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Thursday, April 27, 2017

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Report: Marshawn Lynch agrees to deal with Raiders, will be traded

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders have reportedly agreed to the framework of a contract.

Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported on Wednesday that Lynch and the Raiders have agreed to a one-year deal. Lynch is expected to join Oakland quickly, as the Raiders and Seahawks have also reportedly agreed on compensation for the five-time Pro Bowler. Seattle still currently holds Lynch’s rights, but the two teams will swap late-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Lynch still needs to pass a physical with the Raiders, and he is expected to take that on Wednesday when he returns from his trip to Haiti. He and former teammates Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are in Haiti helping to build schools and houses.

Lynch’s contract will reportedly included a $3 million base salary in 2017, with incentives that could bring it as high as $8.5 million. For what it’s worth, Adam Schefter is reporting that Lynch will sign a two-year deal with Oakland. That would make sense, as it would be similar to the contract 32-year-old Adrian Peterson plans to sign with the New Orleans Saints.

We already know how one star Raiders player feels about having Lynch as a teammate, and it’s safe to assume that opinion is shared throughout the locker room. Assuming Lynch didn’t lose a major step while taking a year off, he should be a great replacement for Latavius Murray.

5 biggest surprises of the NBA playoffs

Joe Johnson

The NBA playoffs always provide great games, unexpected storylines, and colorful characters, both new and old. This year’s edition is no exception.

Sure, the stars have taken over games, big teams have cruised, and the competition has been intense, but some others have confounded expectations and had unlikely role players step up to deliver teams huge victories.

Here is a look at five things that have happened this playoff season that have come as a bit of a surprise.

1) Joe Johnson is carrying the Jazz

The Utah Jazz boast two legitimate stars in Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, so if you were told that the team was up 3-2 series with the Los Angeles Clippers, you’d probably figure they were big factors in the wins. But Gobert was injured at the very start of Utah’s Game 1 win, and Hayward sat out most of Game 4 with food poisoning. It left a void for a new hero to step in.

That hero was Joe Johnson. The wily veteran averaged just 9.2 points per game during the regular season, but with his team’s stars dropping like flies, Iso Joe stepped up big time.

Johnson hit the buzzer-beating game winner in Game 1 at Staples Center to steal a road game for the Jazz, but his best was yet to come in Game 4. The 35-year-old delivered 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including a fourth quarter stretch in which he scored 11 straight Utah points, as the Jazz pulled off a 105-98 victory to even the series at two. As if that weren’t enough, he scored 14 in a huge Game 5 win, including a shot late that ruined Clippers owner Steve Ballmer’s night (video here).

Nothing the Clippers have done to Johnson has really worked so far. He beats his man, and if he’s doubled, he finds the open shooter to make L.A. pay. The Jazz are leading a series in which Gobert hasn’t contributed and Hayward missed one of the team’s wins, and they can thank Johnson for that.

2) Nene has discovered the Fountain of Youth

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Chargers coach not worried about Joey Bosa skipping workouts

Joey Bosa Chargers

For a second consecutive season, Joey Bosa is missing a portion of the San Diego Chargers’ offseason training program. Last year, his absence had to do with not having signed a rookie contract until late August. This time around, Bosa simply prefers to work with his own guy.

Bosa, who missed the first several weeks of the season last year due to a hamstring injury, has decided to work with an anonymous personal trainer this spring.

“I just found a guy who really knows what he’s talking about and my body changed in ways I could never have imagined last year,” he said Tuesday, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “Pain in certain parts of my body that I’ve had chronically for years and years was suddenly gone after going through this process and this program. After that and after the year I had last year, I saw no reason why I would ever change what I’m doing.

“I wanted to continue with it.”

If the Chargers had to choose between Bosa doing his own thing or missing the first month of the season again, that would not be a difficult decision. That’s probably why the former Ohio State star says he has received the blessing of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and defensive line coach Giff Smith.

“They trust me. All the guys on the team, you could ask them if I’m out there sitting on the couch or if I’m working,” Bosa said. “But, it is voluntary. I think when it comes to your body, you have to do what you think is right. It’s nothing against the team. It’s just what I think is right for my body.”

New Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said previously that he would be pleased if all of his players attended voluntary workouts, but he insists he holds no ill will toward Bosa.

“He’s one of the hardest working guys on the football team,” Lynn said. “I’m not worried about his conditioning or anything like that.”

Bosa is not the first star player to skip voluntary workouts this offseason, and he won’t be the last. At the end of the day, there’s nothing teams can do about it. Even if “voluntary” doesn’t mean what it should, players have a right to do their own thing.

Patrick Beverley, Russell Westbrook trade trash talk about exchange

Russell Westbrook Patrick Beverley

Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook had a little exchange during Game 5 of their playoff series on Tuesday night, and the two were kind enough to share details about their conversation afterwards, complete with some trash talk on both ends.

First off, let’s take a look at what started it all when the two got into it at with around seven minutes left in the game:

So what was said during that exchange? Houston’s Beverley gave his side:

And then Westbrook gave his:

Westbrook finished with 47 points on a very respectable 44 percent shooting in the game, which is higher than what Houston shot for the contest. The Rockets won the series by holding Westbrook to poor percentages in three of the games, but this was not one of them.

Steve Ballmer was in disbelief after Joe Johnson shot (Video)

Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer was in total disbelief as he watched Joe Johnson bury his team once again.

Johnson made a jumper with 19.2 seconds left to put Utah up 102-97 on Ballmer’s Clippers during Game 5 of their playoff series on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Here was Ballmer’s reaction:

Johnson had 14 points and 8 rebounds in the 96-92 win. He had 28 points in Sunday’s Game 4 win over the Clippers, as he went an impressive 12-for-17 on field goals. Johnson is averaging 19.3 points per game on nearly 56 percent shooting from the field this postseason. And Ballmer can’t believe it!

Eric Thames invites drug testing after home run binge

Eric Thames

Eric Thames is off to the hottest start in MLB, which has led to all sorts of questions about whether he is using PEDs.

MLB certainly has taken notice as the Brewers first baseman continues to face random drug testing. He was drug tested after blasting yet another homer on Tuesday night — his league-best 11th of the year.

During his postgame interviews, Thames made it clear that the drug testing he’s been subjected to doesn’t bother him at all and that he will not shy away from testing.

“This whole thing is surprising to me as well. … I’m shocked at all the results,” Thames said, via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “I’m just here to play ball and stay healthy and stretch as much as I can. People keep thinking I’m on stuff, I’ll be here every day. I have lots of blood and urine.”

You have to appreciate Thames’ attitude. The man is clearly enjoying his hot start and ride and not afraid to continue being tested. It’s hard to handle testing and scrutiny any better than that, especially when you have opponents openly questioning your results.

49ers could draft Leonard Fournette No. 2 overall?

Leonard Fournette

After selecting Rashard Robinson in the fourth round last year, the San Francisco 49ers may be drafting an LSU product for the second year in a row.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports on Tuesday that there is some “scuttlebutt in league circles” that the 49ers may select All-American running back Leonard Fournette with the No. 2 overall pick.

We heard recently that Fournette could be in play to go at least that high and that incumbent (and oft-injured) starting running back Carlos Hyde may not last much longer in San Francisco. The Niners are in desperate need of impact skill players wherever they can get them, and Fournette, who largely separated himself from the backfield pack with an impressive showing at the combine in February, may be the best option who fits that billing.

Russell Westbrook leaves court after losing series, no handshakes

Russell Westbrook exit

Russell Westbrook was not in the mood for postgame handshakes after his Oklahoma City Thunder lost Game 5 of their playoff series in Houston on Tuesday night.

The Thunder’s season came to an end with their 105-99 defeat to the Rockets in Game 5 of their series. TNT, which televised the game, showed Westbrook marching straight into the tunnel and off the court immediately following the defeat:

In contrast, some of his teammates like Steven Adams and Nick Collison were shown sticking around on the floor at Toyota Center, giving congratulations to the team that defeated them.

Given how competitive Westbrook is, it’s no surprise he wasn’t about to pass some warm congratulations on to his opponents. It’s that attitude that makes him so well liked by even the NBA’s hard-to-please retirees.

Don’t expect the Brodie to apologize for his lack of sportsmanship, either, as he has a very “you’re either with me or against me” personality.

Chris Coghlan goes airborne to avoid tag, scores run (Video)

Chris Coghlan

Chris Coghlan went full Willie Mays Hayes to score a run for the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Coghlan walked with one out in the 7th inning of Toronto’s clash with the Cardinals. Kevin Pillar drove a ball to deep right off the wall, which had Coghlan motoring around the bases.

By the time he got towards home, Yadier Molina was waiting as the throw from right was up the line. Coghlan was thinking quickly and decided to dive over the catcher to avoid the tag. It was glorious:

Here’s the full highlight video:

That made it 3-2 Toronto. What a way to score a run.

And here’s the video of Hayes:

5 players making a mistake by leaving school early for NBA Draft

Nigel Williams Goss

It’s difficult to begrudge any young player who chooses to forego additional time playing as an amateur when they could cash in on their talents by heading to the pros. Judging the financial standing of any young man or the motivation behind his decision to turn pro can get dicey.

Making the choice to begin playing professionally is a huge proposition, and the timing of that decision can have serious repercussions for the player’s chances to succeed as a pro and potentially affects their future career earnings.

Any player has the right to choose to use their skills to earn money, but some choose to cash out too soon and hurt themselves in the long run.

The new draft system allows players to test the waters and play out the draft process, receiving feedback if they don’t hire an agent. Some players forego that safety and hire an agent right away, jeopardizing their career before it even starts.

Here’s a look at five players who are making a mistake by leaving school early.

1. Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga

Players can often misinterpret a run through March Madness as a rise in their draft stock. Williams-Goss may be doing just that.

He was excellent for the Zags this season, earning first-team All-American honors. The point guard showed himself to be a lockdown defender, floor general, and capable shooter after transferring from Washington.

Projecting those skills to the next level, however, can be tough. Williams-Goss’ defense could diminish, since he doesn’t have true NBA size or speed. He shot 36 percent from the college three-point line, but rarely showed NBA range.

Williams-Goss will likely hear his name called during the second round of June draft. Had he returned to Spokane, bulked up his body and refined his shot, we may have seen him as a first-round pick in 2018.

2. Dillon Brooks, Oregon

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