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24 Feb 2018 21:34:00 -0500
Jimmy Butler to undergo surgery, could return in 4-6 weeks
Jimmy Butler’s absence from the Minnesota Timberwolves with a right knee injury may not be prolonged.According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Butler is expected to undergo surgery on his right knee in the coming days. He then reportedly could return in four to six weeks. Butler exited Friday’s game with a right knee injury on a non-contact play late in the third quarter. He underwent an MRI on Saturday that showed a meniscus injury, but luckily his ACL was not torn, which would be a much more severe injury.A four to six week timetable for a return means Butler might be able to return right at the end of the regular season, or perhaps the playoffs. Minnesota’s last regular season game on April 11. The Timberwolves entered Saturday as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with a 36-26 record.

24 Feb 2018 21:33:53 -0500
Jaguars keep Blake Bortles with multi-year extension
Well, that escalated pretty quickly. Fresh off this report from ESPN’s Josina Anderson Saturday evening that the Jacksonville Jaguars were working on an extension with Blake Bortles, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport has more information available.According to the NFL insider, Bortles and the Jaguars are now finalizing a contract extension. Rapoport later noted that it is in fact a two-year extension. The former top-10 pick was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract with a cap hit of $19-plus million for the 2018 campaign. It’s not yet known whether that figure will change once an extension is officially signed.Bortles, 25, is coming off the best season of an otherwise largely unassuming career. In 16 starts, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions en route to leading Jacksonville to the AFC South title. He also helped the Jaguars earn a trip to the conference championship before losing a close contest to the New England Patriots.ESPN’s Adam Schefter no

24 Feb 2018 21:33:45 -0500
Jonathan Martin being held in mental health facility
Former NFL player Jonathan Martin was detained by authorities in Southern California on Friday after he apparently posted a threat directed at his former Harvard-Westlake High School as well as the Miami Dolphins.The Instagram post itself was about as disturbing as it gets. It included Martin sharing a photo of a shotgun and bullets with the caption “When you’re a bully victim and a coward, your options are suicide or revenge.” It also included Martin mentioning former Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, who were at the center of the bullying scandal that featured Martin himself with the Dolphins back in 2013. It’s now being reported that Martin is currently in a mental health facility in Southern California. It’s obvious that something just isn’t right here. Mental health itself has become a major talking point when it comes to school violence and threats of school violence. That was brought to a whole new level last week after a former student killed 17 people in a shooting at a Florida hi

24 Feb 2018 21:33:37 -0500
Was South Korean snowboarder wrongly awarded giant slalom win?
The Winter Olympics may have a controversy on their hands.During the men’s giant slalom semifinals, Slovenian Zan Kosir and South Korean Lee Sang-Ho were pitted against each other for the right to advance. The race was extremely close, with Lee winning the race by .01.Replays of the finish, however, showed that Kosir certainly looked to have gotten his arm across the finish line before Lee did. Admittedly, the angle of the camera isn’t directly in line with the finish. However, there were indications that something was off. According to Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo Sports, Kosir raised his arms in celebration upon crossing the line, and he protested when he saw the replay of the finish. It certainly looks like he had plenty of reason to complain.There have been some wild finishes at these Olympics, but this is just bizarre. Lee went on to lose in the final while Kosir wound up with the bronze, but that might not be much consolation.

24 Feb 2018 21:33:29 -0500
Mark Emmert suggests college basketball needs big changes
NCAA president Mark Emmert appears to be aware of the fact that the sport of college basketball — and the NCAA as a whole — is in dire need of reform.Emmert appeared on CBS Sports’s pregame show on Saturday and, in light of various reports of wrongdoing on the part of numerous schools, admitted that the system badly needs to be looked at. Of course, this is the easy part to agree on. Figuring out what the necessary reforms are is where it gets difficult. Whether college athletes get paid, for instance, is a controversial topic with many diverse opinions. The only thing we know is that the issues in college athletics are widespread, and there is no easy fix.

24 Feb 2018 21:33:12 -0500
Dez Bryant has advice for young players: Don't play hurt
As Dez Bryant takes to the media to call out his haters and his Dallas Cowboys team decides what to do with him, he has some advice to offer up to young players. It’s pretty sound advice, but also tells us a story of where Bryant’s head is currently at.“I’d tell them to get their body right. I would tell them that that’s a mistake that I made. I’d tell them to get their body right. Keep it healthy, that should be the No. 1 goal. Sometimes you got to make those sacrifices. It’s hard. You want to be out there on that field. You want to make plays,” Bryant said, via the Dallas Morning News. “You want to be out there with your teammates. But you can’t compromise your body. That’s what I’d tell them.”Back in 2015, Bryant suffered a broken foot, ultimately ending up missing seven games. And back in 2016, he missed just three games after a hairline fracture to the knee. Needless to say, Bryant did everything possible to make sure he was on the field with his team. That injury in 2016 came as the Cowboys were vying f

24 Feb 2018 21:33:04 -0500
Oh no, Geno Smith is now a flat Earth truther
We’re really starting to wonder what type of science some colleges around the United States are teaching. Duke University already has us questioning its science department after Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving proved himself to be a flat Earth truther. It was one of the craziest stories of the time, one that led to Irving getting ridiculed on an never-ending loop.Joining Irving in this weird truther movement is none other than New York Giants quarterback Geno Smith. Really. He even took to Twitter to question logic, science and common sense. Before you judge, do some homework? Hate to tell you this, Geno. You’re not the modern version of Nicolaus Copernicus, somehow going away from the grain to introduce the heliocentric theory of the universe. But fret not, we won’t imprison you for this belief. We’ll just go ahead and mock you to no end.Really. What is even the point of debating the possibility of the flat Earth theory? It’s not like we have visual evidence that this isn’t true. Oh wait, we do.For Smith,

24 Feb 2018 21:32:55 -0500
Parsons, Gasol got stuck in Miami elevator at 4 AM
The Memphis Grizzlies are stuck near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, and now they are getting stuck in other places too.In a post to his Instagram Story early on Saturday morning, Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons revealed that he was trapped in a hotel elevator in Miami with teammate Marc Gasol and assistant coach Nick Van Exel as the clock neared 4 AM. The team is in town for a weekend game with the Miami Heat.Here is footage of the entire ordeal from Parsons, per Jordan Heck of Sporting News (but beware of some foul language in the clip): The 18-39 Grizzlies just came off a blowout loss to Cleveland at home on Friday night, and now they will play the Heat in Miami less than 24 hours later. Thus, these elevator troubles could not have been timed any worse. At least one of Parsons and Gasol’s other teammates can empathize though.

24 Feb 2018 21:32:47 -0500
Ballmer: Chemistry issues led to the trade of Blake Griffin
The Los Angeles Clippers shocked the NBA world back in January by sending All-Star forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in a blockbuster trade. This came mere months after Los Angeles had handed Griffin the largest contract in franchise history.The change of philosophy from the team’s front office led many to believe the Clippers were intent on going with a full-scale rebuild. But once the trade deadline passed without Lou Williams or DeAndre Jordan being moved, it became apparent that the Griffin trade didn’t necessarily change the core philosophy. Instead, it was a standalone move to rid the Clippers of a pricey and injury-plagued star.Speaking out about the trade for the first time, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer didn’t necessarily hold back. In fact, he was pretty open about what he believes led to the trade.“(Griffin is obviously a superstar player. But if you look at what happened injury-wise, if you look at the kind of chemistry we were getting on our team, the thing you can see at the high level

24 Feb 2018 21:32:39 -0500
Brewers describe Shohei Ohtani’s fastball as firm but flat
Shohei Ohtani made his highly anticipated spring training debut for the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, and his reception was mixed.Ohtani went 1.1 innings, allowed two hits, two runs, a walk and struck out two. He allowed a home run to Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton.The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt says Brewers hitters described Ohtani’s fastball as firm but flat after facing him. That sounds like Ohtani had some good velocity, but not a ton of movement on his fastball. Both the home run and double he allowed came on fastballs.According to Angels reporter Jeff Fletcher, Ohtani topped out at 97 mph on his fastball. The Japanese pitcher is said to be able to reach the triple-digits on his fastball, so hitting 97 in his spring debut is not bad. And maybe as the spring continues, he’ll show off more movement on his pitches too so they don’t appear as flat to hitters.

24 Feb 2018 21:32:29 -0500
Medical issue holding up J.D. Martinez's Red Sox contract
One of the biggest free agents on the market seemingly found himself a home this past Monday. The Boston Red Sox reportedly signed outfielder J.D. Martinez to a five-year, $110 million contract, ending what had been a drawn-out contractual battle between the two sides.But the deal has not yet been made official and Martinez has not shown up at Red Sox camp in Florida for spring training.According to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston, that’s because a medical issue pertaining to Martinez is holding up the deal being finalized.“J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox are indeed sorting through a medical matter, but one that a baseball source with knowledge of the situation said would not have any effect on Martinez in the immediate future. It’s unclear what the specific issue is, but a better understanding between the parties could come as early as Saturday,” Drellich reported Saturday.A source close to the situation then noted that some sort of resolution could come as early as Saturday.It doesn’t seem like this is a h

24 Feb 2018 18:10:51 -0500
AL Central Notes: Santiago's screwball; Merritt out of options
Hector Santiago, who came back to the White Sox this offseason on a minor-league deal, has come up with a strategy to combat the fastball decline that often comes with aging, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The southpaw plans to bring back the screwball he threw in his days as a rookie. “I have not gone a day this offseason or in spring training where I have not thrown a screwball,” he said. “I’ve thrown a screwball in both my BPs and my only bullpen. It’s almost taken over my changeup. Lot of people say it’s gone, but nah, I just substituted my changeup for my screwball and I throw a lot more screwballs than changeup.” Notably, his arm motion for the screwball is similar to that of his changeup, which could help with deception in his delivery as he uses both to play off his fastball. Fegan notes that Santiago could be at the “top of the heap” of the White Sox’ MiLB free agent arms, if he can return to health and effectiveness.A few other small items out of the AL Central… Much has been made of the fact t

24 Feb 2018 17:32:35 -0500
Virginia stifles Pitt to record-tying worst half
Tony Bennett’s defense put another feather in their cap during Saturday’s game against Pitt.Bennett’s Virginia squad, known for their suffocating defense, went into halftime leading Pitt 30-7. But that’s only half the story. The real story is that the No. 1 Cavaliers somehow held Pitt to just 1 of 22 shooting in the first half. The one field goal in a half tied Pitt with Savannah State (2008 vs Kansas State) and Northern Illinois (2013 vs Eastern Michigan) for an NCAA worst record.The Panthers’ strategy was to attempt mostly three-pointers. That failed, as they went 1-for-13 on long balls. They missed nine other field goals. They did go 4-for-5 at the free throw line, which allowed them to get to seven total points.After seeing those stats, you can understand both why Virginia is 25-2 and ranked No. 1 in the country, and why Pitt is 0-16 in the ACC.

24 Feb 2018 16:59:36 -0500
Steve Kerr supports pay for college athletes
The entire debate surrounding whether college athletics is still of the amateur ilk has been taken to a whole new level recently. It started with a still ongoing FBI probe focusing on a pay-for-play scandal that has seemingly enveloped the entire college basketball world.With news that Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller was allegedly caught on tape offering up $100,000 to a high-end recruit, that’s been taken to a whole new level (more on that here).In providing a one-word opinion on the debate, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr could have just opened up a major hornets’ nest. The defending champion responded to a CBS Sports article opining that college athletes should in fact be paid. His response was about as clear as it gets. The article in question, written by the venerable Gary Parrish, claims that the NCAA should “eliminate the black market by allowing student-athletes to secure representation and accept fair-market value in this billion-dollar industry where just about everybody connec

24 Feb 2018 16:19:34 -0500
Jets not preparing to “wildly overspend” for Kirk Cousins
The Jets are planning to aggressively pursue Kirk Cousins in free agency, but their intentions don’t appear to include changing the way NFL contracts work. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports the Jets are not planning a history-making contract offer that would include $60M in the first year. This was recently suggested, but Mehta reports the franchise is not prepared to wildly overspend to land the 29-year-old quarterback.However, sources informed Mehta the Jets would “absolutely love” to add Cousins. But they won’t be radically changing the NFL landscape by offering the passer a fully guaranteed deal.Another recent report indicated Gang Green was willing to spend “whatever it takes” to land Cousins, and while the Jets are in position to outmuscle the Broncos or Cardinals or Vikings or other possible suitors that aren’t the Browns (who are projected to hold $110M-plus in cap space), Mehta reports the Jets are not planning to wildly overspend for Cousins. The Jets could have more than $90M in space

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