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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Matt LaFleur has had ‘good talks’ with Aaron Rodgers over audibles

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers raised some eyebrows earlier in the week when a seemingly critical quote about his freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage.

New coach Matt LaFleur’s offensive system, by default, grants a quarterback less freedom to make adjustments at the line. That did not seem to go over well with Rodgers, who has made a living of doing such things over the course of his career.

LaFleur told Michael Silver of NFL.com that he and Rodgers have had “good talks” about balancing Rodgers’ skills with his preferred offensive system, but they need to keep working on it.

“Aaron and I have had some good talks, and we’re going to have to talk a lot more — and one thing we have to work through is the audible thing,” LaFleur said. “We’re running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle (Shanahan) in Houston a decade ago, and we’ve never really had a quarterback who’s had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that’s not really the way the offense is set up. But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He’s had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?”

There have been reports — denied by Rodgers — that he actively undermined his previous coach. True or not, it gives an added layer of intrigue to stories like this and whether Rodgers can work well with another coach who has his own offensive philosophy.

Mets’ Brandon Nimmo seeking second opinion on neck injury

New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo is having major problems coming back from his neck injury.

Nimmo halted his rehab assignment on Friday due to neck soreness, and has now gone to Los Angeles in search of a second opinion on his ailing neck.

After something of a breakout season in 2018, the neck injury has wrecked Nimmo’s 2019. He was hitting just .200 with almost no power before going on the disabled list, and has not played since May 20. Coupled with a somewhat funny off-field fiasco this season, and it just hasn’t been a year Nimmo will want to remember.

Celtics reportedly could meet with Kyrie Irving before NBA Draft

Kyrie Irving

The Boston Celtics are looking to get clarity on Kyrie Irving’s future as quickly as possible.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Celtics will meet with Irving in the near future to discuss his plans for free agency. That meeting could come before the NBA Draft on Thursday.

Irving has unsurprisingly elected to opt out of his current deal, and the two sides will want to know each other’s thinking before free agency officially begins on June 30.

This will end up being a big moment in Boston’s offseason. The franchise is stuck at a crossroads right now while waiting for Irving’s decision. If he re-signs with the Celtics, they can make an aggressive run at a championship, but his departure would probably require them to refocus and build around their talented core of young players.

Right now, buzz has grown around Irving potentially signing with one potential East rival. The Celtics will definitely want some clarity on that as quickly as possible.

Report: Rockets have had preliminary talks about trading Chris Paul

Chris Paul Rockets

The Houston Rockets have at least looked into the possibility of trading Chris Paul, according to a report.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Monday that the Rockets have had preliminary conversations about dealing Paul. Those talks have centered around teams who would have the cap space to take on Paul’s hefty salary, with the Rockets still owing the point guard roughly $125 million over the next three years.

There is no indication over just how likely or realistic a Paul deal would be, though Houston’s public stance has been that Paul isn’t a trade candidate.

The news comes on the heels of reports that Paul and teammate James Harden clashed frequently this season. This may be a factor in talks, but more realistically, Paul is a 34-year-old on a big contract who isn’t even the team’s lead option. It may simply be a case of the Rockets believing they can make better use of that cap space if they could just unload his deal.

Magic president has harsh assessment of NBA GMs after Raptors’ title win

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors managed to claim an NBA championship without a single lottery pick on the roster, the first team to do so in the lottery era. To one team president, that’s an indictment of every other NBA general manager.

Orlando Magic president Jeff Weltman said Monday that the Raptors’ lottery-free title is a sign that he and his fellow GMs “need to do a better job” at identifying talent in the NBA Draft.

It may be a touch unfair. The Raptors used former lottery picks DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol, respectively. It also may prove something of a fluke — the league’s best players still overwhelmingly go in the lottery and are almost always a key component of a championship team. Sure, there are always hidden gems in the draft, but as this year has shown us, the lottery still rules the league.

Warriors congratulate Raptors in full page newspaper ad

Warriors logo

The Golden State Warriors pulled off a classy gesture in congratulating the Toronto Raptors on their NBA championship.

The Warriors took out a full page ad in Monday’s Toronto Star, offering their congratulations on the Raptors’ accomplishment.

The fact that the Warriors did this on the Raptors’ parade day is probably no coincidence, either. It’s a neat thing to do and a fine gesture from an organization that clearly has legitimate respect for the team that dethroned their dynasty. It’s also a sign that the Warriors are happy to move on from some of the fan-related controversies that popped up during the Finals.

Red Sox catcher proclaims team ‘back’ after sweep of Orioles

Red Sox logo

The Boston Red Sox have had a very uneven season, but one of their players thinks this weekend’s sweep of the Baltimore Orioles could mark a turning point.

Catcher Christian Vazquez celebrated the team’s three-game sweep in Baltimore by announcing to assembled reporters that the World Series winners are “back.”

A sweep is always a good thing, and it moved the Red Sox five games above .500, a new season high. Ultimately, though, the Orioles are one of baseball’s worst teams, and it’s tough to say whether this is an actual barometer of where Boston is at.

Red Sox fans have been in a panic since April over the team’s struggles, prompting the occasional response from the manager. They’re still 5.5 games back of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East, but Sunday’s win does move them into a tie for the second Wild Card spot.

White Sox reportedly call up top prospect Zack Collins

White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are continuing their youth movement.

According to Andy Slater of 640 The Hurricane, the White Sox are calling up 2016 first-round draft pick Zack Collins.

Collins, a catcher, ranked as a top 100 prospect before the season began. He hit .258 with nine home runs in 48 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season. While it’s unclear if he’ll stick as a catcher in the long-term, he’s there now, but it’s his power bat that is generally the most intriguing.

Collins may not be up for long, but he does join a rather exciting youth movement that includes Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, and Lucas Giolito. Things are looking up in Chicago.