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Thursday, June 4, 2020

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Details of NBA’s proposed playoff format, play-in tournament revealed

The NBA is inching closer to finalizing a plan for the resumption of the 2019-20 season. NBA commissioner Adam Silver will hold a conference call with the league’s Board of Governors on Thursday in which a 22-team return will be proposed, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The plan is to hold games at…Read More

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Cardinals’ Jack Flaherty takes shot at Rob Manfred’s ‘paycut’

Jack Flaherty

MLB and the players are in a labor dispute over compensation for a shortened season, and at least one player pointed out some hypocrisy coming from the side of the league.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty responded to a proposal from former MLB pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who suggested MLB play a season of 70-82 games and expand the playoffs. Flaherty took some shots at MLB in response, saying that the league was more concerned with cutting the pay of minor leaguers and other players taking pay cuts.

Flaherty pointed out that MLB’s sliding scale pay cut proposal would cut the pay of top earners like Mike Trout by around 70 percent. By comparison, he encouraged people to check what MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s pay cut is.

According to what ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted in April, Manfred and other senior staffers at MLB are taking pay cuts of around 35 percent on average.

It just seems flat-out wrong to ask other highly-paid people to take significantly larger pay cuts than what senior league staffers are taking. That is the point Flaherty is making.

Flaherty, 24, was fourth in NL Cy Young voting last season and led the league with a 0.968 WHIP.

Jonathan Vilma leaves ESPN, will likely team with Kenny Albert on FOX

Jonathan Vilma

Jonathan Vilma is leaving ESPN for an opportunity with FOX.

The former Pro Bowl linebacker will become an NFL game analyst for FOX and likely team with Kenny Albert, according to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand. Vilma would be replacing Ronde Barber as Albert’s partner on games; Barber’s contract was not renewed.

Vilma appeared on ABC as part of their college football pregame coverage and also appeared on ESPN shows such as “Get Up.”

Vilma, 38, was a three-time Pro Bowler during his 10-year NFL career. He played six seasons for the New Orleans Saints and four for the New York Jets. He was suspended for a portion of the 2012 NFL season due to the bountygate controversy.

FOX is still looking for a partner for No. 2 announcer Kevin Burkhardt after Charles Davis left for CBS.

Magic’s Jonathan Isaac says he could return from injury when play resumes

The Orlando Magic will already get a boost from the NBA hosting the restart of play in their city, and they could ultimately be getting another one too.

Appearing this week on “The Full 48” podcast with Howard Beck, Magic big man Jonathan Isaac spoke on the planned resumption of the season in Orlando as well as his chances of returning for it.

“I love it, I love the idea of having it in Orlando,” said Isaac. “We’re right here, and it will kind of be like a little homecourt for us, and our families don’t to travel that far. So that’s fun, that’s great.

“For me when it comes to having the season resume, my thing is just I’m thinking of the timing,” Isaac went on. “So I’m rehabbing every day, trying to get back, I’m just saying in my mind, ‘Look I’ll take it day by day.’ And if this thing, it just comes by at the right time with me being ready to go, I’m excited. I might get a chance to come back and play.”

Isaac, 22, was having the best season of his career, averaging 12.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game. But he suffered a severe sprain and bone bruise in his left knee during a game in January and was expected to miss the rest of the season, such that the Magic applied for a Disabled Player Exception for him.

With play now expected to resume on July 31, Isaac would be roughly seven months removed from his injury at that point. The Magic, who were the No. 8 seed in the East when the season was suspended, may have a very interesting competition structure ahead of them. But the potential return of Isaac, an already-elite defensive player, would obviously be a big plus for them.

Titans OC hints at Derrick Henry seeing reduced workload

Derrick Henry Titans

Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing last season, but he may have less of an opportunity to do so again next season.

Speaking with the media Wednesday, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith hinted at a lighter workload for the star running back. Smith said that Henry’s touches would depend on how the game flow goes and that having “more guys [that] are touching the ball” would probably be better for the offense, per Michael Giardi of NFL Network.

Henry, 26, logged 303 rushing attempts for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019, all tops in the league. The Titans used their third-round pick on running back Darrynton Evans in this year’s draft however and also brought in more backfield depth this offseason in signing Senorise Perry.

The Pro Bowler Henry will be on the $10.2 million franchise tender for next season. But with the possibility of a much bigger payday looming, it will be interesting to see how the Titans manage to balance all of those concerns.

ASU punter Michael Turk receives historic waiver from NCAA

Arizona State logo

The NCAA granted a first of its kind waiver.

Punter Michael Turk has been allowed to return to Arizona State with two years left of college eligibility even though he declared for the NFL Draft and signed with an agent. Turk participated in the NFL scouting combine and turned heads for his impressive work in the bench press, but that still didn’t help him get drafted.

Arizona State petitioned the NCAA for a waiver, citing Arizona State’s Pro Day being canceled due to the pandemic, and the inability of NFL teams to meet with players.

These were once-in-a-life circumstances, which have yielded a first ever waiver of its kind from the NCAA. Given the organization’s seemingly punitive history, seeing this granted is a surprise.

Turk was a first-team all conference punter last season for Arizona State. He still has two years of eligibility left because he began his career at Lafayette College and sat out the 2018 season after transferring.

Here was Turk’s video message on the subject.

Pat Dye buried under tree grown from Toomer’s Corner trimmings

Pat Dye

Pat Dye died on Monday at the age of 80, and the late former Auburn head coach had a very special burial.

Loran Smith of the Athens Banner-Herald published an article on Wednesday saying that Dye was buried at his farm in Notasulga, Alabama. Dye was buried wearing a white shroud and under a tree he was growing.

The tree was grown from trimmings of the famous oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, which were infamously poisoned in 2010 by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke. Dye spent six years tending to the tree and was able to grow it to about 15 feet, according to the article.

Auburn fans cherish Toomer’s Corner as a symbol of pride and victory; fans developed a tradition of rolling the trees with toilet paper after wins.

Only Ralph Jordan led Auburn’s football team to more wins than Dye, so being buried under a tree representing the famous corner is a fitting place for the late coach.

Report: Some teams planning for John Wall to return when season resumes

John Wall

With the Washington Wizards getting an invite to the NBA’s restart in Orlando, some opposing teams are already game-planning ahead for them.

Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reported on Wednesday that some Eastern Conference teams are planning as if Wizards guard John Wall may return to the court when play resumes. Begley does note though that both Wall and the Wizards have said that he will not return in 2019-20.

Wall, who has not played since Dec. 2018, recently offered a bold statement about his health. The five-time All-Star would provide an immediate jolt to Washington, who went 24-40 this season in his absence.

Jumping straight into a high-intensity play-in tournament (which is what it sounds like could happen for the Wizards) is a different story entirely though. Still, it can’t hurt for the competition to be prepared for anything.

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