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Thursday, June 21, 2018

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Report: Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley will be first two picks in draft

Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III are set to go 1-2 in the NBA Draft, according to a report.

Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania reported on Thursday that the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings have locked in on their picks. The Suns are set to take Arizona’s Ayton, while the Kings are going to take Duke’s Bagley.

Ayton has long been viewed as Phoenix’s likely choice with the top pick, but there was a little more uncertainty surrounding the NO. 2 pick. Sacramento was also believed to be considering Luka Doncic.

If those two players are going 1 and 2, that creates a question for Atlanta at No. 3. The Hawks were said to be considering a trade down, perhaps with an eye on Trae Young. Will someone move up to get into position to draft Doncic?

Twitter reacts to Lionel Messi, Argentina choking in World Cup

Lionel Messi

Argentina were considered one of the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup, but they will need help to even advance to the knockout stages after they were dominated by Croatia on Thursday.

After they played to a surprising 1-1 draw against Iceland in their first match on Saturday, Argentina were completely outclassed by Croatia. Lionel Messi, widely believed to the world’s best player, was basically a non-factor and Argentina had minimal scoring opportunities. The end result was a 3-0 shutout.

In order to avoid a shocking early exit, Argentina will need to beat Nigeria on Tuesday and have Nigeria win or tie against Iceland on Friday. No one expected Messi’s team to be in this situation, and that was evident based on how the Twitterverse reacted:

The debate over who the best player in the world is usually centers around Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ronaldo happens to have four goals thus far in the World Cup. Fans aren’t letting Messi forget about that.

Croatia jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second half thanks to the worst goalkeeping blunder we have seen in the World Cup, but they deserve all the credit for dominating Arengtina and holding Messi in check. There’s a reason we had Croatia near the top of our list of teams who could surprise in the 2018 World Cup.

Sixers open to trading Markelle Fultz?

Markelle Fultz

Could Markelle Fultz be going down the Anthony Bennett route of former No. 1 overall picks?

Michael Scotto of The Athletic reported on Thursday that the Philadelphia 76ers had internal discussions about packaging Fultz with the No. 10 and 26 picks in this year’s draft to move into the top five and target Michael Porter Jr. The team cooled on that idea however due to concerns over Porter’s back.

While that particular deal may have fizzled, it at least appears to indicate that the Sixers are open to trading Fultz. That would be a remarkable development given that they drafted him with the top overall pick just one year ago.

The 20-year-old guard appeared in just 17 total games for Philly this past season, dogged by concerns over his health and his shooting mechanics. The uncertainty is now continuing into the summer, and it makes you wonder if the Sixers are starting to have their doubts that Fultz can regain his form.

Report: Spurs ‘shut the door’ on Lakers’ trade call about Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

The Lakers have reportedly reached out to the Spurs about a potential Kawhi Leonard trade, but it does not sound like San Antonio is open to holding discussions with its Western Conference rival.

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers and Spurs never discussed any specific deals involving Leonard because San Antonio “shut the door” on Magic Johnson and company.

For what it’s worth, we have already shared with you a report that indicated Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would rather take less from another team to send Leonard out of the West. The fact that the Spurs weren’t even willing to discuss a deal with the Lakers indicates that could be the case.

The Spurs are said to be listening to offers for Leonard, but they are not actively pursuing a trade. While it’s possible they could be holding out hope that they can smooth things over with the star forward, Leonard is apparently angry over the way one of his teammates criticized him publicly.

Lakers have reportedly reached out to Spurs about Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard reportedly has the Los Angeles Lakers at the top of his list of potential trade destinations should the San Antonio Spurs grant him his wish by dealing him, but it’s unclear if the two sides will be able to come to an agreement. According to one report, an initial call has at least been placed.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports was told by sources that the Lakers have reached out to the Spurs about a possible Leonard trade, but no formal proposals have been made.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier on Thursday that the Spurs and Lakers have had “no dialogue” about a Leonard trade, so it’s possible San Antonio is not interested in doing business with L.A. and/or the Lakers tried to kickstart negotiations with a lowball offer.

The Spurs are said to be listening to trade offers for Leonard, but they are not actively shopping him. Gregg Popovich met with Leonard this week to discuss the star forward’s future with the franchise, but reports indicate Leonard still wants out and is unhappy with the way one of his teammates criticized him publicly.

Report: Indians, Phillies interested in Adrian Beltre trade

Adrian Beltre Rangers

After spending the last seven years with the Texas Rangers, greener pastures may be beckoning for Adrian Beltre as his career winds down.

Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported on Thursday that the Cleveland Indians and the Philadelphia Phillies are interested in trading for the veteran slugger. Morosi cites Beltre’s familiarity with Indians manager Terry Francona from their days with the Boston Red Sox as well as his potential positive influence on the Phillies’ emerging core as reasons behind the interest from both teams.

Beltre, 39, is hitting .302 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 2018, having just returned from a hamstring issue. While he does have a full-no trade clause, the four-time All-Star will be a free agent after the season.

The Rangers are currently the worst team in the AL West, so the second-place Phillies and division-leading Indians would both be better situations from a winning standpoint. Beltre is still after his first World Series ring as well, but some of his recent comments might indicate that he prefers to stay in the AL.

Twitter reacts to epic blunder from Argentinian goalie

Croatia stunned soccer fans across the world by jumping out to a 1-0 lead early in the second half against Argentina on Thursday, and the goal would not have been possible without an unforgivable goalkeeping mistake.

Rather than safely sending a ball down the field after he received a pass from one of his own defenders, Argentina keeper Willy Caballero tried to loft a fancy pass over the head of Croatia’s Ante Rebic. The ball came off Caballero’s foot wrong and popped right to Rebic, who struck it beautifully and found the back of the net.

Rebic deserves plenty of credit for capitalizing, but that is obviously a goal Argentina had no business giving up. As you might expect, Twitter was not kind to Caballero.

We have already seen an unprecedented number of mistakes that led to goals in this World Cup, but Caballero will be haunted by that one for a very long time.

Report: Wizards ‘actively exploring’ trade possibilities for Marcin Gortat

The Washington Wizards are reportedly looking to trade Marcin Gortat before the NBA Draft, but they may not be willing to give up the necessary assets to unload the big man.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Wizards are “actively exploring” trade possibilities for Gortat, but they are unwilling to give up the No. 15 overall pick in the draft as part of a potential deal. That is apparently an issue for teams.

Gortat, 34, has one year and $13.5 million remaining on his contract. He appeared in all 82 games for Washington last season and averaged 8.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, but teams may not want to pay that much for an aging big man.

The Wizards would probably be fine with keeping Gortat, but their have been indications that he is not getting along with John Wall. That’s probably part — if not most — of the reason both he and the team are open to parting ways.

Report: Dwight Howard will negotiate buyout with Nets

Dwight Howard

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Dwight Howard as part of a trade with the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, but they apparently do not intend to keep the star big man on their roster.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports that Howard is expected to negotiate a buyout with the Nets and become a free agent.

Howard, 32, had a strong year with the Hornets last season, as he averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. However, he has a reputation for being a negative locker room presence. A report that surfaced after he was traded on Wednesday made it seem as though he lived up to that reputation in Charlotte.

Spurs, Lakers have reportedly had ‘no dialogue’ on Kawhi Leonard trade

Kawhi Leonard

It is widely believed that Kawhi Leonard wants to force his way to the Los Angeles Lakers and plans to sign with them after next season regardless of what happens, but apparently the San Antonio Spurs have not even discussed a potential trade with L.A.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Spurs are entertaining trade proposals involving Leonard but have not actively pursued any. They have also had “no dialogue” with the Lakers about a deal.

You would think the Lakers would have at least called the Spurs by now, so it’s possible there was a situation where they offered something San Antonio considered insulting and didn’t even bother to return the call.

Gregg Popovich recently met with Leonard to discuss the star forward’s future with the franchise, but reports indicate Leonard still wants out and is unhappy with the way one of his teammates criticized him publicly.

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