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#pounditMonday, February 6, 2023

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Cavaliers make big decision with Kevin Love

Kevin Love smiling

Feb 9, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) reacts in the second quarter against the LA Clippers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made a big decision regarding Kevin Love.

Love did not play in the Cavaliers’ 122-103 win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. He was listed as a DNP-Coach’s Decision in the boxscore.

When asked via Twitter Sunday what the story was with Love’s “did not play” designation, Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor said that Love is officially out of the Cavs’ rotation. According to Fedor, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff had a conversation with Love about the matter recently.

Love last played on January 24. He was out for three games with back spasms but was cleared to play on January 31. He has not played in three straight games despite being active.

Dean Wade has been taking many of the minutes that otherwise likely would have gone to Love. He played 25 minutes in the win over the Pacers and 17 minutes in Thursday’s win over the Grizzlies.

Love is earning $28.9 million this season but his four-year contract expires after the season. His playing time and role have steadily decreased over the last few seasons.

It remains to be seen whether Love will be traded thanks to his expiring contract or potentially bought out. The 34-year-old has averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 20.0 minutes per game this season.

Report: Suns were prepared to unload Chris Paul in big trade

Chris Paul in his Suns uniform

Jan 22, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) against the Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are not having the season they were hoping for, and the team apparently was prepared to trade away one star player.

The Suns were among the teams who pursued Kyrie Irving in a trade. According to reporter Chris B. Haynes, the Suns offered Chris Paul, Jae Crowder and some draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets for Irving.

The Nets wound up choosing the Dallas Mavericks’ trade offer. They found the combination of capable current players (Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith) and future picks (including a 2029 1st-round pick) to be most appealing.

Paul is 37 and making $28.4 million this season. He is set to make $30.8 million next season, with just $15.8 million of that guaranteed.

The veteran is in his third season with the Suns and averaging 14.1 points, 8.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. His health has been a problem, as usual, as he has only played in 32 games this season.

Paul is a big name and good player, but the big question with him always has to do with his availability and penchant to get injured in the playoffs.

Arizona Cardinals down to 3 finalists for head coach job?

Kyler Murray in a black uniform

Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) against the Green Bay Packers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are moving closer to hiring a new head coach.

The Cardinals have begun to inform some candidates that they are no longer being considered for the job. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn were all told they are no longer in consideration.

The three known finalists are: Brian Flores, New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. It’s unclear whether Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is a candidate for the job.

According to Albert Breer, the interviews for Kafka and Anarumo will be via Zoom.

Flores is the only one of the three finalists who has previous experience as an NFL head coach. He coached the Miami Dolphins for three season but was fired despite going 9-8 in 2021. He subsequently filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the league and several teams. The 41-year-old spent this season as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kafka, 35, only has one season of experience as a coordinator. He was with the Chiefs from 2017-2021 in various offensive roles. This season he served as the Giants’ offensive coordinator, helping to get the most out of Daniel Jones.

Anarumo, 56, has been the Bengals’ defensive coordinator since 2019. Cincinnati’s defense was sixth in the league in points allowed this season.

The Cardinals are looking to hire a new head coach after firing Kliff Kingsbury following the season. There has been speculation that one factor is making their search for a new head coach difficult.

Nets owner got last laugh with Kyrie Irving through petty move

Joe Tsai looking on

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; Taiwanese businessman Joe Tsai (left) looks on during the second half of the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving terrorized Joe Tsai’s Brooklyn Nets for nearly four seasons, and it sounds like the Nets owner got the last laugh with the problematic guard.

On Friday we learned that Irving wanted to be traded by the Nets ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Immediately, there was speculation that Irving would end up with the Los Angeles Lakers. But by Sunday, Irving had been traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs sent Brooklyn Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and two second-round picks.

The Lakers offered the Nets Russell Westbrook (whose contract is expiring) plus their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks.

It’s quite possible that the Nets outright preferred Dallas’ trade package, which included two players who could help keep them competitive this season. But Marc Stein reported Sunday night that one other presumed goal of Tsai was to avoid sending Irving to the Lakers, which was the guard’s preferred destination.

After everything Irving put that franchise through — from disrupting chemistry to the anti-semitic matter this season to not playing half the time — it makes sense that Tsai wouldn’t want to reward Irving.

Trading Irving to Dallas yielded two benefits: a favorable trade package that helps the Nets stay competitive, and blocking Irving from joining the Lakers.

Ross Chastain wastes no time reigniting his beef with Denny Hamlin

Ross Chastain bumps Denny Hamlin

It didn’t take long for Ross Chastain to reignite his beef with an old foe.

The Clash at the Coliseum went under caution during lap 74 of 150 on Sunday night after Denny Hamlin spun around. How did that happen? Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro bumped Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota Camry.

That was the fourth caution of the race and the first incident of the year between the two drivers. This followed several incidents on the track between the two last year.

Chastain’s beef with Hamlin began at Gateway in June when the Trackhouse Racing driver bumped into Hamlin and caused him to spin. Then Chastain spun Hamlin in Atlanta a few weeks later.

Of course, it was Chastain who got the last laugh. Chastain surged past Hamlin with his “Hail Melon” at Martinsville to get into the Championship 4 last year.

Ty Gibbs’ car door was scorched after fire

Ty Gibbs' car on fire

Ty Gibbs began The Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday night from the back after some issues with his car, which was part of a rough day on Saturday.

There was a fire inside Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota Camry during practice on Saturday.

Gibbs said after practice that it wasn’t that hot in the cockpit after the fire, just dark.

A photo shared by Bob Pockrass really captures some of the damage the fire did. The foam inside the car door was removed, and you can see how scorched things look.

Joe Gibbs Racing was able to replace the windshield and door foam to get the No. 54 car ready for Sunday’s race.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a loose exhaust. Gibbs was not allowed to qualify due to an improper installation, so he had to start Sunday’s race from the back.

This is Ty’s first season as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. The 20-year-old won the Xfinity series last season.

LeBron James raises eyebrows with latest cryptic tweet

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James raised eyebrows Sunday with a cryptic tweet after Kyrie Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

In his first tweet since Irving was dealt to the Mavericks for a combination of players and picks, James seemed to be in an introspective mood. The Lakers star tweeted simply: “Maybe It’s Me.”

It is entirely possible this has nothing to do with Irving, the Lakers, or basketball in general. The internet was pretty convinced that it was, though, and that James was not thrilled to see his ex-teammate get traded to a Western Conference foe.

If James is upset with the Lakers for not doing enough to bring in Irving, he probably shouldn’t be. Reports suggest the team made a major effort to try to land Irving, but the Mavericks’ ability to include more pieces that could help the Brooklyn Nets remain competitive on top of the pick haul was a major factor. The Lakers simply could not make as good an offer as Dallas did.

Former top defender eyeing return to NBA

Andre Roberson giving an interview

Though it has been years since he last set foot on an NBA floor, one veteran wing still has the hunger.

Former first-round draft pick Andre Roberson landed a deal earlier this week with the Oklahoma City Blue, G League affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Speaking with reporters over the weekend, Roberson said that his ultimate goal is to return to the NBA.

“I wouldn’t step on the court if I wanted to [be a front office member or a coach],” said Roberson, per Rylan Stiles of Thunderous Intentions. “Every time I step on the court I want to play at the highest level.”

Roberson, now 31 years old, played for the Thunder from 2013 to 2020. He became known for his stalwart defense, earning All-Defensive Team honors in 2017 and helping Oklahoma City make multiple deep runs in the playoffs. But Roberson’s last NBA action took place nearly two years ago when he made five appearances for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2020-21 season.

Of course, Roberson also had some big flaws in his offensive game as a 25.3 percent career three-point shooter and arguably an even worse one from the free-throw line. But he sounds determined to make it back into the league and might have a decent-sized shot at being called up at some point by a rebuilding Thunder team.

Alabama reportedly lands new defensive coordinator

Nick Saban in red

Alabama coach Nick Saban looks on. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide have finished up their major staff overhaul by settling on a new defensive coordinator.

Kevin Steele, a former defensive coordinator for LSU and Auburn, has accepted the Alabama defensive coordinator job, according to Chris Low of ESPN. Steele also previously served as Alabama defensive coordinator in 2007.

Steele has plenty of experience, and also has the requisite ties to Tuscaloosa. In addition to his time as Saban’s first Alabama defensive coordinator, he was an assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2013 and 2014. He also has head coaching experience and was seen as a potential successor to Gus Malzahn at Auburn before that job ultimately went to Bryan Harsin instead.

Steele is not as big a name as Alabama’s offensive coordinator hire, but he is a steady hand who is trusted by Saban. That is probably all that is necessary at this point.

Mets adding controversial former star to their front office

Steve Cohen looks on

Sep 11, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets majority owner Steve Cohen and his wife Alexandra Cohen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Some three years after their earlier attempt at a partnership fell apart, the New York Mets are circling back to a familiar figure.

The New York Post reported Sunday that the Mets are hiring retired former All-Star Carlos Beltran to a front office role. Beltran will be working under Mets general manager Billy Eppler.

Beltran has quite the history with the Mets. He played for them from 2005 to 2011, making five All-Star teams and winning three Gold Glove Awards over that span. In 2019, after Beltran retired, the Mets hired him to be their next manager. But the deal fell through when Beltran was implicated in the infamous Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal and stepped down as Mets manager before even coaching in a single game for them. Luis Rojas then became the team’s manager before current skipper Buck Showalter was hired in 2022.

After resigning as the manager of the Mets, Beltran went on to work for YES Network as a broadcaster. Even that stint was a little awkward for Beltran, but now he will look to complete his unfinished business with the Mets.