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#pounditFriday, June 2, 2023

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Rory McIlroy has surprising opinion on Brooks Koepka

Rory McIlroy on the course

May 30, 2019; Dublin, OH, USA; Rory McIlroy looks on during the first round of the 2019 Memorial golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy has shared a surprising opinion regarding Brooks Koepka.

McIlroy spoke with the media on Wednesday ahead of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The 34-year-old said that he felt Koepka deserved a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

“I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the United States team. I think with how he’s played, I mean, he’s second in the US standings [and] only played two counting events,” McIlroy said. “I don’t know if there’s anyone else on the LIV roster that would make the team on merit and how they’re playing. But Brooks is definitely a guy that I think deserves to be on the US team.”

That type of opinion is a big surprise for McIlroy. He spent all last year being the most outspoken critic of LIV and the players who chose to sign with the PGA Tour rival league. Koepka, who just won the PGA Championship, is one of the golfers who chose to join LIV Golf.

Though McIlroy believes Koepka should be allowed to play in the Ryder Cup, which pits U.S. players against European players, the Northern Ireland native feels differently about Team Europe.

“I have different feelings about the European team and the other side and sort of how that has all transpired and, yes, I don’t think any of those guys should be a part of the European team,” McIlroy said.

The PGA of America CEO said in 2021 and 2022 that he thought members of LIV would be ineligible to compete in the Ryder Cup. Henrik Stenson even lost his captain position for the European team after he joined LIV. So for McIlroy to support Koepka being on the US team now is a big deal.

McIlroy hasn’t done a complete 180 regarding LIV golfers, but he is no longer taking the complete hard-line stance against them that he did last year.

Monty Williams could make nine figures with Pistons

Monty Williams looking on

Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams reacts during the second quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans during game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons apparently made the godfather offer of all godfather offers to Monty Williams.

News broke late Wednesday night that the Pistons are hiring the ex-Phoenix Suns coach Williams as their next head coach. Williams is reportedly getting six years and $72 million from Detroit.

However, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the numbers may get even more ridiculous than that. Charania says Williams’ Pistons deal could reach eight years and $100 million based on team options and incentives.

Six years and $72 million already marks the biggest coaching contract in NBA history. But nine figures is truly titanic. Mind you, Detroit franchise player Cade Cunningham will “only” make $11.1 million next season while Williams makes at least $12 million. Meanwhile, the Pistons only have a TOTAL of $97.5 million in player salaries on their books for next season. Williams might make more than that over the life of his Detroit deal (though it is possible some of the incentives that could take it up to $100 million are based around unlikely criteria such as winning the NBA title).

The 51-year-old Williams, a former Coach of the Year who led the Suns to the Finals in 2021, has his work cut out for him. The Pistons were by far the worst team in the league this season at 17-65 and are basically starting from scratch with a multitude of young former lottery selections. But Williams will certainly be getting paid handsomely for his efforts to say the least.

Everyone thinks they identified the moment Shannon Sharpe decided to leave FOX Sports

Shannon Sharpe talks with Skip Bayless

Shannon Sharpe reportedly has reached a buyout with FOX Sports that will clear the way for him to leave his role as a co-host of “Undisputed” on FS1 and move his “Club Shay Shay” show to a new home. Several people on Twitter think they have identified the moment that Sharpe knew he wanted to leave the show.

Sharpe become a co-host of “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless in 2016. Bayless is a strong personality with bold opinions that range from wacky to insane. He can’t be too easy to oppose in daily debates, though Sharpe hung with him for seven years.

But things may have turned for Sharpe in December.

Fans identified one particular video clip as signaling a change in the relationship between Sharpe and Bayless that likely led to the split.

In the clip, Sharpe criticized Tom Brady while Bayless defended the quarterback. Bayless then accused Sharpe of being jealous of Brady. Sharpe became extremely frustrated with Bayless for making it personal rather than accepting the criticism of Brady.

In addition to that heated moment where Sharpe obviously felt Bayless crossed a line, the two had some tension a month later.

Sharpe skipped the show the day after Damar Hamlin collapsed and had immense frustration with Bayless’ tweets about the matter.

Adding that all up, not to mention the great success Sharpe has enjoyed through his Club Shay Shay show, and it’s no surprise the former tight end has decided he is ready to leave.

Pistons make monster coaching hire

Monty Williams on the sideline

Jan 10, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams against the Orlando Magic at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons have made a major coaching move.

The Pistons have reached a deal with Monty Williams to make him their new head coach. The contract is for $72 million over six years, according to Shams Charania. That breaks down to $12 million per season, which is as much as several good players make.

This will be Williams’ third job as a head coach. He coached the New Orleans Pelicans for five seasons from 2010-2015. Then he coached the Phoenix Suns the last four seasons before being fired by the team’s new regime after a disappointing playoff exit this year.

Williams has a .522 winning percentage during his coaching career and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2022. His teams have made the playoffs in five of his nine seasons as a coach, with one NBA Finals appearance.

The 51-year-old Williams will have his work cut out for him in Detroit. The Pistons have only had one winning season since 2009. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2008.

Detroit has several young players to develop like Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Jaden Ivey, James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III.

Report: Shannon Sharpe to leave FS1

Shannon Sharpe smiling

Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos former tight end Shannon Sharpe in attendance against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Shannon Sharpe era at FOX Sports is officially ending.

Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post reported on Wednesday that the retired Football Hall of Famer Sharpe has reached a buyout agreement with FOX Sports. As a result, Sharpe is exiting FS1’s “Undisputed” with his final show expected to come after the conclusion of the 2023 NBA Finals in June. Sharpe’s popular podcast “Club Shay Shay” will also be leaving FOX Sports, Marchand adds.

Sharpe, 54, has co-hosted “Undisputed” alongside Skip Bayless since 2016. The partnership between the two had seemingly gotten rocky in recent years with many viral clips emerging of Sharpe and Bayless having tense on-air moments during their show.

Glasspiegel’s report adds that Sharpe privately said he did not want to be the unquestioned leader of “Undisputed” but did want to be an equal to Bayless when it came to the show’s topic selection. You can read the full report here.

An eight-time Pro Bowl tight end, Sharpe has been one of the most prominent figures in sports media since retiring from the NFL (he was also an analyst for CBS Sports prior to joining FOX Sports). He makes news even when not on TV and is sure to draw widespread interest from rival networks.

Purdue star Zach Edey announces his NBA Draft decision

Zach Edey in a Purdue jersey

Jan 8, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) celebrates after scoring against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the second half at The Palestra. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue Boilermakers fans have some reason to celebrate.

Purdue star Zach Edey announced on Wednesday that he will return to school for his senior year rather than remain in the NBA Draft. He made his announcement via Twitter by saying “RUN IT BACK.” His tweet included a GIF from “The Wolf of Wall Street” where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character announces that he will be returning to the company rather than taking a plea deal.

Edey is the reigning AP Player of the Year, Wooden Award winner and Naismith winner. The 7-foot-4 center was dominant last season, averaging 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He helped lead Purdue to a 29-6 record.

Thanks to Edey’s efforts, the Boilermakers earned the No. 1 ranking in the country for several weeks during the regular season. They were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament but flamed out in a huge upset loss to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Edey has some unfinished business he is looking to take care of.

Max Strus gets revenge on Celtics with Instagram post

Max Strus points

May 10, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Miami Heat guard Max Strus (31) during game five of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Max Strus is really enjoying his Miami Heat’s win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

After his Heat beat the Celtics 103-84 in Game 7 to win the series, Strus said that sending Celtics home disappointed was the best feeling of his career.

Strus continues to feel satisfied a few days later.

Strus posted some photos on Instagram Wednesday that showed him celebrating after Game 7. The last photo threw some shade at the Celtics for releasing him earlier in his career.

After Strus went undrafted in 2019, he was picked up by the Celtics and played for their summer team. But they cut him before the start of the regular season.

Four years later, Strus gets to celebrate how far he’s come in his career.

The only issue for Miami now is to make sure their players aren’t complacent after winning the conference finals. They still have a big series ahead with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.

Top England soccer star trying to become NFL kicker?

Harry Kane at a press conference

Harry Kane may be trying for the most ambitious football crossover event of all-time.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane said in an interview this week with Michael Strahan on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he is considering becoming an NFL kicker after he retires from soccer.

“It’s something I wanna definitely explore,” said Kane. “I know it will be a lot of hard work. I’m not expecting to just [suit] up and start kicking field goals. It’ll be a lot of practice, a lot of hard work.

“But yeah, it’s something I’d love to do,” Kane added. “The NFL, I’ve been following for about ten years now. I love it. So I’d love to give it a go.”

The NFL’s official Twitter account reposted the clip of Kane’s interview. They also reposted an old video of Kane attempting to kick a field goal.

Kane, 29, is one of the best pure goal-scorers in all of soccer today. He is the all-time leading scorer for both Tottenham and the English national team and has scored 213 goals in 320 career Premier League appearances.

While Kane missed a very crucial one against France that led to England’s elimination in the 2022 World Cup, he is generally elite at penalty kicks as well. The go-to penalty-taker wherever he plays, Kane has converted on 33 of 37 penalties (89.2 percent) in his club career. Admittedly though, Kane struggles in free-kick situations. He has scored on only two of those in his entire career, one of which came against Brentford earlier this month. You can see that kick below (the first one shown).

Kane’s contract with Tottenham, with whom he still has yet to win a single club trophy, expires after next season. A three-time Golden Boot winner, Kane probably has many more quality years of soccer left in him. But he isn’t the first big name in soccer to have NFL kicking ambitions.

Bill Belichick defends Joe Judge over latest controversy

Bill Belichick during a game

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on the field before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots assistant coach Joe Judge continues to take heat, this time for a scheduling decision that wound up costing the team a pair of OTA sessions.

The Patriots were docked OTAs over special teams meetings that were considered mandatory and lasted longer than the NFL allows. Those meetings were apparently scheduled by Judge in his capacity as special teams coach.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about the violations and Judge’s role in them on Wednesday, and he downplayed any issues he might have with his trusted assistant.

Belichick is loyal to assistants he trusts, even if that might not seem totally earned to outsiders. Judge returned to the Patriots last season after an unsuccessful stint as New York Giants head coach, but reports suggested he was not a popular figure in the building last season, even with Belichick. The head coach is not going to throw Judge under the bus publicly, but it would not be a shock if that frustration is still lingering.

Report: Bob Myers already being pursued by ESPN

Bob Myers holding a microphone

May 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers addresses the media in a press conference after naming Steve Kerr (not pictured) as the new head coach for the Warriors at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Myers will have his pick of jobs now that he has decided to leave the Golden State Warriors. That even includes positions outside of the NBA itself.

ESPN has expressed preliminary interest in hiring Myers, according to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports. While it is unclear what sort of role the former Warriors president would fill with the network, he would undoubtedly be a major part of their NBA coverage if he agreed to join them.

It is not clear how interested Myers would be in the position. He will receive widespread interest from NBA teams, but reports have suggested that he might be looking to take a year off before considering another front office role.

Myers had been Golden State’s general manager since 2012 and oversaw the construction of the decade’s most successful teams. He also has experience as an agent, so he could bring plenty of perspective to ESPN if he chooses to go that route.