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Friday, May 26, 2017

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Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to pick up player option

Dwyane Wade Bulls

Dwyane Wade’s Chicago homecoming may be more than just a brief cameo.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports on Wednesday that “most everyone associated with the Bulls” believes that the 12-time All-Star will pick up his $23.8 million player option for 2017-18.

Wade, who will turn 36 in January, averaged a solid 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game this past season. But his midrange-heavy, slow-it-down style was a clunky fit within the Chicago offense and his year was marred by tensions with upper management. The three-time NBA champion also hinted in January that he might leave the Bulls if they entered a rebuild.

Nevertheless, the Bulls made the playoffs this year and battled the top-seeded Celtics to six hard-fought games in the first round (and arguably may have even pulled off the upset had Rajon Rondo not gotten hurt). It’s also tough to see Wade commanding a bigger payday on the open market as an aging two-guard with a history of knee problems and a largely antiquated skillset. All things considered, it seems a lot likelier than it did just a few months ago that Wade opts in and rides it out for at least another year in Chicago.

Richard Sherman responds to report about rift with Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll

Richard Sherman

It is fairly obvious that Richard Sherman wanted the Seattle Seahawks to explore trade possibilities for him this offseason, but the All-Pro cornerback insists that is not a reflection on his relationship with his teammates and coaches.

In a lengthy feature he wrote entitled “Why Richard Sherman can’t let go of Seattle’s Super Bowl Loss,” ESPN’s Seth Wickersham cited several current and former Seahawks players, coaches and staff members who spoke about the resentment Sherman has toward Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll. Sherman dismissed the story as “a bunch of nonsense.”

A lot of sensitive locker room stuff was discussed in the article, so you can understand why most of Wickersham’s sources preferred to remain anonymous. However, it is highly unlikely that a reputable journalist would fabricate that much information, so it’s safe to assume most — if not all — of the information is rooted in truth.

According to Wickersham’s piece, Sherman has told teammates and friends that he believes the Seahawks would have won multiple Super Bowls by now if not for Wilson and Carroll holding them back. The 29-year-old apparently feels Seattle’s offense and coaching have not lived up to the championship caliber its defense has performed at.

The feature stated that several Seahawks players hold “resentment” toward Wilson and privately root for him to fail. One of Wilson’s other teammates has already bashed the report and come to the quarterback’s defense.

Mike Brown fires back at Ty Lue for saying Celtics are harder to plan for than Warriors

Mike Brown

There’s nothing like a good head coaching feud to keep the hype train rolling before the NBA Finals.

Speaking with the media on Thursday, Mike Brown, who is serving as interim coach of the Golden State Warriors in Steve Kerr’s continued absence, was asked about Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue’s recent comments that the Boston Celtics were harder to plan for defensively than the Warriors.

“That’s his opinion,” responded Brown, per Chris Haynes of ESPN. “It’s cute.”

You can read the full remarks by Lue, whose Cavs are currently playing the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, here.

The context, of course, matters. Lue’s comments didn’t seem to be as much of a slight towards the Warriors, who have already punched their ticket to the NBA Finals, as they were a nod to the Celtics, whose rotations and overall offensive gameplan have become wholly unpredictable sans Isaiah Thomas. But you knew that Brown, who has really been establishing himself as a personality this postseason, wasn’t going to miss an added opportunity to fire up his team before their inevitable third straight Finals meeting with the Cavs.

Odell Beckham will not commit to showing up to OTAs, could want new contract

Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham Jr has not yet showed up to voluntary workouts with the New York Giants, and it sounds like it may stay that way.

Kimberly Jones of NFL Network said Thursday that Beckham did not commit to attending organized team activities when she spoke with him.

Jones added that Beckham has been working out in Los Angeles and is in “tremendous shape.” She also said the star receiver has been in touch with the Giants coaching staff on a regular basis and that he later told her he will “for sure” be in attendance when mandatory minicamp begins on June 13.

While Beckham has not said so publicly, all signs indicate he is unhappy with his contract. He is set to make just $1.8 million this upcoming season and then $8.5 million in 2018, as the Giants recently exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

It would not be a surprise if Beckham wants to be paid like one of the top wide receivers in the league, and his salary is nowhere near that at the moment. Giants fans may be concerned to see who he has been spending time with, but it sounds like Beckham remains on good terms with his teammates and coaches.

Magic Johnson compares LaVar Ball to Kris Jenner

LaVar Ball

Magic Johnson thinks LaVar Ball is a lot like Kris Jenner, and he means that in a good way.

In an appearance on ESPN Radio in L.A.’s “Afternoons with Marcellus and Kelvin” show Thursday, Johnson said he has no issue with the outlandish remarks Ball has made about his son Lonzo. The best comparison Magic could think of for LaVar is Kris Jenner.

“The Kardashians, we didn’t say that the mom was bad. She made them a lot of money, right?” Johnson said with a laugh. “She’s bragged on her daughters and I think it’s the same here. He’s just saying, ‘Hey my son is great.’ There’s nothing bad with that.”

You could make the argument that it was actually Kim Kardashian who made the Kardashian family more famous in — how do we say this — other ways, but the point Johnson was making is that there’s nothing wrong with boasting about your own children. Magic also reiterated that LaVar’s big personality is not a deterrent for the Lakers.

“We’re not looking at LaVar being a problem if we’re blessed to have an opportunity to draft Lonzo,” he said. “We don’t know at this time whether we’re gonna do that or not, but I will say you have to give the father a lot of credit for being in not just Lonzo’s life, but the other two sons as well. I’m happy that a father goes around and says great things about his son.”

Of course, LaVar has done a lot more than just brag about his sons. He recently got into it with FS1’s Kristine Leahy and is now selling shirts to profit off of the confrontation. Ball also made some ignorant comments about Kyrie Irving last week and has done plenty of bragging about himself, once saying he could dominate Michael Jordan in a game of 1-on-1.

The bottom line is this: If the Lakers believe Lonzo Ball is a franchise player, they can deal with his father. You don’t pass up on a talent like that just because a member of his family is a blowhard.

Brandon Marshall responds to Sheldon Richardson calling him out

Brandon Marshall spoke with the media on Thursday, and the New York Giants wide receiver wasted no time addressing the shot one of his former teammates took at him earlier in the week.

New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson told reporters there are “15 reasons” why the vibe in his team’s locker room is better this year. That, of course, was a reference to Marshall’s jersey number. Marshall decided to address Richardson’s comments immediately, and he took the high road.

In other words, Marshall did not want to get into it. That seems like a wise decision on his part.

The Giants want Marshall to be a veteran leader in their locker room, so it won’t do him much good to rehash issues he had in the locker room with his last team. Marshall and Richardson did not get along in 2016, and they had a locker room altercation after a Week 3 loss to the Chiefs. They then traded barbs at the end of the season.

By refusing to get into a verbal sparring match with an ex-teammate, Marshall is likely trying to show the Giants he is not going to be a distraction.

Victor Cruz will reportedly sign with Bears

Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz was not lying about having no intentions of retiring, and the former New York Giants wide receiver has found himself a new home.

Kimberly Jones and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network are reporting that Cruz has agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

The timing of the signing is interesting, as one of Chicago’s better receivers was held out of organized team activities this week with an apparent leg injury.

Cruz has battled injuries in recent years, though he appeared in 15 games last season. His production, however, was down quite a bit, as he caught just 39 passes for 586 yards and a touchdown.

Shaq takes hilarious shot at Charles Barkley with old photo

Shaq TNT

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal are no strangers to giving each other a hard time on the air, but Shaq is now taking the friendly rivalry to social media.

On Thursday, Shaq shared a photo on Facebook that showed him in the process of blocking one of Barkley’s shots back when the two played against one another.

“Back when I used to DOMINATE on bum a– Chuck #throwbackthursdays,” O’Neal wrote.

The latest spat between Shaq and Chuck began on Tuesday night. O’Neal became annoyed with Barkley for interrupting him after Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and the “Inside the NBA” co-hosts immediately took things personal with their trash talk (video here).

This is all just another reminder of how TNT has found the perfect crew for its pre- and post-game coverage.

Rob Gronkowski a ‘full go’ in practice

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski appears to have recovered nicely from his third back surgery since college, as the New England Patriots tight end has been a full participant in organized team activities this week.

Thursday marked the first OTA session that was open to the media, and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald said Gronkowski was a “full go.”

ESPN’s Mike Reiss shared a video of Gronkowski taking the practice field, and he had a helmet on and was walking just fine.

Because of his injury history, the Patriots are always extremely cautious with Gronkowski. If his back was still bothering him in any way, he would not be participating in team drills.

Gronkowski injured his back in late-November last year and missed the remainder of the 2016 season. He recently agreed to a restructured contract with the Patriots that gives him plenty of incentive to stay on the field and perform.

NFL players will still be penalized for dunking on goal posts

Jimmy Graham goal posts

The NFL announced this week that it is relaxing its rules regarding touchdown celebrations, but that does not mean Jimmy Graham will be able to turn the clock back to 2013.

According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, dunking the ball through the goal posts will still result in a 15-yard penalty. While Roger Goodell is clearly trying to prove to fans that he is willing to allow players to have fun, he said in a press release Tuesday that celebrations which “delay the game” will still be outlawed.

Dunking on the goal posts was banned in 2014, and Graham is the main reason that rule was passed. Back when he was with the New Orleans Saints in 2013, Graham caused a 20-minute delay in a game when he literally bent the goal posts (video here) and they had to be repaired.

The NFL has not yet gotten into detail about what will be allowed and what won’t now that group celebrations and props are fair game, but it makes sense that dunking on the goal posts is still out. Graham and his freakish strength ruined that for everyone.

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