Advertisements


Tigers draft Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with No. 1 pick

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Casey Mize went from undrafted three years ago all the way to No. 1. The Detroit Tigers selected the Auburn right-hander with the top pick in the Major League Baseball draft Monday night. The announcement at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Tigers led off the draft, and first since they took Rice pitcher Matt Anderson in 1997. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Mize had long been linked to the Tigers, and he pitched his way this season to the top spot on Detroit's list. Mize went undrafted out of high school three years ago, but developed into a potential big league ace while in college. "It means a ton," Mize said in an interview on MLB Network's broadcast. "I'm very thankful that the Tigers thought of me enough to take me with their first selection. I can't describe this feeling right now." Mize is 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts with just 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings while helping the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Mize has solid command of four pitches, including a fastball that hovers in the mid-90s (mph). His outstanding command and wicked split changeup whip up lots of swings and misses. Mize became only the seventh player in draft history to go from undrafted in high school to the No. 1 pick since Stephen Strasburg went to the Washington Nationals in 2009. "All of us in the Tigers organization are thrilled to select Casey with this pick, and are confident that he will become a pillar in our player development system that's going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come," Detroit general manager Al Avila said. "Being a college pitcher — especially coming from the Southeastern Conference — we know Casey has seen elite competition before." With the second selection, San Francisco took slugging Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. Perhaps Buster Posey's replacement someday, Bart follows in the footsteps of big league backstops Matt Wieters and Jason Varitek, who also came out of Georgia Tech. Bart led the conference in hitting with a .359 average and topped the Yellow Jackets with a .632 slugging percentage, 79 hits, 16 home runs, 55 runs and a .471 on-base percentage. He's also one of the country's best defensive catchers, with a .992 fielding percentage on the season while throwing out 12 of 33 would-be base stealers. Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm was the first of six players attending the draft to be selected, going third overall to Philadelphia. He had some trouble buttoning his white Phillies jersey before heading to the podium to shake hands with Commissioner Rob Manfred. "The holes are pretty tight. It was pretty tough," said the 6-foot-5 Bohm, later adding that his biggest strength is probably his maturity at the plate. "I'm just ready to go play ball." Bohm is one of the top offensive players in the draft, hitting .339 with 16 homers — the most by a Wichita State player since 2004 — and 55 RBIs with 14 doubles and 39 walks. He also showed a knack for hitting in the clutch by setting a school record with three grand slams this year, and led the team with 10 go-ahead RBIs. "Alec Bohm is a tremendous offensive player," Phillies director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz said in a statement. "He is a middle of the order bat, a big power-hitting third baseman who could be a .300 hitter and drive in 100-plus runs." Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal went fourth to the Chicago White Sox. Despite his short stature — 5-foot-7, 160 pounds — Madrigal is considered by many to be the best overall hitter in the draft. He rebounded nicely for the Beavers after missing half the season with a broken left wrist. He was hitting .406 with three homers, 32 RBIs and just five strikeouts in 133 at-bats while helping lead Oregon State to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Rounding out the top five was Cincinnati, which took Florida third baseman Jonathan India. The Southeastern Conference player of the year has been an offensive force for the defending College World Series champions. He's the 12th player in school history to post 20 or more homers, 100 or more RBIs and 30 or more stolen bases in his career......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 5th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Bottom 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Bottom 10 * * * 21. DETROIT PISTONS 2017-18 RECORD: 39-43; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Dwane Casey; New executive Ed Stefanski; G Bruce Brown (No. 42 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jose Calderon (one year, $2.3 million); C Zaza Pachulia (one year, $2.3 million); G/F Glenn Robinson III (two years, $8.3 million); G Khyri Thomas (No. 38 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Stan Van Gundy; G Dwight Buycks (waived); F/C Eric Moreland (waived); F Anthony Tolliver (signed with Wolves) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: F Blake Griffin. And he will be for some time. The Pistons need him to be his former All-Star self again, able to take slower defender to the basket, able to stretch the floor if he plays the five in small-ball lineups. They need him to be a playmaker, to get Reggie Jackson more looks off the ball and Andre Drummond some high-low lobs at the rim. They need him to sell tickets at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit’s revitalized downtown -- a building that seems to be more for the NHL’s Red Wings than the NBA’s Pistons. And they need Griffin to be an anchor that draws players to the Motor City during the life of his extension. THE SKINNY: Owner Tom Gores agonized over firing Van Gundy, but he finally did so, and was fortunate that Casey was available and willing to step right back into the fray after being cashiered in Toronto. Casey will be quite in his element building a defense around Drummond, but, like Van Gundy, Casey will need Jackson to stay healthy; he’s missed a combined 67 games the last two seasons. Detroit did well for not having a first-round pick to come out of the Draft with two solid guard prospects deep in the second in Thomas and Brown. However, the new coaching staff will have to get more out of the team’s last three first-rounders: Stanley Johnson (2015), Henry Ellenson (2016) and Luke Kennard (2017). 22. BOSTON CELTICS 2017-18 RECORD: 55-27; lost in Eastern Conference finals ADDED: G Brad Wanamaker (one year, $838,000); C Robert Williams (No. 27 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Shane Larkin (signed to play in Turkey); F Abdel Nader (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C Aron Baynes (two years, $10.6 million); F Jabari Bird (two years, $3 million), G Marcus Smart (four years, $52 million) THE KEY MAN: F Gordon Hayward. All indications are he’s well on his way back from that horrific injury he suffered on opening night last season. He can do so many great things in coach Brad Stevens’ system, and if he’s 100 percent by the playoffs, Boston may well be the one team that can match up, player for player, with Golden State in a Finals meeting. (Remember this when people inevitably say I ranked the Celtics 23rd in offseason moves.) THE SKINNY: Boston got its biggest work done after Smart couldn’t loosen up an offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings or Dallas Mavericks, and eventually worked out a deal for less than he sought to return. Smart’s deal puts Boston in the tax for the foreseeable future, but the Celtics knew that was the next step in keeping a Finals-capable core group together. With Kyrie Irving and Hayward expected back on line Stevens can throw so many different lineups out there, all committed to stifling opponent movement with long, switching defenders led by Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Williams was worth an end of the first flier, though he didn’t get off to a great start. If he gets a good wake-up alarm on his phone, he has a chance to be the Celtics’ center of the future. 23. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 2017-18 RECORD: 52-30; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: F Wilson Chandler (acquired from Nuggets); F/C Mike Muscala (acquired from Hawks); G Zhaire Smith (No. 16 pick, 2018 Draft); G Landry Shamet (No. 26 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shake Milton (No. 54 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former GM Bryan Colangelo (resigned); F Justin Anderson (traded to Hawks); G Marco Belinelli (signed with Spurs); F/C Richaun Holmes (traded to Suns); F Ersan Ilyasova (signed with Bucks); G/F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C/F Amir Johnson (one year, $1.5 million); G T.J. McConnell (picked up team option); G J.J. Redick (one year, $12.2 million) THE KEY MAN: G Markelle Fultz. His rookie year laid waste by a combination of injury and the yips -- which the Sixers have finally copted to -- Fultz is reportedly rebuilding his shot successfully under the learned eye of development coach Drew Hansen. If that carries over to the fall, Fultz will get a true opportunity (he had some cameos late in his rookie season) to show a skeptical Philly fan base he was worth the top pick in 2017, and worth Philly trading up to get him. He definitely could fill a need with the 76ers for a second playmaker to go with and occasionally in place of reigning Kia Rookie of the Year winner Ben Simmons. But if Fultz has another setback, physically or otherwise, it will be hard for him to stick much longer in Philly -- not a town known for patient reflection with regard to its sports teams. THE SKINNY: Coach Brett Brown was quite clear when he said the Sixers were hunting for a superstar this summer with the cap space they’d assiduously cleared the last couple of years. But the summer has come and gone and there’s no LeBron, no Kawhi, no trade, at least not yet, for Jimmy Butler or anyone else at that level. Belinelli and Ilyasova both played huge roles for Philly in the playoffs; maybe Fultz (see above) takes on some of that role, and Chandler will help. But this doesn’t feel like a successful offseason for one of the real risers in the East. 24. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 2017-18 RECORD: 49-33; lost in first round ADDED: G Seth Curry (one year, $2.7 million); G Nik Stauskas (one year, $1.6 million); G Anfernee Simons (No. 24 pick, 2018 Draft); G Gary Trent Jr. (No. 37 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G/F Pat Connaughton (signed with Bucks); F/C Ed Davis (signed with Nets); G Shabazz Napier (signed with Nets); C Georgios Papagiannis (waived) RETAINED: C Jusuf Nurkic (four years, $48 million) THE KEY MAN: Assistant coaches David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbets, Dale Osbourne, Jim Moran, John McCullough and Jonathan Yim. With the Blazers mostly landlocked the next two seasons -- they’re currently above the projected luxury tax line both for next season and 2019-20 -- there aren’t likely going to be many significant roster changes for a while. And in the West, especially, standing pat is often falling behind. It will thus fall to Portland’s excellent staff behind coach Terry Stotts to maximize the production of the current group. They can point with some pride to success stories like Will Barton and Allen Crabbe, now in Denver and Brooklyn, respectively, along with Maurice Harkless and Al-Faroqu Aminu. For Portland to take another step up, they’ll have to coach up someone like 2017 first-rounder Zach Collins or this year’s first-rounder, Simons. They must have them exceed expectations to become a third legit star behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. THE SKINNY: Lillard insists the rumblings heard in some quarters that he’s unhappy in Portland aren’t true, and the franchise better hope he’s being honest. The decisions the Blazers made in 2016 continue to lock them in place; if they catch a favorable first-round matchup (a grumbling Rockets team in 2014; an injury-strafed Clippers squad in 2016), they can advance a round. But last year’s 4-0 sweep by the New Orleans Pelicans had to give everyone pause. How does Portland respond mentally? Re-upping Big Nurk in the middle on a very reasonable deal -- $12 million for a starting center was the going rate five years ago, when the Wolves gave Nikola Pekovic a five-year, $60 million contract -- was necessary. But losing Davis, a locker room and fan favorite for superior work ethic, will hurt, even though Collins should sop up a lot of those minutes. 25. ORLANDO MAGIC 2017-18 RECORD: 25-57; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Steve Clifford; C Mohamed Bamba (No. 6 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Briscoe (three years, $3.9 million); F Melvin Frazier (No. 35 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jerian Grant (acquired from Bulls); F Justin Jackson (No. 43 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jarrell Martin (acquired from Grizzlies); C Timofey Mozgov (acquired from Hornets) LOST: C Bismack Biyombo (traded to Hornets); G Mario Hezonja (signed with Knicks); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Grizzlies); G Shelvin Mack (waived); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: F Aaron Gordon (four years, $82 million) THE KEY MAN: G D.J. Augustin. A vet’s vet, he’s played 10 years in the league and started 226 games for eight teams, including 56 over the last two for the Magic. He’ll enter this season as the unquestioned starter at the point with Elfrid Payton in New Orleans and Orlando still looking to solve its long-term search for a point guard. It’s Augustin’s turn. THE SKINNY: At some point, Orlando’s yearly gambles on size and potential will pay off. Bamba could be the goods; he’s got a demeanor and toughness that should keep him together while he learns the craft at the pro level. But -- again -- it will take some time for Bamba, like 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Isaac, and Gordon, in whom Orlando invested a sizeable sum in July, to flourish. And Magic fans rightly can ask exactly how long they’re to remain patient. Clifford is supposed to improve the defense, but so was Frank Vogel … and so was Scott Skiles … and so was Jacque Vaughn. 26. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Tony Carr (No. 51 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elfrid Payton (one year, $3 million); F Julius Randle (two years, $17 million) LOST: C DeMarcus Cousins (signed with Warriors); G Rajon Rondo (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Ian Clark (one year, $1.7 million); F Nikola Mirotic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Owner Gayle Benson. Mrs. Benson took control of the team after the death of her husband, Tom, last March. She displayed great grace in the days and weeks after Tom Benson’s death, making it clear at the time she had no interest in selling the team and would continue to make outlays to keep the team competitive. The Pels didn’t blink last summer giving Jrue Holiday $126 million, and that will have to remain the case going forward if New Orleans is to repeat its surprising run to the Western Conference semifinals last spring. THE SKINNY: Can’t lose your starting point guard and your starting All-Star center in one offseason -- no matter what the circumstances -- and come out of it with high offseason marks. And especially when Rondo seemed like the perfect fit for the team. Mirotic mentioned during the Warriors series how good Rondo was at picking him up and connecting him quickly with the team after he was traded to New Orleans from Chicago. And, yes, coach Alvin Gentry mentioned he may have exchanged cusses with Rondo every now and again, too. Life in RondoWorld. The path forward is narrower, but not impassible; Randle can be tantalizing at times, maddening at others, but he could plug-and-play at the four, and he can take some of the playmaking burden off of Holiday. But big minutes on the ball for Holiday again is not what New Orleans had in mind. Payton is going to have to perform immediately. And losing “Boogie” Cousins is a big minus. It’s not what the Pelicans gave up to get him. It’s the fit and flow he had with Anthony Davis before the injury, and what the promise of a return this season could have meant toward carrying the momentum of last year forward. 27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: F Anthony Tolliver (one year, $5.7 million); G Josh Okogie (No. 20 pick, 2018 Draft); F Keita Bates-Diop (No. 48 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Cole Aldrich (waived); F Nemanja Bjelica (signed with Kings) RETAINED: G Derrick Rose (one year, $1.5 million) THE KEY MAN: Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. He signed for big, big money by NFL standards (three years, $84 million), and the Vikings have Super Bowl aspirations. So all the light will be on the Vikes most of the fall and winter in Minneapolis, keeping it off of the still-young Wolves, who won’t be able to sneak up on anyone after breaking their long postseason drought. THE SKINNY: The Wolves should be positioned to build on their playoff run, especially if Butler can get through a full season healthy and Karl-Anthony Towns adds consistency to his prodigious talents. But they didn’t do much in the offseason, and the team that they beat out on the last day of the regular season, Denver, looks to be much improved. Tolliver should help the Wolves’ depth; they essentially traded him for Bjelica, and he shot slightly better on 3-poiners last season than Belly. Plus, they don’t come better as a guy than Tolliver and he can help Minnesota in the locker room. The issue of Butler’s contract isn’t going away; there will be a reckoning at some point, and he’ll have a lot more options next summer than free agents had this summer. Until then, coach Tom Thibodeau has pretty much the same team that he has to cajole better defense out of next season (22nd in Defensive Rating; 17th in points allowed). 28. CHARLOTTE HORNETS 2017-18 RECORD: 36-46; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach James Borrego; GM Mitch Kupchack; C Bismack Biyombo (acquired from Magic); F Miles Bridges (No. 12 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devonte' Graham (No. 34 pick, 2018 Draft); F Arnoldas Kulboka (No. 55 pick, 2018 Draft); ; G Tony Parker (two years, $10.2 milliion) LOST: G Michael Carter-Williams (signed with Rockets); C Dwight Howard (traded to Nets); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Magic); G Julyan Stone (traded to Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: C Cody Zeller. It’s a guess -- Borrego could opt for Frank Kaminsky III -- but Zeller would seem to be the replacement at center for Dwight Howard, who wound up in Washington after the Hornets traded him to the Nets. Zeller started 58 games two years ago and was very good in screen and rolls with Kemba Walker. Zeller only played in 33 games last season because of a left knee injury; if he returns to form, the Hornets could pick up offensively and actually have a little more diversity at that end than last season. THE SKINNY: Team owner Michael Jordan cleaned house after a disappointing 2017-18, bringing another Tar Heel back home in the veteran Kupchak. Kupchak dispatched Howard and then got Mozgov’s guaranteed 2019-20 season off his books to take back Biyombo, who’d left Toronto two years ago for $72 million from the Magic and who’s got a player option for 2019-20. Well before then, the Hornets are going to have to decide what to do with Walker, who’ll be one of the top free agents available next summer if Charlotte can’t get him re-signed or extended. The Hornets were 8.8 points worse when the two-time All-Star was off the court rather than on. Nicolas Batum has to make a return to the all-around talent that enticed Charlotte to trade for him and give him a $120 million extension; he averaged just 11.6 points per game last year, his lowest in three years. Howard’s presence in the paint may have clogged things up some, but that’s no longer the case. 29. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 2017-18 RECORD: 50-32; lost in The Finals ADDED: F Channing Frye (one year, $2.3 million); G Collin Sexton (No. 8 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Jose Calderon (signed with Pistons); F Jeff Green (signed with Wizards); F LeBron James (signed with Lakers); C Kendrick Perkins (waived); F Okaro White (waived) RETAINED: F Kevin Love (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: GM Koby Altman. Altman has a blank slate now after trying to steer a championship-contending ship that had been stripped of a few propeller blades in the last 13 months. With James gone, as well as former GM David Griffin, the 35-year-old Altman has team owner Dan Gilbert’s charge to rebuild the Cavs without taking them down to the studs (as the Cavs did after James first departure in 2010). Altman’s next task after working out Kevin Love’s $130 million extension is clearing the roster of all the veterans brought in the last three years mainly because of their ability to play off of James. THE SKINNY: There weren’t any widespread jersey burnings this time in the Land. James left for L.A. with relative good will from his hometown, having delivered the championship it had waited 52 years for in 2016. Truly, the Cavs’ rebuild started the minute Kyrie Irving demanded a trade; last season seemed more rearguard action than an attack at another title. Extending Love through 2023 with no outs -- keeping him locked with rookie Sexton through the latter’s last controllable season before hitting unrestricted free agency -- gives Cleveland a base upon which to build. Cap room will follow in 2019, but next season will be difficult; Sexton has a lot of toughness and potential, but rookie point guards tend to get their lunch handed to them. 30. MIAMI HEAT 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: None LOST: None RETAINED: G Wayne Ellington (one year, $6.2 million); F/G Derrick Jones Jr. THE KEY MAN: G Josh Richardson. Like many of his teammates, Richardson got an extension a couple of years ago -- four years and $42 million. Last season, he was (again) a solid two-way player for Miami -- almost 13 points per game, 84.5 percent from the line, 37.8 percent on 3-pointers. But if the Heat is going to shake out of the middle lane in which it currently seems stuck, Richardson will have to expand. Miami’s current roster makes it complicated; Pat Riley thinks Richardson’s probably more of a two, but he plays mostly three for coach Erik Spoelstra because Miami’s best lineups were small ball ones. Another offseason at P3 in California will help Richardson continue his development. THE SKINNY: No, Heat people: I don’t hate your team. But when you have no Draft picks, and you have no cap space, and thus you literally could do nothing in the offseason, and basically did nothing in the offseason, and your biggest, most newsy event was whether your 36-year-old future Hall of Fame guard will come back for one more season or play over in China … well, what am I supposed to do with that information? Rank you first? The question is, how much better is your team now than it was at the end of last season? It’s essentially the same team; other than the likes of Richardson (see above) or Justise Winslow, it’s not like there’s a great step up expected from Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic, is there? The Heat is not any better than last season. It isn’t any worse. It just … is. So, 30. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Middle 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Middle 10 * * * 11. TORONTO RAPTORS 2017-18 RECORD: 59-23; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: Coach Nick Nurse; G Danny Green (acquired from Spurs); F Kawhi Leonard (acquired from Spurs) LOST: Former coach Dwane Casey; G DeMar DeRozan (traded to Spurs); F Alfonzo McKinnie (waived); C Jakob Poeltl (traded to Spurs) RETAINED: G Fred VanVleet (two years, $18.1 million) THE KEY MAN: Nurse. The former Raps assistant has extensive G League head coaching experience. But the NBA isn’t just about a coach’s Xs and Os acumen. We know Nurse can do that. But an NBA coach has to have command presence in a locker room not only full of millionaires, but full of Alpha males who have their own very strong opinions on how they should be used and how their teammates should help them. Nurse will have to show he can put his own stamp on a team that will have some new faces while still having extremely high expectations. THE SKINNY: You may well think Toronto should be higher, based on Leonard’s standing as a top-five player in the league when fully healthy. No matter what you think of DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, no one can realistically say he’s better than “The Klaw” when both are 100 percent. But, of course, we don’t know if Leonard’s 100 percent. And, trading DeRozan, who’d been the franchise’s biggest advocate during his nine seasons there -- and who had led the team to its greatest extended run of success ever -- is not a transaction without consequence for the Raptors. He helped get the best out of Kyle Lowry. He could help recruit free agents. And, the circumstances of his departure have not helped the franchise’s reputation. Still, this is a talent-based league, and Leonard has it. His and Green’s presence on the perimeter gives Toronto the chance to be a switching defensive monster -- and will help the Raptors be able to match up better with the likes of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in a late-May playoff matchup, as long as the Raptors’ young core in which it believes so strongly continues to play as well in reserve as it did last season. 12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: Coach Mike Budenholzer; G Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trevon Duval; F Ersan Ilyasova (three years, $21 million); C Brook Lopez (one year, $3.32 million); F Pat Connaughton (two years, $3.2 million); LOST: Former interim coach Joe Prunty; G Brandon Jennings (waived); F Jabari Parker (signed with Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: G Eric Bledsoe. His departure from Phoenix early last season was messy. But once he got to Brewtown, Bledsoe solidified the Bucks at the point, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in 71 starts. At 28, Bledsoe faces the last year of his contract and will have to show a new coach he’s capable of running things long-term and playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo through the meat of his prime. THE SKINNY: Budenholzer’s arrival should coincide with an improvement in the Bucks’ defense, something that former coach Jason Kidd could never quite accomplish. Ilaysova’s return for a second tour in Milwaukee should help, with his celebrated charge-taking skill and Lopez’s still-substantial size a double-boon to Milwaukee’s interior D as the Bucks were bottom 10 last season in points allowed in the paint (47.4 per game). If the paint becomes a little tougher to traverse, the Bucks should finally able to use their substantial length on the wing to get back to create deflections and turnovers, and get out in transition, where Antetokounmpo and Friends do their best work and their most damage to the opposition. They’ll do so 41 nights a year for the next couple of decades in the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new arena that will open in early September with a concert and should pump new revenues into the Bucks’ bloodstream, giving them more financial wherewithal to keep “The Greek Freak” surrounded with high-quality talent. 13. UTAH JAZZ 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Grayson Allen (No. 21 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jarius Lyles; G Naz Mitrou-Long LOST: F Jonas Jerebko (waived) RETAINED: G Dante Exum (three years, $33 million); F/C Derrick Favors (two years, $37.6 million), G Raul Neto (two years, $4.4 million); F Georges Niang (three years, $4.9 million) THE KEY MAN: C Rudy Gobert. He’s a monster presence, the hub of the Jazz’s defensive wheel and the reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And he has to take a step back in Utah next season for the Jazz to take the next step forward. He has to understand what Utah has in Donovan Mitchell and let that kid eat. Nobody in the league can do what Gobert does defensively. So embrace that and concentrate on that -- take the Draymond Green attitude about being the “defensive guy” on a great team (not that Jazz fans want you to do anything that Green does). Gobert’s handsomely paid and the DPOY award found him in Salt Lake City; there’s no small-market bias at work here. So let Mitchell and Joe Ingles carry the shooting/scoring load, let Ricky Rubio orchestrate, and snuff out opponent dreams at the other end, night after night. It’s what you were born to do. THE SKINNY: My God, Mitchell had a great rookie season. And Utah brought most of the band back from last season to provide advice and consent for him again, re-signing Favors, Exum and Neto each on very reasonable contracts. Doing so leaves Utah over the cap, still comfortably under the tax, and with nothing on the books that should raise an eyebrow financially. (Utah’s front office should handle my checking account for a while.) Anyway, no reason to expect any backsliding next season with the crew returning, though coach Quin Snyder will surely miss the counsel of his longtime friend Igor Kokoskov, off to run the Suns. 14. ATLANTA HAWKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Lloyd Pierce; F Justin Anderson (acquired from 76ers); G Kevin Huerter (No. 19 pick, 2018 Draft); C Alex Len (two years, $8.5 million); G Jeremy Lin (acquired from Nets); F Omari Spellman (No. 30 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trae Young (No. 5 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Mike Budenholzer; G Antonius Cleveland (waived); G Damion Lee (signed with Warriors); F/C Mike Muscala (traded to 76ers); G Dennis Schröder (traded to Thunder); G Isaiah Taylor (waived) RETAINED: C Dewayne Dedmon (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: GM Travis Schlenk. The second-year executive will be judged on how well Atlanta uses its trove of Draft picks -- three firsts this year, three firsts next year, two firsts in 2022 -- the next few years. And, ultimately, the Hawks will live or die by whether Young or Luka Doncic becomes the bigger NBA producer. Schlenk’s chances of completing the rebuild may well ride on that. THE SKINNY: The Hawks’ roster teardown is nearing completion, but the renovated Philips Arena will come online faster than the team, which now needs Young to live up to all the hype after his one season at Oklahoma. He has incredible range and great potential, but he’ll be challenged every night to stay in front of the legion of great points in this league. Pierce, the former Sixers’ assistant, is going to have a very tough time melding all the newcomers with the small core of players who survived, including John Collins, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre' Bembry and Taurean Prince. 15. LA CLIPPERS 2017-18 RECORD: 42-40; missed playoffs ADDED: C Marcin Gortat (acquired from Wizards); G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 pick, 2018 Draft); F Johnathan Motley (acquired from Mavericks); F Mike Scott (one year, $4.3 million); F Luc Mbah a Moute (one year, $4.3 million), G Jerome Robinson (No. 13 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Austin Rivers (traded to Wizards); C DeAndre Jordan (signed with Mavs); G C.J. Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Avery Bradley (two years, $24.9  million); C Montrezl Harrell (two years, $12 million); G Wesley Johnson (picked up player option); G Milos Teodosic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Tobias Harris. He was the key tangible piece of the Blake Griffin trade last season (the intangible being the unprotected first from Detroit in the deal that eventually became Gilgeous-Alexander after a Draft night trade with Charlotte). And Harris played quite well in his 32 games with the Clips, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds per game. Those numbers could each well go up in a contract year and with few others outside of Lou Williams on the roster that can go get their own buckets. THE SKINNY: Amazing, but true: the Clipper player with the longest current tenure is … Wesley Johnson, who came aboard in 2015. “Lob City” is in the history books and change will be the norm here for a while, including next summer, when the Clippers expect to be a free-agent destination. The Clips did what they could with that not-insignificant restriction, but the best stuff was in the Draft, winding up with a potential long-term point in Gilgeous-Alexander and a two in Robinson that rocketed up the pre-Draft charts. Bradley’s on a very team-friendly and controllable contract, as is Patrick Beverley, whose modest 2018-19 salary isn’t guaranteed until January. Those two and Mbah a Moute can give coach Doc Rivers hope that he can get some stops on the perimeter, because while Gortat is still willing defensively and still takes a bunch of charges, he is not Jordan when it comes to rim protection. 16. BROOKLYN NETS 2017-18 RECORD: 28-54; missed playoffs ADDED: F/C Ed Davis (one year, $4.4 million); F Jared Dudley (acquired from Suns); F Kenneth Faried (acquired from Nuggets); G/F Treveon Graham (two years); F Rodions Kurucs (No. 40, 2018 Draft); F Dzanan Musa (No. 29 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shabazz Napier (two years, $3.7 million) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Suns); F Dante Cunningham (signed with Spurs); C Dwight Howard (waived); G Jeremy Lin (traded to Hawks); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Hornets); G Nik Stauskas (signed with Blazers); G Isaiah Whitehead (traded to Nuggets) RETAINED: G Joe Harris (two years, $16 million) THE KEY MAN: Co-owner Joseph Tsai. The Alibaba executive and billionaire has 49 percent of the team, and can buy majority control from Mikhail Prokhorov by 2021. Until then, they’ll run the team jointly, so no matter Prokhorov’s ups and downs, Brooklyn’s financial spigot should never run dry. Tsai reportedly has designs on expanding the Nets’ brand further in China, just as Prokhorov believed the Nets had global reach. They didn’t, at least not the post-KG and Pierce squads. THE SKINNY: If you love Ed Davis like smart people who know basketball do, Brooklyn makes the top half by bringing the ex-Blazer in on a short deal. If he plays great, he’ll cost the Nets a pretty penny in 2019, but Brooklyn has to take chances on guys who can outperform their contracts. The only thing the Nets couldn’t do was take on more ’19 salary when they’ll be in line to potentially add two max players. Won’t be easy to lure the elites, but Brooklyn also has accumulated enough assets to be able to make uneven trades for salaries if need be. In the interim comes next season, with coach Kenny Atkinson needing to continue to develop diamonds in the rough like Graham, who Cleveland wanted and who will help the Nets at multiple positions. 17. CHICAGO BULLS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: G Antonius Cleveland; C Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chandler Hutchison (No. 22 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jabari Parker (two years, $40 million) LOST: F Jerian Grant (traded to Magic); G Sean Kilpatrick (waived); G Julyan Stone (waived); F Noah Vonleh (signed with Knicks); G Paul Zipser (waived) RETAINED: G Antonio Blakeney; G Zach LaVine (matched four year, $78 million offers sheet from Kings) THE KEY MAN: G Kris Dunn. As the 24-year-old will be every season he’s in Chicago. The Jimmy Butler trade in 2017 yielded the pick that became Lauri Markannen, and he’s also a key piece to the Bulls’ future. But Chicago won’t ever get elevation again if Dunn doesn’t become an elite point guard in a league full of them. He showed signs last season that he could be just that, most notably a December in which Dunn averaged 14.9 points and eight assists, and the Bulls went 10-6. But a concussion in January derailed Dunn’s progress and his production fell sharply the rest of the season. THE SKINNY: Can Parker play the three, as the Bulls insist he can? There isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting so, and Parker’s hypothesis that he isn’t getting paid to play defense does not provide much comfort. But the Bulls will try him there alongside Markannen and rookie Carter Jr. in what would be a huge frontcourt. Almost $20 million annually for LaVine going forward is also a stretch, but less of one if LaVine comes all the way back from his 2017 ACL tear with a full training camp and season. Carter may be more important to the Bulls’ hoped-for resurgence than Parker and LaVine; the Duke big man has that much potential. 18. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 2017-18 RECORD: 43-39; lost in first round ADDED: C Thomas Bryant; G Troy Brown (No. 15 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jeff Green (one year, $2.5 million); C Dwight Howard (two years, $11 million); G Austin Rivers (acquired from Clippers); G Issuf Sanon (No. 44 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Marcin Gortat (traded to Clippers); F Mike Scott (signed with Clippers) RETAINED: G Jodie Meeks (picked up player option); C Jason Smith (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Coach Scott Brooks. Entering his third season in Washington, Brooks keeps saying he wants the Wizards to defend and play fast. But he has to follow that up with action, especially when and if John Wall doesn’t provide the on-ball defense Washington needs to have any chance to unleash a still-potent fast break. Wall is 27 and, if healthy, in his prime. The team takes almost all of its cues from him; when he’s locked in, the Wizards can compete with anyone. But when he’s indifferent, so are they -- as evidenced by their horrible record against bad teams. Brooks has to demand Wall’s best, or be ready to limit his minutes. THE SKINNY: NBA protocol almost demands you hate the pickup of Howard, such is his current perceived valued among many after multiple stops the last few seasons. The guess here is that Howard won’t hijack the Wizards’ locker room, as he had been accused of while in with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, especially. Howard’s skill set can help Washington, which fell off defensively last season. But there’s also not much sense he’ll be a significant pick-me-up in D.C., either. He can’t stretch the floor and he’s not especially potent finishing in pick and roll, either. But the Wizards should at least be deeper off the bench with Green, who played well for the Cavs last season, and Rivers, who gives Washington legit guard depth along with Tomas Satoransky. 19. SACRAMENTO KINGS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: F Nemanja Bjelica (three years, $20.4 million); C Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick, 2018 Draft); G Yogi Ferrell (two years, $4.1 million); G Ben McLemore (acquired from Kings); F Deyonta Davis (acquired from Grizzlies) LOST: G Garrett Temple (traded to Grizzlies) RETAINED: G Iman Shumpert (picked up player option); C Kosta Koufos (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Harry Giles. The Kings traded for the one-and-done forward on Draft night 2017 and redshirted him, feeling he needed a year to fully recover from the multiple knee surgeries he’d undergone the last three years. Those surgeries stopped his top-five Draft potential in its tracks, before and after a year at Duke. But Giles is back on the floor, having flashed his skills during NBA Summer League, as Sacramento gushed about his progress. If the 20-year-old is ready to roll come October, he could be an enormous boost. He’ll have to at least become a contributor, lest folks remind the Kings they passed on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and O.G Anunoby to trade for his rights. THE SKINNY: Bagley III has superstar potential, and he better become one, or the Doncic Stans among the Kings’ fan base will have aneurysms. The Kings were all over everyone, seemingly, this summer, dropping sheets on Zach LaVine, almost doing the same with Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker, and going after unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja. All well and good, and getting Bjelica out from under Philly and prying Ferrell from Dallas were decent late July pickups. But it will be Bagley III who’ll be under the microscope. His skill sets are prodigious and he’s been working out feverishly all summer. And he wants to make a mark in restoring the Kings to where they were on the floor during the Webber Years. He worked out for them. He’s enthusiastic about them. That counts for something. 20. HOUSTON ROCKETS 2017-18 RECORD: 65-17; lost in Western Conference finals ADDED: G Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.5 million); G De'Anthony Melton (No. 46 pick, 2018 Draft); F Vincent Edwards (No. 52 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Trevor Ariza (signed with Suns); Luc Mbah a Moute (signed with LA Clippers); C Chinanu Onuaku (traded to Mavs) RETAINED: C Clint Capela (five years, $90 million); G/F Gerald Green (one year, $2.3 million); G Aaron Jackson (picked up team option); G Chris Paul (four years, $159 million) THE KEY MAN: Jason Biles, Joe Rogowski, Keith Jones and Javair Gillett -- the Rockets’ athletic trainers, sports performance and rehab staff. Their only mission next season, should they decide to accept it, is to get Paul through an 82-game regular season and a two-month playoff slog without breaking or pulling anything of importance that keeps him out of key games. Of course, should any of the staff be unsuccessful, the Morey will disavow any knowledge of their employment. Good luck, men. THE SKINNY: We have not yet included Carmelo Anthony, who will be signing in Houston any minute now. When he’s officially on the roster, he’ll certainly help, and we all saw that even Houston can go through extended scoring droughts in the playoffs. Having Anthony around should alleviate that. The Rockets may have had the best signing of the summer, keeping the 24-year-old Capela locked up long-term for $18 million per -- incredible value these days, given the way salaries are skyrocketing. But that was mitigated by the losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were crucial to the switching defense Houston employed and perfected by the playoffs, which threw sand in the gears of the Warriors’ impenetrable offense and would likely have propelled the Rockets to The Finals if Paul hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 5. Ennis and Carter-Williams will help some in that regard, but they don’t have the resume of Mbah a Moute and Ariza -- which means they sometimes won’t get the benefit of the doubt from refs that the old heads do. Houston’s still the clear number two to Golden State in the West, but the gap between the Rockets and the best of the rest has closed. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Pirates bolster rotation, add Tampa Bay’s Archer at deadline

By Will Graves, Associated Press PITTSBURGH (AP) — The surging Pittsburgh Pirates are intent on making a run at a playoff spot. The Pirates bolstered the front end of their rotation at the non-waiver deadline on Tuesday, adding Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer while sending the Rays a couple of coveted prospects in outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named. Archer, a two-time All-Star, is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA in 17 starts this season for the Rays. The 29-year-old gives the Pirates a significant jolt in experience in a rotation that includes three starters - Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove - 26 or younger. The move is the second significant trade by the Pirates ahead of the non-waiver deadline. Pittsburgh acquired Texas Rangers closer Keone Kela early Tuesday for left-handed pitching prospect Taylor Hearn and a player to be named. The trades came at the end of a torrid 15-4 run by the club that pulled Pittsburgh within 3½ games of a wild-card spot heading into a two-game set with the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. Pittsburgh, which was the only team to not sign a free agent during the offseason despite parting with established stars Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, assumes the remaining $2,049,731 in Archer’s $6.25 million salary. Archer receives a $500,000 assignment bonus for the trade. His deal includes a $7.5 million salary for 2019, a $9 million team option for 2020 with a $1.75 million buyout and an $11 million club option for 2021 with a $250,000 buyout. The Pirates, who have been reluctant to part with young prospects in recent years at the deadline, gave up a pair of promising talents in Meadows and Glasnow. Meadows, a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, hit .292 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 49 for the Pirates after making his major league debut on May 17. The 24-year-old Glasnow dominated as a starter in the minors but struggled as a starter during his first season-plus in Pittsburgh, going 2-7 with a 7.69 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) in 2017. The Pirates moved Glasnow to the bullpen this season with better results. The 6-foot-8 right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 34 appearances. ___ AP Baseball Writer Ron Blum contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2018

Blockbuster trade not what Kawhi, DeRozan hoped for

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Kawhi Leonard’s turbulent last days with the San Antonio Spurs ended Wednesday morning (late Wednesday, PHL time) with a trade that neither major party involved in the deal liked. The Spurs traded Leonard, the 2014 Finals MVP, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time All-Star, along with veteran guard Danny Green, to the Toronto Raptors for four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, second-year big man Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round Draft pick, which is protected from 1-20 next year. In doing so, San Antonio ended a relationship with the player that was poised to be the Spurs’ next lynchpin, but who had grown disenchanted with the franchise and wanted out. Leonard wanted to be traded to Los Angeles, closer to his hometown of Moreno Valley, Calif. He preferred the Lakers, and made that known in June, but was not averse to playing with the LA Clippers. However, the Spurs were adamant that they would not trade him to a Western Conference team, even though there was a strong likelihood that he would only stay with any team that traded for him until next year. That is when he would likely opt out of his contract, become a free agent and go to Los Angeles. Even though the 27-year-old Leonard told the Raptors in conversations between Toronto and his camp over the last week that he did not want to go there, the Raptors were willing to take the chance, anyway. DeRozan sought assurances from the Raptors that he wasn’t being moved in recent days. Both he and his representatives met with Raptors officials during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, according to a source, at which time Toronto insisted that it wasn’t going to trade him. Now, DeRozan feels “lied to,” the source said, and, while having no personal grudges with the Spurs, is extremely upset at the deal. Meanwhile, @DeMar_DeRozan not backing off of claim he was lied to by Toronto regarding a potential trade, per source. Extremely upset. — David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 18, 2018 Leonard also is not happy at going to Toronto, for several reasons, including the higher taxation rate in Canada than in Texas, which has no state income tax. Leonard’s camp had informed the Spurs he didn’t want to go there, but the Spurs made no promises either way. San Antonio had had significant discussions with the Philadelphia 76ers -- a team Leonard would have given a fair shake at convincing him to stay had it been able to make a deal with San Antonio. But the 76ers were unwilling to include guard Markelle Fultz, the former first pick overall in the 2017 Draft, or forward Dario Saric in any package proposals for Leonard. Leonard only played in nine games last season, citing an injured quad muscle that did not respond to treatment. But privately, Leonard was unhappy with what he thought was bad advice from the Spurs’ medical staff, and sought advice from his own group of doctors, removing himself from San Antonio to continue treatments in New York as the regular season ended and playoffs began. The Spurs did not push Leonard during his rehab, and referred questions about his status during their first-round series with the Golden State Warriors to his camp. Leonard’s uncle has acted as his agent for the last couple of years. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich informed Leonard’s camp of the trade early Wednesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in what was deemed a “cordial” conversation, according to a source. However, given the trade, Leonard is now contemplating not taking part in next week’s USA Basketball minicamp in Las Vegas. A final decision has not yet been made. For his part, the 28-year-old DeRozan let his feelings be known in an Instagram post early Wednesday (Wednesday, PHL time), saying in part, “Ain’t no loyalty in this game” after being dealt from the only team he’s played for in nine NBA seasons, and for whom he has been nothing but a first-class ambassador. The Raptors took DeRozan with the ninth pick in the 2009 Draft, during which time DeRozan became the franchise’s leader in several categories, including games, points and minutes played. He grew as the franchise did, helping lead it to the most successful period in its history alongside his close friend and All-Star teammate, Kyle Lowry. The backcourt did ads together, took vacations together with family and led Toronto to franchise records for wins, reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2016. At every turn, DeRozan expressed happiness at playing for and living in Toronto, even as he had to make several cross-country trips last season to be with his ailing father in Los Angeles. DeRozan remade his game as part of the “culture reset” demanded by general manager Masai Ujiri after Toronto was beaten in the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cavaliers in 2017 -- a familiar outcome, as James and Cleveland beat the Raptors in three straight postseasons. DeRozan relied less on isolation sets than he had in years past, trying to move more without the ball and give it up so others could be more involved. Toronto won a franchise-best 59 regular season games last season and was the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, Toronto suffered another playoff loss to Cleveland, this time a 4-0 sweep. It was especially galling considering the Cavaliers had been extended to a seventh game in their first-round series with Indiana, yet still managed to rally from a double-digit deficit to shock the Raptors in Game 1 in Toronto. The Cavs then cruised the rest of the way in the series. Ujiri fired coach Dwane Casey afterward, ultimately picking assistant coach Nick Nurse as Casey’s successor. But the reset of the team wasn’t complete. The Raptors believe strongly in their young core group of players, all of whom have been developed by Toronto the last few seasons -- guards Fred Van Vleet and Delon Wright, forward O.G. Anunoby and big man Pascal Siakham. Toronto initially opted to keep its existing vets around the kids, giving DeRozan a five-year, $138 million extension in 2016, then giving Lowry and forward Serge Ibaka extensions last summer – Lowry got a three-year, $100 million deal and Ibaka got a three-year, $65 million deal. However, after the latest playoff debacle, the Raptors let it be known around the Draft that none of their players were untouchable. If Toronto can get Leonard on board, the Raptors would have a potentially dynamic defensive group on the wings, with Leonard and Anunoby capable of guarding multiple positions. Ibaka isn’t the defender he was in Oklahoma City, where he was first team all-Defensive three years in a row, but he’s still a plus defender at his position. The 31-year-old Green is entering the final year of his contract. Long considered one of the best two-way guards in the game, Green was outstanding in the Spurs’ seven-game loss to the Heat in the 2013 Finals, making 27 3-pointers in the series en route to setting a Finals record. Poeltl, 22, was taken ninth overall by Toronto in the 2016 Draft. He worked his way quickly into the Raptors’ rotation, averaging 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds last season. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2018

Raptors will need to work some magic now after Kawhi trade

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Raptors boss Masai Ujiri better have some magic plan. Because if he doesn’t, Lakers boss Magic Johnson certainly will. Before Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan — the headline pieces in a four-player trade between San Antonio and Toronto on Wednesday — play a single game for their new teams, this much is clear: The Spurs got better, the Raptors are taking a gargantuan risk and the Los Angeles Lakers are going to sit back and see what happens. San Antonio essentially swapped one All-Star for another, ridded itself of a headache — the Leonard-wants-out saga — and got a first-round draft pick as well. Hard to argue. In DeRozan, Toronto traded away a guard who led the Raptors in scoring in each of the last five seasons for a player who, without hardly ever saying a word, has made clear that he wants to be in Los Angeles. A bold strategy, but if Ujiri can win over Leonard in a year just like Sam Presti and Oklahoma City did with Paul George, it could work out like gangbusters for the Raptors. And if Leonard doesn’t see the virtue in making Toronto home for the long term, the Lakers will be waiting. Remember what Johnson said earlier this offseason about the Lakers’ strategy: that it will be a two-year mission. Getting LeBron James to sign with LA earlier this month was a big part of the plan, but it wasn’t the whole plan. Phase 2 is surrounding James with superstar talent, and it’s hard to see any reason why Leonard doesn’t end up in purple and gold at some point in 2019 — whether through a trade or free agency. Leonard probably isn’t happy, but he almost certainly can’t run the risk of sitting out another year. DeRozan clearly isn’t happy. That’s no disrespect to San Antonio — the Spurs are a model franchise and Gregg Popovich is a coach almost anyone would want to play for — but DeRozan rather would have stayed in Toronto. DeRozan got plenty of support from his NBA peers, including Dwyane Wade, who told The Associated Press that he hopes this trade reminds fans that teams will do what they want when they feel it’s time to move a player — so players shouldn’t be derided when they exercise their options to move on through free agency, either. “DeRozan gave everything to Toronto, everything they asked him to do from the standpoint of loyalty,” Wade said. “That’s why I hate loyalty and sports, those two words, they shouldn’t go together. You just feel for guys and their family. He committed to them. It’s a business and you understand the business, but from a player standpoint, it just sucks.” The Spurs were never going to trade Leonard to the Lakers. It made no sense. Why would San Antonio help a fellow Western Conference team get better, especially when the best team in basketball — Golden State — seems to have a chokehold on the Larry O’Brien Trophy with no plans of letting go anytime soon? Plus, the Lakers didn’t have the sort of assets the Spurs would have wanted for an elite player like Leonard. He played in nine games for the Spurs last season and was barely a factor. DeRozan will almost certainly give San Antonio more next year than Leonard gave the Spurs last year. Hence, they just got a lot better. Boston had the required assets but apparently wasn’t willing to part with them. Philadelphia did, too. But Toronto, to its credit, saw no reason why it shouldn’t be bold this summer. Dwane Casey was the coach of the year who won 59 games and led the Raptors to the No. 1 seed in the East last season. He got fired because the Raptors never figured out how to beat James in the playoffs. The Raptors are really good. Second-best record in the regular season a year ago, behind only Houston. But they know they’re not good enough to win a title, and while they stopped short of blowing up the team they sure gave the foundation a couple of good thwacks with a wrecking ball in dumping Casey and trading DeRozan. Can Leonard get them over the hump? Maybe. If he’s healthy, he could be the best player in the Eastern Conference, largely because of the way he can take a game over on the defensive end. That’s a player worth the risk. So now we see if Ujiri can work some magic. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2018

Former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark dead at 61

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Dwight Clark, who helped launch a dynasty for San Francisco with his iconic catch that sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl, has died one year after revealing he had ALS. He was 61. Clark said in March 2017 that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), which attacks cells that control muscles. He suspected playing football might have caused the illness. The team said he died Monday surrounded by friends and family. "My heart is broken," former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. said in a statement. "Today, I lost my little brother and one of my best friends. I cannot put into words how special Dwight was to me and to everyone his life touched. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother and a great friend and teammate. He showed tremendous courage and dignity in his battle with ALS and we hope there will soon be a cure for this horrendous disease. I will always remember Dwight the way he was — larger than life, handsome, charismatic and the only one who could pull off wearing a fur coat at our Super Bowl parade. He was responsible for one of the most iconic plays in NFL history that began our run of Super Bowl championships, but to me, he will always be an extension of my family. I love him and will miss him terribly." Clark won two Super Bowls with the 49ers during a nine-year career that ended in 1987. He memorably pulled down the winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana in the NFC championship game against the Dallas Cowboys following the 1981 season, a play remembered simply as "The Catch." It's considered one of the most significant plays in NFL history and sent the Niners to their first of five Super Bowl titles in a span of 14 seasons. The play happened on Jan. 10, 1982, when the upstart 49ers hosted the Cowboys in the NFC title game. With the 49ers facing a third down at the Dallas 6 with less than a minute to play, coach Bill Walsh called "Sprint Right Option." Montana rolled out and retreated under pressure from Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Larry Bethea before lofting the ball toward the back of the end zone. Clark leaped to make a fingertip catch over Everson Walls and the 49ers went on to win the game 28-27 and then their first Super Bowl two weeks later against Cincinnati. "Start of a dynasty," said former 49ers president Carmen Policy, who later hired Clark as general manager of the Cleveland Browns. "I don't let myself go down the road of what would have happened if he doesn't make that catch? As Joe Montana says, what would have happened if I didn't throw that pinpoint pass perfectly angled to be in the only spot where he should catch and no one else would be able to interfere with it. But without that play, I wonder where we would have been. And I stopped thinking about it, because so much happened after that. And yet, Dwight seemed to handle it in stride and the two of them, The Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they used to have fun playing off of each other, or who would take the credit, and this and that and so forth. But it was a special day." Clark joined the Niners as a 10th round pick out of Clemson in 1979 in the same draft class that brought Joe Montana to San Francisco. He got there by good fortune after only 33 catches in three college seasons as former 49ers coach Bill Walsh needed someone to catch passes from Steve Fuller at a pre-draft workout. Clark impressed Walsh enough to get drafted and eventually made the team even if he never felt comfortable despite playing on two Super Bowl winners, making two Pro Bowls and catching 506 passes for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns in nine seasons with San Francisco. "He's meant the world to me for so many years," Montana said last year after a street near the site of Candlestick Park was named for him. "We came into the league together and we laugh about things that he did all the time. I don't think he ever unpacked. By his rookie year he always left the playbook on his bed just in case he ever got cut. He kept trying to tell me he was getting cut every day, I kept trying to tell him, 'what are you doing? You're crazy.'" Clark made his last public appearance in October when the 49ers hosted "Dwight Clark Day" at Levi's Stadium. Clark spoke to the crowd from a suite that afternoon in a weakened voice, calling his disease a "little thing" he was dealing with at the time. He also thanked the fans and dozens of teammates who came back for the event. DeBartolo recently hosted a reunion in Montana where many of Clark's former teammates came for one final goodbye. "For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area," the 49ers said in a statement. "Dwight's personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during the most trying times. The strength, perseverance and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many. Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease." Clark is survived by his wife, Kelly, and three children, daughter Casey, and sons Riley and Mac, from a previous marriage. I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark. — Dwight Clark (@DwightC87) June 4, 2018 "I'm heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband," Kelly Clark said on Twitter. "He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight's friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS." ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Nighty-night Dark Knight: Mets to cut ties with Harvey

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets said nighty-night to the Dark Knight. Matt Harvey, once regarded as a premier pitcher who could have joined Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden among the Mets’ greats, refused a minor league assignment and will be designated for assignment Saturday. The 29-year-old right-hander lost his spot in the rotation last month after four starts, and he had a 10.50 ERA in four relief appearances. “It’s the end of an era,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said before Friday night’s game against Colorado. “And I used that term in broad senses. Matt has been a cornerstone certainly of my tenure here, a tremendous prospect at the time I arrived, tremendous accomplishments during the course of my tenure here. And it’s a very unfortunate, difficult conclusion.” New York had hoped Harvey would be willing to work at the team’s minor league complex in Florida in an effort to regain form. Harvey refused. “We feel Matt is a starter (and) needs to work on 4 pitches,” his agent, Scott Boras said in a text message. “In the bullpen a pitcher tends to focus on 2 pitches to get back to the rotation.” After Harvey is designated, the Mets have seven days to trade him or release him. Because of Harvey’s $5,625,000 salary, a trade may be difficult to work out unless the Mets agree to send cash as part of a deal. If Harvey is released, a team signing him would owe just a prorated share of the $545,000 minimum. “Very pleased he is healthy and with more than needed MLB (velocity),” Boras wrote. “We have a lot of clay to work with to build the starter sculpture.” Harvey is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts and four relief appearances, leaving him with a 34-37 record and 3.66 ERA in six major league seasons. “We’ve tried to find some other solution over a fairly long period of time,” said Alderson, who was hired by the Mets in October 2010. “This was a long time coming. This is not someone who hasn’t pitched well recently. So I mean this is something we’ve tried to address, we’ve struggled with, we’ve wrestled with over two managerial regimes.” Harvey’s Mets finale was in an 11-0 loss to Atlanta on Thursday. He relieved Jason Vargas with New York trailing 6-0 in the fifth inning and gave up Ozzie Albies’ three-run homer in a five-run seventh. Booed as he walked off the mound, Harvey took a seat in the dugout and stared at Citi Field. “The move to the bullpen was dramatic in itself,” Alderson said. “So I think that at this point, pragmatism, realism far outweighed other considerations.” Harvey would have been eligible for free agency after this season. As a player with five years of major league service, he cannot be assigned to the minor leagues without his consent. “We feel like we failed Matt Harvey,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Our job is to help every player in there, and it’s not a good feeling when you can’t.” Selected by the Mets with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, Harvey made his big league debut in July 2012 and became a major sports figure in New York — both at the ballpark and at Manhattan night spots. He was nicknamed the Dark Knight of Gotham after Sports Illustrated called him that in a cover story in May 2013. He started the All-Star Game at Citi Field that July and was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA when he tore an elbow ligament during a game against Detroit on Aug. 24. That led to Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22. Harvey returned in 2015 and went 13-8 with a 2.27 ERA as the Mets reached the World Series for the first time since 2000. But he slumped to a 4-10 record with a 4.86 ERA the following year and had season-ending surgery on July 18, 2016, to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. He was 6-13 with a 6.70 ERA last season, when he was sidelined from mid-June until September because of a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder. He was suspended for three days without pay in May for skipping a game following a late night on the town. The New York Post reported this week that Harvey was out partying in Los Angeles the night before pitching in San Diego last weekend. “Usually I get upset if a report is unexpected,” Alderson said this week. “So I guess the short answer is no.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: AL Central

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League Central teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to Yankees in ALDS. Manager: Terry Francona (sixth season). He's Here: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai Davis, RHP Alexi Ogando. He's Outta Here: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Joe Smith, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Boone Logan. Projected Lineup: SS Francisco Lindor (.273, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs, 44 2Bs, 15 SBs, 10 errors), 2B Jason Kipnis (.232, 12 HRs, 35 RBIs in 90 games), 3B Jose Ramirez (.318, 29, 83, AL-leading 56 2Bs), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.258, 38, 107), 1B Yonder Alonso (.266, career-high 28 HRs, 67 RBIs with Athletics and Mariners), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.288, 12, 53 in 82 games), C Roberto Perez (.207, 8, 38, club went 44-22 in his starts) or Yan Gomes (.232, 14, 56), CF Bradley Zimmer (.241, 8, 39, 18 SBs, 0 errors), LF Michael Brantley (.299, 9, 52 in 90 games) or Rajai Davis (.235, 5, 20, 29 SBs with Oakland and Boston). Rotation: RH Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks, 2nd Cy Young Award), RH Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29, 226 Ks), RH Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19, 10-1 in final 13 starts), RH Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11, 137 Ks in 121 2/3 innings), RH Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.28, 12.67 Ks per 9 innings). Key Relievers: RH Cody Allen (3-7, 2.94, 30/34 saves, 96 saves past 3 seasons), LH Andrew Miller (4-3, 1.44, 2 saves), RH Dan Otero (3-0, 2.85, walked just 19 of 511 batters since 2016), LH Tyler Olson (1-0, 0.00 in 20 innings over 30 games), RH Zack McAllister (2-2, 2.61 in 50 games). Hot Spots: Kipnis and Brantley. The former All-Stars have been hindered by injuries in recent years, but both appear on track to bounce back in 2018. The Indians need them to produce. Cleveland is better defensively with Ramirez at second base, but he'll stay at third as long as the 31-year-old Kipnis hits. Kipnis has been mentioned in trade talk for two years. Brantley, once considered one of baseball's best all-around talents, has played in only 101 games since 2015. Outlook: No team has felt postseason pain lately quite like the Indians. They blew a 3-1 lead and lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs, and squandered a 2-0 advantage in last year's best-of-five Division Series against the Yankees. With arguably baseball's strongest rotation led by Kluber, the Indians are poised to possibly end a championship drought approaching its 70th anniversary. Alonso must help the offense offset the losses of Santana and Bruce. Francona won't have Shaw in the bullpen anymore after the durable reliever pitched in at least 74 games each of the past four seasons. Winning the AL Central won't suffice for the Indians, who are determined to finish the job this year. ___ Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to Yankees in wild-card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). He's Here: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, SS-3B Erick Aybar, RHP Michael Pineda. He's Outta Here: RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Bartolo Colon, C Chris Gimenez, DH-1B Kennys Vargas, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins, LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Michael Tonkin. Projected Lineup: 2B Brian Dozier (.271, 34 HRs, 93 RBIs, 106 runs), 1B Joe Mauer (.305, 7, 71, .384 OBP), 3B Miguel Sano (.264, 28, 77, 173 Ks in 114 games), DH Logan Morrison (.246, 38, 85, .868 OPS with Rays), LF Eddie Rosario (.290, 27, 78), SS Eduardo Escobar (.254, 21, 73), CF Byron Buxton (.253, 16, 51, 29/30 SBs), RF Max Kepler (.243, 19, 69), C Jason Castro (.242, 10, 47). Rotation: RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 5 CGs, 211 1/3 IP, expected to begin season on DL), RH Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.89), RH Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.43 with Cardinals), RH Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.14 with Rays), RH Kyle Gibson (12-10, 5.07). Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (5-4, 4.23, 39/45 saves with Diamondbacks), RH Addison Reed (2-3, 2.84, 19 saves with Mets and Red Sox), LH Taylor Rogers (7-3, 3.07), LH Zach Duke (1-1, 3.93 in 18 1/3 IP with Cardinals), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 4.70), RH Trevor Hildenberger (3-3, 3.21, 1 save), RH Phil Hughes (4-3, 5.87 in 53 2/3 IP). Hot Spot: Left Side Of The Infield. Sano had surgery in November to have a rod inserted in his left shin after a stress reaction kept him out for the last six weeks of the 2017 regular season, and the burly slugger has struggled to keep his weight down. He's also been under investigation by Major League Baseball, facing potential discipline, for alleged harassment of a woman during an encounter in 2015. Jorge Polanco, who got so hot at the plate down the stretch of his first full season as a regular in the lineup that he wound up third in the batting order, was suspended for the first 80 games this season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Escobar can fill in capably at shortstop, but he's also the top backup for Sano if the All-Star has to sit for any reason. Outlook: After their massive 26-win turnaround last season, earning Molitor the AL Manager of the Year award and a new contract through the 2020 season, the Twins were already on the upswing with their 25-and-under core of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Kepler. Then, after spring training began, they traded for Odorizzi and signed Morrison and Lynn, all at market-bargain prices. They've already had some setbacks, with finger surgery for Santana expected to keep him out for most or all of April, and the gut-punch news of Polanco's suspension, plus the uncertainty that surrounds Sano. But this is a team, even with the bold offseason moves made by AL heavyweights Boston and New York, and the strength of reigning AL Central champion Cleveland, that has the talent and spunk to be right in the playoff mix. With Hughes and Tyler Duffey on track for long-relief roles and a spate of well-regarded prospects set to fill out the rotation at Triple-A Rochester, this is as much starting pitching depth as the Twins have had in years. After using 16 different starters in 2017, they needed that. Rodney, Reed and Duke were important additions to bolster the bullpen, too, after Minnesota relievers ranked 22nd in the majors with a collective 4.40 ERA. ___ Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. He's Outta Here: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Scott Alexander, DH Brandon Moss, RHP Mike Morin, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Trevor Cahill. Projected Lineup: CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs with Cubs), 2B Whit Merrifield (.288, 19, 78, AL-leading 34 SBs), 3B Mike Moustakas (.272, 38, 85), C Salvador Perez (.268, 27, 80), 1B Lucas Duda (.217, 30, 64 with Mets and Rays), DH Jorge Soler (.144, 2, 6), LF Alex Gordon (.208, 9, 45), RF Paulo Orlando (.198, 2, 6), SS Alcides Escobar (.250, 6, 54). Rotation: LH Danny Duffy (9-10, 3.81 ERA), RH Ian Kennedy (5-13, 5.38), RH Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.29), RH Jakob Junis (9-3, 4.30), RH Nate Karns (2-2, 4.17). Key Relievers: RH Kelvin Herrera (3-3, 4.25, 26/31 saves), RH Wily Peralta (5-4, 7.85 in 19 games, 8 starts with Brewers), RH Brandon Maurer (2-2, 8.10 in 26 games with Royals; 1-4, 5.72 in 42 games with Padres), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53 with Cubs), LH Brian Flynn (5-3, 5.40 at Triple-A Omaha), RH Kevin McCarthy (1-0, 3.20), RH Brad Keller (10-9, 4.68 ERA at Double-A Jackson). Hot Spots: Just About Everywhere. The Royals struggled to score last year, and losing Hosmer and Cain in free agency won't help. They'll turn to Moustakas, who set a club record for home runs in a season, and newcomers Jay and Duda to ignite the offense. The only starting pitcher with a track record of success is Duffy, while the bullpen features plenty of unproven talent that must show it can close down games if the Royals are to approach .500 this season. Outlook: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Kansas City, when most of the Royals' top players hit free agency en masse. With Moustakas and Escobar finding little market, both returned to Kansas City with prove-it contracts. That gives the Royals a fighting chance to stay competitive into July, and then all bets are off. But the reality is there are still far too many holes, both in the lineup and on the pitching staff, for the Royals to be considered contenders. They would do well to match the 80 wins they had last season, and could be a big seller at the July 31 trade deadline, which would allow them to replenish a shallow farm system and begin their rebuilding job in earnest. ___ Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). He's Here: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. He's Outta Here: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Jake Petricka, C Geovany Soto, OF-2B Alen Hanson, RHP Zach Putnam. Projected Lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada (.231, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs), RF Avisail Garcia (.330, 18, 80), 1B Jose Abreu (.304, 33, 102), DH Matt Davidson (.220, 26, 68), C Welington Castillo (.282, 20, 53 with Orioles), SS Tim Anderson (.257, 17, 56), 3B Yolmer Sanchez (.267, 12, 59), LF Nicky Delmonico (.262, 9, 23), CF Adam Engel (.166, 6, 21). Rotation: RH James Shields (5-7, 5.23 ERA), RH Lucas Giolito (3-3, 2.38), RH Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 4.72), RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-13, 4.62 with White Sox and Rangers), RH Carson Fulmer (3-1, 3.86) or LH Hector Santiago (4-8, 5.63 with Twins). Key Relievers: RH Nate Jones (1-0, 2.31, 11 appearances), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93 with Dodgers), RH Joakim Soria (4-3, 3.70, 1 save with Royals), RH Juan Minaya (3-2, 4.53, 9 saves), RH Gregory Infante (2-1, 3.13), RH Danny Farquhar (4-2, 4.20 with White Sox and Rays). Hot Spot: Bullpen. A particular strength for the first half of 2017 is now a major question mark after Chicago traded away Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and closer David Robertson last season. Soria has 204 career saves but his best days might be behind him, and there aren't many other proven late-inning options. Renteria and respected pitching coach Don Cooper might have their hands full mixing and matching while trying to figure out how to hold leads. Outlook: For a team with five straight losing seasons and a record that ranked among baseball's worst last year, the White Sox are generating plenty of buzz. That's because they're loaded with promising young players after going all-in on a rebuild prior to last season. The moves have sparked a belief that better days are ahead. Moncada and hard-throwing pitchers Giolito and Lopez showed promise in the majors last season. Right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and outfielder Luis Robert are elite prospects on their way in the minors. Garcia, coming off a breakout season, is looking to prove he's not a one-hit wonder. Anderson hopes to bounce back from a trying season in which a close friend was shot to death. Abreu is back after the slugger was viewed as a potential trade candidate this winter. Left-hander Carlos Rodon is expected to be out until at least June following shoulder surgery last September. It's not clear when he'll be ready. Rodon also was sidelined at the start a year ago because of shoulder and biceps problems. The big question is whether he'll ever develop into the pitcher the White Sox envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. ___ Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). He's Here: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. He's Outta Here: Manager Brad Ausmus, 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Projected Lineup: CF Leonys Martin (.172, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs with Mariners and Cubs), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.283, 3, 16 with Cubs and Tigers), 1B Miguel Cabrera (.249, 16, 60), RF Nicholas Castellanos (.272, 26, 101), DH Victor Martinez (.255, 10, 47), C James McCann (.253, 13, 49), LF Mikie Mahtook (.276, 12, 38), SS Jose Iglesias (.255, 6, 54), 2B Dixon Machado (.259, 1, 11). Rotation: RH Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA), RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.08), LH Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 with Blue Jays and Astros), RH Mike Fiers (8-10, 5.22 with Astros), LH Daniel Norris (5-8, 5.31) or LH Matthew Boyd (6-11, 5.27). Key Relievers: RH Shane Greene (4-3, 2.66, 9/13 saves), RH Joe Jimenez (0-2, 12.32), RH Alex Wilson (2-5, 4.50, 2 saves), LH Daniel Stumpf (0-1, 3.82). Hot Spot: The Farm System. After finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last year, the Tigers enter 2018 with no real expectations of success at the big league level, so the question is how quickly the franchise can make it through this rebuilding stage. Franklin Perez, a right-hander acquired last season when Detroit traded Justin Verlander, is expected to be out at least until June with a lat strain, and right-hander Matt Manning is also dealing with an injury. Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are other pitching prospects to watch as they try to work their way toward the majors. Wins may be few and far between in Detroit, but Tigers fans will hope Cabrera — one star who avoided the roster purge of the last year — can rebound from a rough season. Outlook: The Tigers traded Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez last season, then dealt away Kinsler during the offseason. There could be more big moves on the horizon — Fulmer, Iglesias and Castellanos should all have some trade value, but each of them is young enough that he could be useful to the Tigers when they become competitive again. That's especially true of Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Barring a huge surprise in terms of on-field results, the biggest suspense this season might revolve around how general manager Al Avila approaches the next few steps in the rebuild......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

STAR HOTSHOT: Rafi Reavis will be forever relevant

It was early in 2017 when Rafi Reavis proved that he's still relevant. More than just relevant, in fact. In Game 2 of the Manila Clasico semifinals featuring Ginebra and Star, Reavis was the "star" for the Hotshots in the clutch, grabbing two crucial offensive rebounds in the last 20 seconds to deny the Gin Kings any chance of a "Never Say Die" comeback. With seven seconds to go in the ball game, the then 39-year-old Rafi calmly made two pressure-packed free throws and Star took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7. "I got a lot left in the tank, man. A lot left," Reavis said then. He was right. STAR BOY Literally a week after his heroics against Ginebra in Game 2 of last year's series, Reavis played his best game in a long, long time in Game 5. Rafi dropped 17 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Hotshots to a crucial 3-2 lead. While Star ended up losing in seven games, that was perhaps Reavis' best performance in the last four or five years, including the current year were having right now. And yet even then, the veteran forward was the least surprised. It's as if he knew. He's going to be relevant in the league until he decides he's done. "I'm not surprised at all. That's me," Reavis said in 2017. "That's the way I play. That's what I'm always trying to do, just be a leader, trying to do what's needed. The only thing that matters is the W. However that comes, I'll go with it," he added. ALL I DO IS WIN It's kinda cool for Rafi Reavis to say that he'll go with winning, regardless of how his team gets there. Over the course of his current 16-year PBA career, Reavis has done a lot of winning. Seriously, a lot. Rafi has 10 PBA championships and up until the 2017 Commissioner's Cup, he was the winningest active player in the league. He's won with different teams as well. Reavis picked up his first pair of titles with the old Coca-Cola Tigers before winning another two with Brgy. Ginebra. When he landed at Purefoods, Reavis would win six more championships, including the Grand Slam in 2014. Simply put, Rafi Reavis is an asset to any team. A valuable asset. He's done all that winning in a way only he knows how. "Defense. Defense wins championships," Reavis said. "I don't care about the glamour, the points, the fame. I don't need that,  that's not what gets me paid. Being part of a team that was winning a championship, that's all I care about. I'm team first and I'm all about the big goal, the big picture," he added. PLASTIKMAN Rafi's Twitter handle is @Plastikman. If it sounds familiar, it's almost a play on the local comics superhero "Lastikman" which is a character is most definitely based from Marvel's Mister Fantastic. Fifteen years ago in 2003, "Bossing" Vic Sotto gave the character life in a movie and while this useless rambling doesn't necessarily say and mean that Rafi was inspired by it and put his own twist to the name, it does make some sense. Reavis has some pretty long arms and legs, which come in handy while he's trying to defend the paint. His physical gifts and his brilliant mind make him the basketball player that he is. A player relevant to this day. "He's very smart, ang taas ng basketball IQ niya. Plus the fact na ano siya, hindi siya nagpapabaya. Yung katawan niya, inaalagaan niya talaga," Chito Victolero said of Reavis. Victolero was teammates with Rafi in the old MBA and he was the second overall pick in the 2002 Draft. Now he's Reavis' head coach with Magnolia. "He won a lot of championships and he knows what to do. Siguro mas beterano pa siya sakin in terms of dun sa loob ng court eh. I trust him very much and alam ko kung ano yung ginagawa niya," Victolero added. Sticking with the superhero theme, Reavis wants to add something to his list of achievements that's outside of winning championships. Plastikman wants to outlast the Rock in the PBA. "I'm trying to take care of myself and that guy, he's amazing," 40-year-old Reavis said of 45-year-old Asi Taulava, NLEX's center and the 2003 PBA Most Valuable Player that is still going strong as well. "I think he just had a birthday recently and it's going to make it a little harder for me but I can do it. I'm having fun. And I think as long as I play for a guy like coach Chito, I can meet that goal," he added. BREAKING RECORDS Rafi Reavis was the league's winningest active player up until the 2017 Commissioner's Cup. When San Miguel Beer won last year's mid-season prize, Yancy De Ocampo joined Reavis at the top with 10 titles. Yancy was the no. 1 pick in 2002 and Rafi was second. San Miguel and Magnolia are currently locked in a heated Finals for the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup and either De Ocampo or Reavis will take over as the winnigest active player in less than two weeks time. "None of that really means anything to me," Reavis said, doubling down on his team-first mentality. "I think it will probably mean something when I'm all said and done and my career is over with, but I'm still an active player. I have a duty to perform. It's all great and it's all glory but at the end of the day it doesn't really mean anything," he added. ALL I WANT TO DO IS KEEP WINNING It was in early 2017 when Rafi Reavis made it known that he still has a lot left in his tank. Fast forward to 2018 in Game 1 of the Philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel and Reavis practically won the Purefoods franchise yet another Finals game. With the Hotshots holding on to a two-point lead with 2.2 seconds, Reavis disrupted San Miguel's final offensive possession basically by himself to make sure Magnolia completed a comeback from 20 points down. Rafi first tipped the inbound pass to foil the Beermen's first option for June Mar Fajardo and after Arwind Santos picked the ball up to shoot a game-tying jumper, Reavis was there too to block the shot. Rafi Reavis has won a lot but he wants to keep winning. "We're still  active so we're still out there trying to get one more," he said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

All-Stars collide in LA with teams picked by LeBron, Steph

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA All-Star Game added spice to its 67th edition by allowing the captains to pick their teams. Team LeBron vs. Team Steph has replaced the traditional East-West format, shuffling allegiances and turning antagonists into uneasy teammates. But with the world’s best basketball players all converging on Los Angeles, the hungry fans of the hometown Lakers are eager to pick their own dream team as well. For instance, a gathering of a few hundred fans at media day in the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) caught sight of Paul George, Oklahoma City’s All-Star scorer and a Southern California native. The pro-Lakers crowd immediately launched into a chant of “We want Paul! We want Paul!” at the smiling George, who can be a free agent this summer. From his podium elsewhere in the room, Russell Westbrook — the Thunder’s other All-Star and LA native — snarled with sarcastic anger: “That’s out! He ain’t going nowhere!” The game is never really the thing at the NBA’s All-Star weekend, and that’s particularly true while the show is in Hollywood for the record sixth time. Aside from the new team format in the Sunday (Monday, PHL time) showcase, many of the NBA’s biggest stars are returning home, since they already make their summer homes in LA. Lakers fans are most interested in the potential 2018 free agents who could immediately resurrect the 16-time champion franchise, which is currently stumbling toward its unprecedented fifth consecutive non-playoff season. Lakers fans want George, but they also want LeBron James — and they’ll let both stars know it at Staples Center. James dismissed free agency questions Saturday, just as he has done all season, but his palatial house in Los Angeles is among the reasons Lakers fans believe they’ve got a chance to create their own All-Star team in a few months. But before that, James and Stephen Curry will lead two talent-laden teams at Staples Center for the annual showcase of the NBA’s best. Both captains are cautiously optimistic that this tweaked format will pay off with better play than in other All-Star games, which often turn into pickup games with a fraction of the entertainment value of even the Drew League, the famed pro-am circuit in which many stars participate every summer in South Central LA. “It should be a little bit more competitive, a little bit more intense on the court,” said Curry, the Golden State Warriors’ shooting star. “It means a little more when it’s Team LeBron and Team Steph.” The team selection process wasn’t made public, but the results will be very visible. The decision to keep the draft private disappointed fans — and even a few All-Stars. “I thought it was going to be televised,” Team LeBron center Andre Drummond said. “I thought it would be a cool spinoff: Live, LeBron and Curry picking guys. But hopefully next year they do it.” Curry picked his Golden State teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but lost Kevin Durant to James. LeBron also tantalizingly picked Kyrie Irving, the Boston guard who campaigned to leave James’ side in Cleveland last summer. Irving said it was “pretty awesome” to be James’ teammate again: “It’s normal. Sorry, I know that sounds like not a lot, but it’s just normal.” And everybody will be curious about what happens when Westbrook reteams with Durant, who ditched him in Oklahoma City in 2016 to win a championship in Oakland last year. James’ original roster has been dramatically altered by injuries to DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Love, who all won’t play. But LeBron and Toronto coach Dwane Casey could still roll out a nightmarish lineup featuring, for instance, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and James alongside Durant, Westbrook and George. Curry and Houston coach Mike D’Antoni could counter with a galaxy of shooting stars including James Harden, Damian Lillard, Thompson, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Curry himself. “I think it’s exciting,” said Harden, the product of nearby Artesia High School in Lakewood. “The All-Star Game, there are a lot of highlights, but we’re trying to win, and we’re going to go out there and prove that we’re trying to win.” Westbrook says this novel game format will “definitely” be more competitive than past editions of the midseason showcase. “My experience, my record with the West, we don’t lose much,” said Westbrook, who came out of Leuzinger High School and UCLA. “So I’m just saying. We usually win. Just saying.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2018

Strong run defense could power Alabama past Georgia

JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama's vaunted defense is about to face perhaps college football's best running back duo. Those kinds of matchups tend to work out pretty well for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, which shuts down opposing ground games better than anybody. Only Auburn in the regular season meeting has truly contained Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. With the nation's top defense, Alabama is well equipped to at least defend them well enough to win Monday night's national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Leading that charge will be linebacker Rashaan Evans, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne. Payne is ready to get back to doing what he does best after a Sugar Bowl interception and touchdown catch. "I've just been trying to focus on being dominant up front, for real," Payne said. Being dominant up front, on both sides of the ball, has been a big part of Alabama's success under coach Nick Saban. This team's no different. Alabama also has a veteran secondary to contend with the passing of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm has had a terrific freshman season, but he struggled when Auburn's defense held Chubb and Michel to a combined 48 rushing yards. The Tide does have to replace yet another starting linebacker with Anfernee Jennings out with a knee injury sustained in the Sugar Bowl win over Clemson. That leaves probably Terrell Lewis or Jamey Mosley to start. Linebacker Mack Wilson was already a first-time starter in the Sugar Bowl and had a pick six and a career-high six tackles. "Once we lose one man, it's the next man up," Tide defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs said. "Alabama recruits the best of the best so you always have to be locked in and ready to go, because you never know when it's your time. Having Mack Wilson step up and have a bigtime game, everybody on the defense trusts him and I think he's going to have another big game." Offensively, Alabama has playmakers like quarterback Jalen Hurts, tailback Damien Harris and wide receiver Calvin Ridley. The Tide does have to replace guard Lester Cotton, who suffered a knee injury in the semifinal game. If history holds up, Alabama will have an edge in another regard. Saban has a perfect track record against former assistants like Georgia coach Kirby Smart. He's 11-0 and none of them have come closer than 17 points against his Tide teams. Saban has also had a full year to emphasize to his team "Don't waste a failure" since a title game loss to Clemson. Alabama is a slight favorite for this game, just like in the semifinals, but can summon up a little extra motivation from critics of the Tide's choice over Big Ten champion Ohio State for the final playoff spot. It all worked to the tune of a 24-6 win in the playoff rematch with the Tigers. "The real challenge will be, can we duplicate that kind of energy in this game," Saban said. Prediction: Alabama 31, Georgia 17 ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

Brady, Patriots dominate Raiders 33-8 in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tom Brady felt right at home in his first appearance in Mexico by throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns, to the delight of an adoring crowd, in the New England Patriots' 33-8 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Brady completed his first 12 passes and picked apart Oakland's suspect defense to chants of "Brady! Brady!" from an amped-up crowd at Azteca Stadium. The large contingent of Patriots fans in the well-divided crowd for a Raiders "home" game had plenty to cheer about as New England (8-2) dominated from start to finish. After winning their debut trip to Mexico City last year against Houston, the Raiders (4-6) were completely overmatched in their return. The offense failed to score until Derek Carr threw a TD pass to Amari Cooper in the fourth quarter with Oakland trailing by 30 points. The defense got victimized by short passes by Brady and then beaten on a 64-yard TD to Brandin Cooks on the third play of the second half that gave New England a 24-0 lead. EAGLES 37, COWBOYS 9 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Carson Wentz threw for two touchdowns and three 2-point conversions after Philadelphia lost kicker Luke Elliott to a head injury, and the Eagles all but wrapped up the NFC East with the victory over Dallas. The Eagles (9-1) outscored the Cowboys 30-0 in the second half while extending their winning streak to eight games, their longest since 2003-04 and tied with New Orleans for the best current run in the NFL. Philadelphia leads the second-place and defending division champion Cowboys (5-5) by four games with six to play after handing Dallas its worst home loss at 8-year-old AT&T Stadium. Dallas' Dak Prescott threw a career-high three interceptions and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in his second straight loss without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, serving a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence. Luke Elliott left the game after missing a 34-yard field goal late in the first quarter. SAINTS 34, REDSKINS 31, OT NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans extended its winning streak to eight games with an unlikely comeback, erasing a 15-point deficit inside the final six minutes or regulation and kicking a short field goal in overtime to defeat Washington. Mark Ingram capped a 131-yard rushing performance with gains of 20 and 31 yards on back-to-back carries in overtime to set up Wil Lutz's winning 28-yard kick. Drew Brees passed for 385 yards and two touchdowns, going 11 of 11 for 164 yards and his only two touchdowns on New Orleans' final two possessions of regulation. His first TD went to tight end Josh Hill with 2:53 to go, and the last to Alvin Kamara with 1:05 left. The Saints (8-2) set up their final drive by stopping Samaje Perine on third-and-1 at the two-minute warning when a first down would have allowed Washington (4-6) to run out the clock. After Kamara corralled a bobble while running between two converging defenders to score from 18 yards, he took a pitch on a misdirection play to the left side and easily reached the end zone for a 2-point conversion as the Superdome crowd — at least those who hadn't left early — went wild. Washington managed to get into winning field-goal range in the final minute of regulation, only to be pushed back by a fluky grounding penalty that appeared to result from Kirk Cousins' miscommunication with a receiver, followed by a sack as time expired. The Redskins also received the ball first in overtime, but the Saints' hobbled defense, which gave up more yards than in any game during its winning streak, rallied to force a quick punt and Ingram did the rest. Cousins passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns. GIANTS 12, CHIEFS 9, OT EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Chiefs on a blustery, cold day. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games. The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference. It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks. Few expected them to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2. The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points. With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal — his third short one — with :01 left in regulation. VIKINGS 24, RAMS 7 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Latavius Murray rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns, Adam Thielen turned a short catch into a 65-yard score and the Vikings smothered the NFL's highest-scoring offense. Case Keenum completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and no turnovers against the team that benched him last season for No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. He also guided the Vikings (8-2) to their sixth straight victory in a matchup of division leaders. Minnesota's defense started the second half by forcing four punts in a row by the Rams (7-3), whose four-game winning streak in which they scored 144 points was finished in convincing fashion. The Rams led the league entering the weekend with a third-down conversion rate of 46.7 percent, but were just 3 for 11 against the Vikings. The Los Angeles defense was trampled in the second half for 288 yards, and Keenum went without a sack for the sixth game this season. Thielen handed him the longest touchdown pass of his career by turning a simple curl route early in the fourth quarter into a game-breaking score after spinning past Rams cornerback Dominique Hatfield. Injuries took two of their top three cornerbacks out of the game for the second half. Thielen finished with 123 yards on six receptions, giving him 916 yards this season. The only player in Vikings history to reach 900 yards receiving by the 10-game mark was Randy Moss, who did it in 2000 and 2003. RAVENS 23, PACKERS 0 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Ravens forced five turnovers in their third shutout of the season. Baltimore last accomplished the feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000. Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey each picked off passes for Baltimore (5-5), which led the NFL in interceptions entering the weekend. But a problematic offense couldn't generate a touchdown drive until Joe Flacco's perfect deep ball to Mike Wallace over two defenders for a 13-point lead nearly two minutes into the third quarter. Flacco threw for 183 yards, going 22 of 28 with an interception. His lone touchdown pass was still enough of a cushion against a Packers team struggling without two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out with a broken collarbone. The Packers (5-5) were last shut out on Nov. 19, 2006, when then-starter Brett Favre left with an elbow injury in the first half of a 35-0 loss to New England. Rodgers, then in his second year in the league, finished off that loss in relief. Rodgers' replacement this year, Brett Hundley, didn't fare any better. He was 21 of 36 for 239 yards. But he threw interceptions on the Packers' first two series. On the third drive, backup running back Devante Mays fumbled on his first carry of the season. CHARGERS 54, BILLS 24 CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Casey Hayward made two of the Chargers' five interceptions during a horrific first half by Buffalo rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, and Los Angeles cruised over the slumping Bills. Korey Toomer returned Peterman's first interception 59 yards for a touchdown on Buffalo's opening drive, the rookie threw two more interceptions in the first quarter and two additional picks in the second. Peterman was pulled from his first NFL start with a 37-7 halftime deficit after just 14 pass attempts for the Bills (5-5), who lost their third straight. Buffalo benched Tyrod Taylor and promoted the fifth-round pick from Pitt earlier this week despite being in playoff position. Coach Sean McDermott replaced Peterman with Taylor in the second half, and the veteran went 15 of 25 for 158 yards, throwing one TD pass and rushing for another score. The Chargers (4-6) thoroughly capitalized on Peterman's mistakes, putting up a 27-point second quarter and their highest-scoring performance in Philip Rivers' 195 consecutive starts since 2006. Los Angeles set a franchise record for points in a first half during the Bills' worst defensive half since 1977, and the Chargers posted a resounding win for coach Anthony Lynn, who finished last season as Bills interim coach. BENGALS 20, BRONCOS 17 DENVER (AP) — Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes in Cincinnati's win over the Broncos, their first win in Denver since 1975 when franchise founder Paul Brown was their head coach. That snapped the Bengals' 10-game losing streak in Denver and sent the Broncos (3-7) to their sixth straight loss, their longest skid in 27 years. Trailing by a field goal with 1:52 left, the Broncos went three-and-out with Brock Osweiler taking a sack and then firing incomplete to Emmanuel Sanders on fourth-and-4 from his 26. The Bengals (4-6) took a 13-7 lead into the locker room with Dalton's TD throws of 1 yard to Tyler Kroft and 29 yards to Alex Erickson. The first was set up by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick's 101-yard interception return and fumble recovery just shy of the opposite end zone after fumbling at the Broncos 15-yard line. LIONS 27, BEARS 24 CHICAGO (AP) — Matthew Stafford threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, Matt Prater kicked a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining. Detroit (6-4) took the lead after Tarik Cohen had tied it for Chicago (3-7) with a 15-yard touchdown run. The Lions escaped with their third straight win when the Bears' Connor Barth was wide right on a 46-yarder in the closing seconds. Stafford completed 21 of 31 passes. Marvin Jones Jr. had four receptions for 85 yards and a TD. DJ Hayden ran back a fumbled snap for a touchdown to give Detroit seven return TDs this season, tying a team record. And the Lions beat the Bears for the eighth time in nine games. Chicago dropped its third straight even though Jordan Howard ran for 125 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky faded after a strong start, throwing for 179 yards and a TD. JAGUARS 19, BROWNS 7 CLEVELAND (AP) — Blake Bortles threw a touchdown pass and Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith recovered a fumble for a TD with 1:14 remaining as the Jaguars won their fourth straight and moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC South. Jacksonville's top-ranked defense forced five turnovers, two in the final two minutes. The Jaguars (7-3) built a 10-0 lead and turned things over to their "Sacksonville" defense. The Jaguars intercepted rookie DeShone Kizer twice, had five sacks and blanked the Browns (0-10) in the second half. Cleveland's last hopes ended when Yannick Ngakoue sacked Kizer and knocked the ball into the end zone, where Smith recovered. Earlier, Ngakoue and Calais Campbell combined to sack Kizer, who fumbled as he fell and it was recovered near midfield by Dante Fowler with 1:48 left. With the win, Jacksonville is leading its division after 10 games for the first time since 1999, when the Jags were atop the AFC Central at 9-1. BUCCANEERS 30, DOLPHINS 20 MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining and Tampa Bay snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Dolphins. O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter. They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day when Miami had more mistakes than points. Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20 on a 61-yard pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner. Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs score. Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. TEXANS 31, CARDINALS 21 HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie D'Onta Foreman ran for 65 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns before being carted off the field with an ankle injury to help the Houston Texans snap a three-game skid. The Texans (4-6) went on top when Foreman scored his first career touchdown on a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were stopped for a loss on a fourth-and-1 later in the fourth. Foreman dashed 34 yards on the next play to push the lead to 31-21 with about six minutes left. Foreman was injured on the play, falling to the ground in the end zone. He was looked at on the field for a few minutes before he was helped to the cart and taken off the field as the crowd chanted: "Foreman, Foreman." Blaine Gabbert threw for 257 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in his first start of the season with Drew Stanton dealing with a sprained knee and Carson Palmer out for the season with a broken arm. But Gabbert threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter to seal Arizona's fate. The Texans won despite two turnovers by Tom Savage, who has lost six fumbles and thrown three interceptions in four starts this season. He finished 22 of 32 for 230 yards and two touchdowns in his third start since Deshaun Watson was injured. Rookie Ricky Seals-Jones, who didn't have a catch entering Sunday, finished with 54 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Cardinals (4-6)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2017

Drummond under pressure as Pistons try to rebound

em>By Noah Trister, Associated Press /em> Now entering his sixth NBA season, Andre Drummond is walking a fine line between franchise player and enigma. That’s a reputation the Detroit center sounds eager to shed. “I’m 24 now,” Drummond said. “Obviously over the time, you’re going to mature and things are going to start becoming more serious.” The Pistons are coming off a disappointing 2016-17 campaign in which they missed the postseason. There are any number of ways they could improve — if point guard Reggie Jackson has a healthier season, or if newcomer Avery Bradley makes a major impact in the backcourt — but the biggest issue may be Drummond’s potential , and how close he will come to fulfilling it. After his first couple seasons, Drummond looked like a steal for Detroit with the No. 9 pick in the 2012 draft. He became one of the most productive rebounders in the league, and his athleticism in the lane made him an inviting target for alley-oop passes from whoever the team’s playmakers were on a given night. Drummond averaged 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds in 2015-16, helping the Pistons make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but even that season, his poor foul shooting was such an issue that coach Stan Van Gundy had a hard time trusting him late in games. Then last season — immediately after receiving a $130 million, five-year contract — he averaged only 13.6 points and 13.8 rebounds. His offensive rebounding average dipped to 4.3, Drummond’s lowest since his rookie season. This offseason included a procedure to correct a deviated septum, which Drummond said improved his breathing. That could be a big help to a player whose energy is so important. “Andre’s been a fixture here,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think that all he’s got to do basically is get locked in. He’s done a good job — he got his breathing corrected, which I think will help him. He’s focused on his conditioning. When he plays with great energy, everything else takes care of itself.” Here are a few other things to watch with the Pistons this season: strong>JACKSON’S HEALTH: /strong> Although Drummond is on the spot, Jackson also had his struggles after issues with his knee before the start of last season. He’s still been somewhat limited this preseason. strong>BRADLEY ARRIVES: /strong>The Pistons had an interesting decision to make on guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was a restricted free agent after last season. They ended up renouncing his rights and trading Marcus Morris to Boston for Bradley, who averaged 16.3 points last season for the Celtics. strong>NEXT GENERATION: /strong> Detroit got only 4.4 points per game last season from Stanley Johnson, a first-round draft pick in 2015. Last year’s first rounder, Henry Ellenson, appeared in only 19 games for the Pistons. Detroit took Duke’s Luke Kennard in the first round this year, and the Pistons could use some significant production from this trio — especially after Morris was traded. strong>OUTSIDE SHOOTING: /strong> Only two teams shot a lower percentage than the Pistons from 3-point range in 2016-17, but Bradley (39 percent last season) should be an upgrade from Caldwell-Pope in that regard. strong>NEW ARENA: /strong> The Pistons said goodbye to The Palace last season and have moved into a new venue downtown that they’re sharing with the Detroit Red Wings. The last few seasons in Auburn Hills included some poor attendance, so anything the new building can do to improve the atmosphere would be a help. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2017

Cubs surge late to extend division lead

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Javier Baez grounded a tying single with two outs in the ninth inning, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the 10th and the Chicago Cubs widened their NL Central lead over Milwaukee, beating the Brewers 5-3 in Major League Baseball on Thursday night. The Cubs now are 4 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers after winning the opener of a four-game series. Milwaukee was in position to win it in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with one out. But Wade Davis (4-1) struck out Domingo Santana and then, after falling behind 3-1 in the count to Orlando Arcia, came back to retire him on an easy comebacker on a full-count pitch. The Cubs trailed 3-2 when Ian Happ led off the ninth by hitting a grounder that first baseman Neil Walker fielded wide of the bag. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress covered first and Happ was called safe in a close play, a ruling upheld on replay. Happ moved to second on a one-out grounder and scored when Baez, down to his last strike, singled up the middle. Bryant hit his 28th homer, connecting off Oliver Drake (3-5). strong>INDIANS 4, ANGELS 1 /strong> ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Francisco Lindor homered as Cleveland finished a three-game sweep for its 27th win in 28 games. It matched the 1884 Providence Grays for the best 28-game run in major league history. The Grays went 28-1 before cooling. After hitting a two-run homer Wednesday night, Lindor came back with a three-run homer in the fifth off Parker Bridwell (8-3) to break a 1-all tie. It was his 32nd home run. It was Cleveland's 11th straight victory over the Angels, who have lost four of five overall in a struggling effort to overtake the Minnesota Twins for the final AL wild card. Zack McAllister (2-2) threw 1 1/3 innings of relief. Tyler Olson threw a scoreless ninth for his first career save. strong>TWINS 12, TIGERS 1 /strong> DETROIT (AP) — Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco had three hits each as Minnesota extended its lead for the American League's second wild card. The Twins are 2 ½ games ahead of the Angels in the race for the AL's final postseason spot. Minnesota scored three runs apiece in the fourth and sixth innings, then added four more in the eighth. The Twins rebounded from a three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, routing a depleted Detroit team that is 4-17 in September after trading Justin Verlander and Justin Upton. Adalberto Mejia fell one out short of a win, allowing a run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. Dillon Gee (3-2) was credited with a victory in relief. Jordan Zimmermann (8-13) yielded three runs and five hits in four innings. strong>DODGERS 5, PHILLIES 4 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier and Curtis Granderson homered as Los Angeles clinched a tie for the NL West title, ending a four-game losing streak by beating Philadelphia. The Dodgers can win their fifth straight division crown Friday night with either a victory at home over San Francisco or a loss by second-place Arizona to Miami. Los Angeles avoided a four-game sweep by the last-place Phillies, winning for just the sixth time in 26 games. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner sustained a bruised right thumb when he was hit by a pitch from Mark Leiter Jr. in the first and exited the game. Turner is hitting a team-leading .321 with 21 homers and 70 RBIs. Ethier tied it with a home run in the seventh off reliever Ricardo Pinto (1-2) that made it 4-all. Chris Taylor followed with a triple and scored the go-ahead run on a grounder by Austin Barnes. Rookie Walker Buehler (1-0) pitched a hitless inning to win his first major league decision. Kenley Jansen got four outs for his 39th save. strong>WHITE SOX 3, ASTROS 1 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Volstad and Chicago's bullpen covered 8 2/3 innings after starter Carson Fulmer left with a blister. Volstad (1-0) got his first win since 2012 with the Chicago Cubs. He allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings, and six relievers kept Houston scoreless from there. Juan Minaya worked around two walks in the ninth for his fifth save. Chicago built a 2-0 lead off Dallas Keuchel (13-5) by the third inning. Brian McCann got Houston within 1 on a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. strong>ROYALS 1, BLUE JAYS 0 /strong> TORONTO (AP) — Jason Vargas and four relievers combined on a two-hitter, while Melky Cabrera had three hits and the only RBI. Vargas (17-10) struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings to win his third straight start. None of the three batters he walked advanced beyond first base. The Blue Jays did not have a runner reach scoring position. The Royals, who have 10 games remaining, are 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card spot. Cabrera's RBI came in the third against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (9-11). strong>ORIOLES 3, RAYS 1 /strong> BALTIMORE (AP) — Gabriel Ynoa pitched eight innings of five-hit ball, while Manny Machado homered and Baltimore beat Tampa in a matchup between fading AL East teams. Machado's two-run homer in the first inning off Matt Andriese (5-4) propelled the Orioles to their third win in 15 games. Ynoa (2-2) struck out three and walked two in earning his first win as a starter in six career tries. He failed to go past five innings in any of his previous starts. Brad Brach pitched the ninth for his 18th save strong>CARDINALS 8, REDS 5 /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler delivered again, getting three hits and driving in two as St. Louis overcame Scott Schebler's two home runs to beat Cincinnati for a three-game sweep. The Cardinals began the day 2 ½ games behind Colorado for the second NL wild card and five games behind the Central-leading Chicago Cubs. Carlos Martinez (12-11) lasted 6 1/3 innings on a muggy night with a gametime temperature of 85 degrees, allowing four runs and nine hits. Homer Bailey (5-9) became the third consecutive Reds starter to be lifted without getting through five innings. strong>BRAVES 3, NATIONALS 2 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and Atlanta beat the Nationals. Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018, but said after the game that he may retire following this season. Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 22nd, 2017

Asia, prepare for the Pringle-Lee-Clarkson backcourt

A backcourt of Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and Jordan Clarkson? Enough to be the best in Asia, if you ask former Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin. With the entry of the Cleveland Cavaliers guard to the physical and explosive backcourt of Team Philippiines, the current Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach says that Gilas' opponents would have their hands full in guarding them. "So, you know, this is an exceptionally strong back court. I don't think Asia's seen anything like it, to be honest," Baldwin said in an interview at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office. Even before the inclusion of Clarkson in the 12-man lineup in the quadrennial affair, Baldwin already noted the greatness of the backcourt, which includes the Globalport star, which he calls as 'one of the best point guards in Asia.' "Adding Jordan (Clarkson) will help a lot because it puts a guy in the lineup that can do some hard work in and around the basket. He's a good rebounder, he's got good size, strength and experience. But man, what a back court they have now produced." Asia better be ready for an 'exceptionally strong back court' of Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and of course, Jordan Clarkson, says coach Tab. "I don't think Asia's seen anything like it, to be honest."'#AsianGames | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/aIB0qjgrD5 — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) August 15, 2018 In addition to calling Pringle, who was a former top pick in the PBA Rookie Draft, as the best in the continent, Baldwin added that the Lee is not too far behind. The American-Kiwi coach cited the intangibles those two possess since they create opportunities not just for themselves, but for the whole team's offense. "So it gives Yeng [Guiao] the luxury of running a pretty basic offensive action, which with the limited time they have to prepare, you're gonna love that. He's gonna love that." Even though Asia is not necessarily known for tough and physical play, having a backcourt like Pringle, Lee, and Clarkson will work wonders for the Guiao-mentored squad, and have a chance to create mismatches for the Philippine side. With that said, in order to win it all, which is not a far possibility Baldwin says, the loaded backcourt needs to be supported by a 'little bit small and thin' front court, with the tallest player being 45-year old 6 foot 9 Asi Taulava with 6 foot 8 Christian Standhardinger, 6 foot 8 Raymond Almazan and 6 foot 8 Poy Erram not too far behind. "I hope and pray that Christian and Beau and Poy and Asi, that these guys will do a good job on the board for us. If they do that, I think they'll be in good shape."   __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

Clarkson gets NBA clearance to play in Asian Games

In another turn, Jordan Clarkson is cleared to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games. According to Chef de Mission Richard Gomez, the NBA has given Clarkson to go signal to play for the national team, which makes its Asiad debut against Kazakhstan on Thursday, August 16. Jordan Clarkson, binigyan na ng go signal ng NBA na makalaro sa Asian Games, ayon kay Philippine Delegation to Asian Games Chef de Mission Richard Gomez pic.twitter.com/sP1HCK7Yqh — DZMM TeleRadyo (@DZMMTeleRadyo) August 14, 2018 Last Sunday, August 12, the NBA denied Clarkson clearance to see action in the Asian Games. [Related: Jordan Clarkson not allowed to represent PH in Asiad, says NBA] Two days before that, the Cleveland Cavalier was included in the Finals 12 of the Gilas lineup just in case he gets the necessary go signals. [Related: Clarkson makes Gilas final 12 for Asian Games] However, there's still one hurdle to Clarkson's national team debut and that is the Asian Games itself. Philippine officials will have to talk with the Asian Games organizing committee once again to re-allow Clarkson to play. [Related: ASIAN GAMES: Disappointed Clarkson still wants that Gilas dream] After Jordan was initially denied clearance, Gilas re-promoted Don Trollano to the Final 12. JUST IN. Jordan Clarkson, pinayagan na ng NBA na makalaro sa Asian Games, ayon kay Philippine Delegation to Asian Games Richard Gomez. pic.twitter.com/ayparBkfli — DZMM TeleRadyo (@DZMMTeleRadyo) August 14, 2018 6:28 p.m. UPDATE: In a report by PBA Press Corps President Gerry Ramos of Spin.ph from Indonesia, the INASGOC [Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee] and the OCA [Olympic Council of Asia] have cleared Clarkson again, making the Cleveland Cavalier ready to go for Gilas Pilipinas. Now, it's just a matter of getting the Fil-Am combo guard to Jakarta to suit up for the Philippines-Kazakhstan match to start the country's basketball campaign in the Asian Games. This will mark the first time Jordan Clarkson will play for the Philippine national team since he first burst into the scene as a second round pick by the Washington Wizards in the 2014 NBA Draft before being traded to the LA Lakers. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2018

Art Dela Cruz set to make long time coming Ginebra debut

After months of recovery, Art Dela Cruz is projected to finally debut for Barangay Ginebra in the upcoming PBA Governor's Cup. As per Dela Cruz and head coach Tim Cone, they are looking into fielding him starting around October. "Sabi ni Coach [Tim Cone], middle of the conference. My goal is October, second week of October. But my focus right now is rehab nga, and then sabi rin sa akin ni Coach na this time, i-sure mo na 100% ka na. And loaded naman yung team so there's no hurry," said Dela Cruz Sunday afternoon during Ginebra's victory party with fans for their latest championship. "He's due back maybe in October, but we'll see. We'll play it by ear by that time, we're not gonna push him," added Cone. Dela Cruz first ruptured his Achilles tendon during a Gilas Pilipinas practice in March 2017. He was still a player of Blackwater Elite then. When he was shipped to Brgy. Ginebra in a trade that involved Chris Ellis, Raymond Aguilar, and Dave Marcelo in August 2017, he re-injured his tendon before he had his Ginebra debut. It has been 17 months and counting since Dela Cruz last played a game in the PBA. "Medyo matagal na. Talagang maging patient lang ako, iniisip ko din 'yung long-term eh, hindi lang itong conference na ito," he said. In those long months, Dela Cruz focused on his injury's rehabilitation and understanding the sophisticated system of Cone's triangle offense. "Learning na rin yung triangle sa akin. Actually, bago lang ako sa triangle, most of my career is run and gun sa college [San Beda] eh. Ito slow ball kaya maganda rin pag galing ka sa injury, di ka masyadong masusunog," explained the former NCAA star. Interestingly, the versatile forward is also trying out the point guard role. "Actually, nagpa-practice na ako tapos ang position na nilalagay sa akin ni Coach, point guard. Ang laking bagay na noong sa college naumpisahan ko na. Pero ngayon, primary na eh. Primary na na point, kaya point going from power forward," said the 6-foot-4 player. As the Kings still celebrate their latest conquered land now - the Commissioner's Cup, there is no rush for Dela Cruz. After all, Ginebra seems to have long term plans for him in the pipeline. "After a second Achilles surgery, we do not want to rush him back. He's only 25, so he's got a lot of basketball ahead of him. And I keep telling him: it's not about this conference, it's about the next 8-10 years, that's when we want him for. We want him ready for the next 8-10 years," Cone shared. This is not a surprise given Cone's high regard on the do-it-all forward. He considers his game as a marriage of Scottie Thompson's and Joe Devance's. "We were choosing between him [Dela Cruz] and Scottie [Thompson] when he came out of the [2015] draft, and we chose Scottie which was obviously a great pick. But Art was a close second, just because we thought that his skills were very unique, similar to what Scottie does, but in a bigger version," Cone explained. "Art to me is kind of like the in-between Scottie and Joe, kind of right in between those two guys." Dela Cruz has so far posted norms of 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 steals in the PBA. Aside from Dela Cruz, Cone also targets to line-up new acquisition from Globalport Julian Sargent who is recuperating from a shoulder injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2018

Houston s Watson healthy and ready for more work this week

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — Deshaun Watson was back in a game this week for the first time since surgery to repair a right knee injury in November, and although he didn't play long, he relished his return. "I just played five snaps, handed the ball off, threw one pass," Watson said. "So, it wasn't too bad. Good to just go out there for a couple plays and then watch everyone else perform." The Houston Texans quarterback is looking to build on his limited action as the team prepares for two practices with the San Francisco 49ers next week before hosting them in their second preseason game on Saturday. Watson's health and development in his second year will be critical as Houston tries to bounce back from a season filled with injuries during which the team went 4-12 for its first losing season since 2013. Though he played in just seven games before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in practice, Watson gave the Texans optimism that he'll be the answer to their longtime problems at the position. He threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for 269 yards and two more scores after Houston traded up to select him with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Saturday was the team's first practice back in Houston after the Texans spent the first part of training camp in West Virginia. Although they had to adjust to the hotter temperatures at home, Watson and the Texans got a boost from working out in front of several hundred cheering fans. "The climate ... it's hot and muggy but at the end of the day we have to come out here and play football and perform and just focus on our task," he said. "So, it's always good to have the fans around and show love. They give us energy and high hopes for this season." The 22-year-old said he's grown a lot since arriving in Houston last season and is looking forward to building on what he did last year. "Just really (grown) as a person as a whole and then just the knowledge of the game," he said. "Just being able to understand the offense, understand what the defense is doing and just play faster, just go out there and play and not overthink things." Coach Bill O'Brien, who worked with Tom Brady when he was an assistant with the Patriots, has enjoyed watching Watson develop and is looking for ways to help him take another step. "I think there's areas where he and I need to grow together, like in the red area," he said. "We're a little bit behind there but we have to work together on that and see if we can execute better down there, but I think there's a lot of areas where he's gotten better and better, and he'll only get better and better because he works at it and the experience he gets will really help him." Watson is working behind a revamped offensive line this year after last year's group allowed the second-most sacks in the league. So far, he likes the way the unit is coming together. "Guys just building chemistry, working hard each and every day, never complaining," Watson said. "They make mistakes, but at the end of the day they correct those mistakes and don't make it twice, just like everyone else on the offense. Just guys that love to play football. They have a passion about going in ... and putting in the work, and (are) passionate about winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

Kawhi pens thank you letter to Spurs, fans

NBA.com staff report The Kawhi Leonard era ended for the San Antonio Spurs weeks ago. After much silence before and since then, Leonard has said his farewell to the only NBA city he had called home. In a letter submitted to the San Antonio Express-News, Leonard made a point to say thank you to the Spurs, his former teammates and coaches and the fans of the team. The former Finals MVP Leonard and his teammate, Danny Green, were traded by the Spurs to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round draft pick on July 18. Leonard recently submitted his letter to the Express-News to express his gratefulness to the city and franchise he played for from 2011-18. Kawhi’s full Thank You letter to #Spurs ...teammates and fans #NBA pic.twitter.com/oC8iFSzjXp — Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) August 9, 2018 In mid-June, Leonard made it known through the media that he wanted a trade from the Spurs. The team worked from that point forward to deal Leonard, who is a four-time All-Defensive team member and two-time winner of the Kia Defensive Player of the Year. Several teams -- from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers -- showed interest in acquiring Leonard. But ultimately the Spurs sent the All-Star Leonard to the Raptors for fellow All-Star DeRozan, ending an off-the-court drama that rarely seems to befall the Spurs. Shortly after the Leonard trade took place, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke with reporters and had nothing but positives to say about Leonard and the trade. "We wish him well as he moves into Toronto. I think he’ll be great," Popovich said on July 18. "I think this trade is going to work out great for both teams. We wish [Leonard] well, but at this point it's time to move on. It's time to move on. “Kawhi is not going to stop being a great player. But we’re thrilled with DeMar. ... To get back a proven NBA player and a proven All-Star, we have to be thrilled.” Leonard appeared in just nine games last season, averaging 16.2 points 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. The strain between Leonard and San Antonio built throughout the 2017-18 campaign as the former 15th overall pick dealt with a lingering quadriceps injury. The unusual recovery time was compounded by his physical separation from the team, as Leonard continued his rehab in New York. His absence was especially notable during the Spurs' first-round playoff exit to the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs will open next season not only without Leonard, but as well without longtime guard Tony Parker (who signed with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency this summer). Much like Leonard, Parker also published a letter to the Spurs and their fans this week -- but his was done on The Players' Tribune web site. Parker's move -- combined with Leonard's departure -- signaled the end of an era in San Antonio, which has seen plenty of change since Tim Duncan's retirement in 2016. Alongside Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Parker comprised the Spurs' "Big Three" for many years. But Duncan has retired, Parker is now gone and Ginobili's status for next season is unknown. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2018

Pelicans, Jahlil Okafor reportedly agree on contract

NEW ORLEANS --- Two people familiar with the situation say free-agent center Jahlil Okafor has agreed to a two-year contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. The people spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been announced. They say the contract includes a team option in Year 2. Philadelphia made 6-foot-11 Okafor the third overall pick out of Duke in the 2015 NBA draft. But Okafor's production fell considerably last season from the nearly 15 points and six rebounds he averaged through his first two seasons with the 76ers. He appeared in only two games with Philadelphia last season before being traded to Brooklyn, wher...Keep on reading: Pelicans, Jahlil Okafor reportedly agree on contract.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 9th, 2018