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Thursday, June 30, 2016

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The best Pat Summitt stories

Pat Summitt

Legendary coach Pat Summitt died Tuesday at the age of 64, leaving behind a fantastic legacy.

One of the best coaches all time, and a coach synonymous with excellence and the sport of college basketball, Summitt was remembered fondly by many. Some of the stories shared on the day of her passing were so good we wanted to share them with you.

Here are some of the best Pat Summitt stories we came across on Tuesday:

Here is the handwritten recruiting letter Summitt sent to Candace Parker, explaining why she wanted to coach the future Player of the Year:

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Dwight Howard sets free agent meetings with Celtics, Hawks

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard could very well be headed to play for his fourth team in five years.

The free agent center has set up free agent meetings with the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, according to a report from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard. They say he could meet with as many as five teams during the free agency process.

Though Howard is only 30, he has played 12 seasons in the league (he entered the league straight out of high school). He is an eight-time All-Star yet he is far removed from the three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards he won.

Howard’s numbers have been in decline as he has battled back injuries and played limited minutes. Last season with the Rockets he played 32.1 minutes per game and averaged 13.7 points per game — his lowest mark since his rookie season. His declined offensive role led to friction between him and James Harden.

Though Howard is no longer the player he was during his prime, he is only two seasons removed from a conference finals run, and he still is one of the best big men in the league. Whether he goes to the emerging Boston Celtics led by coaching genius Brad Stevens, or whether he goes to his hometown Atlanta Hawks, or another team, we fully expect him to be a difference maker.

What’s interesting to note is that after four straight seasons in the difficult Western Conference, Howard may be prepared to return to the East, where he spent the first eight seasons of his career. If he does sign with a team in the East, we expect that squad to be a top-four team in the conference next season.

Candace Parker cries in interview thinking of Pat Summitt

Candace Parker interview

Tuesday marked a difficult day for fans and supporters of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball program in the wake of Pat Summitt’s death. One such person was Candace Parker, a former Tennessee star who was a two-time Player of the Year in college.

Parker scored 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the LA Sparks’ 89-84 win over the Dallas Wings Tuesday. After the game, she gave an interview to ESPN’s Holly Rowe and was emotional.

Parker also wore orange shoes as a tribute to the Lady Vols. She wrote “rebound” as a message to herself on the shoes as a reminder of what Summitt used to emphasize with her.

It’s no surprise she put up such a strong game with the extra focus.

Mike Morrison gives great interview after last outing for Coastal Carolina

Mike Morrison Bobby Holmes

Mike Morrison put together one heck of an outing for Coastal Carolina in his final appearance ever for the Chants, and he was very sentimental about the experience.

Morrison, a closer, was asked to make the start for Coastal Carolina in Game 2 of their WCWS final game against Arizona on Tuesday. He more than delivered.

Morrison pitched 6.2 innings on a career-high 103 pitches and struck out 10 as he limited the Wildcats to two runs. He picked up the win in the Chanticleers’ 5-4 win to send the series to a deciding third game.

Here was the reaction after he was relieved in the seventh:

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Dwyane Wade ready to listen to offers from other teams

Dwyane Wade 3 chain

Dwyane Wade has spent his entire career with the Miami Heat, but he apparently is ready to listen to offers from other teams in free agency.

The Heat guard’s one-year, $20 million contract expired following the season. Initial talks with the Heat apparently haven’t been great, so ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that Wade is ready to listen to offers from other teams.

The question is will Wade seriously consider leaving the Heat, or is this simply a leverage ploy to try getting more money out of Miami?

This isn’t the first time Wade’s camp has played hardball. In 2010, Wade seriously considered jumping to his hometown Bulls. Last year there was discord between both sides before ownership intervened and Wade signed his one-year deal.

The Heat have multiple free agents and have indicated Hassan Whiteside is a top priority. They also have Luol Deng to take care of, and they have $40 million in cap space.

Wade meeting with other teams would be him doing his due diligence at a team when the Heat are trying to see what happens with other players first. This threat is a most likely a weapon by agent Henry Thomas to let the Heat know he’s serious.

Darren McFadden corrects record on how he broke his elbow

Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden was mocked by some when it was revealed that he broke his elbow two weeks ago trying to catch his cellphone. At least that is the story that was reported, because McFadden now says that version of events isn’t accurate.

McFadden spoke to young students at the Little Rock Air Force base last week and told Arkansas Online how he got hurt. From the article:

McFadden (Pulaski Oak Grove) said reports he broke his elbow after he fell in an attempt to save a dropped cellphone were untrue. He said he was in a friend’s backyard after a funeral and slipped on cement near a swimming pool.

“I just slipped down and landed on my elbow,” he said. “My phone was in my hand, and so people kind of put that story out.”

Aha! Well now that settles it.

McFadden is expected to be out another six weeks or so as he recovers from surgery on his elbow. Though he was Dallas’ leading rusher last season, his injury plus the addition of rookie Ezekiel Elliott likely means he will fall back into a secondary role this season.

Chandler Parsons deserves max because he is ‘really good at basketball’

Chandler Parsons Mavs

With NBA free agency set to get underway later this week, huge dollar amounts will be flying around and massive contracts will be agreed upon. Among those hoping to land a big deal is Chandler Parsons.

Parsons held a player option for the upcoming season to spend his third season in Dallas with the Mavericks. However, Parsons opted out and turned his back on $16 million. The versatile forward will instead set his sights on larger contract that could earn him in excess of $20 million next season. And, as he explained to someone who asked him via Twitter, Parsons believes he deserves a max contract, because he’s really good.

It’s a simple answer, but a correct one. Parsons is more than capable as an outside shooter and has shown the ability to be a facilitator as well. Some will point to recent knee issues as perhaps a reason to be leery of offering Parsons a lucrative long-term contract. The 27-year-old doesn’t see that as a potential road block, though.

Teams having more money to spend this summer combined with the valuable skillset he brings means Parsons likely won’t have trouble landing a contract in the range he’s looking for. The only question is who will be the team to offer it.

Kings, 76ers reportedly have interest in Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters Thunder

What Dion Waiters does over the next few weeks will be one of the more interesting storylines to follow in free agency. And it sounds like he will have some options.

According to NBA reporter Michael Scotto, the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers will have interest in Waiters:

Waiters is a restricted free agent, which means the Oklahoma City Thunder will have a chance to match any contract offer he receives.

Waiters was the No. 4 overall draft pick by the Cavs in 2014 but has spent the past two seasons with the Thunder. The shooting guard showed improvement from behind the arc last season, shooting 35.8 percent on threes. His shooting percentages were even better in the playoffs, and he also offered solid defense.

The question is whether the Thunder will match offers he receives considering they just acquired Victor Oladipo from the Magic in the Serge Ibaka trade. Waiters would likely come off the bench if OKC brings him back, but he would be a key piece for the Thunder as they make another title run.

If Waiters signs an offer sheet for somewhere in the $12-16 million range, that might be too much for OKC to handle, but that depends on how highly other teams value him. It’s a situation that will certainly be one to watch.

Ezekiel Elliott could approach 300 carries this season

Ezekiel Elliott

It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys plan to run the ball a lot this season, so it’s no surprise that some are projecting perhaps 300 carries for rookie Ezekiel Elliott.

Writing in a mailbag Tuesday, DallasCowboys.com’s David Helman said that it’s not a question whether Elliott will be first string in the fall. Then he projected around 300 carries for the rookie back:

DeMarco Murray got 83 percent of the carries for this team in 2014, and he finished with more than 400 total touches. That’s a tad much for anyone, let alone a rookie. Fortunately, the Cowboys have vastly superior depth at the position this year. I think Zeke will finish with roughly 280-300 carries, which would put him right around 18-20 per game. That should leave plenty of carries for Morris and McFadden to get involved.

Elliott was taken No. 4 overall by the Cowboys in the draft following a stellar three-season career at Ohio State. The former Buckeye rushed for 41 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Ohio State and over 1,800 yards in each season, leading him to be the top running back on most teams’ draft boards, including the Cowboys.

Cowboys exec Stephen Jones has already said that the team will lean on the running game to help preserve quarterback Tony Romo, so 280-300 carries for Elliott certainly seems possible, if not likely.

Kris Bryant wants to wear ripped pants till they are ‘done’

kris-bryant-torn-pants

During Monday’s game between the Cubs and Reds, Kris Bryant put on a show for those at Great American Ballpark. Not surprisingly, the 24-year-old will try to keep the mojo from his historic performance going.

Bryant launched three home runs in Chicago’s 11-8 victory over Cincinnati, becoming the youngest in franchise history to do so. Here’s video of all three.

That in itself is pretty impressive. However, that wasn’t the extent of Bryant’s day. He also added two doubles to become the first player since 1900 to record three home runs and two doubles in a single game.

Monday is a day Bryant surely won’t soon forget and, if he has it his way, he’ll have a constant reminder for the near future. Bryant has decided to keep wearing the pants from that game as long as possible, despite the fact they’re ripped.

“I’m going to wear those until they’re done,” Bryant said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I told the equipment managers ‘don’t touch them.'”

No telling how long it will take till Bryant’s pants are “done” but as long as he continues to swing a hot bat, we can expect to see him in those ripped pants. Beginning Tuesday, the Cubs have six more road games before returning to Wrigley Field. The rip may get larger and they will probably start to smell soon, but I don’t think anyone will complain as long as the results are good.

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