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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Chris Paul denies making trade demand to Rockets

Chris Paul

Chris Paul has denied that he made a trade demand to the Houston Rockets, contrary to what was reported on Tuesday.

Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill reported Tuesday that the relationship between CP3 and James Harden is “unsalvageable” and that CP3 demanded a trade. Bleacher Report posted about the report on Instagram, and the Rockets point guard responded in a comment saying “Damn! That’s news to me.”

A screenshot of the Instagram post and Paul’s comment are included in this tweet:

Even if the report that Paul demanded a trade is inaccurate, there have been a series of reports over the past month saying that CP3 and Harden are clashing. One report even said the Rockets have looked into trading Paul.

If they are able to find a taker — which appears to be the biggest challenge given Paul’s age and contract status (3 years/$124 million left) — the Rockets would probably give strong consideration to making a move.

Brett Favre says Instagram was hacked for comeback post

Brett Favre HOF speech

Brett Favre is not actually making an NFL comeback, contrary to one of his Instagram posts.

A post to Favre’s Instagram account on Tuesday teased an NFL comeback and had social media buzzing, but his team says the account was just hacked, according to TMZ Sports.

The posted photo showed Favre being interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after Super Bowl XXXI and said in the caption: “A true champion sticks to his or her calling. I will be coming out of retirement and making my return to play in the NFL for the 2020 season.”

The post has since been deleted.

Favre, 49, is infamous for coming out of retirement multiple times to extend his NFL career. He last played for the Vikings in 2010 when he was 41. In 2009, he led the team to a 12-4 record and the conference championship game despite being 40 years old. He played through a concussion in that game. As recently as 2015, Favre maintained that he could still play in the NFL.

A three-time NFL MVP and one-time Super Bowl champion, Favre was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

Chris Paul reportedly demanded a trade because of issues with James Harden

Chris Paul Rockets

Stories about the relationship between Chris Paul and James Harden souring have been percolating the last month or so, and now it seems to have hit its peak.

Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill reported on Tuesday that Paul demanded a trade from the Houston Rockets over his issues with Harden, while Harden told Houston to pick between them following the team’s loss to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. This report is not surprising given that the two players reportedly had a blowout in the locker room after the Game 6 loss to Golden State in May. On top of that, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported on Monday that Paul and Harden have clashed over their personalities and playing styles.

Goodwill’s reporting takes everything a step further. He says the two players went nearly two months without speaking during the season. He adds that Harden has not responded to Paul’s messages to reach out over the offseason.

Paul is said to be upset with Harden’s ball-dominant playing style, while Harden is annoyed with CP3’s injuries and personality.

The Rockets would seemingly be extraordinarily unlikely to consider trading Harden, the 2017-2018 NBA MVP. They would probably be motivated to move Paul, but his contract would be a major hurdle in trading him. He is 34 years old, has a history of chronic hamstring injuries, and is owed $124 million over the next three years. The Rockets reportedly have had some preliminary talks about trading Paul.

Contrary to the news report, Paul posted on Instagram to deny making the demand.

Matthew Stafford reportedly played last season with broken back

Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford experienced a down season last year by his standards, and a significant injury may have had a lot to do with it.

Appearing on his weekly podcast with WJR’s Ken Brown, Detroit Lions writer Mike O’Hara said Stafford had a broken back last year and was playing with broken bones in his back.

“He had a broken back last year,” O’Hara said. “Broken bones in his back.”

Stafford was listed on the injury report with a back injury after taking 11 hits against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13. The Detroit Lions quarterback played through it and did not miss a game — his eighth straight season playing in all 16 games. He faced criticism last season but tried to stay above it and did.

Stafford passed for 3,777, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. The yards were his lowest mark since 2010 and the touchdowns were his lowest since 2012. On top of his injuries, the Lions also traded away one of his best receiving weapons.

Rays prospect Chris Betts celebrates Home Run Derby win with huge bat throw

Chris Betts

Tampa Bay Rays prospect Chris Betts won a Home Run Derby contest on Monday and celebrated with a massive bat throw.

Betts was going up against Alek Thomas in the Midwest League Home Run Derby. They were tied at seven when Betts launched a homer to win it and celebrated by chucking his bat.

He might have gotten more distance on the bat throw than the actual home run.

Betts seems to view himself as a trendsetter:

Betts, a second-round pick by the Rays in 2015, did not hit his first minor league home run until 2018, going his first 42 games (over two seasons) without hitting one. This year he has 12 for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Single-A.

Report: Cavs had large group attend Darius Garland workout

Darius Garland

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have serious interest in Darius Garland as the NBA Draft approaches.

The Cavaliers are picking No. 5 in the draft. Zion Williamson is expected to go No. 1 overall, while Ja Morant and RJ Barrett are in contention to go over the next two picks. Garland is among the players believed to be in the mix to go No. 4 or around that range — prime for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto said in an article published on Monday that the Cavaliers had at least five people at a private workout for Garland over the weekend in Los Angeles. He concluded his article saying he thinks “something is up” between the Cavs and Garland.

Another item connecting the Cavs and Garland has to do with the former Vanderbilt player’s agent. Garland is represented by Klutch Sports, the agency that represents former Cav LeBron James and current Cavs JR Smith and Tristan Thompson.

Garland only played in five games this season as a freshman for Vandy before injuring his knee. He averaged 16.2 points per game and is said to be recovered from surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Pablo Sandoval leaves game after being spiked by Max Muncy

Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval left Monday night’s San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers after being spiked by Max Muncy.

Muncy was batting with two on and two outs in the bottom of the fifth and grounded a ball up the middle. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was pulled to the second base side of the bag and spun before throwing. His throw went up the first base line, causing Sandoval to dive for it while keeping his foot on the bag.

Sandoval’s right hand was on the ground and exposed in the basepath and ended up stepped on by Muncy. He grabbed his hand immediately and went down to his knee as he called the trainer out.

Sandoval was due to lead off the top of the sixth but was replaced by a pinch hitter. He was 1-for-2 prior to exiting the game.

Despite seemingly being on the roster bubble in spring training, Sandoval leads the Giants in batting average and slugging percentage and is tied for the team lead in doubles and home runs this season.

Draymond Green refutes report saying he was in New York to recruit Kevin Durant

Draymond Green called out a report for saying he was in New York over the weekend to recruit teammate Kevin Durant.

The New York Post’s Marc Berman published an article on Saturday saying Green had flown to New York to visit Durant, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. The article made it seem as if Green’s purpose for the trip was to recruit KD, who has been his teammate on the Golden State Warriors the last three seasons.

Green addressed the report in an Instagram comment, saying he was in New York for an engagement party.

The Post’s article even said Green had arrived in New York with his fiancee and kids — hardly the crowd you would expect someone to bring for a business trip. The article also seemed to frame Green’s trip as a repeat of 2016 when Green recruited Durant immediately after losing to the Cavaliers in Game 7. Warriors players were recruiting Durant all season, with Green leading the way, and their efforts paid off.

Durant has a player option for next season that he can decline to become a free agent. At least one other team is reportedly prepared to offer him a max contract despite his surgery.