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#pounditSaturday, July 31, 2021


Russell Westbrook met at LeBron James’ house to plot Lakers move

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the move came together just as he and the Lakers’ superstars planned.

On Thursday, word emerged that the Lakers pulled off a trade with the Washington Wizards to acquire Westbrook. The Lakers sent Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and a first-round pick to Washington for Westbrook and two future second-round picks.

The trade was culminated two weeks after a big meeting at LeBron James’ house.

According to the LA Times’ Broderick Turner, Westbrook met with Anthony Davis and LeBron at James’ home two weeks ago. There, they discussed teaming up together on the Lakers.

Turner reports that the players agreed to put their egos aside in the interest of pursuing a championship. For instance, James and Davis expressed a willingness to play different positions if necessary. Westbrook said he was willing to play off the ball when James wanted to handle the rock.

The result is the Lakers ended up pursuing and making the trade, with the Wizards fulfilling Westbrook’s desires.

The Lakers will enter the 2021-2022 season as a strong contender to win the championship, just as they did in 2020. The trade also means that Westbrook was 1-and-done in DC, just like he was 1-and-done in Houston.

Based on his reaction, James seems pretty pumped about having the “Brodie” in the mix.

Video: Novak Djokovic threw racket, had outbursts during Olympic loss

Novak Djokovic racket smash

Novak Djokovic will head home from the Tokyo Olympics without a medal, and the world’s No. 1 player allowed his temper to become a major storyline as his bid for the Golden Slam came to an end.

Djokovic lost his bronze medal match on Saturday to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets. The 20-time Grand Slam winner was extremely frustrated at numerous points during the match. He threw his racket into the stands and also smashed a racket against the net. You can see the videos of Djokovic’s outbursts below:

Djkovic still had a chance to win a bronze medal in his doubles match with Serbian teammate team-mate Nina Stojanovic, but he withdrew due to a shoulder injury. The bronze medal was awarded to Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and John Peers as a result.

You can understand why Djokovic was disappointed in his Olympic performance, but his behavior was embarrassing. Of course, Djokovic is known for having outbursts on the court. He smashed his racket in anger during the Australian Open earlier this year. He was also infamously disqualified from the US Open last year after he hit a ball in frustration and it inadvertently struck a line judge. You can see the video of that incident here.

Djokovic said after his US Open disqualification that he would focus on controlling his temper, but he clearly has work to do. The meltdowns happen far too often when things aren’t going his way.

Simone Biles withdraws from two more gymnastics events

Simone Biles

The chances of seeing Simone Biles compete again in the Tokyo Olympics appear to be dwindling after the American withdrew from two more events.

Late Friday, USA Gymnastics issued a statement confirming that Biles would withdraw from the finals for both the vault and uneven bars. She will be replaced by MyKayla Skinner. The statement said that Biles would continue to be evaluated to determine whether she would be able to participate in the floor exercise and balance beam, the other two events for which she is eligible.

Biles is currently experiencing what she called the “twisties,” a sort of mental block that causes her to be disoriented in the air. That is a serious issue for a gymnast who relies on extensive body control, grace, and agility to perform.

Biles’ absence from the individual events has allowed other U.S. gymnasts to shine. It remains to be seen whether Biles will be able to participate in the final two events, but the possibility of her participation certainly seems unlikely.

Craig Kimbrel trade gives White Sox arguably best bullpen in baseball

Craig Kimbrel

The Chicago White Sox already have one of the best closers in baseball in right-hander Liam Hendriks, but that did not stop them from making a massive bullpen splash at Friday’s trade deadline.

The White Sox have acquired Craig Kimbrel in a deal with the Chicago Cubs, according to multiple reports. The Cubs will get second baseman Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer in the trade.

Kimbrel, 33, has been one of the best relievers in baseball for the last decade. He is having one of his best seasons ever this year. The right-hander had a 0.49 ERA in 39 appearances with the White Sox. He has 64 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.

Kimbrel will now join Liam Hendriks to give the White Sox easily the best closer-setup combination in baseball. Hendriks has a 2.58 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 25 saves in 45 appearances. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says both Kimbrel and Hendriks will be used in save situations.

In addition to Kimbrel, the White Sox also acquired right-hander Ryan Tepera in a separate deal with their cross-town rivals on Thursday. Tepera has a 2.91 ERA in 43 appearances this year.

The White Sox are 60-43 and have an 8-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central. They clearly feel they have a real chance to win the World Series, and adding bullpen arms at the trade deadline is one of the best ways to bolster a playoff contender. They’re easily one of the big winners of the trade deadline.

Here is why Packers are all but certain to trade Aaron Rodgers after 2021

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers finally agreed to a reworked contract on Thursday that technically ties the star quarterback to the team through the 2022 season. However, it has been widely reported that Rodgers will play only one more season in Green Bay. The structure of his new contract all but guarantees that.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network shared many of the details of Rodgers’ new deal. The contract saves Green Bay nearly $10 million in salary cap space this season, but Rodgers now carries a mammoth cap hit of $46 million in 2022. Packers salary cap guru Ken Ingalls provided a good breakdown of the new deal:

As you can see, it is all but a guarantee that the Packers will not want to keep Rodgers at his current 2022 cap hit. According to Over the Cap, Green Bay is now roughly $50 million over the salary cap for 2022. They’re going to absorb a sizable dead cap hit even if they trade Rodgers, but they certainly cannot keep him given the financial constraints that would go along with it.

Rodgers offered a surprisingly candid explanation this week for his issues with the Packers, which you can read here. It’s clear nothing has really been resolved, which is why anything other than a divorce next offseason would be a shock.

Dodgers acquire Max Scherzer, Trea Turner in huge trade with Nationals

Max Scherzer All-Star

The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the biggest blockbuster of the MLB trade deadline.

The Dodgers traded for both Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner. In return, the Dodgers sent Washington four prospects: catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-handers Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carrillo, and outfielder Donovan Casey

Reports earlier Thursday indicated that Scherzer was close to being traded to the San Diego Padres, but it was not final and other teams were still involved. The Dodgers ended up giving Washington its best offer.

Not only does this mean Scherzer will become the leader of the Dodger rotation, but Turner will add another dimension to their offense. Turner tested positive for COVID-19 this week but should provide a boost to the Dodgers’ infield upon recovering.

The 37-year-old Scherzer will be a free agent at the end of the season. Turner, on the other hand, is only 28 and has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining.

Lakers land Russell Westbrook in trade with Wizards

Russell Westbrook

The big rumor from the offseason indeed came true: the Los Angeles Lakers made a trade for Russell Westbrook.

The Lakers and Washington Wizards struck a deal on Thursday that sends the former MVP point guard to the Lakers.

Montrezl Harrell opted in to his contract for just under $10 million next season. He, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were sent to the Wizards as part of the deal. The Lakers’ first-round pick this year was included as part of the trade.

We noted in June that the Instagram activity of Westbrook’s wife indicated a potential recruitment push. Then a recent rumor said the Lakers were targeting Westbrook and Chris Paul. Now we know these rumors were indeed legitimate.

Westbrook is under contract for $44 million next season and $47 million the following season.

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Max Scherzer reportedly close to being traded to Padres

Max Scherzer

The San Diego Padres are on the verge of landing the biggest prize on the trade market.

The Padres are close to acquiring pitcher Max Scherzer in a trade with the Washington Nationals, Ken Rosental of The Athletic reports.

It is believed that Scherzer would prefer to be traded to a West Coast team, and the right-hander has a full no-trade clause. The Padres were said to be one of three West Coast teams that were finalists for Scherzer. For what it’s worth, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says at least one other team remains in the mix.

Scherzer is 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 111 innings this season. The 37-year-old recently had an injury scare, but the Nationals may have been using precaution as they worked to trade him.

The Padres are 59-45 and 5.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Scherzer is the exact type of trade deadline splash that could get them over the hump. They could become one of the most dangerous teams in the NL down the stretch.

Steve Spurrier takes shot at Texas over move to SEC

Steve Spurrier

It has now been five years since Steve Spurrier last coached college football, but the Hall of Famer has not lost his knack for talking trash. He reminded us of that when he shared his thoughts on Texas and Oklahoma potentially joining the SEC.

Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel asked Spurrier about Texas and Oklahoma applying for SEC membership, and the 76-year-old seized the opportunity to take a shot at the Longhorns.

“I can understand Texas jumping over,” Spurrier said. “They get to play Texas A&M again. They get to … they can’t win the Big 12 anyway. I think they’ve only won two in the last 30 years or so. What is it?”

Spurrier was close. Texas has won the Big 12 just three times since 1996. They have not captured a Big 12 title since 2009, when Mack Brown was the coach. The Longhorns have won more than eight games in a season just once since Brown left in 2013, though they have won four straight bowl games. Texas hired Steve Sarkisian this offseason as its third coach in the last seven years.

Spurrier coached in the SEC at Florida and South Carolina. He won a championship with the Gators in 1996. He knows how tough the conference is, and he’s right that Texas could struggle mightily at first. He also doesn’t understand why Oklahoma would want to join the SEC aside from money.

“I just don’t think they’re going to come over to the SEC and win with any regularity the way that they win the Big 12,” Spurrier said of the Sooners. “Their fans might say, ‘Yeah, now we can beat Alabama and LSU and all these dudes.’ It may not happen like that.”

If you remember the comment he made during college football season last year, you know that Spurrier always keeps his finger on the pulse of the sport. He’s not the only one who is skeptical of Texas and Oklahoma trying to take on the SEC.

Texas fans! Steve Sarkisian is the new head coach of the Longhorns and promising a high-octane offense. Show some support for the squad with this great All Gas No Brakes shirt. It makes a perfect gift for yourself or a friend. You can buy it here:

Suni Lee keeps impressive US gymnastics streak alive amid Simone Biles drama

Suni Lee

Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s gymnastics all-around final in Tokyo to focus on her mental health, but the United States was still able to take home the gold medal.

Suni Lee won the gold in the all-around on Thursday night with a score of 57.433. She beat Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade’s, who took home the silver medal with a score of 57.298.

Biles, who won the women’s individual all-around at the Rio Olympics in 2016, was heavily favored to repeat as champion. Lee became the fifth consecutive American woman to win the gold medal, joining Biles, Gabby Douglas, Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson. Lee’s family and friends celebrated the feat back in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lee, who is known for her incredibly difficult uneven bars routine, helped the US win the silver medal in the team all-around earlier this week. The 18-year-old is quickly becoming a household name.

Biles said she needed to deal with some things “internally” after withdrawing from the team all-around on Tuesday. She left open the possibility that she would compete in the individual all-around, but she ultimately decided to sit out. She opened up about the mental struggles she was having earlier in the week.