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#pounditSunday, February 5, 2023

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Nets owner got last laugh with Kyrie Irving through petty move

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; Taiwanese businessman Joe Tsai (left) looks on during the second half of the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving terrorized Joe Tsai’s Brooklyn Nets for nearly four seasons, and it sounds like the Nets owner got the last laugh with the problematic guard.

On Friday we learned that Irving wanted to be traded by the Nets ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Immediately, there was speculation that Irving would end up with the Los Angeles Lakers. But by Sunday, Irving had been traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs sent Brooklyn Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and two second-round picks.

The Lakers offered the Nets Russell Westbrook (whose contract is expiring) plus their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks.

It’s quite possible that the Nets outright preferred Dallas’ trade package, which included two players who could help keep them competitive this season. But Marc Stein reported Sunday night that one other presumed goal of Tsai was to avoid sending Irving to the Lakers, which was the guard’s preferred destination.

After everything Irving put that franchise through — from disrupting chemistry to the anti-semitic matter this season to not playing half the time — it makes sense that Tsai wouldn’t want to reward Irving.

Trading Irving to Dallas yielded two benefits: a favorable trade package that helps the Nets stay competitive, and blocking Irving from joining the Lakers.

Ross Chastain wastes no time reigniting his beef with Denny Hamlin

It didn’t take long for Ross Chastain to reignite his beef with an old foe.

The Clash at the Coliseum went under caution during lap 74 of 150 on Sunday night after Denny Hamlin spun around. How did that happen? Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro bumped Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota Camry.

That was the fourth caution of the race and the first incident of the year between the two drivers. This followed several incidents on the track between the two last year.

Chastain’s beef with Hamlin began at Gateway in June when the Trackhouse Racing driver bumped into Hamlin and caused him to spin. Then Chastain spun Hamlin in Atlanta a few weeks later.

Of course, it was Chastain who got the last laugh. Chastain surged past Hamlin with his “Hail Melon” at Martinsville to get into the Championship 4 last year.

Ty Gibbs’ car door was scorched after fire

Ty Gibbs began The Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday night from the back after some issues with his car, which was part of a rough day on Saturday.

There was a fire inside Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota Camry during practice on Saturday.

Gibbs said after practice that it wasn’t that hot in the cockpit after the fire, just dark.

A photo shared by Bob Pockrass really captures some of the damage the fire did. The foam inside the car door was removed, and you can see how scorched things look.

Joe Gibbs Racing was able to replace the windshield and door foam to get the No. 54 car ready for Sunday’s race.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a loose exhaust. Gibbs was not allowed to qualify due to an improper installation, so he had to start Sunday’s race from the back.

This is Ty’s first season as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. The 20-year-old won the Xfinity series last season.

LeBron James raises eyebrows with latest cryptic tweet

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James raised eyebrows Sunday with a cryptic tweet after Kyrie Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

In his first tweet since Irving was dealt to the Mavericks for a combination of players and picks, James seemed to be in an introspective mood. The Lakers star tweeted simply: “Maybe It’s Me.”

It is entirely possible this has nothing to do with Irving, the Lakers, or basketball in general. The internet was pretty convinced that it was, though, and that James was not thrilled to see his ex-teammate get traded to a Western Conference foe.

If James is upset with the Lakers for not doing enough to bring in Irving, he probably shouldn’t be. Reports suggest the team made a major effort to try to land Irving, but the Mavericks’ ability to include more pieces that could help the Brooklyn Nets remain competitive on top of the pick haul was a major factor. The Lakers simply could not make as good an offer as Dallas did.

Former top defender eyeing return to NBA

Though it has been years since he last set foot on an NBA floor, one veteran wing still has the hunger.

Former first-round draft pick Andre Roberson landed a deal earlier this week with the Oklahoma City Blue, G League affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Speaking with reporters over the weekend, Roberson said that his ultimate goal is to return to the NBA.

“I wouldn’t step on the court if I wanted to [be a front office member or a coach],” said Roberson, per Rylan Stiles of Thunderous Intentions. “Every time I step on the court I want to play at the highest level.”

Roberson, now 31 years old, played for the Thunder from 2013 to 2020. He became known for his stalwart defense, earning All-Defensive Team honors in 2017 and helping Oklahoma City make multiple deep runs in the playoffs. But Roberson’s last NBA action took place nearly two years ago when he made five appearances for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2020-21 season.

Of course, Roberson also had some big flaws in his offensive game as a 25.3 percent career three-point shooter and arguably an even worse one from the free-throw line. But he sounds determined to make it back into the league and might have a decent-sized shot at being called up at some point by a rebuilding Thunder team.

Alabama reportedly lands new defensive coordinator

Alabama coach Nick Saban looks on. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide have finished up their major staff overhaul by settling on a new defensive coordinator.

Kevin Steele, a former defensive coordinator for LSU and Auburn, has accepted the Alabama defensive coordinator job, according to Chris Low of ESPN. Steele also previously served as Alabama defensive coordinator in 2007.

Steele has plenty of experience, and also has the requisite ties to Tuscaloosa. In addition to his time as Saban’s first Alabama defensive coordinator, he was an assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2013 and 2014. He also has head coaching experience and was seen as a potential successor to Gus Malzahn at Auburn before that job ultimately went to Bryan Harsin instead.

Steele is not as big a name as Alabama’s offensive coordinator hire, but he is a steady hand who is trusted by Saban. That is probably all that is necessary at this point.

Mets adding controversial former star to their front office

Sep 11, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets majority owner Steve Cohen and his wife Alexandra Cohen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Some three years after their earlier attempt at a partnership fell apart, the New York Mets are circling back to a familiar figure.

The New York Post reported Sunday that the Mets are hiring retired former All-Star Carlos Beltran to a front office role. Beltran will be working under Mets general manager Billy Eppler.

Beltran has quite the history with the Mets. He played for them from 2005 to 2011, making five All-Star teams and winning three Gold Glove Awards over that span. In 2019, after Beltran retired, the Mets hired him to be their next manager. But the deal fell through when Beltran was implicated in the infamous Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal and stepped down as Mets manager before even coaching in a single game for them. Luis Rojas then became the team’s manager before current skipper Buck Showalter was hired in 2022.

After resigning as the manager of the Mets, Beltran went on to work for YES Network as a broadcaster. Even that stint was a little awkward for Beltran, but now he will look to complete his unfinished business with the Mets.

Derek Carr got advice from fellow QB about being traded

Dec 26, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) warms up before a game against the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is embarking on an uncertain future as he prepares to be traded for the first time in his career. As a result, he is getting some guidance from one quarterback who has dealt with a similar situation.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff said he had given Carr some advice on how to deal with his inevitable exit from Las Vegas. Goff, who was dealt by the Los Angeles Rams prior to the 2021 season, said he made it clear to Carr that as difficult as things look now, there is a good chance that the move will be for the best.

“There’s definitely life on the other side. Often times a really great life,” Goff said Saturday, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We had a really good talk about it earlier this week. I think his head is in a great place about it, whatever ends up happening with him.”

It may be increasingly unlikely for Carr to actually be traded, but he will not be back with the Raiders regardless. He has never played for any other organization, so strong emotions are inevitable, but Goff is a perfect example of the possible upside. After being unwanted by the Rams and swapped for Matthew Stafford, Goff threw for 4,438 yards and 29 touchdowns this season and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

Myles Garrett suffers injury during Pro Bowl Games

Nov 28, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) looks to the bench during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL completely revamped the Pro Bowl this year in part to reduce the risk of players suffering injuries, but Myles Garrett unfortunately still got hurt.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that Garrett suffered a dislocated toe during an obstacle portion of the Pro Bowl Games on Sunday. The Cleveland Browns star limped off the field and then had X-rays, which game back negative.

You can see a video below of Garrett walking off the field:

Obviously, that is a team’s worst nightmare. Garrett has plenty of time to recover, but hopefully the injury is nothing major.

The Pro Bowl Games are a series of skills competitions and 7-on-7 flag football games. There is nothing the NFL can do to eliminate the risk of injury completely, which is why team executives will likely still cringe while watching their best players take part.

Garrett had 16 sacks with the Browns this season for the second consecutive year. He had a bit of a tumultuous season even with the outstanding success on the field.

Ja Morant issues apparent response on social media to troubling incident

Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant is speaking out this week (in JPG form).

Troubling details emerged on Sunday about an alleged incident that the Memphis Grizzlies star Morant and his associates were involved in after a game with the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 29. Following the game, which took place in Memphis, Morant’s entourage reportedly confronted members of the Pacers’ traveling party in an aggressive manner. At one point, someone in an SUV (which Morant was riding in) allegedly trained a red laser on the Pacers personnel. There was a belief within the Pacers group that the laser might be attached to a gun. You can read further details about the alleged incident here.

In a post to Instagram shortly after the story broke, Morant shared a picture of himself holding up a cap. The term “cap” is slang for a lie.

The NBA launched an investigation into the incident but couldn’t determine whether anyone had made a threat with a weapon. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins also addressed the investigation in his media session on Sunday.

The Grizzlies defeated the Pacers in the Jan. 29 game by the final of 112-100. Morant had a heated incident in the third quarter of the contest with Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard that may have sparked the hostilities.

The multi-time All-Star Morant has exploded onto the scene as one of the top young phenoms in the NBA today. But with his increased profile has also come increased negative headlines. Just last month, Morant was sued over a different alleged incident involving a minor at his home.