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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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New Pelicans exec David Griffin ‘confident’ about convincing Anthony Davis to stay

Anthony Davis

There have been no indications that Anthony Davis is backing off his trade demand with the New Orleans Pelicans now that they have landed the top overall pick in the NBA Draft, but the new man in charge of their basketball operations department is not giving up without a fight.

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin is planning to meet with Davis in the coming days, and the executive said Tuesday that he is “confident” he can pitch the six-time All-Star on remaining in New Orleans.

The Pelicans had only a 6 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick in the draft, but the lottery went their way. That now puts them in position to add Zion Williamson, whom many consider to be the best NBA prospect since LeBron James back in 2003.

Speaking of LeBron, Griffin was instrumental in bringing King James back to Cleveland in 2014 and helping to build a championship team around him. He will almost certainly use that track record of success in his discussions with Davis.

While the ideal scenario for the Pelicans would be building around both Davis and Williamson, they are doing everything they can to keep their options open.

Report: Bills TE Tyler Kroft expected to miss 3-4 months with foot injury

Buffalo Bills logo

The Buffalo Bills proved that bolstering the tight end position was a priority for them this offseason when they signed Tyler Kroft to a three-year, $18.75 million contract, but their new addition will be out for a while after suffering an unfortunate injury.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott told reporters on Tuesday that Kroft broke his foot on the first day of organized team activities Monday, and he will need to undergo surgery.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Kroft is expected to miss around 3-4 months, which means he could be ready to return at some point before or near the start of the regular season.

Kroft caught 42 passes for 404 yards and seven touchdowns two seasons ago with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he was placed on injured reserve with a broken foot last year after appearing in just five games. It’s unclear if the latest foot injury is related to the first, but fellow tight end Greg Olsen is an example of how those issues can linger. Hopefully that does not end up being the case with Kroft.

Eagles coach confirms Carson Wentz has no limitations at OTAs

Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz missed a large portion of the offseason with the Philadelphia Eagles last year as he recovered from ACL surgery, and the quarterback appears to be off to a much better start from a health standpoint this year.

On Tuesday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed that Wentz will not have any limitations during organized team activities.

That obviously puts Wentz on track to be a full participant in minicamp and training camp, which is important this year now that Nick Foles has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Wentz suffered stress fractures in his back last season and admitted as recently as a month ago that he is not 100 percent recovered from the injury, so the Eagles will likely continue to be cautious with him during the spring and summer. That said, they have made it clear they are not worried about his long-term health.

Julian Edelman reportedly agrees to multi-year extension with Patriots

Julian Edelman

The New England Patriots are a bit thin at the wide receiver position heading into 2019, but at least Tom Brady knows he will likely have his favorite target to throw to for the remainder of his career.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports that Julian Edelman and the Patriots have agreed to a multi-year extension. Edelman was set to count just $5.4 million against the salary cap for 2019, but the new deal will give him a raise.

Edelman has dealt with some injuries over the past few seasons and will turn 33 this week. He also missed four games at the start of 2018 due to a performance-enhancing drug suspension, but he remains one of the most hard-nosed and reliable players in football. New England’s offense is significantly better with Edelman on the field, and he and Brady clearly have a great relationship.

The Patriots drafted former Arizona State star N’Keal Harry in the first round last month, so they are hoping he will provide them with a threat on the outside while Edelman continues to serve as their chain-mover.

Report: Damian Lillard expected to sign supermax extension with Blazers

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard is not set to become a free agent for two more seasons, but the Portland Trail Blazers could lock him in for even longer than that this summer.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that Lillard is expected to sign a four-year, $191 million supermax contract extension with the Blazers this offseason. Lillard will be eligible for the supermax if he is named to one of the three All-NBA teams, and that is a virtual certainty after he averaged 25.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and a career-high 6.9 assists per game this season.

A four-year extension would keep Lillard under contract with Portland through age 35, so the likelihood of him playing his entire career there seems high.

Lillard’s new deal would likely include a player option, according to Haynes. He said after the Blazers were swept by the Golden State Warriors on Monday that he is not yet focused on his contract situation.

While the end result was disappointing for Portland, Lillard brought us some of the most entertaining moments of the postseason. His importance to the Blazers cannot be overstated, and it’s no surprise they are willing to make that type of financial commitment to the 28-year-old.

Pat Riley: Lakers never reached out to me about returning

Pat Riley Heat

Pat Riley has a long history with the Los Angeles Lakers that includes leading the franchise to five championships as a head coach, and there were rumblings that owner Jeanie Buss might try to get him to return to the team after Magic Johnson unexpectedly stepped down. If that is something Buss considered, she apparently kept it to herself.

In an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan on Monday, Riley admitted that the thought of returning to the Lakers has crossed his mind “from a sentimental standpoint,” but he said they never reached out to him after Magic resigned.

“Nobody officially contacted me,” Riley said. “I have about 20 friends wishing I would come back, but nobody asked.”

Johnson, of course, accused Lakers GM Rob Pelinka this week of stabbing him in the back. Riley said he has never had any issues while dealing with Pelinka, but he commended Johnson for speaking his mind and said those types of issues happen with every team in the NBA.

“But this kind of s— goes on in organizations every day,” Riley said. “The organization gets too big, there are too many people who have been around a long time, and they start voicing their opinion about things, and that’s when the culture starts to crack.

“Maybe Earvin’s honesty will do something to get [the Lakers] thinking.”

Buss was apparently blindsided by Johnson’s explosive interview, though she must have known about the issues between him and Pelinka. In any event, it seems like there is a serious power struggle going on with the Lakers’ management group, and bringing in another franchise legend like Riley would probably only make things worse.

Top draft pick Carter Stewart to play in Japan after failing to sign with Braves

Atlanta Braves logo

The Atlanta Braves spent the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft on right-handed pitcher Carter Stewart, but they may end up with nothing to show for it.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Stewart has agreed to a deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League after he failed to reach a contract agreement with the Braves. Talks apparently fell through over concerns about a wrist injury, and Stewart then decided to enroll at Eastern Florida State Junior College so he could become eligible for the draft again this year.

As we saw with the way Kyler Murray’s situation unfolded, the MLB Draft is a lot different from some of the other sports. There’s always a risk of spending a high pick on a player and getting burned, and that appears to have happened with the Braves and Stewart.

Draymond Green says he will pay for reporter’s flight to Finals

Draymond Green

The Golden State Warriors had to alter their pregame routine a bit in the Western Conference Finals with Kevin Durant sidelined due to a calf injury, and one lucky reporter may get free airfare to the NBA Finals because of how well it worked out on Monday.

Before they take the floor, the Warriors typically gather around Durant to get amped up. Since Durant has been out, they have replaced K.D. with inanimate objects like a mop and a ball. But for Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Stephen Curry decided to grab Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian and pull him into the huddle.

The Warriors went on to win 119-117 in overtime to complete their sweep of Portland. When Arnold went to ask Draymond Green a question after the game, Green made it clear he felt Arnold played a big role in the win. The two then had an entertaining exchange that ended with Green offering to pay for Arnold’s airfare to the NBA Finals.

Green has had some issues with members of the media in the past, but he seems ready to follow through on that promise. It’s unclear when Durant will be back, so the Warriors may need a consistent presence in their pregame huddle. Arnold could be that guy.

Andrelton Simmons, Shohei Ohtani get hurt on back-to-back plays

Andrelton Simmons

The Los Angeles Angels suffered an awful stretch during the eighth inning of Monday night’s 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins when Shohei Ohtani and Andrelton Simmons got hurt on consecutive plays.

First came Ohtani, who led off the bottom of the eighth and struck out by going around on an 0-2 pitch that actually hit him.

Ohtani remained in the game because as the DH, there was no need to replace him.

The next batter was Simmons, who chopped an 0-1 pitch to the right side. He injured his ankle as he lunged towards the bag.

The Angels are more concerned about the injury status of Simmons, who sprained his ankle. Manager Brad Ausmus said after the game that Ohtani was hit on the ring finger of his right hand.

Neither player had fractures, but Simmons will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of his ankle injury.

The four-time Gold Glover is likely looking at a longer absence than Ohtani. Simmons went 1-for-4 in the loss, while Ohtani was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.

Simmons suffered a sprained ankle last year when he slipped going down the dugout steps.

Damian Lillard puts Blazers’ latest sweep in context

Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers may have made a playoff exit that looks embarrassing on the surface, but Damian Lillard is putting things in context.

For the third straight season, the Blazers’ season came to an end in a sweep. Two seasons ago, they were swept in the first round by the Warriors, who went on to win the NBA championship. Last year they were swept in the first round by the Pelicans. This year, they were swept by Golden State again, but there’s a big difference: this sweep came in the conference finals, after Portland already had eliminated the Thunder in five and Denver in seven on the road.

Lillard recognizes the difference between them.

Portland has absolutely no reason to be embarrassed with this year’s outcome. Knocking out the Thunder the way they did and beating the Nuggets on the road in Game 7 were major accomplishments. They exceeded expectations and should enter the offseason feeling like they had a great season.