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Saturday, December 3, 2016

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Joe McKnight shot and killed in apparent traffic dispute

Joe McKnight Jets

Former NFL running back Joe McKnight was shot and killed on Thursday in an apparent traffic dispute in Louisiana.

According to NOLA.com, a witness recalled a man standing in an intersection attempting to apologize (McKnight) while he was being yelled at by another man. Sheriff Newell Normand provided a few additional details.

McKnight becomes the second former NFL player to lose his life in the New Orleans area this year as a result of what appears to be a road rage incident. Former Saints defensive end Will Smith was murdered in April. You can see details of that incident here.

As word began to spread, many in the football world took to social media to offer their thoughts and condolences.

McKnight spent four seasons in the NFL, the first three with the Jets and the final one with the Chiefs. He finished his career with 505 rushing yards in 41 games. McKnight also spent time in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders. McKnight was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft after playing collegiate football at USC.

Patriots say Rob Gronkowski expected to miss rest of season

Rob Gronkowski

The New England Patriots announced on Thursday night that Rob Gronkowski is expected to miss the rest of the season because of back surgery.

The Pats issued a press release to explain the status of Gronk, who is set to undergo surgery Friday. The team explained what led to the decision:

After a hit early in the Jets game, Rob began to experience significant back and leg pain. This injury forced him to leave the game and he did not return. With the help of the Patriots medical staff, along with the consultation of several medical experts, it has been determined that it is in Rob’s best long-term interest to undergo surgery to address his lower back injury.

The Pats said that Gronk is not expected to return this season, but they will wait until after the surgery to make the determination. The team also made it clear that Gronk was medically cleared to return to action for the Jets game, where he suffered the back injury. Gronk previously had suffered a punctured lung against the Seahawks two weeks before the back injury.

The loss of Gronk will be a huge blow to the Pats, especially considering initial reports suggested the tight end’s injury was not serious. But the Pats won games without Gronk to start the season and will just have to go back to winning games without him again. Fellow tight end Martellus Bennett will have to be ready for a larger role.

Matt Barnes enjoyed cheesesteak and Hennessy after game was cancelled (Video)

matt-barnes-cheesesteak

Wednesday’s game between the Sixers and Kings was cancelled, so Matt Barnes found a pretty good way to pass the time until their flight arrived.

Due to water accumulating on the court at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia and Sacramento were unable to play their scheduled game. Although, DeMarcus Cousins tried his best to get the court in a playable condition. You can see video of him mopping the floor here.

That meant, the Kings had to occupy themselves until it was time to catch their flight. As Matt Barnes shared, he enjoyed a cheesesteak and also (maybe) some Hennessy. The video does contain a NSFW word.

What was supposed to be a game day turned into an evening off for Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, and the rest of the Kings. Might as well enjoy a cheesteak if you’re in Philly.

H/T Bleacher Report

Clippers reportedly expect Chris Paul to demand full max in free agency

Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul may be looking to become Chri$$$ Paul this coming offseason.

According to a report by Zach Lowe of ESPN on Thursday, the Clippers expect Paul, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, to demand the full five-year max (or whatever the longest possible deal winds up being in the revised CBA) to remain with the team.

Paul, who has a $24.2 million player option for 2017-18 that he would be wise to turn down, is still an elite NBA point guard, even at the age of 31. Whatever he’s lost in quickness and athleticism, he’s made up for with his basketball IQ, his evolution into a midrange assassin, and his much-improved three-point shooting (perhaps due to this procedure he underwent this past summer).

There’s definitely precedent for pure point guards continuing to perform at a high level well into their mid-30s (see: Stockton, John and Kidd, Jason). But it would still be a delicate balancing act for the Clippers to commit to a five-year max for Paul as they also have to worry about Blake Griffin, who can become a free agent in 2017 as well, and JJ Redick, who will hit free agency regardless.

With a sizable chunk of cash going to DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, and Jamal Crawford over the next couple of years and alarmingly few valuable young assets at their disposal, the Clippers may find it difficult to retain all of their core guys while still staying competitive in the West going forward.

Brett Brown: Ben Simmons will be Sixers’ point guard when he returns

Ben Simmons

The keys to the Philadelphia 76ers convertible await No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons upon his return from injury.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown said on Wednesday that Simmons will be the team’s point guard when he gets back to the court.

“My intention is to give him the ball and let him be the point guard,” Brown said, per Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly. “That’s the plan. That doesn’t just happen. It takes a little bit of time to introduce him.”

Brown’s plan definitely makes sense when you consider the black hole that has been the Sixers’ point guard position this season. Jerryd Bayless has been banged up all year, Sergio Rodriguez can distribute but is otherwise deficient, and TJ McConnell is little more than a defensive specialist.

The 20-year-old Simmons has been sidelined since suffering a concerning right foot injury before the season. Brown expects Simmons to return in January, and when he does, he should provide a spark at the helm of the Philly offense with his passing angles at 6-foot-10 and his strength and playmaking ability in the open floor.

H/T ProBasketballTalk

Stephen Curry on free agency: ‘It’s hard to see myself anywhere else’

Steph Curry

Reigning back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry has been a Golden State Warrior for his entire NBA career, and it’s tough for him to envision that changing.

In an interview with Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, Curry conceded that “curveballs happen all the time,” but he added: “It’s hard to see myself anywhere else.”

The 28-year-old Curry, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, caused a mini-stir recently by not ruling out the possibility of playing for his hometown Charlotte Hornets. But from a realist’s perspective, there’s little reason for Curry to leave the best team in the league at the moment and a potential dynasty in the making, not to mention an adoring fanbase that ranks amongst the Association’s tops.

The smart money is very much on the three-time All-Star staying put in the Bay this offseason, though the Warriors may have to open up their checkbooks big-time with Curry coming off arguably the biggest bargain contract in sports right now. Nevertheless, Dwyane Wade and Curry’s now-teammate Kevin Durant are just two recent examples of star players who were hard to see playing anywhere else but who ultimately wound up departing their long-time teams, so nothing can truly be ruled out.

H/T theScore

Report: Woody Johnson feels ‘betrayed’ by Darrelle Revis, may not offer pay cut

Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis’s poor performance has disappointed a lot of New York Jets fans in 2016, but it sounds like ownership is particularly furious.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, Jets owner Woody Johnson feels “betrayed” by Revis, and may not even give him the chance to take a pay cut to stick around.

Johnson was a driving force in bringing Revis back despite the objections of some within the organization, and now is said to be angry with the way he has performed, particularly in 2016. For that reason, the Jets may not be willing to bring him back at all for 2017, even on a reduced rate.

There are some questions, mind you, about whether Revis wants to play at all, so that could be one way out. Either way, it doesn’t sound like the ending of Revis’s second stint with the Jets will be a happy one.

Isiah Thomas enjoyed holding up Crying Jordan head after Indiana beat North Carolina

isiah-thomas-dream-team-snub

The Indiana Hoosiers knocked off the North Carolina Tar Heels 76-67 on Wednesday night, and one Hoosier legend was on hand to rub a little salt in the wound.

Isiah Thomas, on hand in Bloomington as part of a ceremony honoring the 1981 championship team, proudly held up a Crying Jordan head after the victory.

Thomas told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Thursday that it just happened on a whim, but he had a blast.

“There were two girls sitting behind me, two IU students, and one of them handed it to me,” Thomas said. “I knew the crowd would go crazy — and they did when I held it up.

“I love just being a fan. It was fun.”

There’s a lot at play here beyond the teams facing off and the ubiquitous meme. Thomas and Jordan have a long-standing rivalry that dates back to their playing days. You get the feeling that Thomas enjoyed this one a little bit.

Nats reportedly think Aroldis Chapman is too pricey

Aroldis Chapman Cubs

It looks like we can cross one team off the list of Aroldis Chapman suitors.

According to a report by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports on Thursday, the Washington Nationals think that Chapman is too rich for their taste and will instead aim to re-sign fellow closer Mark Melancon, who impressed on the mound and in the clubhouse after they acquired him last trade deadline.

Washington is well-justified in their reasoning, especially when you consider how much dough Chapman is supposedly looking for. Melancon is nowhere near the blazing strikeout machine that Chapman is, but he was on par with the Cuban last season in ERA (1.64 to Chapman’s 1.55), WHIP (0.90 to 0.86), and save percentage (92.2 to 92.3).

Melancon has other suitors, but to retain a familiar, cost-effective, high-character, high-talent player is sure to be a desirable endgame for the Nats.

Report: Nets likely to sign Donatas Motiejunas to offer sheet

donatas-motiejunas

In desperate need of talent anywhere they can get it, the Brooklyn Nets appear to be rolling the dice on Donatas Motiejunas.

According to a report by Marc Stein of ESPN on Thursday, the Nets are likely to sign Motiejunas to an offer sheet as early as Friday. The Houston Rockets still hold Motiejunas’ rights, so they would have three days to match any offer.

The 26-year-old Lithuanian big man became a restricted free agent this past offseason but was unable to land a deal from any team. Injury red flags were likely the culprit as concerns over the health of his back arose in February and voided a trade to the Detroit Pistons.

The paper-thin Nets haven’t been shy to extend big money to middling RFA talents in recent months, having signed Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe to offer sheets worth a combined $125 million over the summer (though ultimately failing to secure either one of them).

Motiejunas, who averaged 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in his last season of good health in 2014-15, probably won’t command anything remotely comparable given the questions surrounding his physical condition. But as a strong low-post scorer and a serviceable floor-spacer, he might be able to carve out a decent role in a Brooklyn frontcourt rotation with no real answers behind Brook Lopez and Trevor Booker.

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