enough to demand his firing, so he’s got that going for him.

At first glance, sinking out of the top 10 seems harsh for a GM who had the team in the Super Bowl the previous year. But the fiasco of letting Josh Norman go and their inability to adequately replace him weighed heavily in the Panthers’ slide. This draft, led by Christian McCaffrey, and free-agency period, could reverse that fast, but the NFC South is much tougher now than it was in the Super Bowl year.

Tucker, who signed a four-year, $16.8 million contract in 2016, is proud of his accomplishments. But those numbers aren’t what he values most.

The most important one for me is wins, Tucker said. It’s certainly not an individual stat but we play a lot of close games. To be able to come through in those important moments for your team, that’s the number that matters to me the most.

Ultimately, you get (Super Bowl) rings for that. I’ve got one. I want to get more of those.

Joe Montana casts shadow of doubt on Colin Kaepernick’s NFL career

Joe Montana is bullish on the San Francisco 49ers and their attempt at a rebuild. Not so much on Colin Kaepernick’s chances of playing in the NFL this year.

Kaepernick, taken by the 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, is now a free agent, a precipitous fall from grace for a quarterback once thought to be the future of the league. But Kaepernick’s decline in play and overt political stances over the past year have him sitting as an NFL pariah.
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All this, in the eyes of the Hall of Famer, means Kaepernick might not have an NFL future. Montana when asked by Sporting News about the situation Tuesday did not sound certain Kaepernick would be back on a roster come Week 1.

This was the first time Washington had been shutout all season.
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Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello pitched very well Saturday night, giving up just one run in eight innings with seven strikeouts, but he was still handed a 1-0 loss against the Rays. Porcello fell to 4-11 for the season, becoming just the third reigning Cy Young winner to have 11-plus losses prior to the All-Star break, joining Gaylord Perry and Mike McCormick.

With two losses in their last three games, Houston has relinquished the best record in baseball. It might be for the best, in the short term, because it gives the young players something to fight for after the All-Star break. The Astros will send Brad Peacock (6-1, 2.91 ERA) to the mound Sunday against J.A. Happ (3-5, 3.47 ERA).

they made a lot of shots and that took us down a little bit

Gortat, who has been so often stuck helplessly flinging a hand up while Thomas launches a 3, knows the team needs to do better than that. But looking at the numbers, he said he is not sure the Celtics can keep making their 3s at the rate they have in the first two games, even when they’re open.

“They made a lot of shots, they made a lot of shots and that took us down a little bit,” Gortat said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the effort, it’s all about the heart, going out there to play for 48 minutes. I truly believe they’re not going to shoot like that for the next four, five games. I can’t believe they will shoot like that. That is kind of crazy.”

He may be right. The Celtics shot 37.3 percent on open or wide-open 3s during the season, but 44.4 percent in two games against the Wizards. In the first game, the Celtics were 10 of 18 on wide-open 3s, but that dropped to 6 of 14 in Game 2. On open 3s, the Celtics were 7 of 15 in Game 1 and 5 of 16 in Game 2. That reflects the Celtics reverting to the mean, but it also reflects the fact that forward Markieff Morris, the Wizards’ best close-out defender, played only 11:20 of Game 1 before going out with an ankle injury.

Trevor Ariza led the Rockets with 23 points as he knocked down five of the team’s 22 3-pointers (postseason franchise-record) and was one of six Houston players in double figures. Clint Capela (20 points, 13 rebounds) and James Harden (20 points, 14 assists) added double-doubles for Houston.

“We lost and they won and they played better,” a frustrated and succinct Popovich told reporters after the game. “We disobeyed a lot of basic basketball rules.”falcons_052

‘Area 21’ creates 2008 Celtics reunion to address beef with Ray Allen

Teppo Numminen Limited Jersey Kevin Garnett’s Area 21 on TNT brought in some interesting guests Monday night: Glen Big Baby Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. As you can probably tell, those are all members of the 2008 title-winning Celtics with the notable exception of Ray Allen.

Allen upset his teammates when he left the team to join the Heat in 2012. The beef was recently revealed in an article on The Undefeated where members of the team admitted Allen wasn’t invited to a reunion they were putting together to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the championship.
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Following his retirement in 1992, Bird, a 12-time all-star and three-time MVP and champion, joined the Celtics as a special assistant in the front office, position he held for five years. He was tapped as the Pacers’ head coach prior to the start of the 1997-98 season and was named the league’s Coach of the Year after leading Indiana to a 58-24 mark and the first of three-straight appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals. To this day, he’s the only person to be named league MVP and Coach of the Year.

Bird left the sidelines after the Pacers’ 1999-00 campaign, which ended in a 4-2 series loss in the Finals to Phil Jackson’s Lakers. In 2003, Bird came back to the Pacers as President of Basketball Operations, earning NBA Executive of the Year honors for the 2011-12 season. In June of 2012, Bird vacated his role, citing health reasons only to return recommitted and healthier a year later.

According to Wojnarowski, Bird plans to remain with the Pacers as a consultant.

NBA playoffs: Steve Kerr to attend Game 1 vs. Spurs, report says

Steve Kerr is working his way back behind the bench.

The Warriors coach is expected to attend Game 1 against the Spurs at Oracle Arena on Sunday after missing the last few weeks due to recurring back problems, CSN Bay Area reported.

But the Warriors are the best team in the league at defending spot-up shooters, allowing just 0.90 points per possession, a reflection on the ability of their small-ball defenders to recover quickly to the perimeter and disrupt shooters. They led the league allowing only 35.0 percent shooting on spot-up shots, and their ability to close out on the likes of Green, Gasol and Leonard will determine whether San Antonio can muster the offense to stay in this series.

At full strength, the Warriors would have a challenge on their hands in this series. But with Parker now a scratch after a good start to the playoffs (15.9 points, 52.6 percent shooting) and uncertainty surrounding the status of Leonard’s ankle, the Spurs’ chances at an upset have gotten that much more remote.
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Fultz, a point guard, would have to battle for minutes behind Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart next season. While he has the ability to play off the ball as well, his size and skill set are better suited at point guard.

If Boston does select Fultz, it likely means the team will let Thomas walk when he becomes a free agent in 2018. Fans may not like that.

The Celtics are pretty deep at every position thanks to strong drafts and underrated free agent acquisitions. One area of need is in the paint. Kelly Olynyk is a restricted free agent after this season, and a team could make a big offer after his breakout postseason performance.
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