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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

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Karl-Anthony Towns has telling reaction to Gersson Rosas firing

Karl-Anthony Towns

The Minnesota Timberwolves surprised many with the abrupt firing of team president Gersson Rosas on Wednesday. That includes their own players.

Star center Karl-Anthony Towns seemingly reacted to the news on social media shortly after it broke on Wednesday. Towns did not seem particularly pleased with the development, either.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Towns’ reaction was not unique. Rosas was still holding meetings as of Wednesday morning, and the firing came as a big surprise to many in the organization.

The team fired Rosas Wednesday with a brief statement. His ouster comes less than a week before the start of training camp, and after just over two years in the role.

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan weighs in on possible Frank Gore reunion

Frank Gore

The San Francisco 49ers are dealing with a lot of running back injuries. That was enough to spark speculation about the possible return of veteran Frank Gore.

Gore spent the bulk of his career with the 49ers, and the 38-year-old has not ruled out the possibility of playing in the NFL again. He made sense as an emergency option, which Niners coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged. However, Shanahan also said the team did not feel the situation was severe enough to bring Gore in.

“I would never put anything past Frank,” Shanahan said Wednesday, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “If we gave him a little heads-up and some notice, he’ll always be ready. We thought it was a little early for that. Guys still have a chance of playing this week.

“(We) would never fully rule that out. Don’t know exactly where he is right now. There are a number of people in here who have a relationship with him. If that time ever comes when we need to do it and he wants to do it, we would never rule it out.”

Elijah Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty, and Trey Sermon were the three San Francisco running backs active for Week 2. All three suffered injuries in the game, though Mitchell and Sermon have a chance to play in Week 3.

While Gore is open to playing in the NFL again, he seems to have another option these days. The door is clearly open for him in San Francisco if things get worse, though.

Timberwolves abruptly fire team president Gersson Rosas

Timberwolves logo

The Minnesota Timberwolves have made a huge change at the top of the organization without much warning just days before the start of training camp.

In a statement released Wednesday, team owner Glen Taylor announced the firing of president Gersson Rosas in a brief statement. No reason was given for the dismissal.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this is the timing. Training camps open Sept. 28, and as ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out, Rosas had been allowed to oversee several key moves in recent weeks.

The team appeared caught off-guard by the decision, judging by this tweet from star center Karl-Anthony Towns.

Rosas, a longtime disciple of Daryl Morey, was hired to run the Timberwolves in May 2019. He was essentially given just over two years with the struggling organization, which did not make the playoffs during his two-season tenure.

It remains to be seen where the Timberwolves will go from here. It’s worth noting that the franchise has high-profile incoming owners who may have had something to do with this move.

Urban Meyer had telling quote about coaching in NFL

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer’s NFL coaching career has gotten off to a difficult start, and he said something telling to one of his peers about the difficulty of it.

Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio discussed Meyer briefly on Wednesday, days after the two coaches met in the Broncos’ win over the Jaguars in Week 2. Fangio relayed something telling Meyer had told him in which the former Ohio State coach compared coaching in the NFL to facing Alabama every week.

“I don’t know Urban Meyer at all, really,” Fangio said. “I met him the other day, shook his hand before the game and after the game. And his comment to me was, ‘Every week it’s like playing Alabama in the NFL.’ You know? That’s it. Everybody’s capable of beating everybody in this league.”

When you consider what Meyer has said about Alabama in the past, it’s pretty clear how stiff a challenge he is suggesting he faces.

Meyer is off to an 0-2 start as he undertakes an extensive rebuilding effort with the Jaguars. He certainly remains confident, but if he wasn’t aware of the size of the challenge before, he is now.

Kevin Durant nixed Nets’ potential Kyrie Irving-Ben Simmons swap?

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant may be graduating from blocking people on Twitter to blocking trades.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported on Wednesday that the Brooklyn Nets had interest in a potential swap of Kyrie Irving for Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons but that Durant put the kibosh on it.

“Kyrie could’ve ended up in Philly,” said Smith. “[But Nets GM] Sean Marks couldn’t do that because KD wasn’t having it. KD [was] like, ‘Kyrie Irving ain’t going no place.’ … I assure you, if it were not for Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets would be interested in making that deal.”

The timing here is certainly interesting because it was recently reported, seemingly out of the blue, that the Nets had interest in trading Irving. The disgruntled Simmons would also be a better fit in Brooklyn that you might think. A truly elite defender is probably the only component that the Nets currently lack in their starting five. They would also be able to somewhat overcome Simmons’ shooting woes by running a 4-out lineup around him with Durant, James Harden, Joe Harris, and Blake Griffin.

Durant and Irving are notably close however. The two came to Brooklyn together, and the former even recently defended the latter on social media. Durant, the former MVP, is still one of the best players in the NBA. Thus, it makes sense that the Nets would not want to make a move that goes against Durant’s vision for the team.

Jeff Hafley takes shot at Eli Drinkwitz over comments about playing Boston College

Jeff Hafley

Boston College coach Jeff Hafley is not impressed with remarks made by his Missouri counterpart about playing the Eagles on the road.

Missouri will travel to play Boston College on Saturday, which Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz admitted was not his preference. On Tuesday, Drinkwitz said he’d rather play a regional game or a rivalry matchup, something that would be “a little bit more exciting for recruits to watch.”

Hafley had a sharp response to those comments Wednesday, making clear that Boston College was eager to play anyone anywhere.

“Yeah, I heard it, ’cause there’s about 500 people who sent it to me,” Hafley said, via Tyler Calvaruso of 247 Sports. “Besides that, I probably never would have heard it. Look, I don’t think he meant anything by it. And I’ll give you my opinion. You guys asked me how I felt when we had to go and play UMass, right? And we had to go to Temple and play Temple. Shoot, if Colgate wanted us to go play ’em there, I’ll go play there.

“And if he really didn’t want to come to Boston, he should have called up and asked me and I would have gotten on a plane and flew out to Missouri to play. I don’t care where we play. I don’t. The football season, for me, is about getting our team games, getting better every day and having a great time doing it with each other. So, it is what it is.”

Drinkwitz appears to have unintentionally rubbed some people the wrong way as Missouri coach. The logic behind his comments is understandable, but it was inevitable the remarks were going to make their way back to Chestnut Hill and bother some people. If nothing else, it’s added some juice to an otherwise unremarkable non-conference matchup.

Report: Pelicans employees compared David Griffin to Jerry Krause

David Griffin

The New Orleans Pelicans made a big splash when they hired David Griffin to run their basketball operations department in 2019. Griffin is viewed as one of the better executives in the NBA after he built a championship team around LeBron James in Cleveland, but apparently those who work with him are not all that fond of him.

Christian Clark of NOLA.com published a lengthy article on Wednesday that pulled back the curtain on some of the supposed dysfunction that exists within the Pelicans organization. Clark was told by sources that some team employees have grown to “actively dislike” Griffin. One of the ways they expressed that to one another was by referring to Griffin as “Griff Krause.”

That is a reference to Jerry Krause, who was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls when they won six titles. Krause has widely been blamed for breaking up the Bulls dynasty. He butted heads with Michael Jordan over personnel moves and alienated Phil Jackson. Some of the issues with Krause were highlighted in “The Last Dance” documentary series last year, though he is not alive to share his side of the story.

According to Clark, people with the Pelicans were unhappy with how Griffin handled Alvin Gentry’s firing after the 2019-20 season. Griffin blamed Gentry for New Orleans’ struggles earlier that season, though some did not feel the head coach was at fault. In one exchange, Griffin supposedly arrogantly told someone, “I give Alvin all the answers to the test, and he still fails.”

There were also issues between Zion Williamson and Griffin. The former No. 1 overall pick was reportedly unhappy with the way the Pelicans handled his knee injury his rookie year, which led to him having a poor relationship with Griffin.

Believe it or not, Griffin is not the only executive who has been mocked using the Krause comparison.

The Pelicans fired Stan Van Gundy after one season and have replaced him with Willie Green. Their young roster, lead by Williamson and Brandon Ingram, has a lot of talent. If the team continues to struggle, the internal issues with Griffin could come to a boil.

Justin Fields to start for Bears in Week 3 against Browns

Justin Fields

Andy Dalton is dealing with a knee injury that will force him to sit out in Week 3, which means Justin Fields is preparing to make his first ever NFL start.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy announced on Wednesday that Fields will be the team’s starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. With speculation swirling about Dalton’s status, Nagy said he wanted to put an end to the uncertainty.

Dalton suffered a non-contact knee injury in Chicago’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals last week. There was initially concern that it may have been serious given the way he landed, but tests revealed the veteran only suffered a bone bruise. While that is much better than ligament damage, it can be very painful.

Of course, the obvious question now is whether Dalton will ever get his starting job back. Bears fans have been clamoring for weeks for Nagy to start Fields. If the former Ohio State star plays well, it will be almost impossible for the Bears to switch back to Dalton.

Doc Rivers denies throwing Ben Simmons under the bus

Doc Rivers

A lot has been reported about the fractured relationship between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers, and Doc Rivers acknowledged on Wednesday that the former first overall pick wants to be traded. What the coach does not appreciate, however, is the narrative that he threw Simmons under the bus following the Sixers’ playoff exit.

After the Sixers lost Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Atlanta Hawks, Rivers was given a chance to throw his support behind Simmons. He was asked if he believes Simmons can be the point guard on a championship team, to which Rivers replied, “I don’t even know the answer to that right now.” In an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” Wednesday, Rivers said the media has “misrepresented” what he said.

“I never said what was reported,” Rivers insisted. “A question was asked about Ben. It was the first question after we just lost Game 7. My answer was, ‘I’m not answering any of that stuff right now, guys. I don’t even know how to answer that.’ That had nothing to do with Ben. I basically said I’m not answering that crap, those questions.

“It was being portrayed as I was out there saying I don’t think we can win with Ben, and I do. I told Ben that the next day.”

Rivers, who was visibly frustrated while speaking with Stephen A. Smith, also said the 76ers do not want to trade Simmons.

“We would love to get Ben back. If we can, we’re gonna try to do that,” the coach said. “Ben has a long contract. It’s in our hands, and we want him back.”

You can hear Doc’s full comments below:

Rivers certainly did not throw Simmons under the bus the way Joel Embiid did. People were more surprised that the coach had an opportunity to defend a star player who was coming off a poor performance, and he chose not to. That was quite telling, and there have been reports that Simmons even wanted an apology over it.

Do the Sixers actually want Simmons back? Probably not. It has become clear that Simmons has no intention of ever playing for them again. Rival teams know that, which is why they are likely unwilling to meet Philly’s high asking price. Even if the relationship between Simmons and Rivers is tarnished beyond repair, it is in the Sixers’ best interest to try to convince the public that is not the case. Rivers understands that as well as anyone.

NFL will not change taunting rules despite backlash

Levi Wallace taunting

The NFL’s increased emphasis on penalizing taunting has been a huge source of frustration for both players and fans this season, but the league has no plans to change its approach.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the NFL feels the enforcement of taunting penalties has “gone as planned” through the first two weeks of the regular season. The competition committee is not expected to intervene, and the NFL expects players to adjust accordingly.

There were eight taunting calls in Week 2. The overwhelming majority felt they were unnecessary. The NFL Players Association agreed and issued a statement on the matter.

Players will simply have to adjust, but the question is whether they should have to. There’s a difference between playing with enthusiasm and crossing the line. It seems like the league is categorizing everything as the latter. If you saw some of the taunting penalties from Sunday (video here), you would probably agree that something needs to change. For now, it will not.