‘A Smart Son of a Bitch’: Can Nick Nurse Out-Think Raptors’ Biggest Rivals?

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Nick Nurse was a 40-year-old former mid-major point guard and longtime British Basketball League coach when he found the idea that would change his life.

He heard the NBA was in the midst of expanding its developmental league.

This, Nurse thought, was his chance.

He approached Jerry Crawford, a fellow Iowa native he had known for nearly two decades. Nurse met Crawford in his Des Moines office one day in the summer of 2006 and shared what he had cheap nike nfl jerseys from china heard, knowing that Crawford, a prominent lawyer and bigwig lobbyist for the Democratic Party, was a basketball fanatic and also the kind of guy who knew the right people in the right places.

“We should bring a team to Iowa,” Crawford recently recalled Nurse telling him.

Crawford agreed. That February, the NBA D-League awarded an expansion team to Des Moines, the Iowa Energy. Nurse was named head coach. cheap official nike nfl jerseys

“He had to create a team in order to coach,” Crawford said this week in a phone interview, “to lead to what has happened today.”

Crawford was speaking a few hours after learning that his old friend had been named the new head coach of the Toronto Raptors. ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that Nurse reached a three-year, $10 million deal with Toronto, and Raptors team president Masai Ujiri has since nfl cheap nike jerseys confirmed the hiring to The Athletic’s Mike Scotto.

The team will officially announce the hire during a press conference Thursday.

Nurse, who has been a Raptors assistant since 2013, now inherits a team standing on shaky new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap ground. The Raptors are coming off a franchise-record 59-win  cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys season, one in which they were the only team to rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping But a humiliating playoff loss to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers for the third straight year cost Nurse’s predecessor, Dwane Casey, his job.

The Raptors have since turned to Nurse, who players and executives credited with overhauling the team’s offense last season, transforming it into a ball-moving, three-point-heavy attack.

New-Look Washington Offense Has High Upside, Playoff Potential

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The Washington Redskins finished 2017 with a 7-9 record—the first losing mark for the team since head coach Jay Gruden’s initial year in 2014. where to buy nfl jersey Then, the franchise was coming off a disastrous 3-13 season under former head coach Mike Shanahan, so Gruden’s 4-12 blemish wasn’t quite seen as his fault. A 9-7 campaign in 2015, followed by an 8-7-1 mark in 2016, implied progress.

But there’s no way to avoid seeing regression when looking at last year’s offense. Gruden’s crew finished 16th in both points and yards, its worst standings since 2014 and 2015, respectively. Washington finished 20th in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted offensive rankings, down from fifth the year before.

In the offseason, the team made several significant moves to improve offensively. It traded cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith and allowed Kirk Cousins to become a free agent. Cousins signed a megadeal with the Minnesota Vikings,china nfl jerseys nike  and the Redskins gave Smith a $71 million guaranteed contract extension.women nfl jersey

Then, Washington nabbed Seattle speed receiver Paul Richardson in free agency, signing him to a five-year, $40 million deal with $16.5 million guaranteed. It was a risky proposition given Richardson’s injury history—he’s missed 17 games in his four-year career, mostly thanks to a torn ACL in 2015,women’s authentic nfl jerseys  and 2017 marked his first 16-game season. But when he’s healthy, Richardson has the potential to give this offense a deep threat it hasn’t seen since DeSean Jackson.where can i buy authentic nfl jerseys

Finally, to add to a rushing attack that totaled just 1,448 yards and 10 touchdowns on 401 carries in 2017, the Redskins got what could turn out to be the steal of the 2018 draft in buy nfl jerseys from china LSU running back Derrius Guice. Guice gained 1,251 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on 237 carries in 2017, despite nagging injuries that limited his open-field speed. He fell down (or off) many team boards because of concerns about his temperament, but from an on-field perspective, he was the best pure power runner in the class.

A Journey into the Wild, Complex and Unique World of Football in Iran

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June 2017, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

In the video, the two dozen or so members of the Iranian national football squad sit in two rows, facing each other. The long, modestly appointed, high-ceilinged room is the office of the presidential administration in central Tehran, the Iranian capital. The players are patiently, almost nervously waiting to begin. nike nfl jerseys for sale Between the two rows of men at the end of the room is the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, wearing a white turban and sitting on a chair trimmed with gold leaf, the sole sign of presidential opulence. Behind him hang two portraits. Over his right shoulder, the image of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, the ayatollah who led the 1979 Islamic revolution, transforming Iran and its relationship with the rest of the world. Over his left, the portrait of Iran’s current supreme leader, and the true and final arbiter of power in the Islamic Republic today, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Two days ago Iran qualified for their fifth World Cup with ease. They had beaten Uzbekistan 2-0 in the Azadi Stadium in Tehran. The national team, also known as Team Melli,nfl cheap jerseys china  had gone unbeaten during qualification as a new generation of Iranian stars were born. Sardar Azmoun, Iran’s highly regarded striker, had scored the opening goal, set up by the equally talented young winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Tens of thousands took to the streets to celebrate.

Football, and especially the men’s national team, is often a rare good news story for a country that has been an international pariah for nearly four decades, and whose economy and civil society nfl jerseys for sale cheap  have withered as a result. So now, today, the president of the country wants to honour the team for making it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the third team after Russia and Brazil to qualify. “It was my wish to receive you here,” President Rouhani tells the room, “and, as the representative of the people, to congratulate you.”

Coach Carlos Queiroz is the first to approach the president and warmly shakes his hand. The combative Portuguese leader had masterminded the team’s success. This will be his second World Cup with Iran, although he had taken South Africa to the 2002 World Cup (resigning before the tournament began after falling out with the South African federation) cheap official nfl jerseys and his native Portugal to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He made his name as Sir Alex Ferguson’s highly rated cheap nfl jerseys cheap shipping assistant at Manchester United before taking charge of Real Madrid. But the Portugal job ended in recriminations that almost led to a ban from international football, a series of misfortunes that eventually brought him to Iran in 2011, when he was at his lowest ebb. He has been here ever since.

Every NFL Team’s Player with the Most to Prove in Minicamp

We’ve reached June, and in the NFL, that means minicamps.nfl clothing for men

Tiny tents, miniature fishing poles and itty-bitty sleeping bags.

Or maybe not.cheap nfl clothing

Minicamps are actually something of a cross between OTAs and training camps. There isn’t live contact (allegedly), and the intensity hasn’t quite hit high speed just yet, but for the first time this summer, attendance isn’t voluntary. Either players show up, or they risk being fined.

As this next step in the offseason gets rolling, there are players across the league already under intense pressure. Some are trying to return from injury or rebound from a nfl clothing store  down season. Others are attempting to nail down a spot in the starting lineup. And others still are just trying to hang on to their jobs.

For every team in the NFL, there’s one player with more to prove in minicamp than any of his teammates. One pro who simply has to get off on the right foot.nfl clothing for kids

Here they are, from Phoenix to D.C. and all points in between.

Ryan Shazier Says Goal Is to Return to Football After Spine Injury

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said Wednesday he still hopes to play in the NFL again after suffering a serious spine injury last season that required spinal stabilization surgery.chinese nfl nike jerseys

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network provided comments from Shazier, who’s already been ruled out for the 2018 season.

“My dream is to come back and play football again,” he said. “I have that in the back of my mind every day I go to rehab. I’m trying to stay positive every day. … They feel like I’m doing a lot better than expected.”cheap chinese authentic nfl jerseys

The 25-year-old Florida native has since made steady progress in his recovery and maintained his desire to get back on the football field every step of the way.

He stood up during appearances at the Ohio State spring game and a Pittsburgh Penguins game. In April, he announced the Steelers’ selection of safety Terrell Edmunds after walking on stage at the 2018 NFL draft.chinese made nfl jerseys

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recorded video of Shazier walking to the podium with support of a cane Wednesday:

In February, he appeared on a podcast hosted by Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix and said his long-term goals haven’t changed, per A.J. Perez of USA Today.nfl clothing

“I’m still reaching (to be) that Hall of Famer,” Shazier said. “I feel like I’m (the) best linebacker ever. I just got to get back out there so everyone can see it.”nfl clothing for women

He told reporters Wednesday he’s been mostly operating in an unofficial coaching capacity during offseason practices while continuing the rehab process.

Undrafted Rookies Making Noise in Offseason Workouts

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NFL teams have yet to conduct padded practices, but there’s still plenty to pay attention to during workouts.

If a player isn’t faring well on the practice field, it’s a bad sign. Conversely, standout performances during OTAs and minicamp can fuel hype heading into training camp.  nfl authentic jerseys

While it’s naive to buy glowing reports about a player before he plays a regular-season snap, undrafted rookies in particular deserve scrutiny. After all, they’re a bunch of underdogs hoping to work their way up from the bottom.

The early buzz below provides an idea of who’s on track to earn a roster spot after going undrafted.

The Tennessee Titans released running back DeMarco Murray in early March and signed Dion Lewis, who broke out for 896 rushing yards on five yards per carry with the nfl authentic jerseys cheap New England Patriots last season. He’ll pair with Derrick Henry to handle the bulk of the rushing attempts for the Titans.

However, Tennessee may have to make room for Akrum Wadley as the third ball-carrier in a committee.

Wadley flashed in his last two years at Iowa as a ball-carrier and receiver out of the backfield, racking up 2,858 yards from scrimmage and 26 total touchdowns in that span nfl jersey wholesale . He also returned nine kicks for 271 yards during his senior year.

The Iowa product’s run best nfl jerseys style and speed already caught the attention of TitansOnline.com’s Jim Wyatt during OTAs.

“It was just a small sample during the open periods for media, but from the get-go, it’s already clear running back Akrum Wadley has a burst. … One thing I noticed: Wadley has a running style that includes a bit of a jump-step, or a skip. It allows him to get into another gear in a hurry.”nfl jersey for cheap

Wadley mirrors Lewis as a potential complement to Henry, who runs with power. Keep an eye on his jump-step during the preseason as a signature style that stands out, especially if he’s breaking off chunk yardage.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Luc Mbah a Moute

What a win Luc Mbah a Moute would be for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ve listened to people speculate that LeBron James could join the Houston Rockets all year (more on this later). How sweet would it be for them to not only keep James but also steal one of the Rockets’ most important defenders in the process?custom nfl jerseys

As you may have guessed, Cleveland’s ideal free agency is being framed as if James will return. That might not happen. But this exercise lacks any meaning whatsoever when presuming his departure. The Cavaliers wouldn’t be looking to spend any money. Their attentions shift to burning what’s left of this year’s core to the ground.

Things get interesting if James stays put. The Cavaliers won’t have anything more than the taxpayer’s mid-level exception to peddle, but that $5.3 million life raft will go a long customized nfl jerseys way this summer. Owner Dan Gilbert will have no choice other than to use it.

James is smart enough to make that a condition of his return. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t, care that Cleveland’s payroll will blitz past $150 million, before taxes, if he comes back.

Mbah a Moute is a no-brainer target even if he costs the Cavaliers their entire MLE. They don’t have a defender who can almost seamlessly shift between defending power forwards nfl custom jerseys cheap  and point guards. He guarded more pick-and-roll ball-handlers per game than Andre Roberson and placed in the 99th percentile of isolation defense.

Playing Mbah a Moute at the 4 unlocked some of the Rockets’ best lineups. They outscored opponents by 12.9 points per 100 possessions in those situations, per Cleaning the Glass. cheap custom nfl jerseys His offense is touch-and-go, but he hits enough of his threes in the regular season—37.5 percent since 2016-17—and cheap customized nfl jerseys is a viable open-lane driver and finisher when he’s not coping with a shoulder injury.

Sticking him on the Cavs would make it easier to play Kevin Love at the 5 and save James from having to defend too many top off-the-bounce scorers. Getting the Rockets to let him go cheap nfl custom jerseys could be tough, but they’ll only have the mini MLE themselves. And with Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela (restricted) and Chris Paul all set to hit the open market, they may be reluctant to finance Mbah a Moute’s long-overdue raise.

Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson (Restricted)

The Chicago Bulls are free to think bigger than Kyle Anderson. They’ll wake up July 1 with more than $20 million to spend. Superstars at the peak of their powers won’t give their reclamation project a second look, but the Bulls can inject themselves into any restricted-free-agent sweepstakes they please.best nfl jerseys

That doesn’t mean they should.

Adding big-money contracts at the beginning of a rebuild is taboo without insta-contention on the table. The Bulls don’t have that immediate turnaround in them. nfl jersey for cheap Throwing money at Aaron Gordon, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, et al. doesn’t get them over any hump, real or imagined.

Besides, they already have to pay Zach LaVine (restricted), and his next contract should terrify them. Never mind the knee injuries; he looks more like a second-unit buckets-getter than the cornerstone they valued him as in the Jimmy Butler trade. They’ll keep him anyway. They’re the Bulls, and letting him walk is akin to admitting fault.nfl jerseys cheap authentic

Bankrolling another sizable deal begs this restart to blow up in their face. Anderson is a nice middle ground. They’ll have to pay him slightly more than mid-level money to pry him from the San Antonio Spurs, but he’s worth it. They need wings, and Anderson is the only non-big to close 2017-18 averaging at least seven rebounds,custom nfl jerseys cheap  three assists, two steals and one block per 36 minutes.

Concern is always baked into poaching players the Spurs made. They’re the Spurs. The Bulls are not. And Anderson’s sloth-paced game may not translate to a faster system. But his cross-wing defense will,customized nfl jerseys cheap  and he’s an impact youngster, at 24, who won’t eat through the Bulls’ entire slush fund. They’ll have money left over to go shopping next summer.

Colin Kaepernick’s Lawyer: Owners’ Fear of Donald Trump Is Keeping QB out of NFL

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Colin Kaepernick’s lawyer believes NFL owners’ fear of President Donald Trump is what has prevented the quarterback from getting signed.

Appearing on Amy Dash’s Straight Aim podcast nfl china jerseys  on Tuesday, attorney Mark Geragos said, “The only reason—and the owners will admit that—they haven’t signed [Kaepernick] is they’re afraid of Trump, and they’ve colluded because of Trump.”

After kneeling during the playing of the national anthem throughout the 2016 season in protest of racial injustice and police brutality, Kaepernick went unsigned in women nfl jerseys 2017, and he remains a free agent.

Geragos also took his view even further, saying, “Basically, at this point, they’ve made the choice that they’re going to opt on the side of the white, nationalistic side, as opposed to any other demographic.”

Trump has been a major opponent of protests during the anthem since speaking out publicly against the practice at a political rally in Alabama last year.nfl cheap jersey

Geragos—who is representing Kaepernick in his collusion case against the NFL—said an owner openly said that Trump’s views impacted their decision-making process regarding Kaepernick: “[We] got an owner under penalty of perjury testifying that he changed his mind after he was told what Trump said.”

The NFL recently passed a new national anthem policy in which teams will be fined if players are deemed to have disrespected the anthem or the flag.

In an effort to curtail protesting, nfl jersey store the NFL said players are permitted to remain in the locker room during the anthem as well.

The 30-year-old Kaepernick went just 1-10 as a starter with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, but he threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for 468 yards and two scores.nfl jerseys cheap jerseys

In 58 career regular-season starts, Kaepernick owns a 28-30 record. He also led the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 where they lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens.

Longer-Shot Trade Candidates Worth Monitoring

Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City Thunder (early termination option)

Carmelo Anthony didn’t exactly endear himself to the Thunder’s long-term plans during his exit interview, per ESPN.com’s Royce Young:

“I think the player that they wanted me to be and needed me to be was for the sake of this season. As far as being effective as that type of player, I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player. I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role, but I think I bring a little bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgeable and what I still can do as a basketball player.”

Neither Anthony nor the Thunder has a clear way out of this marriage. He’s not passing up the $27.9 million he’s owed next season. That would be absurd. It’ll take him three years to recoup that value in this summer’s market.

Finding a trade partner to take on his money is mostly out of the question. Expiring deals can always be rerouted, but no team is swallowing Anthony’s cap hit without sending back dead weight in return. Unless the Thunder are inexplicably interested in longer-team contracts for Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka or Evan Turner, they’re better off holding serve and hoping that coaxes Melo into surrendering a few bills during buyout talks.

Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers

Giving head coach Doc Rivers an extension suggests the Clippers are against blowing their core to smithereens and rebuilding from scratch. But they could easily change cheap nfl jerseys wholesale their tune if both Avery Bradley and DeAndre Jordan (player option) bounce in free agency.

Whatever the prompt, steering into a reset would demand Los Angeles gauge Tobias Harris’ value. He turns 26 in July, so he’s young enough to survive the transition. But he enters free agency next summer, and that contract isn’t one a rebuilding squad should want to bankroll.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will hit restricted free agency in 2019 if he doesn’t hash out an extension with the Nets. Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell (restricted) nfl jerseys cheap wholesale will be up for raises as well. Brooklyn isn’t going to re-sign all three of them. It’ll cost too much.

Dinwiddie and Russell overlap with other skill sets on the roster more than Hollis-Jefferson, but the persisting absence of three-point range caps his offensive ceiling. If the Nets cannot work out a team-friendly extension or don’t see him expanding upon his mid-range game, it makes sense to shop him rather than chance an overpriced offer sheet next July.nfl jersey cheap wholesale

The caveat: They probably won’t kick around this idea until the lead-up to the February deadline, when they’ll have a better hold on Hollis-Jefferson’s development and potential price point.

Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors

Moving the two years and $45 million remaining on Ibaka’s contract was always going to be difficult. Trading him now, after he no-showed through his final six playoff tilts, feels impossible without attaching sweeteners the Raptors don’t have. wholesale cheap nfl jerseys