MLB NEWS & NOTES

Photo: Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black waits to be introduced during pregame at Wrigley Field before playing the Chicago Cubs in the NL West Wild Card playoff game Oct. 2, 2018.

Manager Bud Black signs 3-year contract By Denver Post

Adorable: Rob Manfred thinks the Braves are taking out the Tomahawk Chop By Craig Calcaterra Hard Ball Talk

Aaron Hicks gets $70 million deal from Yankees By Joel Sherman New York Post

Manny Machado, Padres have a clear path to long-term contention if they follow these four steps By CBS Sports

Addison Russell returns to field, braces for fan wrath over domestic-violence suspension By Gordon Wittenmyer

MLB’s Instagram Claps Back At User Calling Mookie Betts ‘Overrated By NESN

Clayton Kershaw to resume throwing on Monday By Jesse Reed Sportsnaut

Aaron Boone doesn’t rule out Yankees using an ‘opener By George A. King III New York Post

‘I felt uncomfortable’: Reacclimation process begins for Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera By , The Detroit News

MLB to Celebrate Jackie Robinson 100th Birthday in 2019 By , USA TODAY

 

 

 

 

BRYCE HARPER AND DODGERS TALKS HEATING UP

Photo Getty Images The Bryce Harper sweepstakes is heating up even more. The Dodgers have re-entered the race to sign the free-agent outfielder, ESPN reported, citing multiple league sources. However, the Dodgers are offering only a short-term deal, per MLB.com, which is not what Harper reportedly wants. He’s still pushing for a long-term contract akin to what … Read moreBRYCE HARPER AND DODGERS TALKS HEATING UP

DUKE NOT RUSHING WILLIAMSON, KANSAS LOOKING FOR 15 STRAIGHT BIG-12 REGULAR SEASON TITLES

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Photo: Sporting News

Duke has no plans to shut down Zion Williamson after the freshman sensation suffered a knee injury earlier this week, according to coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The Blue Devils coach explained Saturday after his team topped Syracuse, 75-65, that he hasn’t had any conversations with Williamson or his family about ending the forward’s collegiate career earlier than expected.

“We would never play a kid who’s not ready,” Krzyzewski said, per ESPN. “We would never play a youngster who didn’t want to play. It’s not about that. He wants to play. He loves being at Duke.

“He doesn’t like being injured. It’s an injury you can get over in a shorter period of time. There’s just a protocol that we have to go through to make sure he’s completely ready. We’re not rushing anything, so that’s why we said day to day because it’s literally day to day.” From Chelsea Howard Omnisport

Williamson, projected by many as a potential top pick in June’s draft, suffered a mild knee sprain less than 40 seconds into his team’s rivalry matchup against North Carolina on Wednesday. He slipped, ripped open his shoe and fell to the ground before walking off to the locker room for further evaluation. He did not return to that game and missed Saturday’s game.

“He’s in good spirits and everything,” Blue Devils guard Tre Jones said of Williamson. “There’s no rush on whatever is best for him. Make sure his health comes first before everything.” From AMEER TYREE

The process of writing off Kansas in its quest for a 15th straight Big 12 regular-season title began in early February, after the Jayhawks lost by seven at Kansas State. But after a three-game win streak for Kansas, a home loss by Kansas State and some Bill Self voodoo, suddenly the Jayhawks were only one game out of first place entering the weekend. Continue Reading By Jeff Borzello

From ESPN

It’s still possible for Kansas to extend its streak of consecutive Big 12 championships to 15. But it’s no longer a likely scenario now that the Jayhawks are tied for third in the league standings, and two games back of Kansas State, with just four regular-season games remaining. Continue Reading By

Kentucky coach John Calipari is in favor of the NBA’s latest move to end its one-and-done draft rule. Jon Hale, Louisville Courier Journal

Lowering the NBA age limit would not raise the caliber of college basketball. It would not plug the pipelines that provide Duke and Kentucky with the best talent. It would not bring parity to a sport long dominated by self-perpetuating powers.

What it would do is cause more high school players to make more irrevocable mistakes and eliminate some of the embarrassment American universities feel for acting as accomplices for quasi-students. As reported by USA Today, the NBA proposal to lower the league’s age limit from 19 to 18 is an idea with strong appeal on a libertarian level, one that would restore the perception of college as a choice rather than an obligation for high-level hoopsters, but while virtually guaranteeing some unpleasant and unintended consequences. Continue Reading By , Louisville Courier Journal

From left, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and Duke Coach Krzyzewski after their team’s matchup on Saturday. Photo: Nick Lisi/Associated Press

Jim Boeheim, the Hall of Fame coach of the Syracuse Orange, returned to the bench Saturday night, three days after he had struck and killed a pedestrian on a darkened highway.

Boeheim’s first public appearance since the crash that killed Jorge Jimenez, 51, on Wednesday night near Syracuse, N.Y., was in a 75-65 loss at home to top-ranked Duke and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a close friend. Boeheim, 74, in his 43rd season as coach at his alma mater, received an ovation from a record crowd of 35,642. Continue Reading By The Associated Press

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Photo: (Getty Images)

If an opponent called Complacency indeed is the most significant challenge remaining on the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ schedule, that poor victim is taking a beating that would lead even the most ardent masochist to signal surrender.

Complacency? Gonzaga by 30 over BYU.

Complacency? Gonzaga by 30 over San Francisco.

Complacency? Gonzaga by 48 over Saint Mary’s.

How is this a discussion? The Bulldogs have not relaxed for an instant. They are winning their West Coast Conference games by an average of 28 points, every single one of them decided by a double-figure margin. They have not lost in 66 days, and their winning streak stands at 16 games. Continue Reading By Mike DeCourcy

Top international prospect Oumar Ballo has committed to Gonzaga, a source told ESPN.

A 6-foot-10 Malian center with a 7-6 wingspan, Ballo averaged 21 points and 17 rebounds at the FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Argentina last summer. He is only 16 but will enroll this summer as a 2019 recruit.

Ballo plays at the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City. He took part in the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp at NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, last weekend as one of youngest participants.

Ballo came to the attention of NBA scouts and college coaches two years ago with a dominant performance at the FIBA U16 African Championship. He averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game despite having turned 15 just days before the tournament. From Jonathan Givony ESPN

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION ROUND UP ZION, DURANT, ANTHONY TOWNS

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Newark Star-Ledger reports as the NBA season comes down the stretch, Madison Square Garden won’t be preparing for playoff basketball.

Instead, a look ahead to the NBA Draft lottery and 2019 NBA Draft will dominate conversation in New York and around a franchise that desperately needs luck (both in the draft and free agency) this coming summer.

If the Knicks do land the top choice, two Duke freshman could be there for the choosing: Athletic freak Zion Williamson and smooth forward R.J. Barrett.

Dime Magazine reports in the latest 2019 NBA mock draft from Tankathon, Williamson (despite a scary knee injury in the recent Duke vs. North Carolina game) went No. 1 in simulations. Barrett, the less-heralded Blue Devil, went No. 2.

While the Duke Blue Devils got relatively good news when the diagnosis on Zion Williamson’s knee injury came in, the superstar freshman reportedly won’t be able to take the floor the next time the team suits up.

Williamson was ruled day-to-day with a knee sprain that he suffered in the opening minute of Duke’s loss to North Carolina, and according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium, the injury is expected to hold him out for this weekend’s showdown with Syracuse.

Marcus Smart would enjoy basketball a lot more if modern NBA players hooped the way it was done in the ’60s and ’70s. Smart says the League today is too “cute” and lacks the type of physical play he thrives on. The 24-year-old Celtics fan favorite re-upped in Boston on a four-year, $52 million extension last summer. Continue Reading By 

Karl Anthony Towns

The Minnesota Timberwolves may be without Karl-Anthony Towns in their first game back from the All-Star break on Friday, as the big man was involved in a car accident the day prior. Continue Reading By Steve DelVecchio

Cyrus Saatsaz | Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Cyrus Saatsaz | Wikimedia Commons

The New York Rangers held their 25th anniversary celebration for their legendary 1993-1994 championship team. When the 1993 season started, the Rangers were an organization and fan base that was experiencing a 54-year Stanley Cup drought stretching back to 1940.

When analyzing how this team was built, it’s clear that it was based around a few things. Among them was young talent in goaltender Mike Richter, drafted in 1985 by the Rangers, as well as defenseman Brian Leetch, selected ninth overall by the team in the 1986 draft.

However, the biggest acquisition was Mark Messier, when he was traded to the Rangers from the Edmonton Oilers in 1991. Before this, Messier was a five-time Stanley Cup champion in Edmonton and a league MVP, as he was a key player along with Wayne Gretzky. Even when Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, two years later, Messier captained the last of those championship teams. Continue Reading By Sean McCarthy-Coyle

Damian Lillard, J. Cole, Blazers

The NBA loves itself some J. Cole. The seven-time Grammy-nominated rapper frequently mixes in basketball references to his songs, whether about his own playing days as a teenager in North Carolina or name-dropping some of the game’s biggest stars. Asked on Friday who was his favorite rapper during a takeover his team’s Twitter account, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard answered simply and succinctly. Continue Reading By 

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Photo: GETTY IMAGE

You’d think someone like Shaquille O’Neal would be content with being one of the most dominant basketball players of all time, but if you’ve ever felt the urge to buy car insurance because he told you to, you know he’s a man of many talents.

In the early 90s, Shaq burst onto the scene in a big way and immediately established himself as a force to be reckoned with—but I’m not talking about his performance on the court.

In 1993, the world was treated to Shaq Diesel, a rap album filled with some surprisingly hot tracks that actually managed to land on the charts. Continue Reading By 

Photo: USA Today

Finally, we’ve arrived. The stretch run of the 2018-19 NBA season is here, and with it come the games that will define the campaign and change the landscape of the upcoming postseason.

The final 20-plus games of the year are going to be thrilling to watch unfold, as teams will be fighting and jockeying for position, with some hoping to earn a spot that will allow them to host a playoff series or two, and others just hoping to qualify for the playoffs, period.

Obviously, some organizations lucked out in having the toughest part of their schedule early in the year, when they were as close to full health as possible. Others, however, have the misfortune of facing a buzzsaw to close the season, one that could knock them out of postseason contention altogether. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Basketball Insider

The day after the trade deadline passed, LeBron James had some interesting things to say about the arms race that was going down between the Eastern Conference titans.

“They know they ain’t gotta go through Cleveland anymore,” James said. “Everybody in the East thinks they can get to the Finals because they ain’t gotta go through me.”

It’s notable that the Lakers are currently toeing the line between making the playoffs and playing the lottery odds. That does, however, beg the question: What if LeBron stayed in Cleveland?

Now if that had happened, then a lot of things would probably be different for the Cavaliers right now. There’s no telling if they would have kept the pick the Nets owed them, or if they would be playing Kyle Korver, George Hill, and J.R. Smith right now.

It would have added another intriguing wrinkle to what has been the tightest formerly-five-currently-four-man race going on at the top of the Eastern Conference in quite some time. Whether you agree that Cleveland would still be the frontrunner in the East with James, there doesn’t really appear to be a clear-cut favorite to represent the East anymore. Plenty of fans and analysts would give their takes on who stands out among the pack, but there’s no consensus pick. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Taurean Prince finished the 2017-18 season with an offensive fury. In his last 17 games during that campaign, he averaged 19.9 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting from the floor and 39.5 percent from beyond the three-point line. A massive leap from his previous statistics, there were plenty of questions as to what to make of it. It was certainly a small sample size. Also, there were not a ton of good offensive players on the roster with whom he would need to compete to earn scoring opportunities. However, many observers took some optimism about the future of the then second-year wing. “Would Prince enter the 2018-19 season as the team’s best player?” was a frequently debated question as the roster was reformed over the offseason. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I never looked that happy walking up to one of these when I owned it. Worst effing car I ever had. I’d gotten it second- (or third- or eighth-) hand. It had a few… idiosyncracies. Like:

  • It was ugly. Like a giant sat on an AMC Pacer. Girls were NOT impressed when you pulled up next to them in this car. Smooth.
  • It smelled like cat pee when the Colorado weather was warmer than 80 degrees.
  • None of my friends could drive it, as the stick configuration was upside down of EVERY OTHER CAR ON THE PLANET, and having first be down-and-to-the-left seemed to be tantamount to nuclear fusion.
  • The backseat had existed once, but someone had done something pretty drastic back there an owner or two back, and now it was suitable for non-flat storage.
  • The stereo had a short in the dash. When the music stopped, I could get it going again by punching the top of the dash as hard as I could. It had happened often enough it had developed a soft spot. Continue Reading By  

The Rockets will sign former first-round pick Terrence Jones and rookie guard Chris Chiozza to 10-day contracts to bring them up to the required roster size of 14 players, a person with knowledge of the agreements said on Thursday. Both had been playing in the G League and will be assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Houston Chronicle

After being injured in his last game before participating in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend, Rodions Kurucs sat for Thursday’s 113-99 loss to the Trail Blazers. Considering the Nets are 24-17 when Kurucs plays and a gaudy 18-11 when he starts, but now are just 6-13 when he doesn’t get on the court, his absence was conspicuous — and more than a little curious. NY Post

Portland’s Enes Kanter, who had been persona non grata at the Garden and stuck on the Knicks’ bench, had 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and nine boards in his Blazers debut. “The last time I got a win, I think it was almost two months. Winning feels good again,” said Kanter, who was used in just three of his last dozen games for the Knicks and hadn’t won since Jan. 4. “I’m just happy to go out there again, going out there and playing with my teammates. I’m trying to make everyone better.” NY Post

For the first time in his life tonight, DeRozan will play a road game in Toronto. He still isn’t quite sure how to feel about that. “At some point, I know it’s going to hit me,” DeRozan said Thursday night during a free-wheeling 25-minute, standing-room only news conference at the Spurs’ hotel. So much has happened since July 18, when DeRozan was traded to the Spurs in a summertime blockbuster that sent Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Great White North. Express News

With Clint Capela back in the starting lineup after missing 15 games following thumb surgery, the Rockets went from not having enough centers to not having enough playing time for the centers they have. That allowed them to experiment with a lineup they had not used this season, with Kenneth Faried playing at power forward where the Rockets had been looking at options for a backup for P.J. Tucker. Houston Chronicle

PATRIOTS OWNER ROBERT KRAFT FACING PROSTITUTION CHARGES

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Darin Gantt reports New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been named in a Florida prostitution sting.

Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said Kraft was among the individuals caught at a “spa”, and was charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution.

The 77-year-old Kraft owns a property in the Palm Beach area.

Via WPTV, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said earlier this week about 100 men would be arrested.

“The tentacles of this go from here to New York to China, in Florida from here to Orange County,” Snyder said. “I think it’s very safe to say without any hyperbole that this is the tip of the iceberg.”

Josh Alper reports police in Jupiter, Florida announced on Friday that they have charged Patriots owner Robert Kraft with two counts of soliciting prostitution.

Kraft is accused of visiting a massage parlor to solicit sex acts and the police department said they have video evidence to back up the charge. A spokesperson for Kraft responded to those charges in a statement later on Friday that denied Kraft did anything illegal.

“We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”

Kraft and all other NFL owners are subject to league discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy. With much more to play out in this story, it remains to be seen if that will be on the table or not.

Mike Florio reports the National Football League has issued a statement regarding the criminal investigation involving Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments,” the league said in a statement.

Kraft is accused of solicitation of prostitution. He has strongly denied the charges.

The charges are misdemeanor in nature, entailing maximum jail time of 60 days. Kraft could face league discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy.

NEWS & NOTES FROM THE MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Now that Manny Machado’s 10-year, $300MM deal with the Padres has been announced, Bryce Harper and agent Scott Boras have a definitive bar to attempt to clear as they seek a record-setting contract of their own. Yesterday’s slate of rumors on Harper had a series of updates on how the Phillies, Nats, White Sox and Giants view the former NL MVP now that Machado is off the board. Here’s a look at the latest chatter on “Harper’s Bazaar” as the long, drawn-out saga inches toward a resolution… From 


​The San Diego Padres stunned the baseball world by signing superstar Manny Machado to the ​largest free agent contract in U.S. sports history earlier this week.

It appears that despite the monolithic deal, they’re not out on the offseason’s other top free agent, Bryce Harper.

According to Jon Heyman, the team’s ownership will meet on Friday to determine whether or not they plan to pursue Harper. It seems like a long shot, especially considering they’re a small market team that has shelled out big bucks in two consecutive offseasons for free agents, but they seem determined to field a truly competitive team in 2019. More From 

 


The Padres have formally announced the signing and confirmed the terms of the contract (10 years, $300MM). To clear room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Dinelson Lamet was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Per Heyman, the deal will pay Machado $30MM annually and contain a six-team no-trade clause (Twitter links). Technically, the first season of the deal is paid out in the form of a $10MM salary and a $20MM signing bonus — that latter of which is not subject to the same level of taxation as Machado’s actual salary. Machado will play third base in San Diego. From 


 

Though Spring Training is underway, let’s move on to our 15th team payroll projection. Below find the links to the earlier posts in this series.

Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels
Atlanta Braves
New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers
San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs
New York Mets
San Diego Padres

Today, we look into a club whose rebuild earned a World Series win, yet who finds itself with a rotation in flux: the Houston Astros.

This year’s team has been assembled by general manager Jeff Luhnow, who took the reins in Houston in December 2011, shortly after Crane’s purchase was finalized, after nearly a decade running the Cardinals’ scouting department. Luhnow utilized his drafting prowess over his first few drafts to add stars like Carlos CorreaLance McCullers Jr., and Alex Bregman, with others such as Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker close to contributing. Infamously, Luhnow also whiffed on a pair of number one overall picks in right-hander Mark Appel and left-hander Brady Aiken, though Luhnow salvaged his losses by flipping Appel to Philadelphia as a minor piece in the Ken Giles trade and recouping a compensation pick for Aiken going unsigned that became Bregman. From 


Duke star Zion Williamson sustained a Grade 1 right knee sprain and will be listed as day-to-day moving forward, the school announced. The injury news comes as a sigh of relief for Williamson, who exited the game shortly after suffering the injury on Wednesday. From Arthur Hill


The NBA has submitted an official proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would lower the draft-eligible age from 19 to 18, according to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.

The NBPA and executive director Michele Roberts planned to review the proposal on Monday at a post-All-Star break meeting, Sam Amick adds.

Both the NBA and the NBPA have held extensive discussions on lowering the age throughout the season, but two significant hurdles remain in the way: Commissioner Adam Silver wanting player-agents to provide medical information on prospects for NBA teams, and the league wanting to mandate that players attend and give some form of participation during the pre-draft combine, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. To this point, the NBPA has pushed back against both of these ideas. From JD Shaw


After some up-and-down play in the early going this season, the Warriors have looked like their old selves over the last several weeks, winning 18 of their last 21 games to cement their spot atop the Western Conference. While there was never any doubt that Golden State would be the team to beat in the West, it remains unclear which conference rival will be the Dubs’ biggest threat this spring.

The Nuggets and Thunder currently have comfortable holds on the second and third seeds in the West and are in good position to capture home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. However, both squads are unproven in the playoffs — Oklahoma City hasn’t won a postseason series since Kevin Durant‘s departure in 2016, and Denver hasn’t even made the postseason since 2013. Led by a pair of MVP candidates in Nikola Jokic and Paul George, the Nuggets and Thunder are formidable, but neither team looks like a lock to advance to the Western Finals. From Luke Adams

 

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

It’s been pretty quiet around Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds of late, but TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that “interest has intensified” over the last couple of days. LeBrun speculates that the Flyers’ recent streak of success may have quelled the Simmonds market as the team became re-focused on a playoff push, but he feels the results of their next few games will ultimately determine if and when Simmonds is dealt. More likely than not, the impending free agent power forward will be playing elsewhere by Monday.

Even after the Charlie Coyle acquisition, many believe that the Boston Bruins are not done. TSN’s Darren Dreger applauded the trade, but noted that the Bruins did not have to give up much and are likely still in the market for another scoring forward. The Bruins announced this evening that center Trent Frederic has been assigned to the AHL and winger Peter Cehlarik has been recalled, further enforcing the idea that Boston prefers to play Coyle at third-line center. That would still leave a hole on the second line next to David Krejci. Dreger names New York Rangers Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes as among those the Bruins are targeting to further help out their secondary scoring. From 


There’s a very good chance that, in the end, the Los Angeles Kings will have traded Tanner Pearson, a first-round pick who scored 144 points for them and helped them win a Stanley Cup, for nothing, zip, nada, zero.

Think about it. The Kings dealt Pearson three months ago to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Carl Hagelin, a player who missed 20 games with a knee injury and scored all of one goal and four assists in 22 games for them. That brings us to Thursday when the Kings turned around and dealt Hagelin to the Washington Capitals, a team that will instead use him as the utility player he is for another playoff run, then either allow him to leave as an unrestricted free agent or have him re-sign on a minimal offer. And the Kings get in return a third-round pick and, if the Capitals win two playoff rounds and Hagelin plays in half of those games, an additional sixth-round pick. More From 



NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

A year ago, 24 of the league’s 32 teams made changes to at least one of their head coach, offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator spots, and many of those hirings turned into major stories throughout the 2018 season. New head coaches Matt Nagy and Frank Reich led the Bears and Colts, respectively, to the postseason during their first go-rounds in charge, while new Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur leveraged his one-year stint as a play-caller to become the next Packers head coach.

Which new coaches could make a similar impact this year? We may have to wait to find out, but there are certainly plenty of candidates. The full breakdown of 2019’s major coaching changes from around the league is below:

Head coaches:

Offensive coordinators:

Defensive coordinators:

Special teams coordinators:

Other 2018 OCs, DCs with new jobs:

  • Atlanta Falcons: Hired former Chiefs DC Bob Sutton as a senior assistant.
  • Cleveland Browns: Hired former Cardinals DC Al Holcomb as run game coordinator/linebackers coach.
  • New York Jets: Hired former Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter as running backs coach.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: Hired former Dolphins DC Matt Burke as a defensive assistant.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Hired former Bengals DC Teryl Austin as a senior defensive assistant/secondary.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Hired former Broncos DC Joe Woods as passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Hired former Jets DC Kacy Rodgers as defensive line coach.
  • Washington Redskins: Re-assigned former OC Matt Cavanaugh as a senior offensive assistant. From Dallas Robinson

    The 2019 NFL Draft is fast approaching, but a lot can change in terms of players’ stocks before it arrives in late April. As teams get closer looks at the top prospects at the NFL Combine in late February and pro day workouts in March, some will rise or fall on draft boards around the league.

    For now, here is a look at the best 100 players available in the 2019 NFL Draft regardless of position, and how high each might be selected based on team needs, position scarcity and other factors. See the List From Vinnie Iyer

THE INJURY HEARD AROUND THE WORLD OR AT LEAST IN NORTH CAROLINA

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Photo: Getty Image

Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson was forced out of Wednesday night’s game against rival North Carolina after just 36 seconds with what Blue Devils coach Mike Kzryzewski called a “mild knee sprain.” Continue Reading By Ryan McGee

Many talented Duke basketball players have taken the Cameron Indoor floor to face North Carolina over the years, from Shane Battier to J.J. Redick to Jayson Tatum.

Few had the hype freshman sensation Zion Williamson brought to the storied rivalry Wednesday night. But in the first minute against the Tar Heels, Williamson suffered a knee injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest. That setback seemed to stun Duke, and North Carolina rolled to an 88-72 victory. Continue Reading By Dan Bernstein

Zion Williamson Sneaker Blowout Floor

Photo: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Tonight, all eyes were on Cameron Indoor Stadium, the stage for the latest chapter of the storied rivalry between North Carolina and Duke Basketball. This matchup in particular was intriguing due to it being the rivalry debut of high touted freshman standout Zion Williamson, the overwhelming favorite to be selected with the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Prior to tip-off, tickets for the game were reportedly selling for an average of more the $3,000 and among the notable names in the crowd was none other than former President Barack Obama. All the ingredients were in place for one of the year’s most exciting nights of basketball. Then, the Sneaker Blowout Heard ‘Round the World took place. Continue Reading By 

Nike has been outfitting Duke’s basketball team since 1993, but it’s possible that the sports-apparel giant was never so happy with the arrangement as this year, given that among the current group of Blue Devils is one Zion Williamson. For his part, Williamson was never under more of a spotlight than Wednesday night, when the front-runner to be taken No. 1 overall in June’s NBA draft squared off for the first time this season with Duke’s arch-nemesis, North Carolina.

Unfortunately for Williamson and college basketball fans everywhere — and very unfortunately for Nike — Williamson didn’t last long against the Tar Heels, because he was forced from the game in the first minute with a knee injury. The mishap occurred as the 285-pound forward was planting his left foot to pivot — and his shoe exploded. Continue Reading By Des Bieler

The entire NBA world will have an eye on Duke-North Carolina on Wednesday night, tuning in more for Zion Williamson than the pageantry of the historic rivalry. It’s fitting for the audience to match the atmosphere, as this game has collected the buzz of an enormous NBA clash, with tickets hitting Super Bowl prices and preview commercials running every hour on the hour.

Of course, with the game being framed this way, Sports Illustrated‘s NBA staff had to weigh in. In advance of the game, we asked our staff what team they would most like to see land Zion Williamson. Continue Reading By  THE CROSSOVER STAFF

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Photo: Getty Image

Former President Barack Obama was in attendance for Wednesday night’s upset by the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels of the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke University officials had increased security with the likelihood that Obama would be in attendance, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports earlier Wednesday.

The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

Obama was video-taped pregame by ABC11’s Mark Armstrong high-fiving fans and later was captured by ESPN cameras. Continue Reading By 

Former President Barack Obama looks on during the first half between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels.

Former President Barack Obama looks on during the first half between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels. (Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)

The 44th president of the United States is taking in one of the biggest college basketball games of the year.

Former President Barack Obama was spotted at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday before No. 1 Duke takes on No. 8 North Carolina in one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

Obama is a known basketball fan as he was famous for walking ESPN through his March Madness bracket during his two terms as the Commander-in-Chief.

The Duke-North Carolina game is one of the toughest and most expensive tickets to grab this season. One fan bought four tickets for $9,080.25 each, according to the Action Network. From Thomas Lott

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Photo: Sporting News

The Duke Blue Devils had just won a basketball game by 21 points that was played against an opponent with five NCAA championships in its past. This may seem routine by now, given that it was contested at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but even at that it was rather jarring to hear Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski using the occasion to address circumstances from a game the team played last week. This would be the antithesis of “taking it one game at a time.” Continue Reading By Mike DeCourcy

It took less than a minute for Wednesday night’s matchup between No. 1 Duke and No. 8 North Carolina to turn on its heels — literally.

Only 34 seconds in, Blue Devils star Zion Williamson blew out his shoe after an attempted about-face driving the lane, and with it went Williamson’s night — he did not return and instead watched the game from the training room — and Duke’s chances to win. North Carolina would score first on the ensuing possession, and with the air sucked out of Cameron Indoor Stadium, it never trailed in a dominant 88-72 win.

Williamson’s injury took the life out of Duke, which looked listless throughout. The Blue Devils had a chance to cut the lead to a single possession just before half, getting to within five, but UNC went on a surge to extend its lead to 10 and it never got closer.

Luke Maye led UNC with one of his strongest showings of the season, scoring 30 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Senior Cam Johnson added 26 points, while touted freshmen Coby White and Nassir Little combined for 11 points.

For Duke, RJ Barrett tied his career-high with 33 points, and Cameron Reddish added 27. But no other Blue Devils player added more than six points on the evening, and it was clear Williamson’s absence — both physically and statistically, where he’s averaging 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds this season — was sorely miss

Even with the loss Duke will remain a No. 1 seed, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. From 

HARPER, MACHADO, BOCHY DOMINATE MLB NEWS

Bryce Harper is likely getting closer to a free agency decision now that fellow superstar Manny Machado has signed a deal with the San Diego Padres, and it sounds like he wants much more than the $300 million Machado took. Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that Harper has turned down “multiple offers” over the past … Read moreHARPER, MACHADO, BOCHY DOMINATE MLB NEWS

MANNY MACHADO SIGNS 300 MILLION DOLLAR DEAL, BRYCE HARPER IS NEXT

Bryce-Harper-012919-Getty-Images-FTR

Photo: Sporting News

That’s according to former MLB general manager Jim Bowden, who joined CBS Sports HQ on Tuesday to report on the fallout of Machado’s reported $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres. Following up on previous indications that Bryce Harper, the former Washington Nationals star, might be nearing his own contract with the NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies, Bowden said that Machado’s move to San Diego was all but precipitated by the Phils’ interest in Harper. Continue Reading By 

Hello, Bryce Harper. The stage is now yours, completely. We are all focused on you. It was enlightening, watching the thought process of most baseball writers and fans play out live on Twitter from the moment ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news of Manny Machado’s deal with the Padres and MLB’s Mark Feinsand quickly followed up with the money numbers. Continue Reading By Ryan Fagan

If Bryce Harper hasn’t signed by the time you sit down for dinner tonight, in the words of Ace Ventura:

Just wait longer.

The first major free agency domino fell Tuesday morning with the San Diego Padres reportedly giving Manny Machado a 10-year, $300 million contract, setting the table for Harper to sign shortly thereafter.

Or so we thought.

Harper eventually will sign somewhere, but it won’t be with Machado in San Diego, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Continue Reading By Brian Witt

Photo: ESPN

It took 113 days of free agency to play out, but Manny Machado is headed to San Diego on the largest deal ever handed out to a free agent. What does the deal mean for baseball’s new $300 million man, the team that signed him and other interested parties (read: Harper, Bryce)? We asked ESPN baseball writers Eddie Matz, David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle and Sam Miller to break it down. Continue Reading By ESPN

Manny Machado has agreed to the biggest free-agent contract in American sports history — a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, league sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday.

Machado, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, made $16 million between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles last season. Continue Reading By ESPN News Services

Manny Machado just hit the free agent lottery.

The All-Star infielder landed the biggest free-agent contract in the history of Major League Baseball after he agreed to a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Stanton still holds the record for largest contract when he signed a $325 million extension in 2014 with the Miami Marlins.

With Bryce Harper still looming as a free agent, both marks could fall when he makes a decision on what team to sign with.

Machado’s deal also obliterated the franchise record once held by Eric Hosmer, who signed an eight-year, $144 million contract last offseason.

So, how does Machado’s record deal stack up with the rest of baseball highest-paid players? Here are the top contracts by total value and average annual value, per USA TODAY salary database and Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Continue Reading By 

Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball, speaks during a news conference at owners meetings.

Photo: Associated Press

Major League Baseball will continue its bid to crack down on high-tech sign stealing.

A new set of rules will ban nonbroadcast outfield cameras between the foul poles, Sports Illustrated reported and The Post’s Ken Davidoff confirmed.

They also will restrict the ability of teams to monitor a broadcast, allowing only replay officials to watch in real time. The game will be played on an eight-second delay on clubhouse and bullpen monitors.

Teams in violation could lose draft picks and international spending money, the report said. Continue Reading By Noah Bressner

Photo: Getty Image

Trevor Bauer might be the MLB’s best pitcher … but he’s the WORST first date ever — ’cause he’s got a set of rules for potential romantic partners, including, “No feelings” allowed!

The Cleveland Indians superstar just revealed when he goes on dates with girls … he’s blunt and to the point — telling them straight-up he’ll NEVER be their boyfriend.

“I have three rules,” Bauer tells Sports Illustrated.

No. 1? “No feelings.”

No. 2? “No social media posts about me while we’re together.”

No. 3? “I sleep with other people. I’m going to continue to sleep with other people. If you’re not O.K. with that, we won’t sleep together, and that’s perfectly fine.”

Think Bauer — who’s known as baseball’s mad scientist for the painstaking way he approaches pitching — is being selfish???

Think again … the ace actually says he’s HELPING his romantic partners — ’cause, “I imagine if I was married at this point, I would be a very bad husband.”

Bauer says he’s too devoted to pitching to deal with a girlfriend right now.

Bottom line … if TB pops up on your Bumble this week — SWIPE LEFT!!!!!!!!! From TMZ Sports

The game is changing, perhaps more quickly than ever. Forget comparing the sport to what it looked like in the 1960s or the ’80s; the game has changed massively in just the last half-decade. Remember, just five years ago, we were all talking about the lack of power ,and no one was talking about launch angle or spin rate. Things are slightly different now.

That being the case, it’s useful to look ahead and project the trends you’ll see taking place on the field in 2019, so that you, the knowledable fan, will be one step ahead of the game.

One trend we won’t be calling out: strikeouts. The number of whiffs have increased every year since 2008, and they’ll probably go up again in ’19. Pitchers are just entirely too good.

That aside, here are seven trends to keep an eye out for in the coming season:

You’ll see more “openers”
On May 19, the Rays introduced “the opener” to modern baseball, and it proved to be a successful enough experiment for them — though certainly having American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell around was a big part of their success as well. This is how Ryne Stanek made 29 “starts” while throwing only 66 1/3 innings, and how Ryan Yarbrough made only six starts, yet piled up 147 1/3 innings.

It’s a little difficult to know how exactly many times the opener was used, because there are small-but-important differences between “the opener,” “a bullpen game,” and “a starter who gets knocked out early.” But it’s clear the idea spread fast, as the AthleticsDodgersTwinsBrewers and Rangers (at least) tried the idea out. Our best estimate is that it was truly used approximately 60 times, overwhelmingly from the Rays, along with eight September Liam Hendriks “starts” for Oakland. From Mike Petriello

Apr 26, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers and free-agent third baseman Mike Moustakas have officially agreed to a one-year agreement. The Boras Corporation client will reportedly earn $10MM on the deal, which includes a $7MM salary in 2019 and $3MM buyout on a $11MM mutual option for 2020. Continue Reading By 

Photo: Rob Tringali / MLB Photos via Getty Images

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced today that he will retire at the end of the 2019 season (Twitter link). Baseball’s longest-tenured skipper, Bochy is entering his 13th season as the Giants’ manager. In that time, he’s overseen three World Series championships (2010, 2012 and 2014) and helped guide the Giants to a 979-965 record. Continue Reading By 

The job seekers are paying their respects to Bruce Bochy. Sixteen hours after Bochy’s retirement announcement, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi had not received a single text or call from someone seeking the job next year.

In this game, that’s an upset.

“It will not surprise me when those start coming in,” Zaidi said Tuesday. “I do think there’s going to be a good amount of outreach. At the right time, we’ll start thinking about that more actively and then put together a list.” From Henry Schulman 

 

NBA NEWS: HARDEN, LEBRON, WARRIORS, DONAGHY

James Harden - cropped

Photo: Sporting News

James Harden is chasing the NBA record book, but he’s only doing it to help his team chase a championship.

The Rockets star is in the midst of a 31-game stretch in which he’s scored at least 30 points in each contest, providing extra offense as Chris Paul and Clint Capela have dealt with injuries. Continue Reading By Kirstie Chiappelli

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Warriors

Photo: Clutch Points

The Golden State Warriors are bracing for the departure of Kevin Durant in the summer, a move that could range from possible to inevitable, depending on one’s sense of pessimism. If he does, it won’t be long before the Warriors reload, though, as they could well target Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer 2021, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Continue Reading By 

 

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Photo: Sporting News

Jimmy Fallon issued a hilarious challenge to Stephen Curry during the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend.

The TV host asked the NBA star to secretly drop three weird phrases (“Energizer Bunny,” “Flipping Pancakes” and “Wham, Bam, Can of Ham”) into his interviews over the three-day event. Continue Reading By Sara Jane Harris

 

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are just two members of Team LeBron who interest the Knicks.

Photo: (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

It would take a professional lip-reader to truly find out, but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were definitely cooking up some kind of scheme at the All-Star game Sunday night. Whether they were actually talking about the Knicks is up for fans to believe…or pray for. Continue Reading By 

 

Khris Middleton goes up for a dunk during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.

Photo: Khris Middleton goes up for a dunk during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday. Getty Images

As the Knicks attempt to best use their $74 million in cap space, they could do worse than unsung Bucks swingman and free-agent-to-be Khris Middleton, who is coming off a breakout All-Star Game on Sunday in Charlotte.

While the 27-year-old is not regarded in most circles as a max-contract player, he is coming close. In becoming the first G-League graduate to play in the All-Star Game, Middleton racked up 20 points, hitting four straight 3-pointers in the first half. He was 6-of-10 for the night for Team Giannis as he continues to raise his free-agent profile. Continue Reading By Marc Berman

 

Photo: GETTY IMAGE

Rudy Gay is calm. Dribbling, waiting, readying himself. The clock continues to dwindle down. Eight, seven, six …

With 5.5 seconds left, LaMarcus Aldridge sprints towards half court as Gay switches hands with his dribble. Josh Jackson, fresh off a game-tying tomahawk slam, concedes a switch to his partner, Kelly Oubre, as Aldridge sets the screen. Continue Reading By 

 

Anthony Davis and Lebron James

Photo: Anthony Davis and Lebron James Getty Images

Eyebrows were raised this weekend when LeBron James and Anthony Davis were spotted hanging out together in the midst of Davis’ fraught trade drama. Continue Reading By Page Six Team

 

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks

ACT 1: A CONVENIENT HALF-TRUTH

James “Jimmy” “Bah-Bah” “The Sheep” Battista was a stressed-out, overweight, Oxy-addicted 41-year-old, in the hole to some underground gamblers for sums he’d sort of lost track of, when he settled in to watch an NBA game for which he believed he’d just put in the fix. It was January 2007. A month or so back, not long before Christmas, he’d done something audacious: He’d sat down and cut a deal with an NBA referee. Now he feared the scheme had become too obvious. Continue reading By Scott Eden