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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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JR Smith reportedly leaves Cavs, working with team on trade

JR Smith has made it clear that he no longer wants to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it sounds like the team is in the early stages of granting the veteran swingman his wish.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports that Smith has left the Cavs to work out on his own, and he and the team have reached an “amicable” decision to part ways. A buyout agreement is not yet on the table, but Cleveland is said to be looking at possible trade scenarios.

Smith said a few weeks ago that he feels he is no longer welcome in Cleveland, pointing to the way he had been been removed from the rotation and was barely getting any minutes. He has played a lot more since then, but he wants no part of the rebuilding phase the Cavs have entered.

In an interview with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic that was published on Tuesday, Smith publicly called out the Cavs for intentionally losing games. That was likely the final straw and made the team realize they will do more harm than good by keeping him around.

Smith is 33 and is owed around $14 million this season and $15 million next, so trading him will not be easy. However, he told Lloyd that he doesn’t want his “legacy” in Cleveland to end with a buyout. Smith may end up having to soften his stance on that.

Ben Roethlisberger shares funny item on his son’s Christmas list

Ben Roethlisberger

James Conner had arguably his worst game of the season on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Pittsburgh Steelers made it sting a little less by finding a way to win. Perhaps equally as important, the tough day did not impact the way Ben Roethlisberger’s son feels about Conner.

During his weekly radio show Tuesday, Roethlisberger was asked about a pair of drops from Conner, one of which came on fourth down and one that would have resulted in a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Big Ben said one of the ways he tried to cheer Conner up was by telling him his son still wants the running back’s jersey for Christmas.

“Even when you drop balls I got something to tell you. I said last night my son, he said for Christmas he wants a Steelers helmet, gloves and a James Conner jersey and I said obviously my son doesn’t have any hard feelings toward you so you shouldn’t have them toward yourself,” Roethlisberger said. “He had a good chuckle out of that.”

Conner ran for only 25 yards in addition to dropping two key passes, but the Steelers managed to pull out a 20-16 win. In hindsight, Roethlisberger thinks Conner’s dropped touchdown worked out great.

“I said hey, two things. One, if you would’ve got that and scored that would’ve gave them a lot more time and two, if you would’ve got that and scored I wouldn’t of been able to score a rushing touchdown so I appreciate it,” the quarterback joked.

Conner has made Steelers Nation forget all about Le’Veon Bell, and some stats would indicate the team is even better with him than it was with Bell. One bad game isn’t going to change that or Roethlisberger’s son’s Christmas list.

Report: Mitchell Trubisky likely to play on Thanksgiving despite shoulder injury

Mitchell Trubisky

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky suffered a shoulder injury during the fourth quarter of his team’s win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, but it does not sound like he is in danger of missing Week 12.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bears are “optimistic” Trubisky will be under center when they take on the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

Trubisky was listed as having not practiced on Monday, but the injury report was just a formality with the Bears having the day off as a team. There has been no indication that the shoulder injury is anything serious.

While he threw for just 165 yards and two interceptions against Minnesota, Trubisky did enough to put his team in a position to win. He may need to play a bit better in a tough road spot on Thursday.

Jalen Ramsey does not back down from calling Josh Allen ‘trash’

Josh Allen

Josh Allen appears to be on track to return from his injury to face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, which means the rookie quarterback will have a chance to prove himself against Jalen Ramsey. And if you think Ramsey is going to back down from his controversial offseason remarks ahead of a matchup against the Buffalo Bills, you’re wrong.

During his infamous interview with GQ Magazine that was published back in August, Ramsey bashed several NFL quarterbacks. The All-Pro cornerback had a particularly unflattering assessment of Allen, whom he called “trash” and said he was “excited as hell” that the Jags get to face the former Wyoming star this season.

On Tuesday, Ramsey said he stands by what he said about Allen.

It’s unclear exactly what Ramsey is referring to when he says he had a reason for being so harsh on Allen. Some believe it’s so Ramsey can intimidate the rookie and hopefully challenge him into throwing in his direction, while others think Ramsey took aim at Allen because of the racist tweets he sent years ago that went viral before the Bills drafted him.

Whatever the case, Allen said Monday that he “could care less” what Ramsey thinks and is only worried about his own teammates. The rookie will have a tough task in front of him if he does return from his arm injury on Sunday.

Baseball world pays tribute to Adrian Beltre following retirement

Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre announced his retirement on Tuesday after playing a remarkable 21 Major League Baseball seasons, and his next stop will almost certainly be the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In a statement released by the Texas Rangers, Beltre said he came to the incredibly difficult decision that it is time to call it a career.

“After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have made the decision to retire from what I’ve been doing for my whole life, which is playing baseball, the game I love,” the 39-year-old said. “I have thought about it a lot and although I appreciate all the opportunities and everything that baseball has given me, it’s time to call it a career.”

The list of accolades for Beltre is an incredibly lengthy one. His 3,166 hits rank 16th all-time and are the most ever by a player not born in the United States. He also made four All-Star teams, won six Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards. Beltre’s on-field earnings of $220 million are the seventh most for an MLB player in his career, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

It goes without saying that Beltre is one of the most respected players in baseball, and the sport paid tribute to him on Tuesday:

Beltre’s career will be remembered as much for his quirky personality as it will for his Hall of Fame resume. He’s a once-in-a-generation player who simply made the sport more fun during his two decades in the league.

Rams’ Dante Fowler says Patrick Mahomes was ‘rattled’

Patrick Mahomes

The Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs treated football fans to one of the greatest NFL games of all time on Monday night, and one player on the winning side felt that the inexperience of Patrick Mahomes was a big factor down the stretch.

After the Rams took a 54-51 lead late in the fourth quarter, Kansas City got the ball back twice with less than two minutes remaining and chances to either tie the score or take the lead. Both drives ended on Mahomes interceptions, and Rams defensive end Dante Fowler said he sensed that the second-year quarterback was “rattled.”

Mahomes was pressing to try to make plays on both of his fourth-quarter picks, so it’s hard to say whether he was nervous or simply had nowhere to go with the ball. Either way, the turnovers ended up being big in a game that featured more than 100 points.

Mahomes began the season by throwing 14 touchdowns compared to no interceptions through the first four games, but he has turned the ball over plenty since. Still, his 10 interceptions on the year aren’t that bad considering he has a whopping 37 touchdown passes. The former first-round pick is still very much an MVP candidate, and the six touchdown passes he threw on Monday will be enough to win almost every other week.

JR Smith publicly calls out Cavs for tanking

JR Smith

JR Smith admitted a few weeks ago that he would prefer for the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him, but that probably won’t bother the team nearly as much as what he said on Monday.

In an interview with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Smith reiterated that he has no interest in remaining with the Cavs. The main reason for that, he says, is that the team is committed to tanking this season.

“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

Smith certainly isn’t the first one to accuse the Cavs of tanking, but he is the only member of the team to speak publicly about it. At age 33, Smith says he has no interest in playing for a franchise that has different priorities from his.

“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.

Lloyd goes on to note that executives around the NBA “shook their heads in disbelief all summer” at the idea that the Cavs could possibly compete in the Eastern Conference without LeBron James. That’s not a surprise, as one player from a rival team even trolled them over it.

Smith is owed $14 million this season and $15 million next, so he will be extremely difficult to trade. However, he said he doesn’t want his “legacy” in Cleveland to end with a buyout, so it’s unclear what possible resolution — if any — the two sides could come to.

Ohio State RB responds to Karan Higdon guaranteeing Michigan victory

Michigan running back Karan Higdon is confident enough heading into this weekend’s huge matchup against Ohio State that he was willing to guarantee a victory over the Wolverines’ biggest rival. As you might expect, the Buckeyes seem to disagree.

Ohio State running back Mike Weber posted an obvious response to Higdon on Twitter:

In fairness to Higdon, a reporter asked a question about Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh guaranteeing a victory in Columbus when he was the Wolverines’ quarterback back in 1986. Harbaugh delivered by leading his team to a 26-24 win, and Higdon said with a smile that he is willing to take the same stance as his coach. It’s not as if he went out of his way to promise a win.

While Michigan has looked like the far better team than Ohio State and the Buckeyes were extremely fortunate to win on an overtime play last week, none of that matters in college football’s biggest rivalry. If Michigan can’t beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011, it will likely cost them a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Tony Dungy impressively predicted a 100-point MNF game

Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy only needed to see 10 minutes of the incredible “Monday Night Football” game to know where it was heading.

After seeing a couple of early penalties called on the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense, Dungy knew that the game was setting up to be high-scoring. He said that with the way the refs were calling the game, there would be 100 points scored.

Fast forward a few hours, and Dungy’s prediction came true. 105 points were scored in the Los Angeles Rams’ 54-51 win — the most in “Monday Night Football” history. 13 penalties were called on the Chiefs for 135 yards and 8 on the Rams for 60 yards. The defenses created some turnovers but struggled overall to slow down the opposing offenses.

Patrick Mahomes threw for 478 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, while Jared Goff went for 413 yards and 4 touchdowns. What a game.

10 NFL players who could make a big impact down the stretch

Colt McCoy

The 2018 NFL season is coming up on the final quarter stretch and in most cases, nothing is settled. Divisions are close, playoff races are tight, and injuries around the league have really begun to shake things up.

It’s now make-or-break time for players and teams, and as the saying goes, big players make big plays in big games. So who might those big players be? Here’s a look at 10 players who could have a big impact down the stretch.

10. Colt McCoy, QB, Washington Redskins

33 years to the day that Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theismann’s leg, players watched helplessly as Alex Smith suffered a gruesomely similar injury. His season is now over, and the reigns of the NFC East-leading Redskins have been handed over to Colt McCoy. He played relatively well in a Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans and will now lead the show moving forward, which is a role he hasn’t played in many years. The luxury McCoy brings to the table beyond his starting experience is his intimate familiarity with Washington’s offense and the skill position players surrounding him. And just as Nick Foles did a season ago, perhaps McCoy can channel some backup magic and lead the Redskins to the playoffs.

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