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#pounditMonday, June 27, 2022

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Report: At least 2 teams monitoring John Wall buyout situation

Nov 8, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) walks on the court after the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall and the Houston Rockets are working on a buyout agreement after Wall exercised his massive player option for next season, and there are at least two teams that are keeping a close eye on the situation.

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat would have interest in Wall if the star point guard becomes a free agent. The Rockets would obviously prefer to trade Wall, but there is not much of a market for an oft-injured player who is on the books for $47.4 million next season.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported on Monday that Wall and the Rockets are nearing a breakup. The most likely scenario is that Wall’s contract will be bought out before free agency begins on June 30. The two sides have to agree to a deal, however.

Wall sat out all of last season after coming to an agreement with the Rockets. He is still playing under a four-year, $171 million extension he signed with the Washington Wizards in July 2017. That deal kicked in prior to the 2019-20 season, which is when Wall’s value disappeared due to injuries.

Wall, 31, hurt his knee in the 2017-2018 season and was limited to 41 games. Then he was bothered by his heel the following season and underwent season-ending surgery in January. As if recovering from heel surgery wasn’t bad enough, Wall then suffered a torn Achilles tendon after an accident in his home.

The Lakers are looking to get creative to make some moves this summer after they missed the playoffs. They may have their eye on an even bigger point guard trade.

Kyrie Irving reportedly has mutual interest with only 1 team

The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly given Kyrie Irving permission to seek a trade, but that does not mean there is much interest in the star point guard. If Irving does choose to leave the team, it may be with one specific destination in mind.

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News was told by sources that the Nets have given Irving the green light to pursue sign-and-trade scenarios. Irving has until Wednesday to decide if he will exercise his $36.9 million player option for next season. He could opt in and agree to an extension with the Nets to facilitate a sign-and-trade, but where?

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers are the only team that has shown interest in potentially trading for Irving. They do not have the salary cap space to sign Irving if he declines his option, though there has been some talk of Kyrie taking the $6 million mid-level exception to reunite with LeBron James.

The interest between the Lakers and Irving is said to be mutual. Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Monday that there are people “very close to the situation who strongly believe Irving is trying to make his way to the Lakers here and everything else is just (necessary) noise.”

Of course, the Lakers still have to figure out what to do with Russell Westbrook. The idea of Westbrook going to Brooklyn in some sort of trade involving Irving has been floated, but a Westbrook-Kevin Durant reunion seems unlikely. Though, the two seem to have settled any beef they had previously.

Speaking of beef, Irving has been openly critical of LeBron in the past. The two won a title together with the Cleveland Cavaliers before Irving decided he did not like being the second option behind James. He later came to appreciate how difficult it is to lead a team and apologized to LeBron. At the very least, all indications are that the two have not closed the door on playing together again.

Texans sued over Deshaun Watson sexual assault scandal

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs a play during minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson has been sued by two dozen women who claim the star quarterback sexually assaulted them, and the Houston Texans are now facing a lawsuit in connection with the allegations.

A lawsuit that was filed against the Texans on Monday claims some of Watson’s concerning behavior was reported to the team, but they did nothing about it. According to the suit, which was obtained by Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle, the owner of a massage therapy company called Genuine Touch, which partnered with the Texans, reported to the team in 2020 that Watson was “seeking out an unusually high number of massages from strangers on Instagram.”

Joni Honn, the owner of Genuine Touch, allegedly told the Texans she was concerned Watson was “putting himself in danger of contracting Covid, or getting himself sued.” The lawsuit also claims Genuine Touch employees described “sketchiness” and “attempts to push boundaries” from Watson.

The suit states that people with Genuine Touch were made aware that Watson was having sexual relations with at least one therapist during sessions. The Texans supposedly knew and helped Watson set up a non-disclosure agreement with therapists to avoid any issues.

“Despite this behavior, and after yet another woman questioned Watson’s behavior and threatened to expose Watson on the internet, the Houston Texans organization — rather than investigate and address Watson’s disturbing behavior — instead provided Watson with a NDA to ‘protect himself’ going forward from the random women he was finding on Instagram,” the lawsuit states.

The Texans issued a statement saying they are aware of the lawsuit and have complied with all investigations dating back to when the allegations first surfaced last year.

Watson recently settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits and has continued to deny all of the allegations. One aspect of his behavior that he cannot seem to explain is why he had so many different massage therapists in a span of a little over a year. Watson was recently asked about that, and many were not satisfied with his response.

The NFL is getting close to wrapping up its Watson investigation, and there has been talk of a significant suspension.

Report: Nets unwilling to meet 1 Kyrie Irving request

Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving is likely looking to land a maximum contract extension from the Brooklyn Nets, but it does not sound like he is going to get it.

Irving has until Wednesday to decide if he will exercise his $36.9 million player option for next season. He is widely expected to decline it, which is why he and the Nets have been trying to work out a new contract. If Irving opts in, the Nets can sign him to a four-year, $196 million extension. If he declines the option, he would be eligible for a five-year, $248 million deal.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, neither max offer is coming. Lowe said on “Get Up” Monday morning that the Nets have taken a stand.

“They appear ready to actually take some kind of stand here,” Lowe said. “That doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be a fair compromise offer somewhere, wherever that lands. We’ll see how that discussion evolves.”

This is not the first report we have heard claiming the Nets do not want to sign Irving to a long-term deal. They are understandably concerned about his injury history and all the off-court drama that surrounds him.

One theory is that Kevin Durant is playing hardball with the Nets in an attempt to help his friend Irving land a max deal. Unless something changes, that seems unlikely to work.

Panthers legend returning to team as radio broadcaster

Luke Kuechly abruptly retired two years ago after he suffered numerous head injuries, but he made it clear at the time that he still wanted to be involved with the NFL. He has found a way to do that with his former team.

The Carolina Panthers announced on Monday that Kuechly will join the team’s radio broadcast as an analyst for seven games this season. He will work alongside play-by-play announcer Anish Shroff and either Jordan Gross or Jake Delhomme.

“I think it could be a lot of fun,” Kuechly said of his new role. “I think that’s the biggest reason, to do something around the game on game day that’s fun. You still get the atmosphere, and all the good memories I have here in Carolina.”

Kuechly played linebacker for the Panthers from 2012-2019. He made the Pro Bowl every year but his rookie season and was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. The former first-round pick was considered by many to be the best linebacker in the game. He retired at age 29 after suffering multiple concussions.

Not long after he announced his retirement, Kuechly hinted that broadcasting was something he would pursue. Working as a radio analyst for his former team is a great place to start.

Patriots veteran shares what impresses him most about Mac Jones

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 10) throws the ball during a game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones may come across as soft-spoken, but one New England Patriots veteran says the quarterback can become the most fierce player on the field when the situation calls for it.

Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith spoke about Jones’ development during a Monday appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” When asked what has impressed him most about Jones, Smith said he loves that the former Alabama star can be the “goofiest” person in the locker room but flip a switch on the field.

“Honestly, man, just the way he can turn it on,” Smith said. “Mac is definitely one of the most goofiest guys in the locker room, to be honest, man. But when he steps on that field, he’s a different character. He’s just got so much ability and so much dog in him. Once he flips that switch, he’s a whole different character. Some guys don’t know how to cut that on and cut that off when it’s time to do it. He’s so young. He’s poised. He’s got a little swagger to him, man. I’m glad he’s throwing us passes. That’s my guy.”

Smith is one of several Patriots players who have heaped praise on Jones this offseason. The 23-year-old is clearly putting in a significant amount of work heading into Year 2. He has even been imitating Tom Brady in at least one way.

No one really knows what to expect from the Patriots this season. The AFC looks stacked on paper, but any Bill Belichick-led team usually has a chance to reach the playoffs. If Jones is as good as advertised, the Patriots could surprise a lot of people.

Video: Angels, Mariners throw punches in bench-clearing brawl

The Los Angels Angels and Seattle Mariners played a spirited series over the weekend, and the two teams got into an ugly benches-clearing brawl when tempers boiled over on Sunday.

Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz hit Jesse Winker with a fastball to lead off the top of the 2nd inning. The pitch drilled Winker in the backside and was clearly intentional. Winker was not happy and began walking toward the L.A. dugout. That’s when things got out of hand.

Typically we only see shoving and shouting when the benches clear during an MLB game, but actual swings were thrown this time. Anthony Rendon, who is out for the season with a wrist injury, was the first person to get at Winker when Winker marched toward the Angels’ dugout. Rendon had a cast on his right arm but fought off Winker with his left. Here’s another angle:

Tensions were high out of the gate, as Wantz threw behind Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez in the top of the first. Warnings were issued to both teams.

The Angels were likely responding after Mariners right-hander Erik Swanson threw a pitch near Mike Trout’s head during the bottom of the 9th inning on Saturday night. Trout was openly upset about the pitch after the game.

Angels closer Raisel Iglesias may have topped everyone with the meltdown he had when the brawl ended.

Major League Baseball will have a lot of fines and suspensions to hand out after reviewing Sunday’s brawl.

Report: 1 outcome ‘very likely’ in Bradley Beal contract situation

Jan 17, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Beal has a player option for next season that he is widely expected to decline, but that does not mean the Washington Wizards star wants a fresh start elsewhere.

If Beal declines his $36.4 million player option, he will be eligible to sign a five-year max extension with the Wizards worth nearly $250 million. Other teams could offer the star guard roughly $180 million over four seasons. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Beal is very likely to decline his option and sign a max extension with Washington.

Trade rumors have followed Beal for years. A lot of that is the result of him playing for a team that has not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 2017. There has been an assumption that Beal will eventually want to play for a contender, but he has never publicly requested a trade. There have been no indications that he has done so privately, either.

Beal, 28, would be one of the most coveted players in the NBA if he became a free agent. He said recently that he has made a decision about his future but does not want to share it just yet.

In the event that Beal does leave Washington, oddsmakers have listed a surprising team as the favorite to land him.

Warren Sapp heard Colin Kaepernick’s Raiders workout went horribly

Apr 2, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Colin Kaepernick passes during halftime at the Michigan Spring game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Kaepernick had his first formal visit with an NFL team in roughly five years when the Las Vegas Raiders hosted him for a workout last month, but he remains a free agent. There has been no indication that the Raiders plan to sign him, and one former member of the team thinks he knows why.

Warren Sapp, who played for the Raiders for the final four seasons of his Hall of Fame career, was asked in an interview with Vlad TV published this week if he believes Kaepernick will play in the NFL again. He responded with an emphatic “no” and said he was told Kaepernick’s workout with the Raiders was a “disaster.”

“I heard it was a disaster. I heard it was one of the worst workouts ever,” Sapp said. “I’m wondering how the hell this happened and the tape didn’t get out. Somebody wasn’t (recording a video) over the fence or something? Come on, man. We live in a world now where you put a drone up and nobody’s gonna stop you.”

Kaepernick is 34 and has not played in the NFL since 2016. Even when he did play, his strength was his mobility and athleticism. He was never a great passer, which is why many are skeptical that he could take that much time off and expect to be effective.

There were supposedly two things that impressed the Raiders during Kaepernick’s workout. They were not blown away enough to offer him an invitation to camp, however. Maybe Sapp knows something most of us don’t.

Report: Kevin Durant has been ghosting Nets

Oct 11, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have been trying to work out a new contract with Kyrie Irving, but they reportedly have not had much — if any — communication with their other big superstar.

Logan Murdoch of The Ringer said on “The Mismatch” podcast this week that he has been told Durant has not spoken with Nets executives in weeks. The supposed ghosting comes at a time when there has been speculation that Durant could request a trade if things don’t work out between Irving and the Nets.

“Now, you have reports that Kyrie is looking elsewhere. I made some calls. Kevin Durant has not talked to the team in weeks,” Murdoch said, as transcribed by Nets Daily. “I don’t think Kevin is confident in the front office right now. I don’t know if he’s at the stage of leaving but there’s a big uneasiness from not only from the Kyrie side, but the KD side as well.”

Murdoch also reiterated a recent report that Durant has not been recruiting free agents to play for Brooklyn.

Durant and Irving are close friends and chose to team up together with the Nets. Durant is undoubtedly disappointed with how the 2021-22 season went, but he may also be taking Irving’s side as Kyrie seeks a long-term deal.

“His biggest beef is that he feels that the front office didn’t grow to understand Kyrie, whatever that means. I would push back on that when a guy leaves for two weeks at a time … Kyrie earns the lion’s share of the blame,” Murdoch added. “But I think KD believes that, ‘Hey, you guys didn’t understand this guy. You didn’t try to figure out where he was coming from.’”

This is not the first we have heard of Durant freezing out Brooklyn’s front office. While he could be setting the stage to demand a trade, it seems more likely that he is trying to put pressure on the team to both re-sign Irving and improve the roster. If Irving and the Nets cannot come to an agreement, then things will get a lot more interesting for the team.