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#pounditWednesday, January 27, 2021

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Report: Pelicans open to trading Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick

Lonzo Ball

The New Orleans Pelicans have gotten off to a slow start this season, and they may soon be open for business on the trade market.

The Pelicans have been receiving calls about Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick, and Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that they have shown a willingness to deal both.

Ball is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and it’s possible New Orleans may not care to bring him back. Redick, a veteran shooter, won’t be of much use to the 5-10 Pelicans if they continue to struggle, and he would draw plenty of interest from contending teams.

Sources told Charania that the Pelicans have been pleased with the job Stan Van Gundy has done in his first season. They want to build around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, and trading Ball and/or Redick would create more opportunities for young guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis to develop.

Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has averaged 12.0 points and 4.7 assists per game this season. We know of at least one contending team that may have interest in acquiring him.

Aaron Rodgers downplays talk of his uncertain future with Packers

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers sent Green Bay Packers fans into a collective panic when he indicated on Sunday that his future with the franchise is in doubt, but the star quarterback is now trying to calm some of those nerves.

Rodgers made his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday, and he was asked about all the talk that he could leave the Packers this offseason. The two-time MVP said he expects to remain in Green Bay but understands that is up to the team, not him.

“Obviously after the season I had, potentially winning MVP and we obviously made another good run, I don’t think that there’s any reason why I wouldn’t be back.” Rodgers said. “But there’s not many absolutes in this business. To make an absolute statement about something that is not an absolute, I didn’t do it.”

After the Packers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rodgers said his future with the Packers is “uncertain” just like that of several of his teammates. He said on Tuesday that he was simply speaking the truth, which is something fans are not accustomed to getting from athletes.

“I’m 15 minutes from crying in the locker room with some of my teammates. I come and sit down for this interview and they ask me questions and I give real answers. … To me, a reality — not a certainty or an absolute — is that my future is not in my hands,” Rodgers said. “That’s really the case for all of us as players.”

You can see Rodgers’ full comments below, but beware that the video contains some inappropriate language:

If Rodgers was only trying to make the point that the Packers might not want him back, it seems that question has been answered. CEO Mark Murphy had a blunt response this week when asked if Rodgers will remain with the team in 2021.

There’s a way Rodgers could force his way out of Green Bay, but it doesn’t sound like he plans to go that route. All signs point to him remaining with the Packers next season.

DK Metcalf talks about where Seahawks’ offense went wrong

DK Metcalf

The Seattle Seahawks got off to a hot start offensively early on in 2020, but opposing defenses seemed to have their number over the second half of the season. That is one of the reasons they were one-and-done in the playoffs, and DK Metcalf has a theory about why the wheels fell off.

Metcalf discussed the Seahawks’ late-season struggles during an appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast this week. He said Seattle’s offense became too predictable.

“Teams just started to figure us out,” Metcalf said, via Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway. “We’ve been running deep pass ever since [coach] Pete [Carroll] got there. Play action. Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, go deep. Teams just said, ‘We’re just not gonna let you all go deep.'”

Metcalf is not wrong, though it’s fair to wonder how Carroll will feel about the remarks. The Seahawks have always been a run-first team, and their lack of creativity became an issue late in the season.

Seattle scored 30 or more points in sevent of its first eight games. It looked like the Seahawks were going to be an offensive powerhouse with Metcalf and fellow wide receiver Tyler Lockett, but they eclipsed the 30-point mark just once after that. Their season ended with a 30-20 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs.

Metcalf was visibly upset on the sideline during Seattle’s playoff loss (video here), so some of that frustration has likely lingered into the offseason.

DeAndre Hopkins has funny response to WR rankings from peers

DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins was easily one of the best wide receivers in football this season, and the Arizona Cardinals star does not seem pleased with where two of his peers recently ranked him.

During their respective appearances on the “I Am Athlete” show with Chad Johnson and Brandon Marshall, young receivers DK Metcalf and Justin Jefferson ranked their top-five NFL receivers. They both put themselves ahead of Hopkins. Hopkins was fifth on Jefferson’s list and third on Metcalf’s.

Hopkins responded on Twitter with a classic meme.

Hopkins had 1,407 receiving yards this season, which was third behind Stefon Diggs and Travis Kelce. His 115 receptions were tied for second with Davante Adams. You can understand why he feels he was underrated by Metcalf and Jefferson.

Jefferson and Metcalf both had breakout seasons, but it’s tough to argue that either is better than Hopkins. Of course, Hopkins grew used to people doubting him in his first season with the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald had to defend his teammate against some silly criticism not that long ago.

Packers’ CEO addresses Aaron Rodgers’ future with team

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers cast doubt on his future with the Green Bay Packers with some remarks he made following Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the team’s brass is not yet thinking about life without its star quarterback.

During an appearance on “The 5th Quarter Show” on WNFL in Green Bay on Monday, Packers CEO Mark Murphy had a very blunt response when asked about Rodgers’ future in Green Bay. He said the two-time NFL MVP is not going anywhere.

“We’re not idiots. Aaron Rodgers will be back, he’s our leader,” Murphy said, via WNFL’s Mark Daniels.

Of course, no one really thought any split between Rodgers and the Packers would be mutual. Although Green Bay traded up to draft Jordan Love in the first round last year, Rodgers is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He threw for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His 121.5 passer rating was the second-highest mark in NFL history behind his own 122.5 in 2011.

In the rare event that Rodgers leaves the Packers, it will almost certainly because he wants out. He’s under contract with the Packers for three more seasons, but there’s a way he could force Green Bay’s hand.

For what it’s worth, one Packers legend does not envision Rodgers in another uniform next season.

Report: Mets have made record-breaking offer to Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer

The New York Mets are considered one of the favorites to sign Trevor Bauer, and they are prepared to give the star pitcher the highest salary in MLB history.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on Tuesday that the Mets have made Bauer a formal offer. While the offer does not exceed the total value of the nine-year, $324 million contract Gerrit Cole signed with the New York Yankees last year, the average annual value is higher than Cole’s $36 million.

Bauer may not be looking for anything close to the length of Cole’s contract, as he previously said he will only sign one-year deals throughout his career. He has since backed down from that, but it is reasonable to assume he would prefer a shorter contract than the one Cole signed with the Yankees.

Nightengale notes that the Mets are evaluating “all aspects of Bauer’s strong social media presence,” as they are very conscious about their image in the wake of ex-GM Jared Porter’s sexual harassment scandal and firing. Bauer is known for speaking his mind, and he got into it with a female college student on Twitter two years ago. The student said she felt harassed by Bauer, and Bauer later apologized.

While several teams are keeping an eye on Bauer, it sounds like the Mets may be competing with one other team to sign the right-hander.

Bauer is the best pitcher on the free agent market. The reigning NL Cy Young winner posted a 1.73 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, striking out 100 in 73 innings.

COVID-19 vaccine played no role in Hank Aaron’s death, officials believe

Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron received the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine weeks before he died, and some have wondered if the vaccine may have played a role in the MLB legend’s death. It does not appear that was the case.

According to KSDK, a preliminary investigation from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office determined that Aaron died of natural causes unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Aaron received the first of what were supposed to be two vaccine doses on Jan. 4 in Atlanta. He was scheduled to receive a second dose before he died. Aaron was 86.

Ambassador Andrew Young, who received the vaccine at the same time as Aaron, said Hammerin’ Hank “never had any reaction” to the shot or complained of any issues.

Aaron took the COVID-19 vaccine alongside other civil rights leaders in hopes of encouraging others in the community to get vaccinated. He told The Associated Press that he had no side effects and that the vaccine “makes me feel wonderful.”

News of Aaron’s death hit the sports world hard. You can see some of the tributes that poured in for the one-time home run king here.

Peyton Manning shares the one thing he misses from his playing days

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning has been enjoying the retired life since he walked away from the NFL five years ago, but there is plenty he misses about playing. The camaraderie is at the top of that list.

Manning reflected on his Hall of Fame career a bit during an appearance on “Good Morning America” this week. The two-time Super Bowl champion said he thinks about the time he enjoyed with his teammates more than the wins.

“There’s the old saying, enjoy the journey not the destination,” Manning said. “And when I think back on my memories during my 18 years of playing, I think about those plane rides with my teammates, I think about hanging around the locker room, laughing with each other, I think about taking the offensive linemen out to eat on Thursday nights, keeping them well-fed, maybe having a couple of cold beverages and that was well worth it.”

Manning called those memories some of the “greatest takeaways” from his career. He said he does not second guess his decision to retire after the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2016, but he does miss the locker room dynamic.

“I have no regrets. I left it all out there on the field,” Manning said. “But I do miss my teammates.”

Anyone who watched Manning in his final season in Denver knows he made the right decision. His arm strength had clearly diminished, so it wasn’t like he walked away in his prime. While he has continued his friendly rivalry with Tom Brady even in retirement, there was never really a chance Manning could play as long as Brady has.

Floyd Mayweather rips Conor McGregor as ‘McLoser’ after loss

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather ripped into Conor McGregor on Sunday after the UFC fighter lost to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi.

Mayweather, who beat McGregor in a boxing match in 2017, posted on Instagram to mock McGregor. He also played the race card heavily in his post, which came in response to a questions asking why McGregor is loved and Mayweather hated.

“I seen this post and my take on it is that the world knows Con Artist McLoser can steal everything from me and be loved but I’m hated. That just lets you all know that racism still exist. Just know, that bum will never be me or be on my level. I’m just built different, my mindset is on another planet, my skills are second to none, I’m a natural born winner and yes I talk a lot of trash, but every time I back it up! This is what they hate. It’s sad that you can be a poor black kid from the ghetto that has dealt with racism your whole life and work extremely hard to put yourself and your family in a better position, and most of the hate come from my own people. Connor cannot even win in his own sport, but talking about coming back to boxing to fight Pacquiao. Nobody wants to see that, it’s like my leftovers eating leftovers,” Mayweather wrote.

There was talk about McGregor boxing Manny Pacquiao, which is what Mayweather was referring to in his post. Mayweather has beaten both men in a boxing match, which is why he said leftovers eating leftovers.

As for the contents of his post, Mayweather always likes keeping his name in the conversation for combat sports, which this accomplishes. A big difference between Mayweather and McGregor is that Conor has taken on tough opponents repeatedly, and not conditionally. Comparatively, Mayweather cherry-picked his opponents so he could maximize his earnings while minimizing his risks. When he did face his toughest opponents, it was either when they were too old (Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya) or too young (Canelo Alvarez). Fans recognize this difference and reward fighters with more love when they take on the toughest fights. Mayweather, meanwhile, is focusing on fighting YouTubers.

Lane Kiffin getting a kick out of the Tennessee rumors

Lane Kiffin

The Tennessee Volunteers are searching for a head football coach again, and their vacancy has led some to revive Lane Kiffin talks.

Kiffin was briefly the coach in Knoxville before ditching them after one season to head back to USC, where he took over for Pete Carroll in 2010. Over a decade has passed since then, and Kiffin has rebuilt his stock through his work at Alabama, FAU, and Ole Miss.

Some have wondered whether Kiffin would be open to a Knoxville return. There was even a fake rumor started on Twitter by someone who said Kiffin was returning to Tennessee.

Someone tagged Kiffin to see if he had seen the rumor. The Ole Miss coach enjoyed a laugh.

Kiffin just completed his first season at Ole Miss. If he’s learned anything, it’s probably that it’s not a good idea to leave a school after one season, like he did at Tennessee. Kiffin just went 5-5 at Ole Miss and needs to give himself some time to build up that program before he thinks about going anywhere else.

Plus, why would he want to go to Tennessee given their current situation.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

H/T Saturday Down South