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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Blog

Orioles’ Trey Mancini avoids major injury after HBP on elbow

Baltimore Orioles logo

The Baltimore Orioles managed to avoid serious injury to one of their primary trade chips on Wednesday despite a big scare.

Slugging outfielder Trey Mancini was hit on the elbow with a pitch and left Wednesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics. However, the injury is being called a contusion, which means Mancini avoided structural damage.

The Orioles have had a terrible season and don’t have a lot of pieces to use to rebuild, but Mancini is certainly one of them. He’s hitting .304 this season with 16 home runs, and has hit 24 home runs in each of the last two seasons. A serious injury to him would’ve certainly hurt his trade value.

Report: Knicks still ‘locked in’ on RJ Barrett third overall

RJ Barrett

Despite late rumblings of going in a different direction, the New York Knicks are still reportedly targeting Duke’s RJ Barrett with the third overall pick.

The Knicks had a late workout with Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, they remain intent on taking Barrett third overall.

Some late rumors had the Knicks springing a surprise in the form of Garland with the No. 3 pick, and the fact that they worked him out this close to draft day was only going to intensify that chatter. There may have been interest, and it may have been legitimate, but ultimately, they’ve been zeroed in on Barrett all along.

ESPN has ‘no plans’ to use LaVar Ball as guest going forward

LaVar Ball Lakers

ESPN is done with LaVar Ball, at least for now.

In light of the latest Ball-related controversy, an ESPN spokesperson told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic that the network had “no plans” to use the Ball family patriarch as an on-air guest going forward.

The word comes after Ball made an inappropriate remark to “First Take” host Molly Qerim during an appearance on Monday that appears, at least for now, to have been the last straw with the network. Many have argued that Ball and his over-the-top proclamations bring nothing to television and are played out at this point, and remarks like this push him further past the breaking point.

Of course, things can always change. Ball gets people talking, for better or worse, so it may not be a permanent end to Ball’s publicity stunts. At least in terms of ESPN, it’s a moratorium, though.

Report: Thunder offering No. 21 pick to try to shed salary

OKC Thunder logo

The Oklahoma City Thunder are trying to avoid the luxury tax by dangling their No. 1 draft pick.

According to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated, the Thunder have made the likes of Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and Dennis Schroeder available in a bid to shed salary, and will include the No. 21 pick to try to get a deal done.

The Thunder have been subject to massive luxury tax penalties in the past, and they will want to avoid that going forward. Russell Westbrook and Paul George are locked in as the faces of the franchise, but the pieces around them are all apparently fair game.

Yankee ownership would add to luxury tax bill for right trade

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees face one of the biggest luxury tax bills in Major League Baseball, but they won’t let it stop them if they feel it necessary to make a big trade.

The Yankees are roughly $15 million shy of passing the $246 million mark in terms of payroll. If they surpassed that mark, they would be hit with a 62.5 percent luxury tax rate and see their top draft pick dropped by ten spots next year. According to owner Hal Steinbrenner, however, the Yankees would face the consequences if surpassing that threshold meant they could land a player they think could put them over the top.

“If I really felt we needed that deal, that it takes us over the top, then yes, I would,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday, via David Lennon of Newsday. “But we still have a decent amount of cushion. I’m not concerned about that. It’s a decent cushion.”

Starting pitching would seem like the most obvious upgrade for the Yankees. They could theoretically land Madison Bumgarner and remain under that threshold, but there are indications that he’s not a priority for them. It’s clear that the Yankees will look to be aggressive at the deadline, but just how aggressive remains to be seen.

Report: Knicks refused opportunity to acquire Chris Paul

Chris Paul Rockets

The New York Knicks have the cap space to acquire Chris Paul, but not the interest, according to a report.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Houston Rockets explored trading Paul to the Knicks, who could absorb his contract. That, combined with other potential moves, could have set the Rockets up for a pursuit of Jimmy Butler. The Knicks, however, were not interested.

The Knicks do want a superstar this summer, but Paul is probably not the sort they’re looking to acquire. The 34-year-old point guard has just shy of $125 million left on his contract, which runs through 2021-22.

The story comes in the midst of reports of Paul demanding to be traded, which he has denied. This is a further hint that, regardless of whether there’s a trade demand or not, the Rockets are at least looking into it and are considering retooling their backcourt around James Harden.

Watch: Marcus Stroman called Mike Trout ‘best ever’ after getting him out

Marcus Stroman

Mike Trout and the rest of his Los Angeles Angels teammates had a tough time facing Marcus Stroman on Tuesday night, but the Toronto Blue Jays pitcher managed to let Trout know how highly he thinks of him in the middle of the game.

Stroman got Trout to fly out to the warning track en route to leading the Jays to a 3-1 win over LA, and cameras caught him telling Trout he’s the “best player ever” as the slugger made his way back to the dugout.

Stroman is one of the more animated players in baseball and can rub people the wrong way, so many thought that was his way of patronizing Trout after retiring him. However, Stroman took to Twitter after the game to reiterate that he truly does believe Trout can go down as the greatest player in MLB history.

Trout is certainly one of the best to ever do it. He’s abusing baseballs once again this season to the tune of a .294 average and absurd .462 on-base percentage and 1.092 OPS. He’s only 27, so he will certainly be in the discussion for greatest player of all time if that continues.

Stroman has gotten into it with some opponents this season, so it’s no surprise people thought he was heckling Trout. But in this case, he is probably telling the truth.

Wikipedia hack predicts Kyle Korver will end up with Lakers

Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver was part of the trade that sent Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies to Utah on Wednesday, but he will almost certainly be bought out by the rebuilding Jazz. If and when that happens, fans are already convinced they know where the sharpshooter will end up.

Korver and LeBron James played together with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and LeBron has said the 38-year-old was one of his favorite teammates. The Los Angeles Lakers happen to have a need for an outside shooter like Korver, which explains why someone hacked Korver’s Wikipedia page immediately after Wednesday’s trade and wrote that he plays for the Lakers.

While he said after the season that he would consider retirement, Korver is reportedly planning to play at least one or two more years.

Korver ending up with the Lakers makes plenty of sense, as they have already had a huge offseason and could use a complimentary piece like him. The Wikipedia hack will probably end up being accurate before long.

Report: Nets may not want Kyrie Irving without another star player

Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are viewed as a heavy favorite to sign Kyrie Irving when NBA free agency begins, but their real goal this offseason is to land two star players. If Irving is the only one who wants to join them, they may just abandon the plan altogether.

Appearing on “Get Up” Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that the Nets may not want Irving if they can’t pair him with another star free agent, such as Kevin Durant.

“If they don’t get a second star, it will be interesting to see if Brooklyn wants to have Kyrie Irving as a solo act,” Wojnarowski said. “That didn’t go so great in Boston last year. We’ll see if Brooklyn is following through on just Kyrie Irving.”

If the Nets are unable to secure a commitment from another star free agent, Wojnarowski notes that they may decide they would prefer to bring back restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell on a much more team-friendly deal than the one Irving would sign. Russell, 23, is coming off a breakout year in which he averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game and made his first All-Star team. The former No. 2 pick looked like an emerging star in his second season in Brooklyn, and the Nets currently have a solid young core that won 42 games.

It’s unclear where Irving might sign if the Nets get cold feet, though he seems to have already ruled out one team.

Mike Conley reportedly traded from Grizzlies to Jazz

The Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz engaged in trade talks surrounding star point guard Mike Conley at the trade deadline last season, and they have finally worked out a deal.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the Grizzlies have agreed to trade Conley to Utah in exchange for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder and draft compensation.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has more details on the pick.

Conley, 31, averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 points per game last season. The scoring output was a career high. The Grizzlies have entered rebuilding mode after trading Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors last year, so it was only a matter of time before they parted ways with Conley.

The trade talks between Memphis and Utah at the deadline back in February reported included Ricky Rubio, but he is not part of the deal. It would not be a surprise if the Jazz look to trade him next.