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#pounditSaturday, October 1, 2022

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Kevin Durant criticizes media for trade demand questions

Kevin Durant looks up

Apr 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) looks up at the scoreboard in the third quarter against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant continues to face questions about his offseason trade drama, and the Brooklyn Nets forward clearly is not enjoying addressing it.

Durant was asked Friday about inaccuracies in reporting around his offseason trade demand, and he tried to cut off the questioning then and there. Durant conceded that it was an “interesting story,” but that he did not miss any games or practices, and that it was time to “move on past that.”

Durant cannot really have it both ways here. After all, there was some belief around the league that one of his strategies to try and force a trade was to cause as much drama as possible. Part of that would have certainly involved using the media to draw attention to certain things. It’s tough for him to try and quiet this down now after he arguably spent most of the offseason trying to fuel it.

Durant blinked first in his standoff with the Nets and withdrew his trade request. Eventually, everyone will move on to a certain degree, but without clear answers from Durant, the chatter will never go away completely.

Myles Garrett says he learned lesson from his car crash

Myles Garrett sitting on the bench

Sep 22, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) on the bench during a break in the action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Garrett on Friday spoke with the media for the first time since his frightening car accident, and the Cleveland Browns said he feels very fortunate to be alive. He also vowed to be a lot more careful on the road going forward.

Garrett, whose left eye was noticeably red from a ruptured blood vessel, confirmed what police said about his crash. The 26-year-old was driving with a female passenger after leaving the Browns’ facility on Monday when he swerved to avoid an animal and went off the road. His Porsche flipped several times before coming to rest. He said he felt like he had a “guardian angel” watching over him and that the incident will serve as a “wakeup call.”

“It’s definitely a wakeup call for, you know, just trying to be smart overall with driving and don’t take it for granted,” Garrett said. “I’m grateful I’m able to still be here. … This is definitely a call to me to be more safe with my driving and pay attention to my speed and my surroundings.”

You can hear more of Garrett’s remarks below:

Garrett was issued a citation after the crash for failure to control his vehicle. He was driving in a 45-mph zone and admitted to a responding officer that he was speeding at the time he swerved off the road.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Garrett has been cited for speeding in Ohio at least seven times since the Browns drafted him in 2017.

Both Garrett and his passenger were wearing their seatbelts, which likely prevented serious injuries. In addition to the rupture blood vessel in his eye, Garrett also suffered a strained shoulder, strained bicep and cut on his wrist. He said he is still unsure if he will be cleared to play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Rachel Nichols lands new sports media gig

Rachel Nichols holding a microphone

Mar 19, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; truTV broadcaster Rachel Nichols (center) interviews Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller (left) against the Texas Southern Tigers during the first half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rachel Nichols has laid low for most of 2022, but now she is officially back.

Showtime Basketball announced on Friday their hiring of the former ESPN host Nichols. The network said in a release that Nichols will serve as both a host and a producer for them, contributing to multiple programs and projects across multiple platforms (per Awful Announcing).

SI’s Chris Mannix further reports that the plan is for Nichols to eventually host a monthly basketball program for Showtime Basketball.

Showtime’s basketball wing, best known for the popular podcast “All The Smoke” hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, is rapidly growing. Retired Basketball Hall of Famers like Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, and Paul Pierce have also done projects with the network.

As for Nichols, this is the first that we have heard from her since she officially parted ways with ESPN in January. Though she had spent over a decade with ESPN and become one of their most prominent personalities, the network removed her from their programming following controversial leaked comments Nichols made about former colleague Maria Taylor.

After a roughly nine-month absence though, Nichols has returned and looks poised for a major role with Showtime Basketball.

Bruce Bochy eyeing potential return to managing?

Bruce Bochy in a Giants uniform

Sep 20, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) is honored against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After three years away from the dugout, Bruce Bochy might be readying for a return, with a couple of teams that may suit him quite well.

In a column highlighting potential managerial openings, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic names Bochy as a name that could be in play. The former San Francisco Giants manager told Rosenthal he is “not ruling anything out,” signaling an openness to returning to managing.

Rosenthal names the Texas Rangers as one team that could pursue Bochy, as the team has spent heavily and figures to want to contend quickly. Plus, Rangers general manager Chris Young briefly played for Bochy during his playing career.

The Chicago White Sox are also a potential suitor for Bochy. The White Sox do not appear to be planning to bring back Tony La Russa, and Bochy would be a good fit for a team that is meant to be in win-now mode.

Bochy would be a coup for any team that could land him. The three-time World Series winner is a future Hall of Famer and would bring instant credibility to any clubhouse. He has been eyed for openings before since leaving the Giants, but there appears to be a real chance he could seriously listen to overtures at this point.

Boxer Luis Quinones dies 5 days after losing fight

Luis Quinones holding up a glove

Boxer Luis Quinones died Thursday night at the age of 25, five days after losing a bout in Colombia.

Quinones was knocked out by Jose Munoz at Coliseo Elias Chegwin in Barranquilla on Saturday. He was put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital after being knocked out. He underwent brain surgery and a craniectomy for a subdural hematoma.

Quinones was declared brain-dead on Thursday. He was taken off a respirator later that day.

Fight promoter Cuadrilatero Boxing issued a statement about Quinones’ death.

“Cuadrilatero Boxing is deeply saddened by the death of Luis Quinones, an exceptional and disciplined human being, who always showed the greatest commitment to this sport. Luis was passionate about boxing, so much so that he left his hometown of Barrancabermeja to continue his career in Barranquilla and become a national athlete. His idol was Julio Cesar Chavez.”

Quinones was 10-0 prior to the loss.

Derrick Henry has surprising take on rival RB

Derrick Henry carries the ball

Derrick Henry, of the Tennessee Titans, runs against the New York Jets, Sunday, October 3, 2021.
Nfl Week 4 Jets V Titans

NFL players are not necessarily known for crowning their peers the best at their position when they have a claim to the title themselves. Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is clearly a bit different.

Henry had high praise for his Indianapolis Colts counterpart Jonathan Taylor on Thursday, calling Taylor perhaps the best running back in the sport ahead of their matchup on Sunday.

“One of the best running backs in the league if not the best,” Henry said of Taylor, via Mike Organ of the Nashville Tennessean. “He’s young and he’s dominating the league at an early age and I think he’ll be doing it for awhile.”

Henry could claim the title of the best for himself. He ran for 2,000 yards in 2020, and only injuries prevented him from posting similar numbers in 2021. Statistically, he has been dominant, even as he approaches his 30s.

Of course, Taylor is great too, and Henry is likely correct that he may become the best active back, if he isn’t already. He led the league with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2021, and he did so in only his second professional season.

Of course, Henry still wants to be the best, and he came into 2022 with something to prove. Still, his modesty is quite admirable.

NFL defends Tua Tagovailoa evaluation process

Tua Tagovailoa at a press conference

Oct 15, 2021; Ware, United Kingdom; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) at a press conference at the Hanbury Marriott Manor and Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins and NFL are under a great deal of scrutiny after Tua Tagovailoa suffered a frightening head injury on Thursday night, but a league official says the quarterback was checked for concussion symptoms every day leading up to the game.

NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills spoke with Judy Battista of NFL.com on Friday about the process that led to Tagovailoa being cleared to play against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sills said the NFL is working with the NFL Players Association to determine if there were any violations of the league’s concussion protocol after Tagovailoa returned to last Sunday’s game despite looking very wobbly after a hit. While Sills said he did not want to make any definitive statements about the situation until the review is complete, he confirmed that Tagovailoa was checked daily for concussion symptoms after the incident in Week 3.

“I know that he was checked after the game. I know that he was checked the following day,” Sills said. “Every player who gets an examination on game day gets a follow-up exam the following day, even if that (initial) exam was negative. That’s part of our concussion protocol. And I know that this player was checked every day leading up to the game.”

Sills added that there would be “very serious consequences” if the review determines that the concussion protocol was not followed properly. However, he did note that Tagovailoa did not meet any of the “no-go criteria” when he suffered his injury against the Bills. Sills said the “no-go” signs are the fencing posture, which Tagovailoa exhibited on Thursday night, and amnesia or confusion.

The NFL Players Association disagrees. NFLPA president JC Tretter released a statement on Friday saying the union is “outraged” by what took place with Tagovailoa over the past week. The NFLPA believes Tagovailoa did exhibit “no-go” symptoms last week in addition to in Thursday’s game.

Several powerful voices from the NFL community blasted the Dolphins during Thursday night’s game. Head coach Mike McDaniel defended the process that led to Tagovailoa being cleared.

John Harbaugh criticizes Dolphins over handling of Tua Tagovailoa

John Harbaugh looking on

Dec 8, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh jogs on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh issued a surprising public criticism of the Miami Dolphins over their handling of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins were widely criticized for allowing Tagovailoa to play Thursday, just four days after he suffered a concerning-looking injury against the Buffalo Bills. That criticism increased after Tagovailoa suffered a frightening head injury against the Cincinnati Bengals.

A lot of that criticism came from ex-players and members of the media, but Harbaugh notably did not back away from a pretty strong take on Friday when asked about Tagovailoa’s injury. Harbaugh said it was “astonishing” that Tagovailoa was cleared to play, seemingly criticizing the Dolphins for starting him.

Obviously, Harbaugh is stating what seems to be the majority opinion here. Still, it is a bit of a surprise to hear an active coach come out so firmly with this stance.

The Dolphins have maintained that they followed all the proper protocols with regard to Tagovailoa. Harbaugh would know what those protocols are, so his criticism is a bit more noteworthy.

The NFL and NFLPA are investigating the handling of Tagovailoa’s initial injury. Harbaugh, like many others, will probably be quite interested to hear what they find.

Reporter offers surprising update on Mac Jones’ ankle injury

Mac Jones looks on

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during a timeout against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones suffered what has been described as a severe ankle injury in last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but speculation is building that the New England Patriots quarterback could play through it in Week 4.

Jones was present at the start of practice on Friday, which came as a huge surprise to just about every reporter in attendance. That could put him on track to play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Shortly before the start of Friday’s practice, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported that Jones has been responding well to treatment on his left ankle. She added that reports about the severity of Jones’ high ankle sprain appear to have been “overstated.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Monday that Jones’ ankle injury is one that would result in surgery for many people. A high ankle sprain is typically a multi-week injury for NFL players.

Despite that, Jones has reportedly been telling teammates not to rule him out for Sunday’s game.

It is hard to take anything at face value when it comes to injuries and the Patriots. Bill Belichick loves keeping the media and opponents in the dark about the status of his players, and the situation with Jones is no different. The Patriots will almost certainly wait until the last second to announce their starting quarterback for the Packers game. If Jones sits, veteran Brian Hoyer will replace him.

Blake Griffin signs with Eastern Conference contender

Blake Griffin warms up before a game

Apr 25, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin (2) warms up before game four of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics have been exploring ways to bolster their frontcourt depth in the wake of injuries to Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari, and they are hoping a six-time NBA All-Star can help address that need.

Blake Griffin has agreed to a one-year contract with the Celtics, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The deal is fully guaranteed and worth the veteran minimum.

Griffin, 33, was most recently with the Brooklyn Nets. Nowhere near the player he was in his prime, the former first overall pick averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while appearing in 56 contests. He played 17.1 minutes per game.

Gallinari, whom the Celtics signed this offseason, tore his ACL last month while playing for Italy in the FIBA World Cup qualifying. He will miss the entire 2022-23 season. Williams underwent knee surgery last week and is expected to miss 8-12 weeks.

Though he had the worst statistical season of his career in Brooklyn last year, Griffin’s lack of production may have had something to do with reported issues between him and Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Celtics are hoping he still has more to offer than what he showed last season.