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Sunday, June 26, 2016

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Orioles give Manny Machado garden gnome a magical backstory

Manny Machado Garden Gnome

The Baltimore Orioles have a Manny Machado garden gnome giveaway planned for July 9, but it’s not just any ordinary garden gnome giveaway. For this one, the Orioles went all out by creating a mythical backstory for the gnome and an entire social media campaign behind the young third baseman.

In a branding and marketing effort, the team wants fans to call special plays by Machado “Manny Magic” using #MannyMagic on social media.

Machado, 23, has certainly produced his fair share of magic since debuting with the Orioles in 2012. One of the best young players in the game, Machado is completely blossoming this season, as he’s batting .317 with 27 doubles and 17 home runs for a spectacular .601 slugging percentage. Last season he smacked 30 doubles and 35 home runs while increasing his walks, while in his first full season in 2013, he hit 51 doubles.

The Orioles are hoping this #MannyMagic continues in what could end up being an MVP season.

Wizards reportedly prepared to offer Joakim Noah max deal

Joakim Noah Bulls

NBA teams have a tendency to be a little reckless with their money during the commotion of free agency. But the Washington Wizards are taking that to a near-unprecedented level.

According to a report by Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News on Friday, the Wizards are prepared to offer former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah a full max contract once Noah officially becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. A max deal for Noah would start at $28 million and would reach as high as $120 million over four years.

Such huge money would be sheer madness for the 31-year-old Noah, who is coming off the worst season of his NBA career thanks to various injuries and a marginalized role on the Bulls. It might also severely hamper the future flexibility of the Wizards as they already have more than $110 million committed to the John Wall/Marcin Gortat/Markieff Morris trio alone over the next three years. They have the restricted free agency of young guard Bradley Beal (who looks like he will be getting a max deal of his own) to worry about this summer as well.

Simply put, Noah might not be worth even half of that dollar figure right now. But Washington seems desperate after missing the playoffs for the second year in a row and now having a need in their frontcourt with Nene’s deal expiring. While the Timberwolves and the Knicks may also be major contenders for Noah’s services, don’t underestimate the power of that desperation (combined with an irrational spending complex) to get Noah into a Wizards uniform next season, for better or for worse.

H/T RealGM

Broncos, Von Miller reportedly have not discussed contract since early June

Von Miller

Von Miller and the Denver Broncos aren’t on speaking terms right now.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Miller and the Broncos have had no discussions about a long-term contract since early June.

We heard on June 8 that the Broncos had reportedly pulled their long-term offer over a dispute about guaranteed money, so that is probably the last time the two sides talked seriously. Denver has Miller franchise tagged and the two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term deal. Miller has since said that he won’t play in 2016 under the franchise tag. The stalemate continues, and it seems that neither side has much interest in budging.

Report: NFL to interview players named in Al-Jazeera PED report at start of camp

clay-matthews

The NFL is reportedly set to ramp up its investigation of the allegations levied against several players in the recent Al-Jazeera America PED report.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the league said in an internal memo that it is set to interview four players – Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, and free agent linebacker Mike Neal – after they were tied to PED use in the Al-Jazeera America documentary.

The interviews for the currently signed players are set to be conducted on the first day of their team’s training camp. Neal’s interview will take place on or before July 22.

There is no mention of now-retired Peyton Manning in the memo, but a source told Pelissero that his investigation is progressing as well.

Last December, these players along with several others across sports were accused of PED use as part of al Al-Jazeera America investigation. Charlie Sly, a primary informant for the story, has recanted his allegations, but that has not stopped the NFL from proceeding with its own investigation.

Report: Warriors eyeing Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford if they miss Kevin Durant

Hassan-Whiteside

The Golden State Warriors are known to be interested in Kevin Durant, but it sounds like they intend to spend big even if they miss out on the top prize of the free agent market.

Should Kevin Durant sign elsewhere, the Warriors will reportedly look to upgrade their front court. According to Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News, names that have been discussed include Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside and Joakim Noah.

In other words, the Warriors have money and they’re looking to spend it.

Thompson also notes that Golden State has interest in guards Nicolas Batum and Evan Turner, so bolstering back court depth is also an item on the offseason checklist.

Obviously, either Horford or Whiteside would be a major upgrade over Andrew Bogut, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Heat have said they are making Whiteside their offseason priority, and the seven-footer is said to be seeking a max contract or something close to it. Horford will be in the same boat.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob has promised to be aggressive in free agency this summer even with a team that won an NBA single-season record 73 games last year. Lacob may have recently made himself sound arrogant by bragging after an epic collapse, but his team’s front office clearly knows what it’s doing. Golden State fans should expect some sort of big free agent signing this summer, whether it’s Durant or someone else.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk
Photo: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics owner: Trade offers team received were ‘a collection of rip-off attempts’

wyc-grousbeck

The Boston Celtics were engaged in a lot of trade discussions leading up to the NBA Draft, but nothing came of it – apparently because the offers they received were insulting.

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck came away very unimpressed with the offers the team received, which he said is why the team held on to most of their picks, including No. 3 overall.

“We did not sniff a trade today,” Grousbeck said, via Jared Weiss of CLNS Radio. “It was a collection of rip-off attempts and we laughed at them.”

The Celtics went into the draft with three first round picks and eight selections overall, and they made only one trade involving their second round choices.

“The trades that were offered to us made us hang up right away,” Grousbeck said. “We refused to be ripped off by anyone.

“People call us up, thinking they can rip us off because they think we’re in a hurry. So thanks, but no thanks. We were open for business, but we weren’t getting ripped off.”

The Celtics were one of the teams linked to Jimmy Butler, but obviously nothing came of it. They ended up with Jaylen Brown at No. 3, and they sound perfectly content with that.

Bulls GM Gar Forman says team was not actively shopping Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler Bulls

Jimmy Butler’s name was a near-constant fixture in trade rumors on NBA Draft day, but Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman emphasized that the team was not shopping him.

Even though Butler was linked to a number of new destinations, Forman was firm in saying that he was not being actively shopped by the Bulls.

Since Butler is still with the Bulls, Forman has to say as much. Perhaps it’s even true that the Bulls aren’t actively putting him out there in trade talks. Teams were obviously calling, though, and given the amount of rumors – here’s a sampling of them – the Bulls obviously weren’t telling everyone that Butler wasn’t available and hanging up the phone. The window to move him may have passed, but you have to wonder how Butler will react to seeing his name everywhere in trade rumors.

Umpire Paul Emmel gets hit in head with bat, suffers nasty cut

Paul-Emmel-bloodu

Home plate umpire Paul Emmel had to leave Thursday night’s game between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels after he was hit in the head with a bat and suffered a nasty cut.

Angels third baseman Jefry Marte lost control of his bat on a swing and miss in the bottom of the ninth, and it hit Emmel on the top of the head where he had no protection. It was a frightening scene as Emmel had to leave the game.

Fortunately, reports indicated that Emmel only needed stitches and was expected to be fine. It could have been a lot worse with the way the bat hit him. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

H/T Big League Stew

JR Smith signed pipe for a fan

JR-Smith-pipe

No one has had more fun than J.R. Smith since the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title. In fact, Smith has been in such a good mood that he’s out here signing pipes for fans.

On Thursday, a Cavs fan shared a photo on Twitter showing that he got Smith to sign a piece of plastic pipe.

Don’t get the joke? You can read the entire backstory here.

Smith has come a long way since one of his former coaches predicted that no team would want to deal with the swingman.

H/T Deadspin

Cyborg says she would ‘kill’ Ronda Rousey

Cris-Cyborg-Justino

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is still trying to talk her way into a fight with Ronda Rousey, and she says she would even give up a shot at the current champ to fight the former champ.

In an interview with TMZ this week, Cyborg was asked if she would rather fight Rousey or Miesha Tate, who defeated Holly Holm back in March to claim the UFC women’s bantamweight title.

“Me and Ronda have a novella together,” Cyborg explained. “You have to finish a novella. Everybody wants to watch this fight. If you ask all the fans who they want to see, I think they want to see Ronda Rousey and Cyborg.

“I don’t know, maybe she’s scared. She’s had a lot of opportunities to fight me and she’s always hiding.”

And how would the novella end?

“I kill her, for sure” Cyborg said. “I would put everything she has said about me in my hands.”

Cyborg dominated Leslie Smith in her UFC debut last month. That fight was held at a catchweight of 140, and UFC president Dana White has said in the past that Rousey and Cyborg will fight as soon as Cyborg gets down to 135 pounds. Rousey has always cited Cyborg’s positive steroids test as a reason she does not want to fight her.

It remains unlikely that we will ever see Rousey and Cyborg in the Octagon together, regardless of how many cringeworthy shots like this Cyborg takes at Ronda. Rousey is expected to return to action later this year against whoever the champ is at the time.

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