Michael Porter Jr. holds top spot on way-too-early Big Board

With the 2017 NBA Draft in the books, it’s time to turn our attention to 2018.

While the 2017 lottery was dominated by perimeter players, the 2018 version is looking to be more of the big variety. Five of the top eight players on this board are 6-10 or taller, led by the top prospect, Michael Porter Jr.

Elite Womens Andrew Franks Jersey There’s not much changing behind Newton, except the team signing Garrett Gilbert as a No. 4. There’s plenty of differences in Newton, however.

The big concern was how well and how quickly Newton would recover from March surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder. The good news is he’s right on schedule to be a full go for the regular season. Although he won’t be passing at this week’s minicamp and likely won’t be rushed into heavy practice reps in training camp, the Panthers’ coach and training staff are just playing it safest with only Week 1 in mind.
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So his vaunted arm strength should return, but a mental rebound also is key for Newton. His body and confidence were rattled in his worst year as a pro. The smiling Superman in 2016 became a shell of the MVP he was in ’15, as efficiency, accuracy and legs all let him down, tied to limited help from his line and wideouts. His game became tentative after a season in which he did so much.

The Panthers couldn’t just rely on Newton working it out on his own as a seventh-year player. They needed ways to facilitate his skill set, quickly and safely. They were smart to focus on the edges of their offense.

NBA Draft rumors: Lakers looking to deal for No. 1 pick to take Markelle Fultz

The big NBA Draft rumor Friday had the Philadelphia 76ers trying to work a trade to lure away the Celtics’ No. 1 pick, but now there reportedly is another team seriously eyeing that No. 1 pick — the Lakers.

Former Washington star Markelle Fultz worked out for the Lakers Thursday, and director of basketball operations Magic Johnson “is in love” with Fultz, according to Jonathan Givony? of Draft Express. Givony sent out a series of tweets Friday, saying Fultz “murdered” his workout. He reportedly shot the ball “very well,” showed off a 40-inch vertical leap and played some 2-on-2 competition.

Ingram, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, had an underwhelming rookie season, averaging 9.4 points per game and shooting just over 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from 3-point range. Nevertheless, Johnson said of the Duke alum, “I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about, you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”

The Lakers have the second overall pick again in this year’s NBA Draft, set for June 22, with which they are expected to select UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, a point guard. That, in combination with Johnson’s remarks, seem to make trade bait out of D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson.

Stephen A. Smith absent from NBA Finals, ESPN’s ‘First Take’ after death of mother

Stephen A. Smith missed Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals and will be absent for Friday’s taping of ESPN’s First Take as he mourns the death of his mother, Janet Smith.

Smith has been off the air since Tuesday. His return date has yet to be determined. ESPN’s sister network ABC is broadcasting the rubber match between LeBron James’s Cavaliers and Steph Curry’s Warriors.

Jihad Ward Mens Jersey Will Cain, Marcellus Wiley and various guests will fill in for Smith and join First Take regulars Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim on Friday, ESPN spokeswoman Diane Lamb said.

Several things still need to happen for Paul to join the Spurs, but lessening Gasol’s weight on the books is a step in the right direction. The Spurs need to let Patty Mills, Jonathon Simmons and Manu Ginobili walk, in addition to convincing Paul to take less than what he can make if he re-signs with the Clippers. San Antonio already has the max contract of LaMarcus Aldridge on its books.

Paul, 32, is a nine-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA first-team selection but is also a 12-year veteran with a shrinking prime window. Is he really worth burdening the team financially?
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An NBA championship or a Western Conference title would still be extremely difficult to achieve with the Warriors likely at full strength again next season. The Spurs’ possible Big Three of Paul, Leonard and Aldridge seems like a better situation for Paul than what the Clippers can offer, but it comes down to what he cherishes more: A legitimate shot at an NBA championship or a max deal worth about $205 million with L.A.

Boston was coasting along as an improving but still only above average new NBA team

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Long-term, the Celtics might have the best chance to be the team to unseat the Warriors. There’s a lot to navigate between now and then, but their cap situation and assets put them in an enviable position.

All of this could come together ahead of schedule, if Boston is able to sign Jazz star Gordon Hayward this summer. It won’t be easy — the Jazz have a financial advantage and Hayward is inclined to finish what he has started with Utah. But the Celtics have the Brad Stevens card to play, and given Stevens’ long history with Hayward, whom he recruited to play at Butler when Hayward was barely a teenager, that will be a strong pull.
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When Bird was on his three-year NBA MVP run through 1986, he was the best player in the entire league, better than Final Four and NBA Finals rival Magic Johnson. While Larry Legend stuffed the stat sheet with prolific scoring, passing and rebounding, McHale developed into his dominant frontcourt presence.

He was a rookie during their first title together, but every bit of McHale’s inside play was needed to take down the Rockets twice and Johnson’s Lakers once. Not only did Bird and McHale complement each other’s games perfectly, but their unique personalities also meshed to form arguably the greatest forward duo of all time.

Boston was coasting along as an improving but still only above average new NBA team, led by Cousy’s play at point guard. But to match his magical passing in the transition game, it was clear they needed a dominant defensive big man. Enter Russell, fresh from back-to-back titles with the University of San Francisco, to be that guy as a rookie.

The rest is dynasty, as Red Auerbach would coach the Celtics to an incredible nine titles in 10 seasons. Before Cousy had to hang it up as a 35-year-old, he stuck around for six of those championships. Russell would go on to win two more as Auerbach’s sideline successor.

Packers vs. Falcons: Score, result, highlights for NFC championship game

Sunday’s NFC championship game between the Packers and Falcons gave us the largest expected points total in NFL playoff history an over/under set at 61 points for two red-hot quarterbacks against two suspect defenses.

That turned out to be the only interesting aspect late in the Falcons’ blowout win over the Packers, and those who took the over ended up satisfied.

Adding to the stakes, at least for Atlanta, was the fact that Sunday’s title game would be the last NFL contest played at the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons have played since 1992. One could have argued the host venue’s final Falcons game would be it’s biggest. And what a finale it was.

Some of us play football, some officiate and some just watch it, but all of us love the best ball game on Earth, and we are all sure that the Seahawks is the best team in the world. For many of us you are the favourite player. However, two members of our community – Darya and Xenia have another player being their favourite one, and this is Richard Sherman. Probably this choice is the result of these girls playing cornerbacks. We love you not only for interceptions and tackles, your invincible spirit – that is what is more important for us, it is great that you were able to demonstrate it in the game against Falcons.

Members of our fan club a?” Ivan and Sasha, made a plush cat for you with their own hands, to be more exact it is more for little Kaleigh Rose rather than for you, so her father could be always near even when he is in another city, being on the field to show everyone his indomitable spirit and another tremendous game.vikings_076

Michael Bennett gushes over Zach Zenner, ‘the best’ white running back in NFL

For being a white running back in the NFL, the Lions’ Zach Zenner is pretty impressive, according to Michael Bennett. In fact, the free-spirited Seahawks defensive end believes Zenner is the best white running back in the NFL.

I think the running back, man, hes theres not many white running backs in the NFL but he has to be the best right now, Bennett said on a conference call Tuesday, via the Detroit Free Press. Hes doing such a great job of cutbacks and hitting the hole. Hes a really good back. I know all the stuff he did in college, three straight seasons of 2,000 yards.

Authentic Womens David Harris Jersey I dont care where youre at, if you can do that you have got amazing talent. And I think hes just an amazing running back, the things he can do with the ball. He got good balance, he can spin, he can catch it out of the backfield. I think he fits the offense perfectly.

Harold Goodwin, Cardinals offensive coordinator: Goodwin is on every team’s list so far. He can give any team a smart, organized communicator and tactician. He is likely in line to succeed Bruce Arians as it is. The Chargers need to look at him, too, to help clean up some of the little things that keep costing them.

Authentic Womens Andrew Jackson Jersey David Shaw, Stanford head coach: Shaw needs to be watched for every NFL opening in California. He has many of Goodwin’s qualities and also would immediately get the most out of the combination of Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon. Running game and defense needs to be the Chargers’ new true identity wherever they play. Getting Shaw to San Diego from Palo Alto would be a coup.

USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster declares for NFL Draft

USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster surprised no one by declaring for the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Smith-Schusterhauled in 213 passes for 3,092 yards and 25 touchdowns at USC, and projects as a first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
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Despite the loss of Smith-Schuster, USC is expected to be a top-fiveteam heading into next season. The Trojans are now awaiting the decision of star cornerbackAdoree’Jackson, who could also become a first-round pick.

Authentic Mens Jay Ajayi Jersey The 6-2, 220-pound wide receiver looks similar to Andre Johnson when he played Miami. Smith-Schuster is projected to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

About an hour after Mets fans heard the bad news of the night 鈥?Yoenis Cespedes left the game with yet another injury ( left heel this time ) 鈥?the club picked a very polished left-handed college pitcher. David Peterson might not be a future No. 1, but he has strikeout stuff.

Seth Romero goes to the Nationals at No. 25. If any player from this year’s draft class could possibly reach the majors this season, it’s Romero. He’s an electric left-hander who was a strikeout machine before he was kicked off the Houston team this spring. And, yeah, that’s the problem. Getting kicked off the team the year you’re a potential top-10 draft pick sets off all kinds of alarms. But Romero’s close to big-league ready and the Nationals could really use a fresh strikeout arm in the bullpen this year. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

MLB to investigate domestic violence allegations against Cubs’ Addison Russell

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has been accused of domestic violence in an Instagram post that caught the attention of Major League Baseball.

An MLB spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times the league is looking into accusations made by a friend of Melisa Russell.

The Sun-Times posted a screen shot in which Carrie Reed wrote on her private Instagram account that the All-Star shortstop cheats on his wife and mentally and physically abuses her. Reed called Addison Russell hateful and said he has hit his wife in front of their two children.

Scott Steffel, a 23-year-old student at Cal-State Fullerton, snagged the ball with his glove and escaped a pile of scrambling fans before eventually ending up on the Angels’ broadcast to show off his catch. But rather than cashing in on the estimated six figures the ball is worth, he decided to give it back to Pujols at the team’s next game.

Game Womens Lance Dunbar Jersey Its unreal. It was an honor to just be a part of history, Steffel told CBS Los Angeles on Sunday. It’s not my ball, it’s his. He deserves it. He’s one of the best baseball players right now. Of all time.
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Pujols, 37, became just the ninth player in MLB history to reach 600 homers and the fourth youngest to achieve the feat. The 10-time All-Star joined Sammy Sosa (609), Jim Thome (612), Ken Griffey Jr. (630), Willie Mays (660), Alex Rodriguez (696), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762).

Steve Smith has a good reason to deny NFL players who request training help

When and if Steve Smith Sr. finds himself enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the reasons will range from his remarkable production through a 16-year NFL career to his status as an all-time great trash-talker.

The reasons will not include his willingness to help younger players.

The retired wide receiver is declining requests for training help from current NFL players. His reasoning is not based in pride or some sort of grudge against the younger generation of players like Jalen Ramsey.

His reasoning is personal, and it makes sense. Especially for a man who already has reversed one retirement decision.

“I don’t think anyone that’s ever played with him is gonna say he was a horrible teammate,” former Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton told the Dallas Morning News recently. “They’d be like, ‘Yeah, you know what? He really wasn’t a bad teammate. We might have had our issues at times, but he wasn’t a bad teammate whatsoever.'”

Even Steve Young, Owens’ QB in San Francisco, agrees:

He worked as hard as Jerry Rice — I’ve never said that about anyone else by the way. He was willing to stand next to Jerry and work, and I’ve never seen that before. So to me, what I saw were his physical abilities were incredible. The work ethic, incredible, and a very respectful guy.
So why keep him out? Maybe if he was a borderline Hall of Fame player then the on-field antics (which shouldn’t be held against him, per the rules) would make some sense. But Owens is an all-time great, and the numbers back that up.

But don’t be surprised if the committee continues to exclude Owens. Fouts is already upset with how Owens has conducted himself when he found out he won’t get in.texans_125

Cowboys’ 2017 free agency decisions complicated by bad salary cap procrastination

Elite Andrew Gachkar Jersey With more than $125 million in cap commitments for just the top 10 players on their roster, the Cowboys have some work to do as they prepare for the start of the new league year.
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The Cowboys have long been known as a team that pushes salary cap dollars off as long as possible, and 2017 is no exception. They are one of only two NFL teams that project to be over the 2017 salary cap.

With a large number of free agents, the Cowboys will have to make a number of difficult decisions to start 2017.

The Cowboys currently project to be around $13 million over the salary cap, about $50 million worse than the league average. Their problems largely stem from an over-reliance on large signing bonus payments in their contracts, specifically those used to lower cap costs in later contract years in order to be active in free agency.

The Falcons got great mileage out of their roster in 2016 and were able to get their biggest immediate contract extensions out of the way. They can create a few more dollars by releasing players such as Tyson Jackson, but likely not enough to compete for any big-name talent.

It would make more sense for the Falcons to use their room to extend Desmond Trufant and structure his cap charges in a way that he won鈥檛 be too expensive in later years.