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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Mookie Betts calls his current performance ‘unacceptable’

Mookie Betts

The Boston Red Sox continue to struggle in the early part of the season, and Mookie Betts is one player who has reflected that.

After Monday’s loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Betts is hitting just .222 with three home runs in 17 games. While far from the worst mark on the team, he is the reigning American League MVP, and he knows that he needs to pick up the slack, saying as much on Monday.

Betts has defended manager Alex Cora, who has been faced with criticism for the fact that the team is now 6-11. He is willing to firmly point the finger at himself and his teammates, but at some point, these players have to hit if things are going to turn around in Boston.

Blake Griffin pushing to play despite injured knee

Blake Griffin Pistons

Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin is a serious doubt for the remainder of the team’s first round series, but he does not want to sit out.

Griffin missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Milwaukee Bucks with a knee injury, and according to coach Dwane Casey, he’s pushing to play despite the advice of the medical staff.

We already know that Griffin would have played in the series opener if it was his decision. Ultimately, though, the Pistons are not going to overrule the medical staff, and as long as that remains the case, it is unlikely that we’ll see him on the floor in the series.

Kevin Durant apologizes for Game 1 ejection

Kevin Durant

It didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, but Kevin Durant was ejected from the Golden State Warriors’ Game 1 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

On Monday, Durant apologized for his actions, stating that he didn’t want to disappoint fans, teammates, and coaches who were relying on him, even if the Warriors had the game comfortably in hand at the time of his ejection.

Durant mixed it up a bit with Patrick Beverley of the Clippers, picking up two technicals in roughly 20 seconds. It didn’t matter in Game 1, but Beverley will likely try to continue to get under Durant’s skin, and he’ll have to keep his composure in the future.

LeBron James may take Charles Barkley up on analyst offer

LeBron James

LeBron James as a TNT playoff analyst? It could happen.

After Charles Barkley made a public plea for James to join the rest of the “Inside the NBA” crew for the playoffs, James issued a response on Twitter, and he sounds quite open to it.

James is a busy man, and if he wants to do it, TNT would have to work something out with his people. They’d probably do it, though, since James doing any type of TV work for the playoffs would be a huge draw for the network and would attract a lot of hype. This probably bears watching.

Kyle Lowry thinks he played the right way despite scoreless Game 1

Kyle Lowry

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was widely criticized for going scoreless in his team’s Game 1 loss to the Orlando Magic, but he’s trying to defend his performance.

Lowry thinks he played the right way despite his outing, noting that he really felt he simply needed to be more aggressive.

Lowry’s most visible contribution was probably wiping out Michael Carter-Williams. He can say what he wants, but the Raptors will be demanding more from a player who averaged 14.2 points per game this season.

Eli Manning expects Giants to add young quarterback

Eli Manning

Eli Manning appears to be fairly secure as the New York Giants’ starting quarterback for 2019, but he knows that his heir apparent could be just around the corner.

Manning admitted Monday that he anticipates that the Giants will add a young quarterback, likely through the NFL Draft, but it won’t change his focus on doing his job and winning games.

The Giants have done their due diligence with the draft’s top quarterbacks, but it seems more likely they’ll add one later in the draft, not early. Manning looks safe as the starter for this next season, but the 38-year-old won’t be around forever.

Yasiel Puig is eager to ‘beat my old teammates’

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig will make his first trip to Dodger Stadium since being traded on Monday, and it’s fair to say he’s feeling motivated.

Puig didn’t hide his desire to get a measure of revenge on his former team as the Cincinnati Reds visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for their series this week.

“We’re going to Los Angeles, and we need to be prepared to beat my old teammates,” Puig said, via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “It’s going to be a lot of people there [who have] been waiting for Puig, Matt Kemp, [Kyle] Farmer, and Alex Wood is not here, but everybody expects a lot and been waiting for us to go back. We’re excited to go back.”

Puig puts his ambitions right at the top. He thinks the Dodgers will end up missing him, and he’s certainly intent on proving that. The reception he gets from Dodgers fans after an up-and-down tenure filled with promise and unfulfilled potential will be intriguing.

Report: Russell Wilson will not sign new contract after deadline passes

Russell Wilson

With Russell Wilson’s contract deadline looming, things do not appear to be trending in the right direction for the Seattle Seahawks.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Wilson does not intend to sign a new contract this season if nothing gets done by the April 15 deadline. Such a scenario would likely lead to the Seahawks franchise tagging Wilson at the end of the season when his contract expires.

There is no indication that Wilson will skip training camp or any offseason activities if he doesn’t get a new deal. A trade is seen as unlikely due to a lack of suitors willing to pay Wilson what he is asking for, and getting a deal done with the Seahawks is viewed as “a challenge.”

It simply does not appear that the two sides are making any real progress in talks. It could set up an awkward season and an even more awkward offseason at this rate for the two sides.