Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder have become the NBA’s go-to luxury-tax punchline. That’s fine. Let the James Harden trade jokes flow. Some of them are funny. All of them are fair game.

But the Thunder’s steep operating costs have nothing to do with their proximity to title contention. They’re closer to the championship clique than people who’ve nike nfl jerseys for cheap forgotten about Andre Roberson think. As ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe wrote:

“They have a chance to be really good. The Thunder hit a winter groove after a rocky start and might have continued apace had Andre Roberson not ruptured his left patellar tendon. The [Russell] Westbrook/[Paul] George/Roberson/Steven Adams foursome was among the nastiest and best four-man groups in the league, per NBA.com. They get more time to jell now. They are short on shooting, but that’s not a new problem.nfl jerseys nike cheap

“This core won’t touch Golden State as long as all four incumbent Warriors stars stay healthy, but they can compete in the upper tier of the conference. Get there, and you are one big break away from something interesting.”

Cutting ties with Carmelo Anthony will amount to addition by subtraction. His divorce from the Thunder has been deemed an inevitability, according to cheap nike nfl jerseys china Adrian Wojnarowski. Their pecking-order concerns go out the window once he skips town.

George and Westbrook are more natural complements to one another and extra compatible when they don’t have to account for Anthony. Oklahoma City posted a plus-9.7 net rating in the time George and Westbrook played without him compared to a plus-6.1 when all three took the court together, according to Cleaning The Glass.

Replacing Anthony’s minutes may still be hard. The Thunder enjoyed limited success when subbing him out for Jerami Grant or Patrick Patterson, per Cleaning The Glass. But that says more about the teensy-tiny sample sizes than anything else.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

Grant and Patterson are both superior defensive options at power forward. Grant only needs to shoot something like 33 percent from deep to be a primo asset, and Patterson will look better after an offseason that doesn’t include left knee surgery. Oklahoma City could hit on some Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson lineup iterations as well.

Bake in the Nerlens Noel addition, and a fully healthy Thunder squad has the defensive switchability to make life hell on the NBA’s elite. If it turns out the Rockets really, really (really)cheap nfl nike jerseys china  miss Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, you could be looking at the West’s No. 2 seed. Seriously.

Dennis Schroder to the New Orleans Pelicans?

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According to WDSU’s Fletcher Mackel, the New Orleans Pelicans might have interest in a disgruntled point guard who’s under contract with the Atlanta Hawks: “NBA source tells me #Pelicans have ‘had discussions’ about acquiring Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder in trade. Unsure how far talks got. I’m told NOLA likes his talent, potential fit on court…but has major concerns about his pending legal issues (felony assault).”nfl replica jerseys

To be clear, felony charges were recommended in Schroder’s case, which stems from a September fight, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham.

Everything hinges on what the Pelicans offer.

Atlanta owes Schroder $15.5 million during each of the next three seasons, and he isn’t its point guard of the future after the draft-day addition of Trae Young. But would it be enough for New Orleans to send over Solomon Hill and a heavily protected first-round pick that would likely convert into a second-round selection down the road? cheap nfl replica jerseys

That’s the most realistic package between these teams, and it should appease both sides. Hill isn’t essential to the Pelicans’ plans, and getting anything for a floor general who has expressed interest in joining a different organization has to please the Hawks. That Hill’s contract expires a year sooner than Schroder’s is only gravy. replica nfl jerseys cheap

But why is New Orleans interested?

It already has Jrue Holiday and Frank Jackson, and Elfrid Payton is heading back to his hometown squad on a one-year deal. Point guard isn’t a primary need for a team that’s still struggling to surround Holiday and Anthony Davis with high-caliber wings. cheap replica nfl jerseys

Perhaps the Pelicans are convinced Schroder’s upside is worth the investment, so long as Atlanta’s asking price doesn’t rise too high. Maybe this was nothing more than a perfunctory display of interest as nfl replica jersey New Orleans does its due diligence. But if it’s something more, the Hawks have to be overjoyed they might have found a buyer.

Kawhi Leonard Rumors: Lakers Landing Spurs Star Would ‘Clinch’ LeBron James

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The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly upped their aggression in trade talks for Kawhi Leonard because acquiring the two-time Defensive Player of the Year would “likely clinch” signing LeBron James as a free agent.

Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported the latest intel on negotiations Wednesday, which have ramped up over the last 24 hours. The Lakers are under pressure to get a deal done quickly because LeBron has until 11:59 p.m. ET Friday to decide whether to decline his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become an unrestricted free agent.

James’ timetable has sped everything up since he reportedly wants to make his free-agency decision by early July. In 2010 and 2014, LeBron kept the nfl discount jerseys entire NBA waiting for more than a week before making his announcements.

Acquiring Leonard has become increasingly imperative for the Lakers, as Paul George has seemingly warmed to the idea of staying in Oklahoma City. George has been borderline Sharpied into the Lakers’ plans for more than a year at this point—a notion the All-Star swingman has done little to refute. However, the Thunder made a strong pitch to George during the 2017-18 season and seemed to be coalescing before nfl jerseys discount Andre Roberson went down with a season-ending ruptured patellar tendon.

It’s hard to see James leaving Cleveland for Los Angeles without another star in place. The Lakers can offer San Antonio a package that includes Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and picks. It’s unclear if that will be enough—or even if the Lakers are willing to sink that deep into their war chest.discount nfl jersey

A core of James and Leonard alone won’t be enough to beat the Golden State Warriors. It’s a good start, but James would be facing a similar uphill battle to the one he has in Cleveland. The Lakers would quickly have to round out their roster with capable role players if George does not come along.nfl jersey discount

But if the Lakers can make the LeBron-Kawhi-George fever dream happen, the 2018-19 season could get mighty interesting.

American League Bench

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Backing up the AL’s starting nine, meanwhile, should be these 11 guys:

C: Wilson Ramos, TB (1.1 WAR)
1B: Mitch Moreland, BOS (1.8 WAR)
2B: Jed Lowrie, OAK (2.3 WAR)cheap nfl jerseys from china
3B: Matt Chapman, OAK (3.4 WAR)
SS: Andrelton Simmons, LAA (3.1 WAR)
SS: Jean Segura, SEA (2.8 WAR)
SS: Carlos Correa, HOU (2.6 WAR)
OF: Eddie Rosario, MIN (3.6 WAR)
OF: Mitch Haniger, SEA (2.5 WAR)
OF: Andrew Benintendi, BOS (2.5 WAR)
OF: George Springer, HOU (2.5 WAR)

The one inclusion that might raise some eyebrows is Matt Chapman at third base. That won’t be possible unless he recovers from a hand injury.nfl cheap jerseys

That may be more doable than it first appeared. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, doctors believe they’ve identified where Chapman’s hand is injured. He may be back as soon as this weekend.

In any event, there’s no question Chapman deserves to be an All-Star. He has a solid .793 OPS and 10 homers, and he’s arguably the single best defender in MLB.nfl jerseys cheap china

Chapman would join an infield comprised of two other first-time All-Stars (Mitch Moreland and Jed Lowrie) and the rest of the AL’s best shortstops: Andrelton Simmons, Jean Segura and Carlos Correa. Machado is once again a notable omission, which gives an idea of how loaded the AL is at the position.nfl jerseys

Elsewhere, Eddie Rosario, Mitch Haniger, Andrew Benintendi and George Springer are not to be lost in the shadows of Trout, Betts and Judge. They’re all fine athletes and have a collective .874 OPS.nfl jersey
To round things out, Gary Sanchez actually has an edge on Ramos in WAR: 1.2 to 1.1. But Sanchez will be out three to four weeks with a groin injury, so it’s not a given he’ll be healthy by July 17.

‘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.

Defensive Player of the Playoffs: Draymond Green

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During the regular season, Draymond Green eased into his top gear on the defensive end. But he sprinted into the playoffs and never slowed.

His first-round work included rebounding totals of 18 and 19 (10 and 14 on the defensive end alone), a four-block performance and three games with multiple steals against the San Antonio Spurs. By postseason’s end, he’d grabbed the most defensive boards (180), snared the most steals authentic nfl jerseys wholesale (41) and blocked the second-most shots (31). His 99.5 defensive rating tied for second-lowest among all players who averaged 30-plus minutes.

His ability to defend any position at any area on the floor is the backbone of this defense, which easily paced playoff participants with a 100.5 defensive rating.nfl jersey china  The eye test captures his full importance, but the stat sheet does a good job of summing things up, too—the Warriors surrendered 5.1 fewer points per 100 possessions when he played.

The 99.5 mark with Green was two points lower per 100 possessions than the regular season’s best defense (Boston). And that’s with Golden State’s nike nfl jerseys playoff road featuring two top-five offenses and a third in the top 10.

“Draymond is a catalyst and the anchor for their defense. Very, very smart defensively,” James said, per Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “He knows pretty much every set.china nfl jerseys  He kind of flies around and dictates their defense, either on the perimeter or protecting the rim as well.”

Green proved to be an elite, equal-opportunity stopper. He not only allowed one of the lowest shooting percentages at the rim among high-volume defenders (53.3), but he also sliced 9.8 points off his opponents’ conversion rate from 15-plus feet.nfl jerseys for cheap authentic

Runner-Up: Anthony Davis

Traditional stats would’ve given Davis the nod. He averaged more defensive rebounds than anyone (10.8), tied for the most blocks among players with four or more appearances nfl jersey supply (2.3) and even tied for fifth in steals (2.0). But New Orleans’ second-round exit and sixth-placed finish in defensive efficiency somewhat muted Davis’ impact.

Johnny Manziel Throws 1st CFL TD Pass in Preseason Win vs. Montreal Alouettes

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Johnny Manziel threw his first career touchdown pass in his second CFL preseason appearance against the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday.

Johnny Football entered the game in the second quarter and finished with 88 yards and one touchdown on 12-of-20 passing, as well as 19 rushing yards on four carries in Hamilton’s 30-15 win at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in Montreal.nfl wholesale jerseys

Manziel’s touchdown toss came with just over four minutes remaining in the first half, as he found former Green Bay Packers and New York Jets running back Alex Green nfl jerseys cheap china in the flat for a three-yard score:

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner is known for celebrating his touchdowns in style, but as pointed out by TSN’s Matthew Scianitti, there was nothing over the top about his reaction:

Prior to Manziel taking the field, Hamilton was trailing Montreal 14-0 and struggling to get anything going offensively.

Starter Jeremiah Masoli didn’t play Saturday in preparation for the regular season, which led Hamilton head coach June Jones to give Bryant Moniz the start.nfl jerseys

Moniz went just 3-of-7 for 17 yards and one interception during his stint.

Manziel’s second drive was more challenging, as Jabar Westerman set him back with a sack on second down, leading to a punt:
Manziel and Co. could not muster any additional points, though, and they entered the locker room trailing 14-7.nfl jersey

Late in the first half, Montreal linebacker Henoc Muamba took down Manziel with a late hit.cheap nfl jerseys china

In a halftime  official nfl jerseys cheap interview with Didier Ormejuste of RDS (h/t Scianitti), Muamba seemingly admitted to trying to send Manziel a message, saying he wanted to show Johnny Football “we’re here, and we’re not going to back down.”

Manziel didn’t appear to be shaken, as he remained in authentic nfl jerseys  the lineup to start the second half and kept the Ti-Cats offense moving.

Arguably his most impressive play of the game came early in the third quarter when he rolled to the left, threw against his body and completed a pass for a first down:nfl jerseys from china

Mychal Kendricks Denies Multiple Reports of Contract Agreement with Browns

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Veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com confirmed Rapoport’s report, but Kendricks denied he had signed with the Browns.

“No, it’s not accurate,” china nfl jerseys wholesale Kendricks told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “That’s all I have to say. I’m not really talking about it.”

Later, Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports reported Kendricks and the Browns agreed to a one-year contract with a max value of $3.5 million. Tomasson said he asked Kendricks about the new report, and he hung up the phone.

Kendricks had been the subject of trade rumors prior to the start of the 2017 season. PhillyVoice.com’s Jimmy Kempski reported in February 2017 the Eagles had made Kendricks nfl jersey wholesale china available as they looked to free up salary-cap space.

Instead, Kendricks remained in Philadelphia and proceeded to have a strong year. He finished with 77 combined tackles and two sacks. Not only was the 27-year-old a strong run defender, he also registered six passes defended—his highest since his rookie year in 2012.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke highly of Kendricks last October, praising his attitude despite how his role with the team fluctuated in recent years, authentic nfl jerseys china wholesale per Eagles Wire’s David Hennessey:

“He’s been a pro. I’ve said this from the beginning of training camp: He’s gone out and worked really hard and done anything we’ve asked him to do. I think from the very beginning of training camp, we talked about him coming into what he’s going to be asked to do, and then doing that well. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

However, that wasn’t enough for the Eagles to keep Kendricks on the roster this offseason. Philadelphia waived him in what was a cost-savings maneuver. china nfl jersey wholesale NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank reported the Eagles were saving $6 million in salary-cap space and adding $1.6 million in dead money in 2018 by making Kendricks a post-June 1 cut.

NJ Advance Media’s Eliot Shorr-Parks nfl china jerseys wholesale argued how the decision couldn’t have been easy:

Rob Gronkowski Says He’ll Be at Patriots Minicamp Amid Contract Talks

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New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed he’ll attend the team’s mandatory minicamp, which starts Tuesday and runs through Thursday.wholesale nfl jerseys china

“We’ve got mandatory minicamp this week, so I’ll be there this week,” Gronkowski said Sunday at a charity event, per CBS Boston. “I’ll be full go. I’m looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get back to work. I’m excited.”

Gronkowski hasn’t participated in any of New England’s offseason activities so far, which increased speculation about his future with the team following his comments in nfl jerseys wholesale china  the aftermath of the Patriots’ Super Bowl LII defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The five-time Pro Bowler told reporters he was going to examine his future and didn’t take retirement off the table.

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported in April that Gronkowski was looking for a pay raise, which was part of the reason for his absence. He and the Patriots restructured his nfl jerseys china wholesale contract last year, which gives him an $8 million base salary and about $3 million in bonuses in 2018.china wholesale nfl jerseys

Patriots owner Robert Kraft allayed fears about Gronkowski’s status when he said last month he expected Gronkowski and quarterback Tom Brady to show up for minicamp, nfl jersey china wholesale but Gronkowski himself had yet to offer a firm reassurance. That’s no longer the case after his comments Sunday.