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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021

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Rockets to entertain trade offers for their leading scorer?

Put on your M1 helmets because the Houston Rockets could be going all-in on the tank.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported Monday that there is an expectation around the NBA that Christian Wood will receive significant trade interest and that the Rockets wil entertain offers for him. O’Connor notes that one of the reasons Wood signed in Houston was to play with James Harden, who is no longer with the team.

Wood, who is still only 26, is the Rockets’ leading scorer (16.4 points per game) and rebounder (11.3 boards per game) this season. He is in the second year of a three-year, $41 million contract.

The 3-16 Rockets are very much in a rebuild phase, and it might not make sense for them to sell off a talented player who is still young enough to fit their timeline. But if Houston does decide to do so, we know of at least one contending team who previously had interest in the versatile big man Wood.

Photo: Feb 12, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood (35) works out prior to the game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former Oklahoma players have clear pick for new head coach

The abrupt departure of Lincoln Riley has left Oklahoma searching for a new head coach. For several Oklahoma alumni, the choice is an obvious one.

In the hours after Riley left for USC, there was a groundswell of support from ex-players for the Sooners to make a run at Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Venables has long been a highly-respected assistant coach, and served as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2011.

Among those publicly calling for Venables were former Oklahoma defensive standouts Dusty Dvoracek, Aaron Colvin, and Tony Jefferson II, all of whom played under the current Clemson assistant.

As of Monday, there were no indications that Venables and Oklahoma were in contact, despite rampant rumors on social media. However, given his history with the school and his stature in college football, he would make sense as a candidate.

The Sooners definitely appear likely to conduct a larger search, and one NFL coach has already been pressed into speaking about the position. It doesn’t sound like a new coach, be it Venables or someone else, will be announced quickly.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables prior to the game against the Boston College Eagles at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Kliff Kingsbury has interesting response to Oklahoma rumors

Kliff Kingsbury was quickly linked to the Oklahoma head coaching job after Lincoln Riley left for USC on Sunday, and his response to the report was somewhat surprising.

Shortly after the Riley news broke, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Oklahoma is targeting Kingsbury as a potential replacement. The Arizona Cardinals coach was asked about that on Monday, and he stopped well short of denying that he has interest.

Does that mean Kingsbury would actually entertain the idea of leaving his NFL head coaching job to take over at Oklahoma? Probably not.

What’s more likely is that Kingsbury is using the Oklahoma talk as leverage against the Cardinals. His contract with the team is set to expire after 2022, and there’s no way he wants to go into next season as a lame duck. If the Cardinals believe he is interested in the Oklahoma job, they might be more likely to offer him more money and/or work out an extension sooner.

Schefter was ruthlessly mocked on Twitter for his Kingsbury-Oklahoma report. The main reason for that is people believe the NFL insider is helping out Kingsbury and his agent. Unless you think Kingsbury would actually leave the Cardinals for Oklahoma, his responses on Monday are further evidence that he is trying to put pressure on his current employer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has funny backup plan in case he ever goes broke

Giannis Antetokounmpo appears to be familiar with the quote, “The odds will always favor the man with a plan.”

The Milwaukee Bucks star spoke to reporters on Monday and revealed his funny backup plan in case he ever goes broke — selling autographed basketball cards of his teammates.

“BP [Bobby Portis] — he’s going to sign this, this is going to be worth a lot one day — and Donte [DiVincenzo],” said Antetokounmpo showing off the cards in his possession to reporters. “I’m looking for Pat [Connaughton’s] and Grayson [Allen’s]. Yeah if I ever go broke, I’m going to sell them. Just to have a backup plan. Know your parents always told you to have a backup plan? This is my backup plan.”

Of course, it is highly unlikely that Antetokounmpo will ever go broke. He has already made $107 million to this point of his career and is in Year 1 of a separate five-year, $228 million extension with the Bucks. But it never hurts to be prepared for anything.

The sports memorabilia business generates billions of dollars in the United States annually, and sports cards in particular have seen a major resurgence during the pandemic. As such, Antetokounmpo probably has a solid backup plan there (assuming that his political ambitions ultimately fall through).

Photo: Oct 23, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) warms up before the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Robbie Ray agrees to five-year contract with Mariners

The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is headed west in free agency.

Free agent pitcher Robbie Ray has agreed to a five year, $115 million deal with the Seattle Mariners, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Ray will have the ability to opt out of the deal after the third season.

The Mariners have not been one of the teams linked to heavy spending, so this one comes out of nowhere. It will be welcomed by Mariners fans, as the organization has not made the playoffs since 2001, the longest drought in the sport. This is a clear sign that they are interested in changing that.

The 30-year-old Ray is coming off the best season of his career. He went 13-7 with a 2.84 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays, striking out a league-leading 248 batters in 193.1 innings. He received the AL Cy Young Award for his efforts.

Ray’s departure will be a blow for the Blue Jays, but not an unexpected one. They already appear to have replaced him even before he’d left.

Photo: Aug 7, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) looks on against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Did Tristan Thompson get fan ejected for Kardashian comment?

Tristan Thompson may have taken a page out of former teammate LeBron James’ book and gotten a fan ejected.

Memphis Grizzlies beat writer Drew Hill of the Daily Memphian reported this weekend that a fan was removed from Sunday’s game between the Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings because he was making comments about the Kardashian family to the Kings big man Thompson.

Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee adds that referees, Grizzlies staff, and NBA security stopped play during the fourth quarter to have the fan removed. Thompson was reportedly looking in the fan’s direction and motioned to officials before the fan was escorted out.

Thompson, who had nine points and seven rebounds in the 128-101 loss to Memphis, prominently used to date youngest Kardashian sister Khloe. The two have a three-year-old daughter together.

The veteran Thompson has heard Kardashian taunts from fans before. But apparently, whatever the fan said in Memphis on Sunday crossed a line.

H/T Ahn Fire Digital

Photo: Dave Richard-USA Today Sports

Report: Saints to make starting QB change against Cowboys

The New Orleans Saints have lost four games in a row with Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback, and they have decided to make a change at the position.

The Saints are preparing in practice as if Tayson Hill will start on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. Hill has been dealing with a foot injury. If he makes it through the week healthy, the starting job is his.

Siemian has thrown nine touchdowns compared to just three interceptions in his five games this season. However, all three interceptions came in the past two games. The Saints managed just six points in their blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills last Thursday.

Hill recently signed a very unusual contract extension with the Saints. He’s been a favorite of head coach Sean Payton’s for years, and it seemed like only a matter of time before he was given another opportunity to start.

Photo: Sep 19, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian (15) throws during the pregame action against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Latest report about Aaron Rodgers’ toe injury worries Packers fans

Aaron Rodgers has been playing through a toe injury that sounds quite painful, but it does not appear to have significantly impacted his performance. The assumption is that the Green Bay Packers star will continue to fight through it, but the latest report about the injury left open the possibility that he will not be able to.

Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reported on Monday that Rodgers does not plan to undergo surgery on his fractured toe “at this time.” Rapoport noted that the phrase “at this time” is key.

What exactly does that mean? It could be that Rodgers will eventually need surgery. If that is the case, the Packers obviously hope it can wait until the offseason.

The Packers improved to 9-3 with a convincing win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. They are a clear Super Bowl contender and one of the best teams in the NFC. Rodgers will be able to rest his toe during the Week 13 bye, but he has already admitted the injury is not going to go away anytime soon.

Rodgers completed 28 of 45 passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Rams. He also made light of the foot issue with a funny change to his social media profile last week. Unless the pain becomes unbearable, he will almost certainly continue to play through it.

Photo: Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey out for season with ankle injury

Christian McCaffrey suffered an ankle injury during Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins that initially did not look serious, but it is one that will keep the Carolina Panthers star out for the remainder of the season.

The Panthers announced on Monday that they have placed McCaffrey on injured reserve. Since this is the running back’s second stint on IR, he will not be eligible to return this season.

McCaffrey missed several games earlier in the year with a hamstring injury. He seemed to blame the NFL’s scheduling for that, but injuries are certainly nothing new for him.

McCaffrey missed 13 games last season due to injuries. He played in seven this year.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule indicated on Monday morning that McCaffrey’s latest injury was not serious. Either he was not being truthful, or more information came to light after he met with the media.

Spencer Rattler enters transfer portal after Lincoln Riley’s exit

Oklahoma lost its head coach on Sunday when Lincoln Riley shockingly left for USC, and the Sooners are now out at least one quarterback as well.

Former five-star recruit Spencer Rattler announced on Monday that he will enter the transfer portal. He thanked Oklahoma and said his time in Norman is something he will “cherish forever.”

Things did not go as planned for Rattler at Oklahoma even with Riley. Many expected him to follow in the footsteps of the other great quarterbacks that played under Riley, but Rattler took a big step back this season. He was benched earlier in the year, though he did briefly got his job back two weeks ago.

Rattler had been expected to leave Oklahoma even if Riley stayed. The bigger problem for the Sooners is that freshman Caleb Williams, who took over for Rattler midway through the season, may also be thinking about transferring.

Photo: Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler (7) warms up before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021