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Monday, July 22, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Mike Leach likes tweet about Texas Tech’s struggles since his firing

Mike Leach

Mike Leach is arguably Texas Tech’s most successful football coach in the last half century. His Red Raiders finished as the joint leader of the Big 12 South in 2008, the only time the school could stake a claim to anything resembling a conference title since 1976. That year, he led the team to an 11-2 record, only to be fired a year later under controversial circumstances.

Leach clearly has not forgotten his dismissal from Texas Tech, and still harbors some hard feelings. He made that clear Monday, when he liked a tweet that outlined the Red Raiders’ football program’s extensive struggles both before and after Leach’s tenure.

Leach has proven his worth since then, reviving a moribund Washington State program and finishing in the top ten nationally in 2018. It came after Texas Tech let him go over allegations that he mistreated Adam James, the son of former SMU star Craig James. Leach made clear how he feels about James last year, and this seems to be an indication of how he feels about Texas Tech. It’s fair to say he’s ended up with the last laugh.

Cavaliers officially waive JR Smith after failing to find trade partner

JR Smith

JR Smith’s Cleveland Cavaliers tenure is over.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Cavaliers officially waived Smith at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, having tried and failed to find a trade partner before reaching that point.

The Cavaliers did everything they could to try to trade Smith, right down to getting him to postpone his guarantee date to try to make a move happen. No matter what Cleveland did, nothing materialized.

Smith will now be free to sign with any team he wants. He barely played last season, and was not in Cleveland’s plans going forward.

Warriors GM downplays chance of trading D’Angelo Russell

There was widespread speculation that the Golden State Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell with the intent of eventually trading him, but GM Bob Myers won’t be pushing that angle.

Myers said Monday that the Warriors did not acquire Russell with the intention of dealing hi, which Golden State couldn’t even do until December 15.

Myers isn’t going to outright put Russell on the trade block right now. The Warriors will need him as long as Klay Thompson is hurt, and if he hits in well with the team, there’s almost certainly no aversion to keeping him around long-term. If he doesn’t fit in, it probably bears watching what the Warriors may do with him next summer.

Tom Brady trolls fan who is critical of his Madden speed rating

Tom Brady

Don’t question Tom Brady’s Madden rating unless you’re prepared to hear from the man himself.

The New England Patriots quarterback was given a 96 overall rating in Madden NFL 20, it was announced Monday. That raised the ire of one fan, whose argument against that rating was primarily based on Brady’s lack of speed. It even ended with the infamous fan boast that even he could outrun Brady if given the chance.

Brady picked that precise moment to weigh in himself, with a very simple retort.

Later, Brady posted a hilarious follow-up that he joked was definitely not photoshopped.

Matt took things in stride after Brady’s reply.

Perhaps the most amusing part? Brady recently clocked in with a faster 40 time than the one he posted at the NFL Combine 19 years ago. The man is a physical freak. Matt probably shouldn’t underestimate him.

Lincoln Riley: Oklahoma offense won’t dip even without Kyler Murray

Lincoln Riley

The Oklahoma Sooners have had back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback, so it would only be logical to expect the offense to dip a bit. Lincoln Riley does not believe that will be the case, though.

Riley said he doesn’t anticipate any regression from the Oklahoma offense in 2019, adding that he expects the defense to improve as well.

We shouldn’t expect Riley to say anything negative about his offense publicly. Plus, he has an experienced quarterback in Jalen Hurts waiting to follow up Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, though Hurts will have to win the job in a competition.

The Sooners led the nation in scoring last year with 48.4 points per game. That will be a tough act to follow no matter who’s under center, but Riley isn’t backing down from the challenge.

Ben Simmons agrees to max extension with 76ers

Ben Simmons

As has been widely expected, Ben Simmons has agreed to a max contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons’ agent Rich Paul told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Simmons has agreed to the five-year, $170 million max deal he was eligible for, locking him down in Philadelphia long-term.

This had been a formality for roughly two weeks and maybe even longer. Simmons is a key part of the Sixers’ future and they’ve planned around him becoming one of their go-to players.

Simmons turns 23 next week. He’s coming off a season which saw him average 17.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.1 assists as the Sixers came frustratingly close to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

Alex Smith has leg brace removed eight months after injury

Alex Smith

Alex Smith took a step toward recovering from his catastrophic leg injury with the removal of a brace on Monday.

Smith’s wife posted a picture to Instagram of the Washington Redskins quarterback holding up his complex leg brace, adding in a caption that it was a “big milestone” in his recovery.

The next step in Smith’s rehab is unclear. He has previously said that he is essentially having to relearn how to use his leg to run and move, which is a major obstacle for an NFL quarterback.

Smith suffered the gruesome leg injury last Nov. 18. He is hopeful of playing again, though almost certainly not in 2019, and his coach sounds optimistic that he will. He has a long way to go, though, and no guarantees.

Report: ‘No appetite’ among teams to take on final year of Chris Paul deal

Chris Paul Rockets

The Oklahoma City Thunder are having a very hard time finding anyone to take Chris Paul’s contract off their hands.

According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, based on conversations with NBA general manager, there is “almost no appetite” around the league to touch Paul’s contract, particularly the $44 million player option in 2021-22. Paul will be 37 years old by the time that deal expires.

The Thunder are running into the same problem the Houston Rockets had: Paul’s contract is nearly untradeable unless the pot is sweetened with extra picks. That runs counter to what Oklahoma City is trying to do, which is stockpile future first-round selections in order to strengthen their rebuild. Ultimately, they’re reportedly open to keeping the point guard, largely because, at this point, they may have no other choice.