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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Johnny Cueto’s beloved horse died from eating poisonous grasshoppers

Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto shared the sad news on Instagram this week that his beloved horse Popeye had died. The death of his pet has affected the pitcher and was a topic of conversation at San Francisco Giants spring training on Thursday.

According to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, Cueto said that Popeye died from eating poisonous grasshoppers.

This isn’t the first time there has been a tragic death for one of Cueto’s horses. Back in 2016, his previous horse in the Dominic Republic, also named Popeye, died.

What a tough way for Cueto to enter the season.

Padres recently met with Manny Machado

Manny Machado

Manny Machado remains unsigned as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, but he still has interest from several clubs.

One team with interest is the San Diego Padres, who flew to Miami to meet with Machado within the past week, according the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee.

Whether the Padres have offered Machado a contract is unknown, but the NL West squad has interest in the infielder as well as Bryce Harper. Neither player appears close to signing with a team, with a former teammate sharing an ominous note about Harper’s status.

The Padres are establishing themselves as a team actually intent on building a competitive club, unlike many other teams across the league that are not trying to contend. They showed interest in JT Realmuto and continue to show interest in Machado and Harper. Whether they actually land an impact player is the big question.

Report: Saints planning to block Aaron Glenn from interviewing with Bengals

Saints logo

The Cincinnati Bengals continue to have rough luck with their defensive coordinator search.

The Bengals switched their attention to New Orleans Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn for the job, but NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says the Saints are planning to block him from interviewing.

Glenn, a former defensive back, has been the Saints’ defensive backs coach since 2016. Teams typically allow their coaches to interview for positions that are promotions, so this is odd.

Cincinnati also had interest in Saints current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen for the position but nothing materialized there. The Bengals lost out on Todd Grantham, who decided to remain at Florida rather than leave for Cincinnati.

Enes Kanter trolls Warriors in first post since joining Portland

Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter has wasted no time fitting in with his new team.

Kanter posted on Twitter Thursday, a day after signing with the Portland Trail Blazers. His post included a photo of him with referee Ken Mauer, whom he called “King of Portland.”

What’s the significance of the post? Mauer is the referee who ejected Steve Kerr from Wednesday night’s game, which proved to be a huge turning point that helped the Blazers beat Golden State.

Kanter knows how to troll with the best of them. And how to endear himself to his new city.

Markieff Morris reportedly agrees to sign with Thunder

Markieff Morris Wizards

The Oklahoma City Thunder are adding another piece for their playoff run.

The Thunder agreed to a deal with free agent Markieff Morris, as first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Morris was traded by the Wizards to the Pelicans ahead of the deadline last week. New Orleans quickly waived him, making him a free agent.

Morris is returning from a neck injury that has kept him out since January. He was recently cleared medically for a return.

The 29-year-old averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 34 games for the Wizards this season.

Astros GM confirms team agreed to trade for Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

Houston Astros fans are now thinking about what could have been.

Astros President and General Manager Jeff Luhnow confirmed on Thursday that the team had an agreement to acquire Bryce Harper in a trade prior to last year’s deadline.

The Washington Nationals made Harper available for trades last year and even placed him on revocable trade waivers. A November report said the Nats and Astros agreed to a trade that would have sent Harper to Houston for three prospects, but Nats ownership rejected it. On top of Houston, the Dodgers were another team that tried to acquire Harper in a trade.

Harper would have made for quite a rental for Houston, who ended up losing to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Harper remains unsigned as a free agent.

Watch: Steve Kerr goes nuts, gets ejected over flagrant foul call

Steve Kerr ejected

You don’t see this very often.

Steve Kerr was ejected from Wednesday night’s Golden State Warriors-Portland Trail Blazers game after losing his mind over a call.

Draymond Green fouled Zach Collins while trying to prevent a layup with Portland leading 110-103 and under four minutes remaining in the game. The referees decided to review the call and gave Green a flagrant foul for unnecessary physical contact. That decision led Kerr to lose his mind:

Kerr slammed down his board and could be seen telling official Ken Mauer the call was “f—ing bulls—.”

He was so livid that Kevin Durant had to direct the head coach away from the court to avoid further punishment.

The sequence of events helped push the game in Portland’s favor. They got five straight free throws thanks to the tech and flagrant foul calls, making all of them. Then they retained possession and made a 3-pointer to push their lead to 15.

Kerr is normally pretty composed, but when he loses his mind — usually about once a year — it becomes a show.

Mike D’Antoni calls out Rockets for lack of fire

Mike D'Antoni

The Houston Rockets are entering the All-Star break on a disappointing note after losing at Minnesota on Wednesday, leaving Mike D’Antoni irritated.

Houston lost to the Timberwolves 121-111, failing to close at the end despite making it a four-point game with under two minutes left. They also led at the half but fell behind in the second half.

Following the contest, D’Antoni upset with the team’s energy.

On Saturday, the Rockets blew a huge 26-point lead and lost to the Thunder, which is why D’Antoni is talking about his team’s inability to put teams away. That’s a bad trait to have for a team looking to get back to the conference finals — and advance even farther.