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#pounditSunday, February 5, 2023

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Ex-Kyrie Irving teammate has interesting comments amid Irving’s trade request

One former Kyrie Irving teammate wants to get the band back together.

Appearing Friday on “SportsCenter,” new ESPN analyst Tristan Thompson revealed that he texted the Brooklyn Nets guard Irving about a possible Cleveland Cavaliers teammate reunion (a message Irving acknowledged).

“He put a heart emoji [reaction], so I know he read it,” said Thompson of Irving. “We all said it before. Obviously, whatever happened in Cleveland happened. But the band broke up a couple years too early. Let’s get it back together. This is what we need.”

For Irving, who requested a trade from the Nets this week after extension talks broke down, the reunion would not be in Cleveland but in Los Angeles. Irving’s former Cavs co-star LeBron James now plays for the Lakers (where ex-Cleveland assistant and longtime Irving confidant Phil Handy is also on the coaching staff). James appears to be very open to a reunion with Irving as well, at least based off what he tweeted on Friday.

Thompson was teammates with Irving on the Cavs for seven seasons, and they won the NBA title together in 2016. The two also entered the league at the same time as Cleveland’s two lottery picks in 2011 and were close with one another before James even came into the picture. As such, Thompson probably has a pretty good idea of what Irving is thinking here.

Of course, it won’t be as easy as Irving just going to the Lakers (at least for this season). The Lakers will have to put together a palatable trade package for Brooklyn and fight off several other teams who are themselves targeting the eight-time All-Star Irving (some of whom are closer to contention).

Clemson player lands perfect NIL deal amid painful injury

Jan 11, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers guard Brevin Galloway (11) celebrates after beating the Louisville Cardinals 83-70 at Littlejohn Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

One Clemson basketball player is expertly turning pain into a payday.

Clemson guard Brevin Galloway revealed in a post to Instagram last week that he suffered a truly horrifying testicular injury. After a recent workout, Galloway’s testicles become severely swollen, requiring emergency surgery. You can read more gross details about Galloway’s injury here.

The senior still has yet to return to the court for Clemson since suffering the injury on Jan. 26. But he did manage to get one positive out of the whole ordeal. Galloway revealed this week that he has signed an NIL deal with (fittingly) an underwear brand.

Shinesty, the underwear brand in question, said in a press release that Galloway likely suffered the injury (officially called a testicular torsion) as a result of him wearing loose-fitting boxers during his workout. The company will now be providing Galloway with some properly-fitting underwear to last him throughout his collegiate career as well as “an undisclosed amount of cash” that will likely be able to cover the deductible for his surgery.

According to WebMD, a testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord twists around, cutting off blood flow to the testicle. It is considered to be a medical emergency and can lead to the loss of the testicle altogether if not treated promptly (within several hours).

It is great to see Galloway turning his awful experience into a lucrative one. But you really get an idea here of how NIL deals have changed the game for student-athletes these days. Other prominent ballplayers (no pun intended) have also had painful testicular injuries without the ability to profit off them.

NBA announces punishment for Dillon Brooks after nut punch

Dillon Brooks’ low blow will go down as a costly one.

The NBA announced Friday that the Memphis Grizzlies swingman Brooks has been suspended for one game over his nut punch on Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell in Thursday’s game. Brooks will be serving his ban during the Grizzlies’ next game (on Feb. 5 against the Toronto Raptors).

The incident occurred in the third quarter after Brooks missed on a layup attempt. Brooks fell to the floor, appeared to glance in Mitchell’s direction, and hit Mitchell with a fist to the groin area. Mitchell responded by chucking the basketball at Brooks, triggering a big fight (video here). Both players got ejected with Brooks also being assessed a flagrant 2 foul for the punch. The Cavaliers went on to win 128-113.

Mitchell, whom the NBA also announced a fine of $20,000 for over his role in the incident, said after the game that he wanted the league to take action against Brooks (among other inflammatory comments). Now the NBA has done just that.

Russell Wilson reportedly had strong reaction to Broncos’ Sean Payton hire

Aug 13, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) before the preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most important jobs for new Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton will be to try to salvage Russell Wilson’s tenure with the franchise. Fortunately for him, it appears he will have a willing partner in his new quarterback.

Wilson is “ecstatic” with the decision to hire Payton, according to Troy Renck of Denver7. This was backed by Wilson liking a tweet pointing out that Payton has the highest points per game mark of any coach in the Super Bowl era.

The Broncos made Wilson the centerpiece of their team in 2021 and the quarterback simply failed to deliver. He threw just 16 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, and the team went 4-11 in his starts. With those numbers in mind, it is no wonder Wilson reportedly pushed hard for Payton to choose the Broncos.

Payton has always been highly regarded as an outstanding offensive mind, and his New Orleans Saints teams consistently featured near the top of the statistical charts on that side of the ball. One can hardly blame Wilson for being excited about that.

Report reveals how Raiders are handling Derek Carr trade

Sep 13, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) before playing against the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There has been some lack of clarity regarding how the Las Vegas Raiders are handling an inevitable trade of quarterback Derek Carr. It turns out their stance is somewhat nuanced but sensible.

Previous reports had indicated that the Raiders had yet to grant Carr or his agent permission to speak to other teams about a potential trade. This seemed detrimental to getting a deal done, as Carr’s contract may require interested teams to negotiate some adjustments, not to mention the quarterback’s full no-trade clause.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter clarified the situation on Friday. The Raiders have granted Carr permission to speak to teams after those teams agree on compensation with the Raiders.

As Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal explains, the Raiders were never going to give Carr blanket permission to speak to all 31 teams. The franchise simply wants to be sure that they are dealing with a serious suitor before letting Carr speak to them.

The Raiders and Carr will still have to work out whether the quarterback is interested in any of these suitors. They will have to do it quickly, as his contract will become guaranteed on Feb. 15, and Carr has indicated that he will not extend that deadline.

Interest in Carr has so far been kept close to the vest, though there is chatter that one NFC team could be in the running.

Jets rookie recruits 2 top QBs on Twitter

Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati defensive back Sauce Gardner (DB14) talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner has quickly become a core player and a team leader. If there was any doubt about that, one only needed to see his recent Twitter activity to see the leadership mantle he has taken on.

Gardner sent a pair of tweets jokingly recruiting Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr to the Jets. Gardner was clearly having some fun, but the message was pretty clear.

The rookie cornerback later deleted the tweets and said he was just trolling.

Gardner may have been doing a bit of trolling, but he would probably love to have either quarterback on the team. At least in the case of Rodgers, the Jets front office might just share that opinion.

While it is essentially certain that the Las Vegas Raiders will move on from Carr, Rodgers’ status with the Packers is less clear. Expect the Jets to keep tabs on both quarterbacks as they search for a new veteran starter, preferably one that will help Gardner’s previous guarantee come true.

Bengals likely to move from Joe Mixon?

Aug 12, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) walks onto the field prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Mixon may have had the charges dropped regarding his aggravated menacing case, but that might not change his upcoming fate.

The attention Mixon received Thursday after it was reported there was a warrant for his arrest brought his status with the Bengals to the forefront.

Mixon is halfway through his 4-year, $48 million deal with the Bengals. He is set to earn $10.1 million next season and $10.38 million the following season. But the Bengals can cut him after June 1 and only have a $2 million cap hit, which would save them $10 million against the cap.

Mixon had a productive season with 210 carries for 814 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also caught 60 passes for 441 yards. But the Bengals seemed very comfortable with backup Samaje Perine in the lineup too. He rushed 95 times for 394 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also caught 38 passes for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Cincinnati is fortunate to still have Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase on their rookie contracts, but that’s going to be changing soon. They won’t be able to afford all their star players, so the cost-cutting could begin this offseason with Mixon.

The Bengals could utilize Perine more or keep him in his current role and look to draft a running back who could take over primary duties. Either way, the arrest warrant issue may have sealed an imminent fate for Mixon.

Rockies infielder engaged to famous actress girlfriend

Sep 1, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker (left) greets third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (right) before playing the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It may be the MLB offseason, but one Colorado Rockies player is still getting a massive W.

TMZ Sports reports this week that Rockies infielder Cole Tucker is officially engaged to his famous girlfriend, actress Vanessa Hudgens. Tucker reportedly proposed to Hudgens some time at the end of 2022.

Here are some of the recent Instagram photos that the two have shared of each other.

Hudgens, 34, is best known for her role in the “High School Musical” series. Tucker, 26, was a first-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 and spent the first four seasons of his career with them before signing with the Rockies in December.

The two began dating in late 2020. Their romance had a very cool origin story as well, and now they are officially taking things to the next level.

LeBron James shares apparent reaction to Kyrie Irving trade request

Dec 9, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) warms-up prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzles at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James appears to have taken note of Kyrie Irving’s trade request on Friday, at least judging by his social media activity.

James sent a cryptic tweet Friday that certainly appeared to be a reaction to Irving’s decision to ask the Brooklyn Nets to trade him. The tweet simply consisted of the “eyes” emoji and a crown, which pretty much everyone took as a hint that James thinks Irving can help the Los Angeles Lakers chase a championship.

James’ former Lakers teammate Kyle Kuzma certainly took it that way, at least.

It did not take long for Irving to be linked to the Lakers after reports of his trade request leaked. The parameters of an Irving-for-Russell Westbrook deal are certainly feasible, especially if both sides are motivated to make something happen. James’ endorsement probably would not hurt in pushing the Lakers to do something.

James and Irving played together with the Cleveland Cavaliers and won a title in 2016. Though they later fell out, things between them seem to have improved significantly. James would not be eager to play with Irving again were that not the case.

Report: Kentucky eyeing legendary former player for assistant role

Mar 28, 2019; Kansas City, MO, United States; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari speaks during a press conference for the midwest regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky appears to be reuniting with a program legend who even pre-dated the John Calipari era.

Jack Pilgrim of Kentucky Sports Radio reported on Friday that former NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo is working towards joining Kentucky’s coaching staff for 2023-24. Rondo, who is back on campus taking classes to finish his degree, would potentially be coming on as a student assistant.

Now 36 years old, Rondo played for two seasons at Kentucky from 2004 to 2006 under then-coach Tubby Smith. After one Elite Eight berth with the Wildcats, Rondo became a first-round draft pick and had a very successful NBA career. He made four All-Star teams, earned four All-Defensive nods, led the league in assists three times, and won two championships (in 2008 with the Boston Celtics and in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers).

Rondo’s return to Lexington would be a welcome one. It would also be fitting since another ex-Kentucky point guard recently returned to the team’s staff as a student assistant.