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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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5 NFL players whose jobs are in jeopardy

Yannick Ngakoue

Every year, a new crop of NFL talent is ushered in, which means an old crop of talent gets replaced. Even though this offseason has been much different from others, the same will be the case this year.

So which NFL players are facing a decreased role, a trade or even potential retirement? Here’s a look at five players whose jobs are in jeopardy.

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Damian Lillard says he will refuse to play if NBA gives Blazers no path to playoffs

Damian Lillard

The NBA is exploring a number of potential formats for when the 2019-20 season resumes, and Damian Lillard says he will refuse to partake in games if the plan does not give the Portland Trail Blazers a fair shot to reach the playoffs.

One possibility the NBA is considering is to jump straight into the postseason, which would eliminate Portland. The Blazers are currently in 9th place in the Western Conference and 3.5 games back of the 8th-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. Another scenario that has been mentioned is playing a handful more games so all teams reach 70, which would allow them to fulfill regional television deals. If the league opts for the latter, Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports he will refuse to play.

“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating,” Lillard said. “I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there.”

Lillard said he will show up to work and take part in practices with the Blazers, but he has no interest in playing another four meaningless games after such a long layoff. He’d love an opportunity to finish the entire season and have a shot to reach the playoffs with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins due back from injuries, but he does not want to simply go through the motions so the NBA can fulfill the terms of its TV contracts.

“I do feel like if we do come back and our mind is right, we can beat anyone. It’s going to be hard to get going with no fans, you’ve been off all this time and some people are just ready for summer like, ‘[Expletive] it, I haven’t played in a long time and the season is basically over to me. Do I really care like I cared before?’ It’s going to be a lot of those factors going on and that presents a lot of room for a team to sneak some [expletive]. Like, really mess around and knock some teams off and then, ‘Oh, they’re in the Western Conference finals.’ It’s room for that with this situation. So the fact that it’s possible and we wouldn’t get an opportunity at that, that’s weak to me. I ain’t getting no younger.”

If the Blazers were somehow able to sneak into the postseason, they could be set up for a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Lillard believes Portland could be competitive in that series and entertain fans. He added that he has remained in shape but will consider that a head start in his summer training if the Blazers aren’t given a legitimate opportunity to compete.

While it would be a bold statement to sit out, Lillard can’t be the only player who feels that way. That is one of the issues the NBA has to juggle, as coming back for only a few regular season games would seem completely meaningless to teams that aren’t going to be included in the playoffs.

A survey the NBA recently distributed to executives listed several potential formats the league could follow when play resumes, and a play-in tournament was among them. That would likely be something that interests Lillard and others.

Report: NFL teams could begin full-squad minicamps as early as June 15

Roger Goodell

NFL teams have been receiving clearance from their local governments in recent days to reopen their facilities and resume training, and there is optimism that minicamp could begin in a matter of weeks.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday that NFL head coaches could return to facilities next week, and minicamps could start as early as mid-June. If coaches are able to resume work at their facilities next week, minicamp may start as early as June 15 and no later than June 27. The decision, of course, still depends on whether certain teams are allowed to resume daily activities.

New York and New Jersey, which have been two of the hardest-hit states by the coronavirus, recently gave professional sports teams the green light to resume training. California has yet to do the same, and one source told Robinson that clearance from governor Gavin Newsom will be one of the key determining factors for the NFL in deciding if minicamp in June is possible. Newsom recently said sports operations could resume as early as next month with “modifications and very prescriptive conditions.”

If minicamp does not begin until June 27, that would be two weeks later than usual and might result in the the start of training camp — which is usually in July — being delayed.

Whether minicamp begins in two weeks or not, the NFL seems determined to find a way to begin the regular season on time. Another team owner gave an optimistic outlook on Tuesday.

Ayesha Curry trends after posting bikini pictures on Instagram

Ayesha Curry

Ayesha Curry’s stance on public bikini pictures has changed, and it increased her popularity on social media this weekend.

Curry, the 31-year-old wife of 2-time NBA MVP Steph Curry, posted a few bikini photos on her Instagram profile Saturday.

View this post on Instagram

Took me long enough. @stephencurry30

A post shared by Ayesha Curry (@ayeshacurry) on

Ayesha captioned the photos “Took me long enough”. That could be a reference to her 2015 Twitter post where she was against people barely wearing clothes.

Ayesha opened up last year about being depressed about her body after one of her pregnancies. The good news is her feelings have obviously changed, and she’s a lot more confident now. Congratulations to her for getting past that, and congratulations to Steph on the spicy photos he’s receiving.

Blake Snell changes agents, hires Scott Boras

Blake Snell

Blake Snell was outspoken recently in expressing concerns over his financial future, and the Tampa Bay Rays star has now decided to hire one of the most powerful agents in sports.

Snell said Monday that he is changing representation, but he did not discuss specifics. According to Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic, Snell has left Apex Baseball to sign with Scott Boras.

Snell is signed through the 2023 season. Apex negotiated his current five-year, $50 million deal, which he signed in March of 2019 and was the largest contract in MLB history for a player before he reached arbitration. The left-hander will be 31 when he is scheduled to become a free agent in 2024.

While Snell is not up for a new contract anytime soon, it may not be a coincidence that he has hired Boras at a time when MLB is negotiating a deal with players for a likely abbreviated 2020 season. Snell was outspoken in criticizing team owners for asking players to take a pay cut, and Boras has also spoken out against the league over the handling of the negotiations.

Snell dealt with injuries last season and underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery. He made just 23 starts and posted a 4.29 ERA. The season was a major disappointment for him after he won the Cy Young Award in 2018 with a 21-5 record and outstanding 1.89 ERA.

Doug Gottlieb writes incredible tribute to late Eddie Sutton

Doug Gottlieb
Doug Gottlieb did his late coach justice with an incredible tribute.

Gottlieb wrote a great post on Instagram Saturday to pay tribute to Eddie Sutton, who died at the age of 84.

Gottlieb played for Sutton at Oklahoma State from 1997-2000, becoming the school’s assist leader and taking them to the tournament three straight years. In his tribute, Gottlieb mostly discussed all the life lessons he learned from Sutton.

Dear Coach, thank you. You told us that life was hard, but if we could make it through your practices, we could achieve anything. You were right. You told us that when we play “Oklahoma” or “the Jayhawks” we outta bring a pup tent cause it was war, not for the weak. You were right. Coach you imparted so much wisdom on us, so many simple demands that made us more disciplined men and better teammates, all while giving us the most honest feedback on earth, thank you… it remains an irreplaceable time of growth in all of our lives. Coach you showed us confidence not arrogance. You demanded respect that you have earned and treated us just as you did your own children. Tough but fair.. honest to a fault. Coach, we never forgot to say “I love you” during our phone calls, all of us as teammates still do the same. You brought me personally closer to my dearest of friends, let us represent your (now our) school and gave me the chance to run your team. I personally remain honored, humbled and amazed at what doors simply playing hard for you and my teammates, opened. I cut your grass (and Randall Dickey’s at your rent house)one summer, when you taught me how to use your mower. I had never cut grass before in my life, so you taught me that too… thank you. One more thing Coach, I’m sorry we couldn’t get you your national championship. We all are. The Arkansas guys, the 92 & 94 teams (stacked),the 95 guys, my squad and the 04 team all feel this way. We wanted it for you, for our program, but mostly for you. We played hard, we went to class, we had so much damn fun and let us find ourselves as players and as men. But we are so glad you got into the Naismith Hall of Fame, what we couldn’t finish as a team, finally Springfield recognized. Steve, Sean and Scott lost their dad, and we all lost our 2nd father. Coach, enjoy eternity with Patsy, please send her regards from all her boys down here. With unwavering love and appreciation, Rest In Peace Coach. Loyal and True

A post shared by Doug Gottlieb (@gottliebshow) on

“Dear Coach, thank you. You told us that life was hard, but if we could make it through your practices, we could achieve anything. You were right.

“You told us that when we play “Oklahoma” or “the Jayhawks” we outta bring a pup tent cause it was war, not for the weak. You were right. Coach you imparted so much wisdom on us, so many simple demands that made us more disciplined men and better teammates, all while giving us the most honest feedback on earth, thank you… it remains an irreplaceable time of growth in all of our lives. Coach you showed us confidence not arrogance. You demanded respect that you have earned and treated us just as you did your own children. Tough but fair.. honest to a fault. Coach, we never forgot to say “I love you” during our phone calls, all of us as teammates still do the same. You brought me personally closer to my dearest of friends, let us represent your (now our) school and gave me the chance to run your team. I personally remain honored, humbled and amazed at what doors simply playing hard for you and my teammates, opened. I cut your grass (and Randall Dickey’s at your rent house)one summer, when you taught me how to use your mower. I had never cut grass before in my life, so you taught me that too… thank you.

“One more thing Coach, I’m sorry we couldn’t get you your national championship. We all are. The Arkansas guys, the 92 & 94 teams (stacked),the 95 guys, my squad and the 04 team all feel this way. We wanted it for you, for our program, but mostly for you. We played hard, we went to class, we had so much damn fun and let us find ourselves as players and as men. But we are so glad you got into the Naismith Hall of Fame, what we couldn’t finish as a team, finally Springfield recognized. Steve, Sean and Scott lost their dad, and we all lost our 2nd father. Coach, enjoy eternity with Patsy, please send her regards from all her boys down here.

“With unwavering love and appreciation, Rest In Peace Coach. Loyal and True,” Gottlieb wrote.

Sutton made both the College Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was beloved by many of his players, as Gottlieb’s post clearly shows.