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#pounditSaturday, July 2, 2022

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Stefanos Tsitsipas got away with controversial move at Wimbledon

Stefanos Tsitsipas hits the ball

Stefanos Tsitsipas got away with a controversial move at Wimbledon on Saturday.

Tsitsipas lost 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7) in his exciting third-round match against Nick Kyrgios.

During the second set, a frustrated Tsitsipas backhanded a ball into the lower level of the stands. He was lucky that the bill did not hit any spectators.

Tsitsipas received a code violation for his move.

Kyrgios began to complain that there wasn’t a harsher penalty for his opponent. The Australian compared what Tsitsipas did to what Novak Djokovic did to get disqualified from the 2020 US Open.

Kyrgios started ranting at officials after the play. He called one a “disgrace” for not giving Tsitsipas a harsher penalty.

In addition to hitting the ball into the stands, Tsitsipas also got frustrated and hit a ball off the scoreboard. He received a point penalty for that move. He also seemed to hit a ball towards Kyrgios.

Tsitsipas later apologized for his actions.

The entire match was a circus. Kyrgios hit some serves from unconventional positions. He was ranting and raving throughout the contest, as is his usual style. Tsitsipas was growing frustrated, received coaching, and took a long bathroom break.

The match had just about everything.

Hawks guard had rough reaction to getting traded

Kevin Huerter looking on

March 24, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (3) during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

One NBA player got a very rude awakening this week.

Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter was involved in a trade Friday with the Sacramento Kings. The Hawks dealt him for Kings forwards Justin Holiday and Moe Harkless (plus a future first-round pick).

Huerter, who was drafted by Atlanta and had spent his entire NBA career with them thus far, tweeted a rough reaction to the news. “My official welcome to the NBA moment,” he wrote.

The 23-year-old Huerter has not said anything on social media since, now a span of over 24 hours. He probably figured that he was safe with the Hawks. Huerter had been Atlanta’s main starting shooting guard (including during their Eastern Conference Finals berth in 2021) and had recently secured a four-year, $65 million extension from the team that kicks in next season.

But trading Huerter provides some cap relief to the Hawks since Holiday and Harkless are both on expiring contracts. Atlanta also recently made a major trade for a new starting 2 guard, unfortunately leaving Huerter without a chair as the music stopped (though he should still get good minutes on a wing-depleted Kings team).

Damian Lillard shares intriguing message in cryptic post

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard’s status with the Portland Trail Blazers remains something of a curiosity, with many questioning his long-term commitment if the organization is not a contender. Whether he meant to or not, Lillard added fuel to that fire with his social media activity on Saturday.

Lillard posted a video to his Instagram story that included a message that read “loyalty has an expiration date.” Lillard himself endorsed the sentiment as a “hard truth” in his caption.

It would be easy to read this as Lillard warning the Blazers that at a certain point he will have to consider whether Portland is where he is best positioned to win a championship. That message may even take on an added layer considering Lillard’s recent recruitment of one of the league’s biggest stars.

As has been the case all along, Lillard seems to want to win a title in Portland. He has frequently sent the message, however, that he needs to see the organization make the moves to make that possible. They added Jerami Grant in a trade with Detroit earlier in the offseason, but some reports suggest Lillard is still in wait-and-see mode when it comes to contract talks. This message certainly fits with that line of thinking.

Rafael Nadal has words with Lorenzo Sonego at Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal talks with Lorenzo Sonego

Rafael Nadal had words with Lorenzo Sonego late in their match at Wimbledon on Saturday.

Nadal beat Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round of their match at the All England Club. Late in the match, Nadal was seen approaching the chair umpire, seemingly to complain about an issue.

Nadal then was seen speaking with Sonego at the net at around 4-4.

There was speculation that Nadal was upset with some grunting coming from Sonego.

After Nadal closed out the victory, the two met at the net again for a handshake. They had a talk at the net and then agreed to continue their conversation in the locker room.

Later while speaking with the media following his win, Nadal apologized for calling Sonego to the net to lecture him mid-match.

This marked the first meeting between the men. There was some rockiness involved, but between Sonego’s composure and Nadal’s apology, they ended matters professionally.

Padres may make radical change when Fernando Tatis Jr. returns

Fernando Tatis Jr. running

Feb 28, 2020; Peoria, Arizona, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr against the Chicago Cubs during a spring training game at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres expect to have Fernando Tatis Jr. back within the next month, but his return from injury will leave the team with a bit of a conundrum positionally.

The Padres have been impressed with the defensive ability of Ha-Seong Kim, who has been filling in at the position with Tatis hurt. There is at least some consideration being given to moving Tatis to center field upon his return, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The consideration exists both to keep Kim’s glove on the field and to protect Tatis from potential re-injury.

Tatis had previously been adamant about playing shortstop, but when Rosenthal asked him about a potential move to center, the Padres star admitted he was open to a position change “if it means we’re going to win more ballgames.” That answer was similar to the one he gave when asked about the prospect last year.

The Padres experimented with Tatis in the outfield at the end of the 2021 season, so the idea is not new. The thinking seems to be that playing there could allow him to show off more of his athleticism with a lower risk of injury. Of course, Tatis would run the risk of diving attempts or running into walls that could cause physical issues, but that will be true of him anywhere on the field.

The team has also gotten little offense from center fielder Trent Grisham, so there is motivation to try to find an upgrade there. Clearly, no decision has been made, but the situation bears watching.

US Open tennis account brutally roasts Drew Lock

Drew Lock after a game

Dec 8, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) walks on the field after the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Poor Drew Lock was the victim of a vicious burn from a very unexpected place on Saturday.

After ESPN’s SportsCenter account posted a highlight from Saturday’s Wimbledon match between Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas, a Twitter user with the username “seahawksfan2314” responded by dismissing tennis as “not a sport.” This kind of barb would have gone ignored if not for the Twitter account of the US Open, which intervened quickly.

“Not a sport says the person about to watch 17 games of Drew Lock at QB,” the account wrote.

The response quickly went viral. That’s not just because of a Twitter account for a tennis tournament butting in like that, but because the burn was so targeted and vicious. Lock didn’t really deserve that.

For what it’s worth, the Seahawks appear to have some confidence in Lock, who will be tasked with taking over following Russell Wilson’s trade to Denver. That optimism is not shared by most of the general public, obviously.

Mavericks considering unusual strategy for next season?

Mark Cuban smiles

Nov 27, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban smiles for the camera before the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A revolution may be brewing in the NBA — the unlikely return of tall ball.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported this week that new Dallas Mavericks big man Christian Wood is “wide open” to the idea of starting at power forward next year. The point of the move would be to accommodate another newly-acquired Mavs big, seven-foot center JaVale McGee.

Wood, who just arrived from the Houston Rockets, had become a full-time center over the last couple of seasons. But with his height (6-foot-9) and his three-point shooting skill (38.0 percent from deep on his career), Wood may be able to reverse pivot to the 4 for the Mavs. Doing so would keep the floor properly spaced for Luka Doncic while also allowing Doncic to maintain an alley-oop gadget in the starting lineup in McGee.

On a more macro-NBA scale, the two-big era seemed to be dead and buried for the better part of the last decade. But the seeds for a comeback had been planted this postseason with the success of Boston Celtics double trees Al Horford and Robert Williams alongside each other in the starting lineup. A recent blockbuster deal elsewhere in the West is also hinting at a twin-tower resurgence, and now a Wood-McGee tandem could be next to join the party.

Ex-Kentucky star offers update on his recovery after serious car accident

Tyler Ulis in a basketball uniform

Apr 8, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Tyler Ulis (8) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Golden State Warriors at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

A former Kentucky star is speaking out after he was involved in a serious car crash earlier this year.

Tyler Ulis made a public appearance in Lexington this week to host a youth skills camp. Ulis spoke with local news station WKYT and gave an update on his recovery. The ex-Wildcats guard, who was in a wheelchair, said he has not walked in five months. Ulis added though that he will hopefully start walking again in the next month and then start running in the next four months. He also remains hopeful about continuing his basketball career.

“God gave me a gift,” said Ulis. “I know circumstances have changed a lot of things, being hurt. But just gotta work, take it day by day, build your body back up, and just keep pushing … I’m lucky to be here so it’s a blessing.”

Ulis suffered a broken left ankle and two broken wrists during a scary head-on collision last February. You can read more details about the crash here.

The 26-year-old Ulis was a two-year standout for Kentucky, becoming a fan favorite for his heart and his steady hand running the offense. He was then drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the second round in 2016 and played three seasons in the NBA. Ulis has not played competitively since his stint with the Stockton Kings of the NBA G League in 2019-20. But he sounds very determined to get healthy and to get back to playing basketball again.

Nationals make big decision regarding Dave Martinez

Dave Martinez looking on

Jul 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez (4) looks on during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals are well out of contention for 2022, but their faith in their current management appears to be unshaken.

The Nationals announced Saturday that they have picked up the 2023 contract option on manager Dave Martinez. General manager Mike Rizzo will also be retained for 2023. Both were essentially lame ducks, with the team holding club options on their respective contracts for next season.

There was some speculation that Martinez may be on the hot seat, but this news should relieve at least some of the pressure. Truthfully, there is not a ton he can do about the current struggles the team is having. He won the World Series with Washington in 2019, but injuries and underperformance have left the team’s roster short of talent since then, and the results have been poor. The whole scenario has been somewhat taxing on Martinez, to say the least.

Martinez, now in his fifth season with Washington, carries a managerial record of 295-330 as of Saturday.

Report: 1 interested team may balk at Donovan Mitchell trade

Donovan Mitchell looks on

Jan 16, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There is still some lack of clarity on whether the Utah Jazz would entertain trade offers for guard Donovan Mitchell. If they do, however, one team persistently linked to Mitchell may find the asking price to be too much to bear.

The New York Knicks, who have long been linked with Mitchell, may ultimately be reluctant to give up what it would take to land the guard, according to Ian Begley of SNY. While some around the NBA do view Mitchell as available for the right price, the Knicks would view such a price as prohibitive. Knicks officials reportedly believe trading the combination of picks and players to get Mitchell would leave the team without the pieces to put together a contender now.

Begley suggests Utah might ask for four first-round picks for Mitchell after getting three for Rudy Gobert. While the Knicks would be capable of meeting that asking price, they would apparently be reluctant to do so.

The Knicks’ interest in Mitchell is such an open secret that it caused a bit of an incident when their executives sat courtside at a Utah playoff game. If he were available via trade and the Knicks bowed out of the chase, it would be a surprise and something of a disappointment.

There is still a lack of clarity regarding Mitchell’s actual availability. At this point, perhaps the Knicks are hoping he isn’t on the market.