Breaking down new-look Bears: Pressure to avoid chaos mounts amid changes

Change is welcome in Chicago after a 3-13 season, its worst in more than 30 years, and a third consecutive last-place finish in the NFC North. And change is what the Bears will get.

The eight-year Jay Cutler era, sprinkled with sparks but drenched in disappointment, ended when the Bears released the quarterback at the start of the 2017 league year — right before they signed Mike Glennon to a 3-year, $45 million deal.

“On the afternoon of June 30, the sides thought they had a deal. On a conference call between the teams, everyone tentatively agreed. George to the Cavs, (Kevin) Love to the Nuggets, (Gary) Harris and other pieces to the Pacers, sources said… But then (Pacers GM Kevin) Pritchard, who had been on the conference call when the deal was tentatively agreed to, sent the message that his team was backing out, sources said. There was no deal.”

Instead of that three-teamer, Pritchard instead chose to send George to the Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Perhaps Pritchard was hesitant to send his biggest star to a team within the Central Division. Maybe the other pieces beyond Harris simply weren’t enough for Pritchard’s liking. Regardless of the reasoning, the bottom line is George ended up in Oklahoma City, and Cleveland continued its downward offseason spiral.

James can become a free agent after next season. Irving is under contract for the next two seasons with a player option for the 2019-20 season, but he’s intent on leaving. Love is under contract through the 2019-20 season, but it’s clear the Cavs are willing to part ways with him if the deal is right.

There is a huge minefield around Quicken Loans Arena at the moment. New Cavs GM Koby Altman has to tread lightly.
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As Kevin Durant injury looms, Warriors’ spotlight shines on rookie Patrick McCaw

Authentic Womens Jarrad Davis Jersey Well, hello Patrick McCaw. You could very well spend the next three-plus months as the NBA’s most-scrutinized rookie. And McCaw just might be up for the job.

In the wake of the knee injury suffered by Warriors star Kevin Durant in Washington last night and with the fears that the MRI on his knee will force him to miss the remainder of the regular season, and perhaps more McCaw will take center stage. Already, coach Steve Kerr has been trying to work McCaw into a consistent role in the team’s rotation.

The Warriors will have to rely upon a now-weak group composed of Stephen Curry, a two-time MVP and undoubtedly the greatest shooter ever; Klay Thompson, who holds the NBA records for points in a quarter (37) and points in under 30 minutes (60); and Draymond Green, the game’s most versatile defender. It’s something they haven’t had to do in months. If only they had a track record of unprecedented success with that trio leading the way.

But this time, they won’t have the sage wisdom of Luke Walton in the huddle to right all their wrongs. The former assistant who guided the Warriors to the best start in NBA history a season ago is five hours south in LA, losing a boatload of games as the Lakers’ head coach.

Courtney Lee led the Knicks with 25 points. Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points on 9-of-25 shooting.
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DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points with 13 rebounds and five assists in a 114-106 win against the Wizards. DeRozan is going to have to do even more work than usual to keep Toronto afloat with Kyle Lowry injured.

Rockets’ James Harden ‘felt like Usain Bolt’ on final shot to beat Nuggets

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The Rockets and Nuggets played a high-scoring shootout Monday that lasted until the final seconds, when James Harden went coast-to-coast to give Houston the eventual win.

Harden grabbed the rebound off Denver’s miss and traveled 88 feet to the other basket with just 7.4 seconds remaining. He not only was able to get all the way to other basket in time, but he also managed to weave his way in and out of traffic for the layup, even leaving 2.4 seconds to play.
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His speed rivaled the Wizards’ John Wall, so a reporter asked afterward if he felt that was a good comparison. Harden aimed higher.

I was running so fast, I feel like I was faster than that, Harden said. I felt like Usain Bolt.

Harden has been on an incredible run lately as the regular season nears its end. He had four triple doubles in a row entering Monday night, and finished with 39 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.

By now, the Bulls probably should have determined a direction for the franchise, but there continues to be a Keystone Cops feel to the approach John Paxson, Gar Forman and ownership have taken to the roster. There’s dysfunction, but still a sense that the Bulls can cobble together a decent second half, make the playoffs and declare the season a success (a low bar for that, admittedly).

Philadelphia, though, can easily revisit an Okafor deal in the offseason, and it’s unlikely his value is going to change much in the interim. For now, the Bulls still have an interest, as do the Pacers. The Mavericks have long been a dark horse for Okafor, and the now-rebuilding Kings could insert themselves into the chase.

Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers thinks he’s too old to call DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins by his nickname

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thinks he’s too old to be calling DeMarcus Cousins by his nickname.

“I’m 55,” said Rivers, according to ESPN’s J.A. Adande. “It’s tough for me to call a grown man ‘Boogie.'”

After scoring 33 points with 15 rebounds Tuesday against his old team, the 7-footer backed it up with a 19-point, 11-rebound performance Thursday night. Nurkic is averaging 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season, but has increased those averages to 15.2 points and 10.4 boards since joining the Blazers in February.

The Trail Blazers (37-38) currently hold a two-game lead over the Nuggets (35-40) for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference. It will be tough to hang on without Nurkic, and almost impossible to upset a team in the playoffs should the rising center be forced to miss more time.

Dave Odom gave the Spurs a scouting report on his senior All-American that was simply too good to be true. Not long after taking Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick in 1997, Odom ran into VP/coach Gregg Popovich.

“You lied,” Pop told him. Odom shot him a perplexed look. Explained Pop: “He’s even better than you said he was.”

As you can see in the table below (Thomas’ stats prior to All-Star Weekend), Thomas’ points and shot attempts in the fourth quarter increase significantly when compared to the first three quarters while his assist numbers decrease. Most importantly, he basically doubles his free throw attempts, which should tell you all you need to know about how he aggressively he looks to score.broncos_124

We have this discussion in the clubhouse quite a bit.

This is the perfect situation for Teodosic to be successful. He’ll orchestrate a free-flowing offense while having two partners who can play All-NBA caliber defense to help him out. Of course, for any free agent who has never before played in the NBA, there is risk. If Teodosic’s athleticism doesn’t quite make the jump in the way that many are hoping, that’ll be an issue. Defense is a major concern. But on this contract, with only approximately $6 million guaranteed per season, there’s very little downside for the Clippers. And if Teodosic was to opt out of his contract after a successful 2018 season in Los Angeles, the team would have restricted free-agency rights on him and the ability to match any offer from an opposing team.
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This is a smart risk to take for the Clippers, who have done a nice job of picking up the pieces since Chris Paul decided to leave.
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Question: Ever have a homer hit against you and think, No way that should have gone out?

Answer: Yes. When you’ve been playing the game as long as we have, as pitchers, when the ball comes off the bat and you see the trajectory of it and you hear the sound off it, and you’re like, ‘OK, that’s a routine fly out,’ and I’ve seen balls like that get over the fence. We talk about it. But there’s also balls that are being crushed.

Answer (full answer from partial quote above): We have this discussion in the clubhouse quite a bit. It’s kind of funny. Some guys say it’s climate change and some guys say the ball is juiced and some guys say they’re attacking the ball differently, trying to get the ball in the air more. Who knows? It could be a combination of them all. Only time will tell. I’ve kind of come to grips with the fact that I’m going to give up homers every now and then, so if I can just give up solo homers, I’ll be OK with it. It’s just part of the game. Fans will always come to see home runs. Unfortunately for me, they don’t really care about pitchers’ duels too much.

Mike Trout expected to return Friday to Angels lineup, team confirms

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Center fielder Mike Trout will be back in the Angels’ lineup Friday against the Rays, the team announced Sunday, after a final minor-league rehab start for an injured left thumb.

I feel ready to play, Trout told reporters (via the Orange County Register) after going nine innings for Single-A Inland Empire.

What company involved in MLB wouldn’t want to be in business with Judge, who sports marketing executives and analysts are calling the new face of baseball?

Just days after breaking Joe DiMaggio’s record for most home runs in a season by a Yankees rookie, Judge won the 2017 Home Run Derby on Monday Night. He leads the majors in home runs with 30, is the odds-on favorite to win AL MVP (listed at 1-to-2 odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) and is a starter in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Under Armour produced Home Run Derby edition cleats for Judge and Dodger Cody Bellinger with a Miami theme, the Sun noted.
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Judge figures to be a cornerstone of Under Armour’s deepening marketing efforts in the sport. Under a deal signed last year, the brand becomes the official outfitter of MLB in 2019, and it has deals with between 325 and 375 players in the majors and minors, according to Jones, also including the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

Isaiah Thomas helps make Celtics-Wizards hard-edged series we expected

Wizards point guard John Wall was sitting courtside on Monday afternoon, the only day off between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals here at TD Garden. The Wizards had lost the first game of the series to the Celtics, but the game itself was notable for what it was missing: bad blood, the sense that these were two teams that entered the fray carrying true enmity between them.

Assistant coach: “What I like about Brad Stevens is that he is able to look at different things from around the league and absorb what he likes or what he thinks might work for his guys and put it in there, add a wrinkle. If you watch over time, the playbook evolves, and some things you saw in November you might not see in February, you might see something different. Good coaches should always be stealing stuff.

“In-game, I don’t think the Celtics surprise you much, and that might just be an experience thing that he will gain as he goes on. I don’t know, but he is a cerebral guy and maybe he needs to go with his gut sometimes and not his brain. That’s just me guessing.

“And I’d say he’s not what we call a scab-picker, and by that I mean, coaches will find something that is working and go back to it over and over until you force the defense to adjust. You know, picking the scab. Our guys hate coaching against that. The Celtics are not set with their play calling, they do a lot of read-and-react, a lot of handoffs, but I think it would benefit them to go at certain plays over and over when they’re working.”falcons_060

Kristaps Porzingis skips meetings, upset with Knicks dysfunction, report says

Drama surrounding the Knicks has extended beyond Carmelo Anthony.

Kristaps Porzingis skipped the team’s exit meetings Friday because he is frustrated with the drama currently surrounding the New York franchise, according to ESPN.com.

During Game 1 against the Celtics Sunday night, Butler posted 30 points and nine rebounds all while guarding Boston star Isaiah Thomas. Wade said only a few players in the league have the ability to operate both offense and defense successfully. Wade spent five seasons playing with James on the Heat, and has gotten to know Butler this past season, so there may be no one better to draw the comparison.
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Wade only scored 11 points in the Bulls’ 106-102 victory and acknowledged his playing time might be put on the back burner. And he’s all right with that.

When I came here, in my [introductory] press conference, I said it was Jimmy Butler’s team, Wade said. And we’ll ride Jimmy until we can’t ride him no more. And then when they’re ready to ride me, I’m ready. At this point in the year it’s all about doing whatever it takes to win, and each game is different. You don’t know what kind of defensive coverage they’re going to throw at him [Tuesday]. So we all got to be prepared but, whatever it takes.

Authentic Womens Lavonte David Jersey Gortat has done his part to provide some balance to offset Horford. He is averaging 12.3 points and has been hurting the Celtics inside, where he has grabbed 11.5 rebounds per game. The Wizards have been consistent in getting Gortat looks deep in the paint 鈥?he’s taken 27 of his 37 total field-goal attempts at the rim, and has made 19 of them.

Would a team make a deal to move ahead of the Lakers in order to grab Ball

Obviously, when we are trading a pick away, we are trading away a possibility of it being No. 1, Ainge said, even though it was only a 25 percent possibility, and the teams that are acquiring the pick at the trade deadline have a 75 percent chance of it not being the No. 1. That’s how teams look at it, which is probably why we ended up not getting a deal done.

Now there’s clarity, and there will be more conversations for sure about that No. 1 pick and the value of that pick.
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Would a team make a deal to move ahead of the Lakers in order to grab Ball, especially when Fultz is widely considered to be the best player in the draft? Likely not. But the possibility would be there.

Ball and his father would have no chance at blocking a team from picking him. Their only leverage would be to withhold a workout, but that likely would not deter a team that had zeroed in on Lonzo Ball as the bedrock of its future. Players who have tried to steer themselves to certain situations (Ricky Rubio, Yi JIanlian) in recent years still wound up landing in places they didn’t otherwise want to be (Minnesota, Milwaukee).

The Celtics might not stand a chance against the heavily favored Cavaliers, a team that drubbed Boston in this building in an important April meeting. The goal here is, and should be, to legitimately compete for a championship. That’s not happening now. It might even be a year or two before Boston has a real hope of keeping pace with LeBron James and his Cavs, let alone a powerhouse like Golden State.
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That’s not really the point, though. By beating the Wizards, by arriving here with important games to be played in late May, the Celtics have already accomplished something. They validated this speedy rebuild and showed they are developing into a force in the East.

Quarterman and Uthoff to be disposed of at Houston’s will.

Elite Youth Jamie Collins Jersey Every trade involved cash considerations. Only the Paul (several other players) and Long (future second-round pick) trades involved another assets. Hilliard and Liggins from above are already gone as they were used in the deal for Paul.

So that leaves Kelly, Long, Quarterman and Uthoff to be disposed of at Houston’s will. So you might be wondering why the Rockets are buying no-name players from other teams. The reason: The collective salaries of outgoing players must match the salaries of incoming players. That’s why Houston sent seven players in exchange for one in the Paul trade.

Another element involves non-guaranteed salaries. The players the Rockets are trading for all have non-guaranteed deals, which means the teams to which they send these players can release them without penalty. Long story short: The Rockets are adding these players in hopes of another trade.

But who will the Rockets target? There have been reports saying they could make a deal for Paul George or Carmelo Anthony, and Morey kind of hinted at that in an interview with Colin Cowherd on Thursday.
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Rising young first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves and age- and height-defying Brent Grimes return as the starting cornerbacks trying to lift up a shaky coverage unit from 2016. The problem lied in awful safety play, which the Bucs worked to correct. They were smart to both let free safety Bradley McDougald walk and demote strong safety Chris Conte.

After all the end-of-year drama with feature back Doug Martin, including his four-game PED suspension that will carry over into this season, Koetter and the Bucs stuck with him on and off the field. They were confident enough after seeing him in shape before the draft to select only a fifth-round running back, fellow Boise State product Jeremy McNichols.