If Sam Darnold stays at USC, he disrupts certain NFL teams’ scripts for 2017-18

Mens Brayden Schenn Jersey So many dominos could fall from one brief-but-stunning report this week. Sam Darnold — yes, that Sam Darnold — might not leave school next spring and enter the 2018 draft.
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The Jets would never admit it, nor would any other franchise. But a big domino just fell over in East Rutherford. And yes, that’s Cleveland where that other loud sound came from. They’re not the only ones, but they’re the largest.

On one of the last slow weeks remaining in another abbreviated NFL offseason, the Darnold report disrupted plans, speculations, plots and scripts for the upcoming year. A lot of what has been said and done in the league was based on the presumption that next year’s quarterback class is going to be top-notch. And the cream of next year’s quarterback crop was supposed to be one Sam Darnold, redshirt sophomore, Southern California.

Why he’s here: Long a respected person in the sport, Lovullo was considered an excellent hire by the Diamondbacks and he’s done nothing to change that perception. This is a franchise that had struggled through a couple of frustrating seasons (hopes of contending, but ending up with losing records), but Arizona has been outstanding this season under Lovullo’s watch. Maybe the same thing would have happened if Chip Hale was around for his third season, but who knows? What we do know is the Diamondbacks under Lovullo have been great, and in a hard-to-figure category like Midseason Manager of the Year, that’s enough.

Home Run Derby 2017: Aaron Judge wins title after dramatic first round

Aaron Judge left jaws dropped Monday while capturing the Home Run Derby crown in Miami.

The Yankees rookie, who leads MLB with 30 home runs this season, looked like he might have a short Derby experience when Marlins first baseman Justin Bour jacked 22 home runs against Judge in the first round.
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The Patriots quarterback posed with the Stanley Cup in a photo tweeted Friday, and touched it with his bare hands, sending some Penguins fans 鈥?and presumably Steelers fans 鈥?into a frenzy. Some Pittsburgh fans think the Patriots quarterback has now tainted the Penguins’ most recent Stanley Cup title.

Danielle Hunter Womens Jersey Brady led New England to a win over the Steelers in last season’s AFC championship game. It was the third time since Brady became the Patriots starting quarterback in 2001 his team beat the Steelers in the AFC title game.

The Bruins did win the Stanley Cup in 2011, so maybe Brady missed his opportunity with the Cup then. Brady has won five Super Bowls, so he’s hoisted the Lombardi Trophy plenty of times. But one just does not simply touch Lord Stanley’s Cup without earning the right.

Back when Millsap was drafted, he was known essentially as a heavy-footed, elite-rebounding, back-to-the-basket big who couldn’t score outside of seven feet. Now, he’s capable at all three levels, a great playmaker for others and one of the best defensive players in the NBA due to the versatile number of options he can guard. He’s one of six players to average 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and make at least one 3-pointer per game last season. The others are James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins.

Al Horford proves worth as Celtics take control of series

Al Horford couldn’t believe his luck. With 7:56 to play in the fourth quarter and the Celtics holding to a four-point lead in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference opening round, Horford was trying to keep up with Bulls center Robin Lopez out near halfcourt as Jimmy Butler attempted to inbound the ball. Butler made the pass to Lopez just as Lopez turned to cut inside, and the ball bounced innocently past the winking Celtics leprechaun logo.

Horford thought, “Don’t screw this up.”

He collected the ball just beyond the 3-point line, took one dribble and swept in for a dunk ahead of Butler’s pursuit. The locals erupted and momentum, which had been trickling toward Boston, rapidly swung the Celtics’ way. Horford’s dunk was part of a six-minute, 20-4 run that transformed a one-point deficit into a 15-point lead, which the Celtics were able to carry to a 108-97 win and a 3-2 series advantage Wednesday night.

The Cavs prioritized health over seed, choosing to sit their stars for key games in the final week of the regular season. They will see a Pacers team coming off a five-game winning streak to end the year. Something to note: LeBron James has made the NBA Finals all five times he has been a two seed.

Toronto locked up the No. 3 seed in the East early, so DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka didn’t play Wednesday night. Milwaukee wanted to have its squad at full strength as well, so coach Jason Kidd sat Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova and Tony Snell in a loss to the Celtics.

Much like the teams above, Washington and Atlanta were already comfortable in their spots before Wednesday, so the Wizards benched John Wall and Markieff Morris while the Hawks sat Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr.falcons_004

Mike D’Antoni admits Carmelo Anthony forced him out as Knicks coach

Mike D’Antoni has taken the NBA by storm this season with his high-paced offensive system in Houston. James Harden has shined, and turned into a strong MVP candidate, and the Rockets are in the second round of the playoffs after finishing third in the Western Conference.

But several years before his success in Houston, D’Antoni was the coach of the Knicks where the team struggled to win games. There was a fun period with Linsanity where point guard Jeremy Lin was putting up absurd numbers every night, but it didn’t translate to wins.

Knicks president Phil Jackson has been in the news a lot lately for making controversial comments regarding Carmelo Anthony’s status with the team.

While Jackson said Anthony is better off somewhere else, he does not believe Porzingis is ready to step up as the team’s leader.
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No, I don’t think so. He’s 21 years old. That’s a big load for anybody to take on, Jackson said, via the New York Daily News. But he’s shown that he’s competitive. He’s shown that he’s competitive, he’s shown that he’s got a sense of desire to win, etcetera. So we’re really pleased with how he’s developed. I think he had some concern this year about physical. Not being able to stand up to all the games physically, Achilles tendon, back, etc.
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The 7-3 Porzingis averaged 4.8 3-point attempts per game this season, which was significantly more than his rookie season. Jackson would like to see him play in the post more often.

NBA playoffs 2017: Dwyane Wade compares Jimmy Butler’s play to LeBron James

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Could Jimmy Butler be LeBron James 2.0?

I have an enormous amount of trust and confidence after being with Russell this season for 82 games and seeing the ways he’s closed out games and different things that he’s done, Donovan said. I trust him when he’s got the ball in terms of making decisions. Sometimes, when the ball goes in the basket, people have a tendency to say, ‘Wow! This was just an unbelievable performance!’ And ‘Is he the best closer in the game?’ And then when they don’t go in, it’s gonna be, ‘Did he take too many shots?’ I think there’s always a balance there.
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Are there some shots and better ball movement we could have? Absolutely. Are there some shots that he took and plays that he made that I wouldn’t take back? Absolutely. I think you’re always looking to find that balance where we can collectively function as well as he can.

When the Thunder try to defend their home court Friday night against the Rockets, expect Westbrook to do what he did in Game 2, which is what he’s been doing all year long.

Barkley finished his thoughts on Westbrook and when he was done, the hosts saw an opportunity to get Chuck going. They asked him about players resting, which became an issue when the Warriors and Cavs benched players late in the season, and he had some thoughts.

[The top 10-15 players] played double-digit years in the NBA and they played in those crappy Converse shoes, they flew commercial or rode the bus or train and all of a sudden now, you got all of these idiots who use analytics and say, 鈥榞uys need rest.’ It makes me sick to my stomach. It’s not proven anywhere these guys need rest.

Lakers aren’t only team worried about pick protection

That said, some of the few remaining are absolutely fascinating and could have a massive effect on the long-term future of a few franchises. Now is a good time to take a look back at the obligations that will affect teams.

Darron Lee Kids Jersey Let’s go with 0.90 for this one. That’s because both of these teams are very good spot-up shooting teams, and that’s not surprising considering that this series features four of the most efficient spot-up shooters in the league: Curry (1.33 points per possession) and Durant (1.26) for the Warriors, as well as Kawhi Leonard (1.24) and Gasol (1.27) for the Spurs. In the playoffs, Draymond Green has scored 8.0 points per game on spot-up shots, most in the league, and the Spurs’ Danny Green has been fourth with 5.1 points.
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Of course, the Celtics could not buy a 3-pointer in that game, and finished 7 for 33. Throughout the playoffs, their ability to convert those perimeter jumpers has defined their success, and they were over 40 percent in their series against the Wizards. That came despite the perimeter inconsistency of guard Isaiah Thomas, whose scoring came mostly from forays to the basket. Thomas has had some struggles lately in the playoffs, too, seeing his production dip after his stunning 53-point performance in Game 2 of the conference semis.

The Cavaliers arrive in the conference finals eager to defend their conference title and get back to their presumed matchup against the Warriors. They, like Golden State, have gone 8-0 in the first round of the playoffs, and they’ll have 10 days off between their last game against Toronto and the opening of the conference finals. Rust was a problem for the Warriors against the Spurs on Sunday, but the Cavs just have too much talent not to be able to withstand an early Boston lead.

Breaking down new-look Panthers: Cam Newton can make full use of new toys

The Panthers couldn’t just rely on Newton working it out on his own as a seventh-year player. They needed ways to facilitate his skill set, quickly and safely. They were smart to focus on the edges of their offense.
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Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess were a combined major disappointment last season despite looking the part with their big frames and catch radii. Benjamin was well behind ageless tight end Greg Olsen in receiving production, and Funchess was a shaky fourth option. Ted Ginn and Corey Brown, the speedy deep threats from Ohio State, are gone.

Limited Mens Terry Bradshaw Jersey The right side, Newton’s non-Blind Side, is a concern with post-concussion Michael Oher’s NFL future still in question. Rookie second-round pick Taylor Moton will get a chance to battle for that starting spot, but it’s more likely the Panthers ease him in as a backup swing tackle/guard. Daryl Williams is in position to be the shaky stopgap until Moton is up to speed. Andrew Norwell returns as the stud at left guard, while Trai Turner will be happy to stay at right guard and not be forced outside.

Kato Kaelin wins $12K in Brewers 50/50 raffle

The Brewers held a 50/50 charity raffle during Monday’s 8-1 win over the visiting Orioles at Miller Park.

The raffle had a celebrity winner.

The big rumor over the long July 4 weekend was a sexy one: The Chicago Cubs are interested in Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (and catcher Alex Avila).

Welcome back, Freddie Freeman. When Freeman fractured his wrist in mid-May, he was hitting an insane .341/.461/.748, and combined with his monster second half of 2016, he had established himself as perhaps the best hitter in the game. He returned to the Atlanta Braves’ lineup after just two rehab games and, sure enough, singled to center in his first at-bat. But the big news was he returned as a third baseman. He handled a routine grounder on his first chance:

Kato Kaelin, who is best-known as a witness during O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, attended the game with two family members and a friend and won the drawing.

The 6-10 Imhoff starred at the University of California under legendary coach Pete Newell. The Bears won the national championship in 1959, and Imhoff would go on to win a gold medal as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team in Rome. That team, featuring future NBA stars such as Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

After being selected third overall by the Knicks in the 1960 NBA Draft, Imhoff went on to a 12-year career in the league, playing with the Pistons, Lakers, 76ers, Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) and the Trail Blazers. Nicknamed “The Ax” for his physical play, Imhoff made the 1967 All-Star game while with the Lakers. For his career, Imhoff averaged 7.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

He was a radio analyst during the Blazers’ 1977 NBA Finals victory, the only championship in franchise history.warriors_003-115x115

The obvious comparison is John Elway, also a former player now calling the shots in Denver.

They sure did! You can’t accuse the 49ers of not thinking outside the box, though. Since retiring as a player in 2008, Lynch joined the broadcasting booth, serving as a color commentator for FOX until scoring his new gig this year. It was a surprising move, given that Lynch had no front-office experience up until now.

The obvious comparison is John Elway, also a former player now calling the shots in Denver. The difference is that Elway actually had years of experience working in a front office, even owning an AFL team at one point. His promotion to the Broncos’ GM role felt like a natural progression. Lynch is more being thrown into the fire, though at least he’ll be working closely with Shanahan.
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During a rant on ESPN’s First Take centered around Knicks president Phil Jackson earlier this week, Smith criticized Jackson’s decision to add Odom to the team’s roster late in the 2013-14 season.

His first move as the executive of the New York Knicks was to sign Lamar Odom, who was on crack! Smith said.

Smith later responded to Odom’s complaint and clarified that his tirade was intended for Jackson.
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Lamar Odom is simply one of the nicest athletes any of us have encountered, and has always been a gentlemen to everyone in NBA circles — including me — which is something I’ve repeated throughout the years, Smith said, via Deadspin.

That’s why it’s worth repeating: Lamar Odom was not the focus of my ire. My comments were entirely, totally, meant for Phil Jackson. Anyone who loves the NY Knicks, who’ve witnessed what has been transpiring over the last three years, know exactly who I was directing my comments to.

Odom underwent rehab after a three-day binge at a Nevada brothel in late 2015 ended with him being discovered nonresponsive. He was in a coma and spent several days on life support before recovering.

That probably climaxes a career and doesn’t take second place to anything

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I’m not saying I’m allergic to going anywhere else, but I just love being around here in this organization, Richardson said. I love being the underdog. It’s easy to go to an established franchise for a guy in my position and just go chase a ring. But I’d rather try to make one here.

Originally a 15th-round pick of the Colts in the 1960 NFL Draft, the former Ole Miss defender opted for the fledgling AFL. The Titans made him one of their first 32 players taken, in the second round, and he became a stalwart of the team’s defense.

Grantham retired with 24 interceptions and 19 forced fumbles and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in takeaways. He was added to the Jets Ring of Honor in 2011.

That probably climaxes a career and doesn’t take second place to anything, Grantham said at the time. I’m not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and sure, that’s a great big honor, but to me this honor with the Jets is unbelievable. Just think of all the players they’ve had up there from 1960 till now. It’s something I can’t put into words.

I had 13 wonderful years in New York, even with the Titans. Sometimes we didn’t get paid, but we had great times, and Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest coaches I ever played for. They’re all outstanding memories for me. I still get excited when I get fan mail. People have been awful good to me in New York.

Before he retired from football in 1974, Grantham played one season for the Florida Blazers of the start-up World Football League.
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Following his career, the former 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker joined the Jets radio broadcast team. He later had other business ventures and got into banking. He also worked closely with Freedom House, the New Jersey drug and alcohol treatment center, for more than two decades.