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#pounditThursday, January 21, 2021

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Clippers interested in trading for Lonzo Ball?

Lonzo Ball

An intriguing opportunity may be awaiting Lonzo Ball back in his hometown of Los Angeles.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Heavy.com reported on Wednesday that the LA Clippers are among the teams interested in trading for the New Orleans Pelicans guard. Robinson also lists the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, and Orlando Magic as others with interest in Ball.

The 23-year-old Ball still has not quite found his groove with the Pelicans. He is averaging just 11.9 points and 4.4 assists per game this season. Ball is also getting somewhat fewer touches in the backcourt with the addition of Eric Bledsoe and the emergence of Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

The Clippers, currently third in the West, are a team that still lacks a true playmaking point guard. Ball is a native of nearby Chino Hills and attended college at UCLA. Thus, the potential fit is there, especially with the recent uncertainty over Ball’s future in New Orleans.

Oliver Luck mentioned as Pac-12 commissioner candidate

Oliver Luck

The Pac-12 needs a new commissioner, and Oliver Luck is already being mentioned as a candidate for the job.

The Pac-12 on Wednesday announced that they were parting ways with Larry Scott, whose contract was up in June 2022. The move is being made now to get a new commissioner in place ahead of the conference’s 2024 TV negotiations for college football.

One person whose name has been coming up frequently as a candidate is Luck, according to Bruce Feldman and Pete Thamel.

Luck, 60, was a college quarterback who played in the NFL briefly. He later became the athletic director at his alma mater, West Virginia. He was a president for NFL Europe, has worked for the NCAA, has experience as an AD, and most recently, he was the XFL commissioner. Luck is extremely qualified for the position, and he would be a great fit. His son, Andrew, also played in the Pac-12 at Stanford.

Luck is suing the XFL over the way things unfolded at the league, which shuttered last year. If he is interested, he would be perfect. The conference of course probably won’t hire him seeing as how much they’ve botched things recently.

Here is why Pac-12 now finally parted ways with Larry Scott

Larry Scott

Larry Scott was despised by fans of Pac-12 schools for years after doing lasting damage to the conference’s reputation and performance in the major sports of college football and college basketball. For years, fans widely acknowledged that Scott was taking the conference in the wrong direction.

So why now, why after all these years, did the Pac-12 finally part ways with Scott a year before his contract was set to expire in June, 2022?

According to college football reporter Stewart Mandel, the conference’s TV deal is up in 2024. The Pac-12 wanted to have a new commissioner in place well before then as TV negotiations are likely to begin well before 2024.

This is smart. The conference should have gotten rid of Scott years ago, but the earlier they get him out, the better.

Scott will stay on through June before exiting. A new commissioner should help the conference secure better rights, a better TV package, and hopefully fix the DirecTV problem.

Larry Scott finally fired as Pac-12 commissioner

Larry Scott

The Pac-12 will finally have some new leadership.

Larry Scott was fired as commissioner of the Pac-12 on Wednesday. CEOs of the conference finished a meeting that led to the decision.

Scott sent an email to the Pac-12 athletic directors, telling them it was a mutual decision, even though he had a contract that ran through 2022.

The move is long overdue and really is coming far too late.

Scott took over as Pac-12 commissioner in 2009. Since then, the conference has become less and less relevant in college football and basketball, and is viewed as a joke among the Power 5 conferences, especially in football. The conference barely having a season in 2020 set it back even more than it already had been in terms of nationwide reputation.

The biggest error Scott made was keeping the Pac-12 Networks, which were launched in 2012, off of DirecTV. A significant percentage of the conferences fans were unable to watch their teams due to this horrible TV deal and became more disconnected with their programs. Simultaneously, Scott recently introduced 9 AM football games, which would give no chance for fans to have a typical college football Saturday.

Under Scott, the conference also expanded to include Colorado and Utah. Once highly-regarded as the Conference as Champions, the Pac-12 has plummeted in stature due to Scott’s horrendous leadership.

Bradley Beal upset NBA is making Wizards play so soon after COVID issues

Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal is upset with the NBA for making his Washington Wizards play on Friday.

The Wizards have not played since defeating Phoenix on Jan. 11. The team had a COVID-19 outbreak that led to five games being postponed, including their game schedule for Wednesday night. However, the team is set to return to play on Friday at Milwaukee.

Beal says they are “fighting the league” on playing Friday.

Beal believes the team playing so soon after so long off, with very little practice time, could lead to injury.

Beal, Raul Neto, Cassius Winston, Garrison Mathews, Jerome Robinson, Isaac Bonga, Anthony Gill and Robin Lopez are all available. Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moe Wagner are in health and safety protocol.

The Wizards are 3-8 this season.

Rasheed Wallace critical of Kyrie Irving for absence

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving received ample criticism for his recent absence from the Brooklyn Nets, and now that includes respected former NBA veterans too.

Retired big man Rasheed Wallace appeared this week on WFAN’s “Moose & Maggie.” In the interview, Wallace did not hold back on Irving’s situation.

“If it wasn’t something to do with your mom or your kids, I can’t roll with that,” said Wallace. “You saying you need space or whatever – this ain’t the summertime, so for me personally, we gotta talk about that, bro. You have a job you’re still getting paid for. You have an obligation to your teammates. He might’ve talked to the owner, or the coaches or his teammates. But it’s no excuse he shouldn’t have been there.

“I understand the whole thing with social injustice,” Wallace went on. “He has a promise to fulfill to George Floyd’s family and all. But you still have a responsibility to the team. We see him on Zoom meetings for politicians, it can’t be that serious for what you wanna sit out for.”

Irving missed seven games for the Nets with the team going 5-2 over that span. He returned for Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and was extremely vague with the media in addressing his absence.

As for Wallace, now 46, he was known for his hijinks on the court, but he walked the walk as well. Wallace appeared in 75 or more games in nine of his NBA seasons. He is also part of a generation who may not be able to relate to the current era of superstar coddling.

Patrick Mahomes’ fiancee Brittany Matthews responds after being mocked in video

Patrick Mahomes Brittany Matthews

Patrick Mahomes’ fiancee Brittany Matthews responded on Twitter Tuesday after being mocked in a video.

Barstool Sports posted a video compilation on Sunday of Matthews yelling during Kansas City Chiefs games. The video was posted in a negative manner, showing how annoying Matthews’ yelling is. Their caption said: “Mahomes is never going to recover from this concussion.”

Mahomes was taken into concussion protocol on Sunday during the third quarter of the Chiefs’ win over the Cleveland Browns. He was able to practice on Wednesday and is receiving positive reports.

A Chiefs fan responded to the video to assure Matthews that Chiefs fans still love her. Matthews appreciated the message and told Chiefs fans she loved them back.

Matthews is taking the high road and focusing only on her intended audience: Chiefs fans who love her and Mahomes.

Dick’s selling folding tables in section with Buffalo Bills gear

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills fans are a generous, rowdy, and passionate bunch, and they have become known for their wild tailgating antics. Bills Mafia and folding tables have become synonymous, so much so that a Dick’s Sporting Goods store is selling tables in the Bills section of their store.

Bills fan Matt Johnson shared a photo on Twitter Tuesday of the Dick’s store where he says this took place.

That’s awesome, and fitting for the audience. Bills fans love bodyslamming tables at their tailgates.

Unfortunately, the Bills’ best season in over 25 years came at a time when fans weren’t able to attend most games. That’s why Dick’s is coming in handy with the tables, so fans can have the experience anywhere.

Despite their wild partying ways, Bills fans are also known for being among the most generous fanbases around.

Tennessee star players enter transfer portal after Jeremy Pruitt firing

Tennessee Vols logo

With Jeremy Pruitt fired and the potential for looming sanctions, the Tennessee football program is a huge mess right now. On Wednesday, it managed to get even messier thanks to some high-profile player departures.

As summed up by al.com’s Matt Zenitz, the Volunteers lost four starters to the transfer portal: linebackers Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch, running back Eric Gray, and offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson.

These are not insignificant departures. To’o To’o was the quarterback of the defense, led the team in tackles with 68, 7.5 of them for a loss. Crouch was a five-star recruit who was the team’s third-leading tackler in 2020. Gray led the team with 772 rushing yards and was the best player on the offense, while Johnson started five games for the Volunteers and was set for an even bigger role in 2021.

Five-star offensive lineman Wanya Morris left Tennessee last week, transferring to Oklahoma. Four-star defensive end recruit Dylan Brooks also asked the school to release him from his letter of intent Tuesday following the Pruitt firing.

With potential sanctions looming and talent fleeing the program, the Volunteers’ coaching position keeps looking less and less attractive. Tennessee fans have their hearts set on a fairly big name, but they’ll be lucky to get anyone close to that at this rate.

Report: Blue Jays could still pursue Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer

The free-spending Toronto Blue Jays may not be done yet in the free agent market.

The Blue Jays signed outfielder George Springer to a $150 million deal on Tuesday in one of the biggest moves of the offseason. There was some thought that such a significant financial commitment would rule Toronto out of pursuing any other big name free agents, but that does not appear to be the case.

According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Blue Jays are not necessarily out on Bauer even after signing Springer.

The Blue Jays have the luxury of a rather young and subsequently inexpensive core of key players, at least for the moment. That could allow them to stretch the payroll a bit and bring in guys like Bauer to compete now.

Even if the Blue Jays are serious about pursuing Bauer, they’re going to face very stiff competition if they want to land him.