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Friday, February 22, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

LeBron James backs Colin Kaepernick after NFL settlement

LeBron James

LeBron James is one of the most powerful voices in sports, and he’s not afraid to speak about social issues, so it’s no real surprise to hear him back Colin Kaepernick.

James weighed in on Kaepernick’s NFL settlement Saturday morning, and said that many of his critics and detractors weren’t paying attention to the real message he was trying to send.

Kaepernick has found wide support in the NBA community. It’s not at all surprising that James would back him and not be afraid to speak publicly about it.

Kaepernick settled his collusion case against the NFL on Friday, with rumors indicating he got a huge sum from the league. Unfortunately, we’ll likely never know the extent of what might have turned up in said case.

Cubs pitcher Brad Brach gives strange account of free agency experience

Chicago Cubs logo

Free agency has been a very difficult slog for a lot of Major League Baseball players, and Brad Brach was one of them.

Brach, a reliever with a 3.08 career ERA, didn’t sign on with the Chicago Cubs until February 11. On Friday, he peeled back the curtain on his free agency experience, and it said a lot about why some guys took so long to be signed — and others still aren’t signed at all.

It’s great fodder for those who believe that there’s some sort of ownership-level collusion going on in baseball. While it doesn’t seem that Brach is accusing anyone of anything untoward, it’s pretty clear that front offices have changed their thinking on spending in recent years, for whatever reason. One player thinks that thinking is going to have major consequences sooner rather than later.

Brian Flores confident he can break negative history of Belichick coaching tree

Brian Flores

The Bill Belichick coaching tree has not been a very successful one, as numerous New England Patriots assistants have flopped as head coaches elsewhere. Brian Flores is confident that he’ll be different.

Flores, previously the Patriots’ defensive playcaller, is now the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and he’s confident he can succeed where other Belichick assistants have failed.

“I’m my own man. I’m Brian Flores,” Flores said, via ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “I learned a lot from Bill, but I’ll also be different than Bill. I’ll put my own style on how we do things here.”

Flores spoke highly of the famous “Patriot Way,” but sounded willing to deviate it when the situation requires.

“The core values, the core beliefs, the principles — there will be some similarities, for sure. But I have my own unique coaching style,” Flores said. “Just like some players need a pat on the back, some players need to get yelled at. Every team is a little bit different every year. We’ve got to be versatile as a staff. We’ve got to be versatile as a team. And if we can do that, I’ll think we’ll have success.”

Flores is the ninth Belichick assistant to become a head coach, and the fifth to be hired directly from the Patriots. The other four all have losing records as head coaches, and only Eric Mangini managed to guide a team to a playoff berth in his first season with the New York Jets. Miami targeted Flores early, so they’re clearly confident that he’ll take a different path and be different from the other hires that didn’t work out so well.

Alvin Gentry reportedly learned Anthony Davis left arena from media

Alvin Gentry

The New Orleans Pelicans organization continues to look worse and worse as the Anthony Davis saga rolls on.

Davis and agent Rich Paul left Thursday night’s game early, walking out after the star center suffered a shoulder injury in the first half. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, it was communicated to the front office that he was leaving to get an MRI, but coach Alvin Gentry only found out about the incident after the game via the media.

On Friday, the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps, partially because of the fallout from this incident. It’s been said that the organization is happy with how Gentry is handling the team amidst the chaos, and you can see why, since it seems like some people haven’t bothered to keep him in the loop. No wonder he had a pretty scathing assessment of everything going on.

Report: Anthony Davis, Pelicans re-evaluating plan for playing time

Anthony Davis wingspan

The saga over Anthony Davis’s playing time may not be over yet.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Davis and the Pelicans are re-evaluating the best way to handle the center’s playing time following the All-Star break. This comes in light of the fact that the Pelicans have been limiting his minutes and sitting him late in games after being admonished by the NBA over the possibility of sitting him completely to protect him.

The situation has been exacerbated after Davis walked out of Thursday’s game early after suffering a shoulder injury, which angered and embarrassed ownership.

It is unclear what changes, if any, the Pelicans and Davis will opt to make to his minutes. Neither side can really be enjoying the current situation, but the threat of potential punishment looms if the Pelicans opt to bench Davis for an extended period of time.

Phillies president explains why team has not landed Harper or Machado

Phillies logo

The Philadelphia Phillies made no secret of the fact that they planned to be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason. They have done so, but neither of them have signed with the Phillies as of the start of spring training.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail answered for that on Friday, noting that negotiations were a two-way street and that the team had still improved this offseason.

The Phillies are still in, but MacPhail makes it sound like neither player they’re targeting is ready to make a decision. In Harper’s case, there’s the complicating factor of a division rival watching proceedings closely. The Phillies are still interested, but they’re just not there yet.

NFL reportedly allowing uninvited Combine prospects to travel to Indianapolis

Three draft prospects uninvited from the NFL Combine will still get the chance to be in town for NFL teams interested in them.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Jaylon Ferguson, Jeffery Simmons, and Preston Williams, all removed from the Combine for previous off-field issues, will still get to go to Indianapolis and undergo the same medical evaluations that other prospects will. They will not, however, get the opportunity to work out or participate in other events.

In other words, all three players will get full medical evaluations, but that’s basically it. The inability to work out is a big deal, and it’s why one of the player agents was so upset over his client’s Combine invite being rescinded.

Report: NFL officials believe Colin Kaepernick settlement was in $60-$80 million range

Colin Kaepernick

The biggest question many had after learning of Colin Kaepernick’s settlement with the NFL was what the league gave him to put the entire thing behind them. While we still don’t know for sure, we appear to have our first guess.

According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, NFL officials believe the league paid out something between $60 million and $80 million as part of the settlement.

We may never know for sure, as a confidentiality agreement is part of the settlement, which was announced Friday. It’s also possible that there were other non-financial stipulations either side agreed to. That said, if these numbers are correct, it’s a pretty clear signal that the NFL really didn’t want to go to discovery. If they weren’t scared of losing the case, they were, at minimum, clearly concerned that damaging or embarrassing revelations could be made public as proceedings continued.

The big question is what Kaepernick’s incentive was to settle. Obviously his financial payout may have been huge, but he may have had a chance to win his case, or at least shed some light on some of the league practices he seemed interested in exposing. With the confidentiality agreement, the latter will not happen now.