Kent Bazemore is headed to a non-contending team, but he is in no hurry to jump ship.
On Saturday, the veteran was traded by the Portland Trail Blazers to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel. Also sent to the Kings were Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported that Bazemore has no plans to pursue a buyout from the Kings, as he has a great relationship with head coach Luke Walton and the Sacramento front office.
Bazemore, who had some overlap in the Los Angeles Lakers organization with Walton during the 2013-14 campaign, had been having a down year with 7.9 points per game on a career-low 34.7 percent from the field. He will also be a free agent after the season, which could help explain his mindset. Still though, Bazemore is joining a Kings team that certainly has some issues to solve.
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- Kent Bazemore
The LA Clippers may have an unlikely competitor for Montrezl Harrell’s services this summer.
Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported this weekend that multiple executives believe the Atlanta Hawks could be a free agent destination for Harrell.
The Hawks may be dead last in the East this season at a smelly 10-32, but they have a budding young core led by guard Trae Young. They also figure to have plenty of cap space to accommodate the roughly $20 million-per-season payday that Pincus says Harrell is expected to command this summer.
For the 25-year-old Harrell, who is averaging 19.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season for the Clippers, it is an open question as to how he might be able to co-exist in Atlanta with John Collins, another undersized energy big. Still, Harrell is taking his impending free agency seriously, and an up-and-coming Hawks team with money to spend should not be discounted.
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- Montrezl Harrell
Eric Fisher’s Stone Cold beer celebration will end up being pretty expensive.
The Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman received a $14,037 fine for pouring two beers on himself after a touchdown last week, mimicking Stone Cold Steve Austin’s signature celebration.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 18, 2020
Fisher will probably be okay with this one. It produced a viral moment, and his team won the game. And at the very least, it’s definitely going to count as one of the more unique things to get fined for in an NFL game, particularly on a playoff stage. Frankly, Fisher should embrace it, even if he may be best served not doing it again.
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- Eric Fisher
The Kansas City Chiefs don’t want any superstition getting in the way of their potential Super Bowl berth, so they’re setting up a notoriously unlucky fan to watch the game from the comfort of his own home.
During the Chiefs’ comeback win over the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional round, a fan who goes by Big Buck Chuck or Bad Luck Chuck departed early, feeling he was bad luck. He went viral, and when the Chiefs did come back, he made it quite clear he would be nowhere near the AFC Championship game.
The Chiefs are well aware of Bad Luck Chuck’s plight and made sure he was taken care of so he could watch the game at home in maximum comfort.
We got Chuck all set up to watch the game…
…from home. pic.twitter.com/VBljBOF5Qg
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 18, 2020
It’s a win-win for everybody. The Chiefs won’t be harmed by Bad Luck Chuck’s presence, but he gets quite the comfortable deal at home. You can bet if the Chiefs win and make it to the Super Bowl, Chuck won’t be going anywhere near Miami, either.
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While the baseball world digests MLB’s penalties against the Houston Astros, others have one eye on what might happen to another contending franchise.
The Boston Red Sox have been accused of using a video replay room to illegally relay signs to hitters during the 2018 season, in which they won the World Series. The league’s investigation is ongoing, and there is no timetable for its conclusion.
One Red Sox star, outfielder J.D. Martinez, said Saturday that he is very confident that the league will find nothing and the team will be exonerated.
J.D. Martinez: "It sucks (to be under investigation). I'm just excited for the investigation to be over with just so they can see that there was nothing going on here."
That's what they'll find?
"I believe that. Yes."
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 18, 2020
There’s not a lot Martinez can say as the investigation is ongoing, but it’s a pretty bold pronunciation. Manager Alex Cora has already lost his job over the scandal, though that had as much to do with what he did with the Houston Astros as it does the investigation into Boston. Still, the Red Sox risk being found to be repeat offenders after their use of an Apple Watch in 2017, which would likely bring significant penalties. We’ll have to wait and see, but this quote runs the risk of aging terribly.
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There seems to be a growing consensus among some MLB players that the Houston Astros weren’t punished harshly enough for their 2017 electronic sign stealing operation.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk wasn’t even on a team that was hurt by the Astros cheating, as he played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017. Still, on Saturday, he publicly called for the Astros to be stripped of their 2017 title and for players on the team to lose their rings over their involvement in the scandal.
Randal Grichuk on MLB's discipline to Astros
"Hopefully that hurts. I hope they go hard and even harder.”
Take rings away?
“I’d like to see that. I bet the Dodgers would like to see that."
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 18, 2020
Short of suspending individual players, this is probably the harshest penalty MLB could have imposed on the Astros that it didn’t actually do. There’s a debate over whether it would actually matter — no amount of punishment is going to give the Dodgers a championship — but it’s pretty clear that many in the game would have liked to see Rob Manfred do more.
The biggest complaint is that the system that was player-driven did not see any players get punished, and that isn’t sitting well with a lot of people. From that perspective, Grichuk’s disappointment is easy to understand.
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Luke Kuechly’s NFL playing days are over, but there is some reason to believe we may not have seen the last of him around the league.
According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Kuechly has given preliminary thought to going into some sort of coaching or consulting role in the NFL going forward. Kuechly was regarded as a coach on the field, so this sort of thing should not be considered much of a stretch.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 18, 2020
Kuechly will take time to consider his options, but Garafolo suggested that we could see Kuechly working in some capacity as soon as 2020.
The former Carolina Panthers linebacker walked away from the playing field earlier in the week at the age of 28. It was pretty clear he did not do so because he no longer loves the game. Judging by some of the stories we’ve heard about him, a coaching role seems like a perfect fit to continue his work in football without putting his body on the line in the same way.
- Luke Kuechly
The Houston Astros held their offseason fanfest Saturday at a somewhat awkward time, but it meant we got our first comments from a key player about the fallout from the team’s 2017 sign stealing scandal.
Third baseman Alex Bregman declined to say much when he met the press. He denied that he and Jose Altuve had worn any electronic devices to aid them in stealing signs and refused to comment on the league investigation or the aftermath of it.
After Alex Bregman said there were no buzzers or wearable electronic devices during the 2019 season, he called the social media uproar about it "just stupid."
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) January 18, 2020
Astros 3b Alex Bregman, from FanFest, fielded several questions about sign-stealing scheme. "The Commissioner came out with the report, MLB did their report, and the Astros did what they did. They made their decision what they're going to do and I have no other thoughts on it."
— Alyson Footer (@alysonfooter) January 18, 2020
Bregman did, however, make something of a promise regarding the 2020 season.
Alex Bregman: “The 2020 year, our actions will speak louder than our words.”
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) January 18, 2020
The awkward reality is that the Astros still have a lot of talent and have every chance of being a playoff team again in 2020, even without stealing signs. They would probably love to respond by doing what the Patriots did after Deflategate and using it as motivation to beat everyone. That’ll be harder to do in MLB than the NFL, but this is a group of players whose talents and accomplishments are being questioned as illegitimate. Even if that’s a reasonable response, they won’t like it, and Bregman’s quote seems to illustrate that.
Odell Beckham Jr. likely won’t be facing criminal charges for slapping a Superdome police officer on the backside after LSU’s win over Clemson in the national title game.
As first reported by Ramon Antonio Vargas and John Simerman of NOLA.com, the 48-year-old officer has signed an affidavit declining to press charges against the Cleveland Browns wide receiver. The officer had initially sought to press charges against the star wide receiver, and an arrest warrant was out for Beckham for a simple battery charge.
That warrant has not yet been withdrawn, but with the officer unwilling to press charges, it appears unlikely that Beckham will face any real legal consequences for his actions.
The officer in question was trying to get LSU players to put out their cigars in a bid to enforce the Superdome’s no smoking policy. Video of what Beckham did went viral in the aftermath of the incident, but the whole matter seemed rather silly to begin with.
The Houston Astros appear to be stepping up their efforts to hire a new manager.
According to Jon Morosi and Matt Kelly of MLB.com, the Astros are slated to interview Dusty Baker for their open managerial job on Monday. He joins ex-managers Buck Showalter and John Gibbons as well as Chicago Cubs third base coach Will Venable in interviewing for the position. The team’s bench coach, Joe Espada, is also a candidate.
The Astros’ search is progressing quickly, with full squad workouts roughly a month away. Owner Jim Crane has said the plan is to have a new manager in place by Feb. 3.
There would be some amusement in the Astros, who have long claimed to be one of the league’s most cutting edge organizations, interviewing a staunchly old-school manager in Baker. He would bring a track record of success, having gone 192-132 in his last stop with the Washington Nationals and 1863-1636 overall as an MLB manager. The New York Mets also reportedly have Baker on their shortlist, though there is no indication the two sides have spoken yet.