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#pounditSunday, May 29, 2022

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Report: Teams making 1 demand in Russell Westbrook trade talks

Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook prior to the preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers want to trade Russell Westbrook this offseason, but that does not mean they are going to facilitate a deal by any means necessary.

Westbrook was not the player the Lakers hoped he would be when they acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the Washington Wizards. His shooting was erratic for much of the year, which resulted in him being benched multiple times by former head coach Frank Vogel. Because Westbrook was such a poor fit, teams that have interest in the star point guard are trying to get the Lakers to include a sweetener in any potential trade. L.A. may not be willing to do that.

According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, teams that are interested in Westbrook have told the Lakers they will only trade for him if they also get at least one first-round pick in return. The Lakers have said they are not going to agree to a deal like that.

Westbrook has a $47 million player option for next season. He will turn 34 in November. Teams are operating under the assumption that the Lakers are desperate to get rid of him, which makes sense. However, a recent report claimed the Lakers are not totally opposed to bringing Westbrook back. Buha says all of that talk is more than just posturing, as some within the franchise believe Westbrook could benefit from a new coach and better supporting cast.

The Lakers reportedly have one standing offer for Westbrook, but they have not pulled the trigger. It seems like they are willing to be patient, at the very least.

NFL reportedly exploring major change to Pro Bowl

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has explored numerous ways to make the Pro Bowl more interesting over the years, but none of them seem to work. After the 2022 edition of the game once again failed to generate excitement, the NFL may be ready to make a major change.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that NFL executives are discussing ways to improve the Pro Bowl. One idea that has been proposed is to eliminate the traditional game altogether in favor of something more entertaining. A flag football game is one possible solution.

If you follow LBS, you know that we proposed the flag football idea during the last Pro Bowl. There is no real contact in the game anyway, so why bother making players wear full pads?

The biggest issue with the Pro Bowl is that everything looks like a regular NFL game until the ball is snapped. The formations are the same and the players are dressed the same. Once the ball is in play, you realize you are watching something entirely different from an NFL game.

A 7-on-7 flag football tournament might be more interesting. There are 88 players in the Pro Bowl, so those players could be separated into different teams for a mini-tournament.

Obviously, the NFL knows it has to do something. The current Pro Bowl format simply is not cutting it.

CeeDee Lamb sued by trading card company

Oct 17, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) makes the catch and runs the ball for the game winning touchdown in overtime at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys star CeeDee Lamb is being sued by a trading card company.

According to a lawsuit that was obtained by Mike Fisher of Cowboys Country, trading card company Leaf Trading Cards is suing Lamb for an alleged breach of contract. The firm claims the wide receiver failed to honor a written agreement to autograph cards, which led to orders being left unfulfilled.

Leaf CEO Brian Gray issued a statement on Twitter after the lawsuit was filed.

Lamb appears to have signed some of the cards, but Leaf claims he did not fulfill his obligations. The company is seeking damages and attorney fees.

Lamb is in his third year with the Cowboys. He is expected to be their clear No. 1 wide receiver after they traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. Lamb had 79 catches for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns last season.

NFL insider offers prediction about Deebo Samuel situation

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) warms up before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Deebo Samuel has made it clear in a variety of ways that he is unhappy with the San Francisco 49ers, but at least one NFL insider believes the issues between the two sides can be resolved.

Ian Rapoport discussed the Samuel situation during his Monday appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” The NFL network reporter said there is “work that has to get done,” but he believes it is still possible that the 49ers will sign Samuel to a contract extension this offseason.

“I think they can get it settled,” Rapoport said. “I don’t believe it is settled right now. There’s a lot of work that has to be done. … Remember, he basically told them, ‘Don’t offer me a contract. I’m not going to take it. I want to be traded.’ There is some work that has to get done.”

When Samuel went public with his trade request last month, Rapoport reported that the star wide receiver’s discontent was about more than just money. Samuel apparently was not pleased with how he was used in San Francisco’s offense last season, despite his incredible production. Rapoport does not think that will be a deal-breaker.

“Kyle Shanahan is very charismatic and also very good at making sure football players are good at their jobs. He’s a great play designer, and he has helped Deebo Samuel become the dynamic weapon he has been,” the insider added. “So, I think they can get it worked out, but they are not there yet.”

The 49ers could have traded Samuel during the draft for at least one first-round pick and then some. They showed they are committed to keeping him by not entertaining offers. Samuel may have hinted recently that he is open to remaining in San Francisco. It remains to be seen if the Niners are willing to pay him before they have to.

Erik Spoelstra not happy about Payton Pritchard-Jimmy Butler play

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard tripped Jimmy Butler during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on a play that some felt was dirty. While Erik Spoelstra stopped short of placing that label on it, the Miami Heat coach clearly did not approve.

Butler left Game 3 on Saturday night with a knee injury late in the first half and did not return. Prior to his exit, he took an awkward fall after Pritchard grabbed him by the knee area and tripped him. You can see the video here.

Spoelstra was asked about the play ahead of Game 4 on Monday. He said “it was not a basketball play” and that he is unsure why Pritchard was not called for a flagrant foul. Spoelstra also said it is unclear if the trip contributed to Butler’s knee soreness.

Some people have compared the Pritchard grab to the controversial play that resulted in Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant getting hurt earlier in the postseason.

Butler is expected to play in Game 4.

Results of Dwayne Haskins autopsy, toxicology report released

Nov 14, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins (3) warms up before he game against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dwayne Haskins was drinking “heavily” and had drugs in his system before he was hit by a truck and killed last month in Florida, according to medical examiner reports.

The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office released the autopsy report from Haskins’ death on Monday. The toxicology report states that Haskins’ blood-alcohol content was roughly three times the legal limit, which is .08 in Florida. One blood sample that was collected from Haskins showed that his BAC was .20 while another sample registered .24.

A Pittsburgh Steelers team official told the Medical Examiner’s Office that Haskins went to dinner the night he died with a friend or cousin. The representative said the two later went to a “club, possibly in Miami,” according to documents reviewed by David Ovalle of the Miami Herald.

In addition to being under the influence of alcohol, Haskins also had ketamine and norktamine in his system. Those drugs are used as medical anesthetics but can also be used recreationally.

Haskins was “witnessed waving cars down on the shoulder” of I-595 before he was struck, the report states.

Investigators for the medical examiner’s office said a “female companion” was in Haskins’ car when he left it on the side of the road. Previous reports indicated the woman was intoxicated and passed out.

Haskins was less than a month away from his 25th birthday when he died. The former Rose Bowl MVP threw for 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 16 career NFL games. He spent his first two seasons with Washington and was entering his second season with the Steelers.

Video shows Ex-Broncos WR in fistfight with airport worker

Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Brendan Langley was arrested on Thursday following a physical altercation with an airport worker, and the fight was captured on video.

Langley, a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, was involved in an argument that turned violent with a United Airlines employee at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Both men threw swings at one another, though the footage did not show who started the altercation.

Police told TMZ that Langley was arrested and charged with simple assault. The United Airlines employee has not been arrested. You can see the video of the fight below, but beware that it contains cursing.

As you can see, the United Airlines employee was left bleeding heavily from above the eye. He continued to confront Langley even after taking multiple punches to the face and being knocked down. Langley claims the other man threw the first punch.

The Daily Mail reports that the argument began after Langley was accused of using a wheel chair to transport his luggage rather than paying the fee for a $5 luggage cart.

Langley played two seasons for the Broncos in 2017 and 2018. The former Lamar University star appeared in 16 games and played mostly on special teams. He was cut prior to the 2019 season. Langley signed with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders last year. He was still on the Stampeders’ roster as of Monday afternoon.

Report: Browns have offered to sweeten pot in Baker Mayfield trade talks

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest obstacles the Cleveland Browns have faced in trying to trade Baker Mayfield is the former first overall pick’s salary. They have apparently tried to address that issue, though they may need to try a bit harder.

Mayfield is owed $18.8 million in 2022 as a result of the Browns picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract prior to last season. According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, Cleveland has offered to eat a “good chunk” of Mayfield’s salary in order to help facilitate a trade. Yet, Mayfield remains with the team.

That likely means the Browns have to offer to take on more — if not all — of Mayfield’s salary. If they do so, they would essentially be buying a draft pick. That is a better outcome than cutting Mayfield, as they would still have to eat his full salary if they did that, anyway.

Mayfield has been inconsistent through his first four NFL seasons. The Browns acquired star quarterback Deshaun Watson this offseason, so there is no chance Mayfield is going to remain in Cleveland. That is why the Browns have almost no leverage in trade talks. Very few teams need a starting quarterback at this juncture, and those teams may want to force Cleveland to cut Mayfield.

We know of one NFC team that has been continuously linked to Mayfield. The bottom line is the Browns are more determined to get something in return for Mayfield than teams are to acquire the 27-year-old. That is not a great spot to be in.

Reported reason 49ers have not released Jimmy Garoppolo revealed

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are openly looking to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, but no real market has developed for him after he underwent shoulder surgery. While they still may release the veteran quarterback, there is a noteworthy reason they are in no rush.

Peter King of NBC Sports predicted in his weekly column that Garoppolo will remain on San Francisco’s roster through the start of the 2022 season. King still believes Trey Lance will start in Week 1, but he feels Lance’s development — or lack thereof — is the reason Garoppolo has not been released.

“If Lance had shown all the signs (head coach Kyle) Shanahan needed to see by now, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The Niners would have granted Garoppolo his freedom if they couldn’t trade him,” King wrote.

Other NFL insiders view the situation differently. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported on Monday that the Niners still plan to trade Garoppolo and are willing to be “flexible to find the best situation” for him.

That meshes with recent rumblings that the 49ers are waiting for Garoppolo to be fully cleared from his shoulder rehab, which should be in a month or two. If they are unable to find a trade suitor for him then, it is possible they will grant him his release.

Lance is a raw prospect. He had limited experience at the college level, but the 49ers knew that when they traded up to draft him last year. They still believe he is going to be a franchise quarterback. Though, some of the reports about his development have been concerning. No one would be shocked if the Niners keep Garoppolo around for at least the start of next season to see how things go.

Report: Lakers not giving up pursuit of NBA champion coach

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Doc Rivers has been mentioned as a potential candidate to coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season. The Philadelphia 76ers seemingly put that talk to rest when they publicly committed to Rivers earlier this month, but apparently the Lakers are not convinced.

NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote on Monday that there is a feeling around the NBA that the Lakers have “not completely abandoned hope” with Rivers. That could merely be wishful thinking, of course.

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey stated in no uncertain terms recently that Rivers will be back with the team next season. A report then claimed the 76ers are willing to work directly with Rivers to improve their roster.

Rivers’ contract with Philadelphia runs through the 2024-25 season. Even if he wanted to coach the Lakers, the Sixers would be entitled to compensation. L.A. depleted much of its draft capital by acquiring Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook in blockbuster trades. It is unclear how the Lakers would swing a trade for Rivers if they got that far with the 60-year-old.

The Lakers are said to have narrowed their search down to three finalists. Stein was told by a source that the search is “still wider” than recent reports have indicated.

It is highly unlikely that the Lakers will be able to pry Rivers away from Philly. The only hope they would have is if the interest was mutual and Rivers refused to return to the Sixers. Even then, the situation would be extremely complicated.