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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Watch: Richard Jefferson had great trash talk for Celtics fans

Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson had some great trash talk for Boston Celtics fans.

The former longtime NBA veteran is now calling games on TV for the Brooklyn Nets. Prior to Monday’s game between the Celtics and Nets in Brooklyn, Jefferson took a moment to address some Boston fans. He paid them respect before dropping the mic on them.

4-0 in the playoffs against the Celtics! Based on LBS research, he was actually 3-0 against them, but that’s still impressive. The first two series wins came in Jefferson’s first two seasons in the league when he was with the Nets. The last came two years ago with the Cavaliers.

Jefferson is a funny dude, and he’s proven to be a good storyteller as well.

Report: Phillies have visions of signing Harper, Keuchel, Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

The Philadelphia Phillies have figured prominently in offseason matters, and they may not be close to done.

We know the Phillies have been linked to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado for the past several months, with some talk indicating their thoughts have shifted towards Harper. But according to one report, they have their eyes on what would be one of the biggest offseasons ever.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says the Phillies have visions of signing Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel.

Signing all three players would be one heck of an offseason.

Being offseason champions does not translate to guaranteed championship, but if the Phillies added all three players, they would be firmly in the mix for the NL pennant. Many teams are intentionally not spending this offseason, which has created a buyer’s market. If the Phillies are going to go big, this would be the offseason to do it.

Philly has already signed Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson, while adding Jean Segura in a trade. Adding Harper, Keuchel and Kimbrel on top of that could result in $600 or so million in new payroll commitments, which is crazy, especially if they also have their eyes on another future prize.

Report: Mike Trout contract extension now with Angels is unlikely

Mike Trout

The Los Angeles Angels are not just worried about trying to win, they’re also concerned about the situation surrounding Mike Trout.

Their standout center fielder is signed through the 2020 season and set to become a free agent after that. Talking in the context of the Philadelphia Phillies’ plans, MLB reporter Jon Heyman said on Tuesday that the Phillies will make a big play for Trout when he becomes a free agent. He added a significant note in his tweet, saying an “extension now is unlikely” for Trout.

There was talk during last season that the Angels would try to sign Trout long term, so maybe there is no movement on that front.

You can’t really blame Trout.

The Angels have missed the playoffs four years in a row and have only reached them once in his career. They need to show a major turnaround to convince Trout to stay. Luckily they have some time to do that, though the clock is ticking.

Jaylen Brown not happy with Kyrie Irving over comments

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown is not happy with Kyrie Irving over the point guard’s comments on Saturday.

Irving was frustrated with how the Celtics’ final play went in a 2-point loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. He was seen telling Gordon Hayward that Hayward made the wrong play. Then after the game, Irving was critical of the team’s young players, saying they don’t know what it takes to win a championship.

“The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team. What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?” Irving said. “There were no expectations last year. Everyone played free and easy. Everyone surpassed whatever they expected for themselves. This year? We all have high expectations. The players, the coaches, everyone. And that’s good, but we aren’t doing it yet. We can get there. We’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better. We need to win these games on the road. That’s on me as a leader. I need to be a better leader and to help get us there.”

Irving tried to address things on Monday, saying he doesn’t want to call out his teammates in public. The damage was already done though. Jaylen Brown said after Boston’s loss to the Nets on Monday that the team can’t point fingers.

On the other hand, Jayson Tatum did not seem too bothered, saying Irving was being “brutally honest” and wasn’t picking on anyone specifically.

Here’s the thing: If Irving is going to say something like that, then he better back things up with MVP-level play. And rather than cower in response, the young players need to step up and prove Irving wrong.

Adam Gase gets meme treatment for odd eyes, face movements

Adam Gase eyes

Adam Gase’s introductory press conference with the New York Jets was memorable, but probably not for a great reason.

As Gase headed to the podium and sat down at a table, his eyes widened and started darting around. He continued that sort of odd behavior with his eyes during some responses throughout the press conference and became a meme in no time.

Take a look at some of the memes and captions:

How did Gase manage to coach the Miami Dolphins for so long without any of this behavior becoming public? His behavior was so odd that it overshadowed a bananas quote he offered.

USC loses top RB recruit Jordan Wilmore

USC Trojans

USC has lost one of their top running back recruits for the 2019 class.

Jordan Wilmore announced on Twitter Monday that he was decommitting from the school.

“I would like to thank the God because none of this would be possible without him. I’d like to thank the previous staff and current staff for recruiting me. But I would like to announce that I am DECOMMITING from the University of Southern California today and opening up my recruiting. God bless and have a great evening,” Wilmore wrote in a note shared on Twitter.

Wilmore is rated as a four-star prospect by 247 Sports. The Lawndale (Calif.) product’s decommitment comes days after he received a scholarship offer from UCLA. USC reporter Scott Wolf says Wilmore is expected to sign with UCLA or Utah.

Wilmore had been committed to the Trojans since August but did not sign with them on the early National Signing Day in December. USC already has Kenan Christon set to join the program as a running back from the 2019 class.

Bears coach not ruling out signing Kareem Hunt

Kareem Hunt

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy sounds like he’s priming fans for a potential signing of Kareem Hunt.

The Bears coach told the media on Monday that he talked with Hunt recently.

“I talked to Kareem, completely wanting to know how he’s doing,” Nagy said at his season-ending press conference. “We had a good conversation. … The only thing I cared about when I talked to him was literally his personal life, how he’s doing. It was a good conversation. He sounded good. But that’s it. The other stuff, that’s not where it’s at. There’s more to it than the football, so we talked strictly on that.”

Nagy was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City during Hunt’s rookie season. They have a relationship that goes beyond football, which is why their conversation did not focus on that.

Hunt has not played since TMZ Sports published a video on Dec. 1 that showed Hunt getting physical with a woman during an incident at his apartment complex. He was cut by the Chiefs that day and placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

The second-year running back remains on the list as the league decides on his eventual discipline. They will consider three incidents when evaluating his case: Hunt was accused of attacking a man at a club in January; he was accused of punching a man in June; and the incident with the woman.

Nagy says he believes in second chances but not third chances. Maybe if it were just one incident, that would be a second chance situation. But the three accusations seem to indicate a pattern for the running back.

Whatever the case, Bears GM Ryan Pace doesn’t want anyone jumping the gun.

“We’re not even there yet,” Pace said. “I mean, I know what he is as a player obviously from watching. Matt knows more about him as a person. We’re not even close to that point.”

Mavericks reportedly trying hard to trade Dennis Smith Jr

Dennis Smith

The Dallas Mavericks are shifting the focus of their franchise from one youngster to another.

As Luka Doncic has come in and taken over the team, Dennis Smith Jr has been moved to a new role, and it’s one that’s not working as well. That has led the Mavericks to shop Smith in trade talks, with an urgency apparently escalating on that front.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon reported on Monday that the Mavs are ramping up their effort to trade Smith. They say Smith and coach Rick Carlisle have struggled to find common ground.

The Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns are said to be in active trade talks for Smith. Dallas has also apparently explored the possibility of including Wes Matthews in trade talks.

Smith had a solid rookie season in which he averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 assists per game, but his numbers have dropped off this season to 12.6 points per game.