Cavs hoping Kendrick Perkins can provide veteran presence, sources say

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“The Alliance offers a unique opportunity to get back into coaching, this time for a spring season, and work closely with hungry, talented athletes looking to begin, revive or extend their professional careers,” Spurrier said per AAF.com.

“The fact I can do this in Orlando makes it that much sweeter. I’m fired up and ready to go.”

The AAF is scheduled to begin in 2019, after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

This will not be Spurrier’s first foray into professional coaching. Spurrier coached the Redskins in 2002 and 2003 and the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL for three seasons in the 1980s (1983-1985). He was 12-20 with the Redskins.

Kapler, also in his first season with the Phillies, has already come under scrutiny for several unorthodox moves in Philadelphia’s first seven games this season.

The manager drew the ire of fans on Opening Day when, with Philadelphia holding a 5-0 lead, he pulled starter Aaron Nola in the fifth inning after he had thrown 68 pitches in a game that the Phillies ultimately lost 8-5.

Arrieta struggled in the first inning Sunday afternoon, allowing three runs on three hits, including a solo home run.

But the former Cy Young Award winner settled down after his opening frame. He finished with five strikeouts and two walks while allowing three runs (two earned) in four innings. He retired 10 of his last 11 hitters.

Minnesota has two home games remaining against Memphis and Denver, and with Butler back just in time. Butler hit 7-of-10 shots and had four steals in 22 minutes against the Lakers (34-45).

The veteran guard said he felt winded at times and perhaps that showed when the 86.5 percent free throw shooter missed 4 of 8 attempts from the line.

“I gamble a lot on defense, I got lucky enough to get two early [steals] and [felt] winded a little bit, missed some free throws but other than that I felt pretty solid,” Butler said of his return.

“… We need them all,” Butler later added of each remaining game. “We need them all. We are not satisfied with just this one. We got a team that we haven’t beaten this year on Monday in Memphis. They have been whupping our tail all year long.”

Sports world remembers Sean Taylor on what would have been 35th birthday

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The sports world is remembering Sean Taylor on what would have been his 35th birthday.

The former Redskins and University of Miami safety died after being shot in the leg during a 2007 attempted robbery at his home at the age of 24. It’s been just over 11 years since Taylor’s tragic death, but he certainly left a legacy throughout his life and career.

Taylor was in conversations as one of the best players that ever played safety. He had the quickness of a cornerback and was the size of a strong-side linebacker in a rare combination of size, speed, strength and agility, and was a hard hitter.

Sporting News previously reported Olsen was interested in TV gig. During his bye week in November, Olsen called a game on Fox with Kevin Bukhardt, Charles Davis and Pam Oliver. He was also part of ESPN’s Super Bowl coverage.

If Witten and Olsen both return to the playing field in 2018, Thomas could be the last man standing, said a source.

I’m not sure, Westbrook said when asked if it was Harden’s turn to win MVP. Obviously he’s having a good year, a great year. Their team has the best record in the NBA. I’m not sure.

Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Rockets on the road Saturday night 108-102. Westbrook had 24 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and four steals; Harden collected 26 points, nine assists and four boards.

Before the game, Westbrook acknowledged that Harden is the leading candidate for MVP but said he doesn’t have a choice for his successor.

Nah, I don’t have a pick, Westbrook said. There’s a lot of guys doing a lot of great things in the league. Honestly, I don’t know kind of what you go off of, because MVP’s kind of been picked differently every year. So it depends what criteria, what it is that you guys vote for. But obviously he’s leading the charge at the moment.

Nuggets beat Trail Blazers 88-82 for 6th straight win

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The Denver Nuggets are playing playoff-caliber basketball. One more win and they’ll be doing it for real.

Facing elimination and an 11-point deficit midway through the third quarter Monday night, the Nuggets rallied past the Portland Trail Blazers 88-82 for their sixth consecutive victory.

The Trail Blazers scored 25 points off 18 offensive rebounds but managed only one bucket and two offensive boards in the fourth quarter, when they were held to 13 points.

Jokic scored 15 points, pulled down a season-best 20 rebounds and had 11 assists. Will Barton added 22 points, leading a comeback from an 11-point third-quarter deficit.

“It was a playoff tuneup,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Both teams competed at a high level. I was proud of the way we defended, especially when you’re having trouble making shots. I’m actually encouraged by the way we played, the way we fought. If we get those looks most of the time we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Before Jones does that, he will have to complete his rehab from shoulder surgery in January. He was hurt making a tackle on special teams late in the regular season.

Boldin and Jenkins previously had led player delegations to Congress on similar issues. While Jenkins and other players have directly connected with city and state lawmakers before, this week represented a larger push for coalition members to reach out through every level of government, not just the very top. On Monday, Davis, the longtime Jets linebacker signed earlier this month by the Saints, visited the New York state capitol on the same topics.

Davis’ change of teams, meanwhile, served as a reminder that the business of the NFL tended to aid their cause of having players engaged on as many teams as possible. Torrey Smith, who teamed with Jenkins in coalition activities with the Eagles last season, is another example. He was traded to the Panthers last week, his fourth team, meaning there is a new group of players he can entice into being more active.

Raiders News: Punter Marquette King, TE Clive Walford Cut

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The Oakland Raiders waived punter Marquette King and tight end Clive Walford, the team announced on Friday.

King, who joined the Raiders in 2012 as an undrafted free agent, spent the first six seasons of his career in the Bay Area. He averaged 46.8 yards per punt over the past five seasons and was rewarded for his rise with a five-year, $16.5 million extension in February 2016.

The University of Miami product looked like a possible breakout candidate following his rookie season, when he caught 28 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. However, he suffered a knee injury in an ATV accident the following spring, and his production failed to spike.

In 2017, Walford managed just nine catches for 80 yards. He played 12.9 percent of the team’s offensive snaps with Jared Cook and Lee Smith ahead of him on the depth chart.

Last season, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported that Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft were involved in a power struggle. Now, it appears Gronkowski may be a part of the drama in Foxborough.

When Gronkowski has been on the field, he has made Brady and Belichick’s life much easier. The 6’6, 265-pound tight end has recorded 474 catches for 7,179 yards and 76 touchdowns in the regular season during his eight-year career and an additional 972 yards and 12 scores in the playoffs.

Gronk was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in 2017 after catching 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns, adding 218 yards and three scores in the playoffs.

However, staying on the field has been tough. In the last six regular seasons, he has only averaged 12 games. Not only that, but he missed last year’s Super Bowl because of a back injury and also suffered a concussion this past postseason. He has also broken his forearm and torn his ACL and MCL.

The franchise tag for tight ends in 2018 was $9.846 million, so the Bengals saved some money in the deal.

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The media folks — nearly 70 of them, nearly all from Japan — in attendance Monday at Salt River Fields already knew the drill. The television contingent congregated along the baseline of the U-shaped formation, with the reporters and camera operators crowded next to their cameras and tripods, and the boom mics laid out in front, in aesthetically pleasing parallel lines.

The writers stood bunched together on either side of the horseshoe formation, leaving a comfortable gap in the middle for a certain star baseball player to answer questions without being too crowded.

The Bengals got just four receptions out of Eifert last season before back and knee problems ended the tight end’s season.

It’s nothing new for the 27-year-old, who has played 39 games in his NFL career and missed 41.

It also treats “knowing the system” like it’s the most valuable skill imaginable, as if the offensive mind the Bears are trusting to mold their franchise quarterback couldn’t possibly teach another veteran passer the complexities and mysteries of Andy Reid’s offense.

It’s easier to have Daniel around, of course, but this deal has $7 million in guarantees.

If Daniel collects the $10 million on this contract, it will take him to $34.3 million in earnings as an NFL quarterback.

To this point, he has thrown all of 78 regular-season passes, which have produced a combined passer rating of 81.1.

Of Sporting News’ top 101 free agents, seven of the 10 highest ranked players on the list are still available as we hit Valentine’s Day, and The Athletic is making more moves than most teams right now.

Arizona won 93 games last year, reaching the division series after beating Colorado in the wild-card game, but we can’t possibly know how its offseason went until J.D. Martinez picks a team. If Martinez goes to Boston, that immediately validates the Red Sox’s quiet offseason while leaving the Snakes without a player who bashed an absurd 29 home runs in 62 regular season games last season after being acquired in July from Detroit. Martinez’s decision also impacts N.L West rivals Colorado and San Francisco, after both teams made key veteran acquisitions to try competing with Arizona and Los Angeles in the division.

Benson’s succession plan had been to hand control of the Saints and Pelicans to his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc.

He suddenly reversed that plan, changing his will to transfer control over the teams to his wife, Gayle, instead.

Catchers Martin Maldonado, Willson Contreras ‘don’t care’ about mound visits rule

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Major League Baseball is trying to shorten games. One of the new rules announced this week to quicken pace of play is a limit on visits to the pitching mound.

Should a team exceed six trips to the mound during the first nine innings of a game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball officer Joe Torre said umpires will tell the coach, manager, catcher or any other player to return to the dugout or their position. Violating that order could result in an ejection from the game and/or fine from MLB.

Certainly, arguments can be made for the Giants, Yankees, Cubs and Rockies as the “winners” of the offseason. But when it comes to waiting out the market, getting good value signings and plugging some holes, the Mets handled it masterfully.

Don’t get used to it.

The Rays received pitcher Daniel Hudson, minor league infielder Tristan Gray and cash considerations from the Pirates.

Tampa Bay recently traded for Angels first baseman C.J. Cron, while shipping starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins. All eyes are now on Chris Archer as the Rays enter full rebuild mode.

Meh. This is a group that can really catch the ball, and it’s got a chance to pitch pretty darn well too. The offense just isn’t up to snuff, though. Even if Brinson totally breaks out, he may not be the sort of player who can carry an offense. He’s got a chance to be an exceptional player, but a lot his value is going to come from his defense. Bour, Realmuto, Castro and Kiermaier simply can’t be a team’s best hitters if the team plans on being anything more than a spoiler.

Texas college coach fired for rebuffing recruit over Colorado’s marijuana law

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Texas Wesleyan baseball coach and former major-leaguer Mike Jeffcoat has been fired for telling a potential recruit that the team was not interested in players from Colorado because of the state’s marijuana laws, CBS’s Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate is reporting.

Bell told Denver’s NBC affiliate (via NBC’s DFW affil), “I just felt bad for myself because I felt like it was my fault that this all happened and I couldn’t do anything about it because I didn’t really know anything about it in the first place. I’m a good student-athlete. I’m just sad that he couldn’t take a chance on me, because of what is going on in the state of Colorado. Not even having a background check on me.”

In a statement that preceded Jeffcoat’s firing, Texas Wesleyan said the “political legislation of one’s home state” indeed falls into the university’s anti-discrimination policy, along with “race, color, origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability (and) sexuality. …

“This email does not reflect our values and we do not condone discrimination,” the statement continued. “… We are committed to providing an inclusive campus for all of our students, faculty, staff, visitors, potential students and their families.”

In 1995, the Simpson was infamously?found not guilty in the murders of his ex-wife and Goldman. Two years later, Simpson was found liable?for their deaths in a civil trial and was ordered to pay over $33 million to the families of the victims.?

The Giants had?suspended Rodgers-Cromartie?indefinitely last season?after a string of incidents, including walking out of the team’s facility, but he was later?reinstated.

Rodgers-Cromartie, 31, has 439 combined tackles and 30 interceptions throughout his 11-season career.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is done in New York.

The Giants have informed the veteran cornerback that he?is being released Sunday.

NFL Draft 2018: Baker Mayfield continues fight against Johnny Manziel comparisons

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Ahead of April’s NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield’s scouting report on the field is largely similar to Johnny Manziel’s — a dynamic playmaker on the college level who put up wild numbers and collected plenty of hardware.

“And I didn’t want to be portrayed as the villain or somebody like that. I feel like I make a lot of people happy. I do good things within my community. I’m not trying to say those cover up any mistakes that I’ve made, but there’s always a learning curve when you’re growing up. And for me, it happened that I was in the spotlight when I made my mistakes.”

NFL teams have two more months to decide whether they believe Mayfield really is different from Manziel, or if a high draft pick isn’t worth risking on a QB with a propensity to rub others the wrong way.

The Instagram post, which came from a private but verified account, included a photo of a gun and bullets and was hashtagged #HarvardWestlake and #MiamiDolphins. Former Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, as well as two other people, were tagged in the post.

When looking back at the Wells investigation released in February 2014, text messages between Martin and his parents reveal deep-seeded issues related to his time at Harvard-Westlake.

The following is a text Martin sent to his mother on April 22, 2013:

“I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me. I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I’m a huge pussy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size. I would never fight back, just get sad & feel like no one wanted to be my friend, when in fact I was just being socially awkward. Most people in that situation are witty & quick with sarcastic replies, I never have been. I’m awkward around people a lot of the time because I simply don’t know how to act around them…

McCollum scores 26, Blazers end Utah’s 11-game win streak

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CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard believe the crucial stretch of the long NBA season starts now and the Portland Trail Blazers have laser-like focus.

“We understand what’s at stake now,” McCollum said. “One game — a loss or a win — could sway the Western Conference playoff race.”

McCollum scored 26 points, Lillard added 24 and the Trail Blazers snapped the Utah Jazz’s 11-game winning streak with a 100-81 victory on Friday night.

Donovan Mitchell had 21 points for Utah. Rudy Gobert scored 15 and Joe Ingles contributed 12 but the Jazz were sloppy with ball.

During their long winning streak, the Jazz consistently came up with loose balls in key scramble situations. Against Portland, the Jazz couldn’t seem to hold on to the basketball, committing 20 turnovers and having numerous rebounds and passes squirt right through their hands.

“Turning the ball over as much as we did makes it really difficult. Obviously, we struggled on the offensive end. To me, it really starts there,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “We just didn’t have that juice.”

The Hornets have had no contact with Kupchak on a possible position, league sources said. Kupchak won two NBA titles as Lakers GM before he was swept out in 2017 upon the arrival of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.

Kupchak became the Lakers’ full-time GM in 2000, and he engineered the Pau Gasol trade in 2008 that led to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. He orchestrated a three-way deal with New Orleans and Houston that would have delivered All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Lakers in 2011, but that was ultimately vetoed by commissioner David Stern.

Charlotte could miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season with a payroll that ranks 10th in the NBA at $117 million. Charlotte has a projected $119 million payroll for the 2018-19 season, with every player under contract except Michael Carter-Williams and Treveon Graham.

Cho was promoted over former president of basketball operations Rod Higgins on draft night in 2014. Charlotte made two trips to the playoffs during Cho’s tenure — in 2014 and 2016.

Traditionally, dunk contests were led by stars in the 1980s and beyond, with Jordan and Dominique Wilkins winning competitions.

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This is my 18th edition of Kings of Command (or at least some form of it, though the title has changed over the years), and in those 18 seasons, pitching trends have endured quite the roller-coaster ride.

This analysis began in the steroid era, progressed through a pitching-rich era in the early 2010s, and has now returned to a homer-happy era. Along the way, the league’s strikeout rate has risen monumentally. In 2001, the first year for which I published a list like the one you’ll read below, the average major league strikeout rate was 17.3 percent. Last season, it was a record-high 21.6 percent, and in fact, 2017 was the 10th consecutive season in which a new major league record in the category was set.

Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten earned a bronze medal in Sochi, but he couldn’t follow up that performance here with only a 70.12 score. Ten didn’t even qualify for the final round when all was said and done.

Vincent Zhou is the first American up, skating to Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. He got off to a hot start by landing his historic quad lutz, but the triple toe followup was less than perfect. Otherwise, it was a solid Olympic debut, earning a personal-best score of 84.53.

But as time went on from 1984 when the contest began, fans watched players perform the same dunks over and over again. It got bland to the point where stars no longer wished to compete.

That’s how we were left with the lifeless, subpar battle between rookies Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen, Michael Finley and three What’s His Names? (Chris Carr, Bob Sura and Darvin Ham).

The contest featured extremely basic and already seen dunks, including an Allen double-pump fake — which LeBron James has done regularly in real games before — and a Bryant through-the-legs dunk that was executed worse than when it debuted three years earlier.

Starting in 1998, the NBA introduced the 2Ball competition to replace the dunk contest. It lasted three seasons (a lockout canceled the entire 1999 All-Star Weekend) until 2001.