All posts by phnseo

Thunder pick up Billy Donovan option

The Oklahoma City Thunder have picked up the fifth-year option for head coach Billy Donovan to keep him on the sidelines through the 2019-20 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Donovan is currently in his fourth year with the team, recording a 168-106 record in that span, including an 18-10 mark so far this season. Per Wojnarowski, he is the fourth-winningest coach in the NBA during his time in the league behind only Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

The Thunder reached the Western Conference Finals in Donovan’s first year at the helm, taking a 3-1 lead on the Golden State Warriors before eventually losing in seven games.

Oklahoma City had 95 combined wins over the past two seasons but suffered a first-round loss in each year, only winning three total games in this stretch.

Still, the Thunder clearly believe Donovan is the right man to lead, especially with the team off to a better start so far in 2018-19. The squad is currently in third place in the Western Conference, just 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for the top spot.

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There is also more balance in the team than in the past, with Paul George taking on a bigger role and Dennis Schroder adding offensive depth, while Russell Westbrook continues to fill up the stat sheet. With the coach now under contract for another year, the team can focus on finishing the year strong.

“It’s great. It’s great,” Thunder star Paul George said after a 121-96 rout of the Bulls on Monday. “I’m here for multiple years. Russ is here for multiple years. Coach will be here for multiple years. That’s good. That’s good for Billy. I just know how it could be, with pressure. Sam [Presti] really alleviated that and just allowed him to coach us and not have to worry about that.”

Donovan won two national championships and reached three Final Fours at Florida before Presti recruited him to the NBA in 2015 to replace Scott Brooks.

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Dolphins RB Frank Gore not expected to return this season

Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore is not expected to play again this season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday.

Gore, 35, was tackled awkwardly on a 10-yard run late in the first quarter of Sunday’s 41–17 loss to the Vikings. Gore limped off the field and was eventually carted to the locker room with the injury. He finished with 14 yards on five carries in the outing. Gore was spotted wearing a walking boot on his left foot as he exited the locker room after the game.

According to Schefter, Gore underwent an MRI on Monday to determine if he suffered any ligament damage in his foot. Initial tests showed no fracture.

Gore has recorded 122 consecutive starts and has not missed a game since 2010. Miami signed Gore away from Indianapolis in the offseason and have since leaned on the 14-year veteran as a consistent and reliable presence in the backfield. Gore has run for at least 96 yards in each of the past seven seasons and needed 154 yards to tie Emmitt Smith for the most consecutive season with more than 1,000 scrimmage yards at 13.

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Gore rushed for 722 yards on 156 carries this season and added 12 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown through the air.

With Gore out, the Dolphins will likely turn to third-year running back Kenyan Drake, who has 469 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 103 attempts so far this season.

Rookie running back Kalen Ballage is expected to pick up a heavy portion of Gore’s workload. He gained 123 yards on 12 carries in Sunday’s loss and scored on a 75-yard touchdown run.

“I’m ready. Just stay ready. That’s how we do things around here. It’s next man up. Obviously, you don’t want to lose somebody like a Hall of Fame running back. Scrimmage yards, he can catch it, run. Frank can do everything. Moving forward, I’ll just be ready to step into whatever role they need me to be in,” Ballage said Monday.

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Titans DB Logan Ryan has broken left fibula

Logan Ryan took it upon himself to break the news.

“I believe the player should break his own news about his body,” the Titans cornerback tweeted on Monday above an attached message in which he stated he’ll miss the remainder of the season with a broken left fibula.

Ryan suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Titans’ 17-0 win over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. He stayed down after a play while receiving medical attention before hobbling to the sideline on his own power.

“I poured my heart and soul into this season so it’s unfortunate,” Ryan wrote. “However, anyone who knows me knows how relentlessly I will train to come back a better player with fewer weaknesses. I am proud of how I played, I’m proud of how my team is playing, and I’m proud I was able to walk off the field with a broken leg. I will continue to support the team and coach up the DB’s while we make this run for the playoffs. Also I am proud to say my 76 tackles this season raised over $12,000 dollars for animal rescue. It’s all love.”

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The loss is a crushing blow to the Titans’ secondary. Ryan had 76 tackles, four sacks and eight pass deflections this season. Tennessee’s depth at corner includes LeShaun Sims and Joshua Kalu behind starters Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson.

Ryan is the third member of the team to suffer a season-ending injury in the past two weeks. Tight end Jonnu Smith (knee) and right tackle Jack Conklin (knee) were both placed on injured reserve after suffering injuries in their Week 14 game against the Jaguars.

The Titans (8-6) are still in playoff contention and have games left this season against the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.

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Nick Foles leads Eagles past Rams

A year ago, Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl in place of an injured Carson Wentz.

He played savior again Sunday, keeping the Eagles’ dim playoff hopes alive. The Eagles signal-caller threw for 270 yards and Wendell Smallwood rushed for two touchdowns, leading Philly to a 30-23 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Alshon Jeffery was responsible for 160 of Foles’ 270 yards, with the pair connecting eight times. Their aerial attack is responsible for getting the Eagles to 7-7, which keeps them alive but still outside the NFC playoff race. The Minnesota Vikings’ win over the Miami Dolphins hurt their chances earlier in the day.

Jared Goff threw for 339 yards and two interceptions without a touchdown in the Rams’ second straight national television loss. His potential game-tying touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds fell incomplete as time expired.

There was an unquantifiable swagger and confidence to the Eagles offense that had been missing in recent weeks with Wentz. Jeffery went from the missing person’s report to his best receiving performance in a half-decade.

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Wentz’s lingering back injury certainly played a part in his struggles, and he remains their long-term answer. But Foles should be the starter for the remainder of 2018 and is going to use this as an audition to get paid this offseason.

Foles’ encore might not end in the Super Bowl again. It might not even include the playoffs. But after guiding Philadelphia to another win with a grace and poise belying his inactivity, the Eagles are thrilled to have him back in the game.

“It’s been really emotional,” said Foles, who went 24 of 31 with one interception. “You hate for your teammate to get hurt. I feel really bad for Carson. … What you’ve done in the past, what I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t matter when you step on that field. It’s a new day. So I was dealing with the emotions, but prepping as hard as I could, and then realizing I’m not alone. I have great teammates out there. All I have to do is spread the ball around, lean on them, stay in the moment, and we were able to do that tonight. Today was a huge win for us.”

The Eagles host the Houston Texans next Sunday.

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Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas has thumb surgery, to miss at least 4 weeks

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas is slated to miss at least four weeks after suffering a dislocated left thumb.

According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Valanciunas underwent surgery on the injury, and his condition will be updated when the cast comes off in four weeks.

Valanciunas suffered the injury during Wednesday’s 113-93 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The 26-year-old big man has been a significant part of Toronto’s success this season, as he is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 57.5 percent from the field.

Valanciunas played just eight minutes before leaving Wednesday’s game, but he was having a major impact with six points and seven rebounds.

While Valanciunas has been more effective than ever on a per-minute basis this season, he has taken on a different role.

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After starting in each of his six NBA seasons, he has made just 10 starts in 30 games this season. He is also playing a career-low 18.8 minutes per game.

Toronto’s starting frontcourt has primarily been comprised of veteran Serge Ibaka and third-year Pascal Siakam.

Both Ibaka and Siakam are in line for even more usage, while veteran center Greg Monroe figures to take on the bulk of Valanciunas’ minutes until he is able to return.

While Monroe was a constant double-double threat during his time with the Detroit Pistons, he is averaging just 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game this season in 13 appearances.

At 23-7, the Raptors have built up a 3.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, which gives them some margin for error while Valanciunas is out.

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Carson Wentz has fractured vertebra

Eagles QB Carson Wentz has been dealing with back issues all season, and after undergoing a battery of tests earlier this week, he apparently has been diagnosed with a fractured vertebra. ESPN’s Adam Schefter got the scoop, and the injury seems like it will probably keep him out at least this weekend against the Rams, if not much longer.

Doug Pederson has been vague about Wentz’s status all week, and it turns out the “tightness” and “soreness” are far more serious than originally thought.

The injury won’t require surgery—it’s just a matter of rest apparently—so all signs point to the 6-7 Eagles shutting down Wentz for the rest of the season to allow him to fully heal up before next season. After all, he is coming back from a devastating knee injury and he never seemed fully right this year. The good news for Eagles fans is, Nick Foles is set to take over, and he only gets stronger as the playoffs approach.

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Schefter added there will be a “continued evaluation of his back to determine whether continuing to play this season would worsen the injury for the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback.”

Wentz has been prone to injuries dating back to his college days at North Dakota State. He missed eight weeks during his senior season with a broken wrist.

The 25-year-old tore his ACL against the Rams in Week 14 last year, missing Philadelphia’s run to the Super Bowl and the first two games of this season.

If Wentz has to miss time, Nick Foles will take over as the Eagles quarterback. He hasn’t played since Week 2, and he has thrown for 451 yards, one touchdown and one interception in two games in 2018.

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Mychal Kendricks done for season with broken tibia

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks broke his tibia during Seattle’s 21-7 win over the Vikings Monday night and will be out for the rest of the season, according to ESPN.

It’s a particularly tough blow for Kendricks, who was in his first game with the Seahawks after he served an eight-game suspension for insider trading.

Kendricks was with the Browns when he admitted to insider trading, which prompted his release. The Seahawks scooped him up from waivers, but had to wait out his suspension mandated by the NFL.

Kendricks, 28, could be sentenced to up to three years in prison, but he isn’t expected to be sentenced earlier than January. Until then, he was allowed to stay active on the Seahawks’ roster.

Coach Pete Carroll said he will need surgery for leg and knee issues and will be placed on injured reserve.

Kendricks started in Monday’s 21-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in place of the injured K.J. Wright (knee) after serving an eight-game suspension stemming from his guilty plea to insider trading charges. Carroll said Wright is still weeks from playing.

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The Cleveland Browns released Kendricks after he was charged and he signed with the Seahawks in September. The NFL originally suspended Kendricks indefinitely but announced an eight-game suspension after reviewing the matter.

He finishes his 2018 season with two sacks, 20 tackles and a pass defensed in four games with Seattle, including three starts.

He played his first six season with the Philadelphia Eagles but was released in May.

“I saw him on a handful of plays when he really had something to do,” Carroll said of Kendricks’ play. “I thought he was right where he was supposed to be a couple of times. He made some good tackles in the open field — forced a screen beautifully. He’s a really good football player. We’re excited to have him out there. I think he makes us better.”

Without Kendricks, the Seahwaks will likely turn back to Austin Calitro, who has been part of the committee Seattle has used at weak-side linebacker in Wright’s absence. Rookie Shaquem Griffin started the season opener in that spot.

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Celtics’ Al Horford diagnosed with left knee problem

The Boston Celtics are currently riding the wave of a six-game winning streak, but it sounds like they’ll be without the services of Al Horford for a few games due to a knee injury.

According to a report from ESPN, Horford has been diagnosed with patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee, which is a condition in which the cartilage under the kneecap is damaged due to injury or overuse.

Al Horford is likely to miss the next week of games after being diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee, Brad Stevens announced Wednesday morning.

Stevens, speaking to the media at Boston’s shootaround ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Wizards in D.C., said that the Celtics have dealt with similar injuries in the past and want to get Horford back to full strength before he returns to the lineup.

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“He’s going to be out a little bit, but not too long,” the coach stated. “Just to strengthen him and get him feeling a lot better – a little bit similar to [Marcus] Morris last year – and make sure that he feels great instead of going in and out like this.”

Horford is averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from beyond the arc in 22 games this season. The big man last played against the New York Knicks on Dec. 6 when he scored 19 points and secured 12 rebounds. The 11-year veteran currently leads the team in boards and blocks (1.7) and has been a very consistent shooter for the team so far.

While not having Horford in the lineup isn’t a positive, the team does expect to have All-Star guard Kyrie Irving back after dealing with a sore right shoulder. Like Horford, Irving didn’t suit up in Monday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans as Terry Rozier drew the start in his place.

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Blue jays release shortstop Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki’s Toronto Blue Jays career came to an abrupt and unexpected end Tuesday, as the team announced the release of the 34-year-old shortstop.

“Through many conversations with Troy and his representative Paul Cohen, and with consideration to what is in the best interest of both sides, we made the decision to release Troy today,” GM Ross Atkins said.

Tulowitzki, acquired initially with LaTroy Hawkins for Jesus Tinoco, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jose Reyes in July of 2015, last played in the major leagues in July 2017. He missed the end of the 2017 season with ankle injuries before missing the 2018 season recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels.

The Blue Jays will be responsible for the full amount remaining on Tulowitzki’s deal. He’s under contract for $20 million in 2019 and $14 million in 2020 with a $4 million buyout for a 2021 club option.

Atkins recently said the Blue Jays weren’t able to plan on a full and productive season from Tulowitzki.

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“Candidly, and I think Troy would agree, that’s not likely,” Atkins said Wednesday. “He will have to overachieve to play shortstop at an above-average level with above-average offensive performance for 140 games. That would be unlikely based on what has occurred in the last two and a half years, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to do it.

“But candidly,” the GM added, “I don’t think that’s likely.”

Tulowitzki, who expects to be healthy in time for spring training, has missed at least 30 games in seven straight seasons and eight of the past nine.

For his career, he has a .290 average, 224 home runs and 779 RBIs.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. projects as the Blue Jays’ regular shortstop with Richard Urena an additional depth option. Meanwhile, top prospect Bo Bichette is advancing through the minors and could reach the big leagues as soon as 2019.

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Vikings fire OC John DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings have fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo one day after a 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the team announced Tuesday.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been promoted to offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

The loss dropped Minnesota to 6-6-1 on the season, giving it just a half-game lead for the second NFC wild-card spot.

Minnesota could only muster 276 total yards of offense against Seattle on Monday and did not get on the board until 70 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. At that point, the game was all but over at 21-7. The loss marked the second consecutive game in which the Vikings scored 10 points or fewer, both losses.

After the game, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen made it clear the offense’s struggles were not DeFilippo’s fault.

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“You hear the offensive coordinator is getting a lot of ridicule, but it’s about the players,” Thielen said, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson. “The players have got to make the plays. It doesn’t matter what play is called, you have to run that play and you have to be successful on it. It just comes down to execution, all 11 players doing the right thing.”

But with their season on the line, the Vikings apparently decided a change was necessary to get the offense going again.

Per Tomasson, the Vikings entered November with the ninth-ranked offense in the NFL. Five games later, they rank 17th. That’s not what the team envisioned when it gave quarterback Kirk Cousins $84 million guaranteed during the offseason.

Minnesota will try to get back on track against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Vikings then wrap up the regular season with contests on the road against the Detroit Lions and at home against the Chicago Bears.

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