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#pounditTuesday, January 25, 2022

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Jimmy Butler helped recruit Avery Bradley to Heat

Jimmy Butler

After falling short to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, Jimmy Butler has now helped weaken them for next season.

The Athletic’s Sham Charania reported Saturday that the Miami Heat star, along with team president Pat Riley, recruited guard Avery Bradley to leave the Lakers. Bradley agreed to a two-year, $11.6 million deal with Miami.

Though Bradley opted out of the Orlando bubble, his stock is on the rise. A two-time All-Defensive Team selection, Bradley is a physical three-and-D guard who will fit the Heat’s style perfectly. He will also offer them more depth in the backcourt. That was exposed as a weakness for the team when Goran Dragic got hurt in the Finals.

As for Butler, he is having a big positive impact on Miami’s offseason and is doing so by any means necessary.

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Rajon Rondo signing two-year deal with Hawks

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is headed back to the Eastern Conference.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Saturday that the veteran point guard has agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks.

The 34-year-old Rondo, coming off a championship last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, figures to slot into a role as Trae Young’s backup and mentor. The Hawks also signed guard Kris Dunn earlier this week.

There was some belief Rondo might head to a particular contender instead. However, he now joins an upstart young Hawks team and also gets a nice pay raise from the $2.4 million he made last year.

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Illinois hilariously taunted Nebraska on Twitter after blowout win

Illinois Fighting Illini logo

The Illinois Fighting Illini turned in a rather convincing win over Nebraska on Saturday, and rubbed it in afterwards on Twitter.

The loss dropped the Huskers to 1-3. They were widely credited as one of two schools most aggressive in getting the Big Ten to start its season. The Illinois Twitter account acknowledged that in thanking them for the game.

That’s just plain brutal.

It’s highly doubtful that Nebraska regrets its role in bringing the Big Ten back. Scott Frost would certainly say this is a learning experience for his team, and maybe he’s right. Still, this season has been consistently humiliating for Nebraska. Maybe they’d have been better off not playing.

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Report: Clippers still ‘in the hunt’ for Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo clearly won’t be returning to the Los Angeles Lakers, but there remains some doubt regarding his ultimate destination.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Atlanta Hawks are still regarded as the frontrunner for the veteran guard. However, the Los Angeles Clippers are still “in the hunt” for Rondo.

One thing seems certain: Rondo’s time with the Lakers is over. In an Instagram post Saturday, he thanked the organization, staff, players, and fans in a goodbye message.

Rondo may prefer the Clippers. They’re closer to contention. However, the Hawks may be willing to offer a bigger payday. At this point, that may make the difference.

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Florida going to extreme measures to avoid using Vanderbilt locker room

Dan Mullen

The Florida Gators are doing everything they possibly can to avoid using Vanderbilt’s visitors locker room on Saturday.

Due to concerns about COVID-19, Florida coach Dan Mullen has worked to ensure that the Gators don’t have to crowd into the cramped Vanderbilt Stadium visiting locker room. Mullen said on ESPN prior to the game that the team dressed at the hotel, arrived late intentionally, warmed up without pads, and got fully dressed at the last possible moment.

At halftime, a picture showed Florida players congregating on the corner of the field at halftime instead of going inside.

We’re guessing this isn’t to keep the backup quarterback from tweeting at halftime. Florida is concerned about COVID-19 spreading in tight spaces. They’d rather do this than use the locker room.

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Gordon Hayward agrees to four-year contract with Hornets

Gordon Hayward

The Charlotte Hornets have delivered one of the big surprises of free agency.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets have agreed to a four-year, $120 million contract with Gordon Hayward. The deal was confirmed by Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein.

Few saw this coming in terms of either the destination or the price. The Hornets hadn’t really been mentioned as a suitor for Hayward. In fact, this wasn’t the team we heard Hayward wanted to join. The $30 million annual price tag is also something. Essentially, the Hornets are paying Hayward with the expectation that he’ll perform as he did with the Utah Jazz, not the Boston Celtics.

The Hornets lack the cap space to make this deal outright. They will have to either move some money or execute a sign-and-trade with the Celtics.

The 30-year-old swingman averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds last season for Boston. Expect him to be a focal point of Charlotte’s offense.

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Report: Knicks, Lakers are suitors for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The New York Knicks are still looking for a way to use all their cap space, and appear to be pursuing a new option.

The Knicks are interested in free agent guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times. However, the Lakers remain interested as well, despite already making additions to their backcourt.

Money will be a factor here. Turner makes clear that Caldwell-Pope is looking for the “right price.” It’s not known what that might be, but the Knicks have roughly $40 million in cap space to work with. The Lakers, however, retain Caldwell-Pope’s Bird rights.

There was some thought that the Lakers’ activity so far might make them less likely to re-sign KCP. For now, it appears they’re undeterred, and they’re certainly more of a title contender than the Knicks are if that matters to the veteran guard.

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East Carolina-Temple game delayed after player’s girlfriend tests positive

Temple Owls logo

Saturday’s game between East Carolina and Temple was delayed just before kickoff for what is unfortunately becoming an all-too-common reason.

According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the girlfriend of a Temple player tested positive for COVID-19. This led to a delay of the game while the player was taken back to campus in order to take a rapid test. If the test comes back positive, the game’s status will come into question, and a cancellation may be necessary.

The events took place less than an hour before kickoff. That’s why it was so abrupt that the kickoff needed to be delayed.

This is not the only college football game to have its status abruptly changed not long before kickoff on Saturday. Hopefully it’s the last.

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Fred VanVleet agrees to four-year contract to stay with Raptors

Fred VanVleet

One of the biggest names on the free agent market is staying right where he’s been.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, guard Fred VanVleet will stay with the Toronto Raptors on a four-year deal. The contract is worth $85 million, with the fourth year set to be a player option.

VanVleet was expected to be in high demand on the open market, but he ultimately opts to stay in Toronto. The Raptors will be very happy with that, as he developed into a regular starter and a leader for the team in 2019-20. He had a breakout season by averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game.

VanVleet made no secret that he wanted to be valued in free agency. The Raptors, apparently, have shown him just how valuable he is to them.

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Dak Prescott making ‘amazing’ progress in injury recovery?

Dak Prescott

The latest reports on Dak Prescott’s injury recovery seem overwhelmingly positive.

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Friday that he has received “amazing reports” on Prescott’s progress recovering from his ankle injury, and that the quarterback may even be ahead of schedule.

“Shouldn’t come as any surprise,” Jones said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “He does everything to the nines and the tens and he just does it the very best. He’s been so diligent in his rehab and that shouldn’t surprise anybody. They said if anything he’s ahead of schedule and rolling. That should come as no surprise. So we expect him to have a full recovery.

“We avoided any of the complications that come anytime you have a bone that breaks the skin. You worry about infection. He certainly avoided any of that.”

No amount of miracles will get Prescott back on the field in 2020. However, this would certainly bode well for a complete recovery. That’s why even Jerry Jones is saying things like this about potential new quarterbacks.

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