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Monday, April 24, 2017

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Report: Paul George told teammates he has dreamed of playing for Lakers

The Indiana Pacers may have no chance of keeping Paul George long-term after they were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in embarrassing fashion. And if what one NBA writer says George has been telling his teammates is true, they never had a shot anyway.

George grew up in Los Angeles, and there have long been rumblings that he wants to play for the Lakers. In a feature story arguing that Magic Johnson should think twice before pursuing George, Sporting News contributor Mitch Lawrence dropped an interesting tidbit regarding George’s openness about wanting to play for his hometown team.

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

As Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk notes, the context of George’s comments — assuming he actually made them — would be important. Professional athletes grow up fans of certain teams like the rest of us, and some those allegiances don’t necessarily disappear simply because they become employees of other teams. It seems more likely that George would have been telling his teammates about his childhood aspirations rather than rubbing it in that he plans on leaving them.

Having said all that, we have already heard reports that George is set on playing for the Lakers when he can opt out of his contract after next season. Johnson also admitted on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” this week that the interest is mutual, and the newest Lakers executive he may have tampered in the process.

The critical comments George made about his teammates during the playoffs can’t be ignored, even if he later backed down from them. The 26-year-old may only get one opportunity to sign a huge contract with the Lakers, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t seize it.

Derrick Rose explains why he attended Bulls playoff game

Derrick Rose Knicks

Derrick Rose was a surprise attendee at Game 4 of the Chicago Bulls-Boston Celtics playoff series, and he explained why on Sunday.

Rose took his son P.J. to the game and said he just wanted to show him a good time — and experience a playoff atmosphere, which he hasn’t done as a player since 2015.

“If I was by myself, it might be a little bit weird. But I’m with him,” Rose said via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, while gesturing to his son. “He makes it a lot easier. I look at it all that happened in the past. The memories will always be there. My heart is still here when I visit. I just love basketball, so I had to watch.

“I just wanted to show him a good time. That was it. It seemed like a good series and I just wanted to be around a playoff atmosphere.”

Rose got a warm reception in Chicago, where he remains quite popular. Sure, it looks a bit weird, but at the end of the day, Rose is attending a playoff game in his hometown with his son.

Russell Westbrook calls out Rockets players for laughing at Andre Roberson

Russell Westbrook will not stand for his teammate getting laughed at by the Houston Rockets bench.

Several Rockets players were spotted laughing at Oklahoma City guard Andre Roberson’s errant free throw attempts during Sunday’s playoff game. Westbrook said he didn’t see the responses, but was quick to stick up for his teammate Monday.

“Probably the guys that don’t play,” Westbrook said, via Royce Young of ESPN. “Probably over there, the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports deduced that Westbrook was pretty much right. The most prominent laughers looked to be Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, and Bobby Brown, three players who have played a combined total of nine minutes over the course of the series.

Westbrook has been quick to stick up for his teammates all series. This time, he got a pretty good jab in.

Report: Bills decline to match Patriots’ offer to Mike Gillislee

The New England Patriots have successfully signed another key offensive player away from a division rival.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Buffalo Bills have informed running back Mike Gillislee that they will not be matching the two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet he signed with the Patriots.

Gillislee rushed for 577 yards and scored eight touchdowns on just 101 carries in 2016. That’s an impressive 5.7 yards per carry, and the 26-year-old did it while playing a clear backup role behind LeSean McCoy. In New England, Gillislee will likely replace LeGarrette Blount as the early-down back.

The Patriots now have seemingly great depth at running back, as they also signed former Cincinnati Bengals back Rex Burkhead this offseason. Super Bowl hero James White and Dion Lewis will continue with their passing-down work, though it would not be a surprise if the latter ends up getting cut during training camp.

Adrian Peterson, Saints reportedly ‘closing in on a deal’

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson’s visit with the New Orleans Saints earlier this month is said to have gone well, and apparently the two sides enjoyed the meeting enough to start talking numbers.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported on Monday that Peterson and the Saints are “closing in on a deal” that would pay the veteran running back somewhere in the range of $3 million for the 2017 season.

Peterson would be an interesting fit in New Orleans, as he would likely play more of a backup role behind Mark Ingram. However, the 32-year-old hasn’t exactly had a plethora of options since free agency began.

Peterson averaged just 1.9 yards per carry in limited work last season and is coming off his second significant knee injury. He has likely lowered his expectations over the past several weeks, though at least one other contender is said to have interest in signing him.

Daryl Morey tweets photo showing apparent missed foul call on Steven Adams

Daryl Morey

The 140-character stun grenades of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have struck yet again.

Morey tweeted out a photo on Monday showing Steven Adams putting James Harden in a chokehold of sorts in an apparent missed foul.

The Rockets won Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday by the final of 113-109 to go up 3-1 in their first-round playoff series. But Morey and his Twitter alter ego appear to be taking this matchup with the Thunder quite personally, even dating back to the regular season. As such, it’s nice to know that we have some front office representation from #TeamPetty.

Tyronn Lue calls Warriors-Cavs a ‘rivalry’

Tyronn Lue

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue is confirming what his players and everybody else essentially knew all along.

In an appearance Monday on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike,” Lue spoke on his team’s dynamic with the Golden State Warriors.

“I think it’s a rivalry,” said Lue. “I think these two teams, they wanna get there. They wanna play each other. It’s some dislike there.

“Guys, they wanna compete and play well against this team, and it’s OK,” he continued. “That’s what sports should be all about. If you get a chance to have a rivalry with an opponent that you look forward to matching up with … And if you go to three straight Finals, that to me is a rivalry.”

The Warriors and the Cavs have indeed met in the NBA Finals each of the last two years with Golden State winning Round 1, Cleveland coming out victorious in Round 2, and Round 3 seeming like a highly likely possibility for this coming June. Of course, LeBron James has gone out of his way to dismiss the notion of a rivalry with Golden State. But between Lue’s comments and some classic rival behavior over the last few months, it has become virtually impossible to deny the bad blood between these two hardwood heavyweights.

John Schneider: Seahawks have ‘moved past’ Richard Sherman trade talks

Richard Sherman

The Richard Sherman trade rumors appear to be a thing of the past.

Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Monday that the team has “moved past” trade talks involving their star cornerback unless they get an overwhelming offer.

Sherman, who showed up for Monday’s voluntary workouts, never appeared all that close to being dealt. The asking price was high to begin with, and it looked like the Seahawks were more testing the market out than aggressively shopping the veteran corner. It was a temporary distraction that Sherman and Seattle can now put behind them.

Ben Roethlisberger makes peace with hometown in ceremony

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger has long had a rather difficult relationship with his hometown of Findlay, Ohio, but he appears to be moving past some things.

Roethlisberger and his sister Carlee were inducted into the Hancock County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, and it provided the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback with an opportunity to make peace with his hometown.

“Some negative things were said about me by people in this town,” Roethlisberger said, via Dave Hanneman of the Courier. “I was hurt and I resented that. But I want to say I’m sorry for letting a few bad words cloud the support I’ve had from so many people.”

Roethlisberger was criticized by some in Findlay during the period in which he faced sexual assault allegations, but that is now water under the bridge.

“I’m proud of this town. It means a lot to me and my family to be embraced with open arms like this,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m humble and I’m proud to call Findlay home.”

Roethlisberger went as far as to invent a fake town to disassociate from Findlay. That seems to be behind him, finally.

H/T ESPN

Jabrill Peppers blames drinking too much water for failed combine drug test

Jabrill Peppers

Former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, but his agency insists the result is all a misunderstanding.

Shortly after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that NFL teams have been notified that Peppers tested positive for a diluted sample, a spokesman for CAA — the agency that represents Peppers — explained that the positive test was a result of Peppers being ill and drinking an excessive amount of fluids.

“Peppers went to the combine. He was sick after flying there from San Diego. He has a history of cramping,” the statement read. “Peppers was being pumped with fluids, drinking 8-10 bottles of water before he went to bed, because he was the first guy to work out two days for the LBs and DBs. He had to go through that first day, come back on second day, and that was the fear. So Peppers was pounding water and under the weather. He never failed a drug test in his life, nor tested positive before for any substance.”

A diluted sample counts as a failed test because it can indicate a player was trying to flush out his system to mask having used some sort of substance. Interestingly enough, Peppers is the second star player in a week to claim his positive test was triggered excessive hydrating due to being ill.

Peppers was once considered a lock for the top 10 of the NFL Draft, but he has seen his stock fall in recent months. At least one team would reportedly love to have him late in the first round, so it will be interesting to see if the positive test has any negative impact.

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