Category Archives: Sports

Paul George informs Thunder he will become unrestricted free agent

George has informed Oklahoma City Thunder personnel he will not opt into the final year of his contract and instead become an unrestricted free agent, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Thursday.

It doesn’t come as a big surprise, since George made his intentions known Tuesday on ESPN’s SportsCenter during the first of a three-part series featuring an inside look at his decision.

According to ESPN, George is still “seriously considering” a return to OKC, where his stardom has helped fill some of the void left by Kevin Durant’s departure two seasons ago. George’s relationship with Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has strengthened, and George has expressed unhappiness about his own play down the stretch last season, saying he “left something on the table.”

George joined OKC last offseason in a blockbuster trade with Indiana, but even then there was much suspicion he might only be there for one year before leaving town as a highly touted free agent.

The Los Angeles Lakers are also receiving serious consideration from George, according to the report, which also mentioned Philadelphia and Houston as options.

The 28-year-old five-time All-Star averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and two steals for the Thunder this past season after being traded by the Indiana Pacers.

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George, is among the marquee players to hit free agency this summer, which is also expected to include LeBron James.

The five-time All-Star is eligible to sign a five-year, $176 million with the Thunder, but could go for a shorter contract with more control over his future.

He was traded to Oklahoma City from the Pacers a year ago after he told Indiana that he planned to sign with the Lakers this summer.

George could also decide to ink a “one-plus-one” contract that would allow him to sign with a team for a year and return to free agency again in 2020, when he would be eligible for a four-year, $169 million max contract.

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LeBron James will become free agent, declines Cleveland option

LeBron James has decided not to pick up his option for next season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple reports, including Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.

James, 33, had until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday to make this decision. With this move, James can sign with any team starting at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.

In 2010, James shocked NBA fans by going to Miami. In 2014, he made massive headlines again by returning to Cleveland — and fulfilling his promise to bring a championship to the city in 2016.

Where James goes could have a seismic impact on the NBA landscape.

“I have no idea at this point,” James said after the NBA Finals when asked if he’s played his last game for the Cavaliers after getting swept by the Golden Warriors.

“The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family. Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I’ve got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well.

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“So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that. So I don’t have an answer for you right now as far as that.”

The market to sign one of the planet’s most marketable sportsmen will be fierce, with the Los Angeles Lakers expected to lead the chase given the extra commercial opportunities that playing in LA might bring.

Whoever LeBron signs for will instantly become a championship contender and such is his power that the multiple-time MVP award winner is likely to attract guarantees over which other players will be brought in to play alongside him and assemble a team that could topple the Warriors.

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Jayson Werth says he’s done playing, ending comeback

Jayson Werth, the Washington Nationals’ first big signing who helped lead the team to relevance, isn’t using the word retirement, but he says he’s finished playing professional baseball.

“I’m done … whatever you want to call it,” he told Fancred Sports.

Heading into his age-32 season, Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals in 2011. The deal was roundly criticized as being excessive for a player that age, but Werth’s tenure with the Nats coincided with the team going from bottom dweller to contender.

Werth helped the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series in 2008 and was an All-Star in 2009 when he set career highs with 36 home runs and 99 RBIs.

In seven years with Washington, he hit .263 with 109 home runs. More importantly, the Nationals made the playoffs four times after not going to the postseason at all in their first seven seasons in Washington.

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“Washington, D.C., is known for its historic monuments documenting our country’s great leaders,” Werth’s longtime agent Scott Boras told Fancred Sports. “Werth will be remembered as the Nationals’ first true leader, documenting the beginning and rise of a great franchise.”

Werth finishes his 15-year career as a .267 hitter with 229 home runs and 799 RBIs.

Known for his long hair, big beard and aggressive style, Werth had two words to sum up his big league experience: “No regrets,” he told the website.

The 39-year-old had been made a free agent in November 2017 by the Nationals and signed with the Seattle Mariners. He had been playing with Triple-A Tacoma — batting .206 with four homers and 19 RBIs — when he made the decision.

Selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round of the 1997 draft, Werth made his MLB debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002.

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Danielle Hunter agrees to contract extension with Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms on a contract extension with defensive end Danielle (DUH’-neel) Hunter, securing another core player before he can reach free agency.

Hunter has 25 1/2 sacks in three seasons, after being drafted in the third round in 2015 out of LSU. Still only 23 years old, Hunter was a top priority to retain at a premium position. Fellow defensive end Everson Griffen is 30, and primary backup Brian Robison is 35.

The 23-year-old defensive end agreed to a five-year, $72 million extension with the Vikings on Wednesday with a $15 million signing bonus and $40 million in guarantees, according to NFL Network.

This makes Hunter the eighth highest-paid defensive lineman in the NFL, per Spotrac.com, and the second-highest paid former LSU player behind Jarvis Landry and ahead of Patrick Peterson.

Hunter, 23, had another strong season while coming off the edge in Minnesota, accumulating 45 tackles, seven sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the 2017 season. While he couldn’t replicate his impressive 12.5 sacks from 2016, he remained a pass-rushing threat for Minnesota’s staunch defense.

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Hunter’s talent and upside never quite blossomed at LSU, but his ability has manifested during his three NFL seasons—to the point that general manager Rick Spielman used him as an example of the types of players the Vikings seek in the draft

“We talk about this all the time in the draft meetings, this guy may be a better football player today, but this guy this guy has such a higher ceiling. Our coaches are so eager to work with these athletes and to me that’s when you get an opportunity to make a hit on a guy that can be something, the Danielle Hunters of the world. I think when we drafted him in the third I don’t know how popular that was because he had one sack coming out. But, he had such great traits and things these coaches love to work with that he’s developed. That’s the philosophy we’ve kind of used as we’ve went through the draft.”

With players such as safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks and cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings have built a talented, dangerous defense.

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Clippers send Austin Rivers to Wizards for Marcin Gortat

The Clippers will move guard Austin Rivers to the Wizards for veteran center Marcin Gortat, ESPN reports.

Rivers played a career-high 34 minutes per game last season for the Clippers, and responded with a career-high 15.1 points and 4 assists per game.

However, Rivers’ three-plus seasons in Los Angeles saw rumors of behind-the-scenes dissent from people in the organization who felt Rivers received preferential treatment from Clippers coach Doc Rivers, his father. The elder Rivers also served as president of basketball operations and GM until being relieved of those duties last August.

The Wizards have been looking to move the 6-foot-11 Gortat. He started all 82 games for the Wizards last season, posting a respectable 8.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. The 34-year-old veteran gives the Clippers some front-court insurance in the event big man DeAndre Jordan opts out of his contract later this week, or is traded.

Both Rivers and Gortat are in the final year of their contracts.

The Clippers drafted their backcourt of the future on Thursday, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. Veteran guards Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley will also be back on the roster this season.

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Gortat gives the Clippers a starting-level center should DeAndre Jordan opt out of his $24.1 million contract before Friday’s deadline. Even if Jordan opts in to the deal, the Clippers and Jordan would work together to find a trade out of Los Angeles, preferably well before the February trade deadline.

Gortat, who is entering his 13th season in the NBA, averaged 8.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game for the Wizards last season. The 34-year-old has spent the last five seasons in Washington.

Asked about the possibility of working on his outside shot, Gortat replied: “This summer, I’m going to work on my tan. I’m going to work on my 6-pack. Get my biceps definition a bit better. You can’t improve 3-point shooting. You can’t improve your shot, specifically for me. I truly believe I’m a solid, good shooter up to 15, 17 feet. But I’m not going to shoot 3s. No, I’m not going to do that. I want to go into the paint. Body people. Be physical. Get scratches. Bleed.”

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Cubs put Kris Bryant on DL due to shoulder inflammation

The Chicago Cubs placed Kris Bryant on the disabled list Tuesday with left shoulder inflammation, marking the first time the fourth-year player has gone on the DL.

The move is retroactive to Saturday.

Bryant said he believes he first aggravated the shoulder on a headfirst slide about a month ago. It eventually improved, but the soreness flared up again while taking extra swings in the batting cage.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the injury is not considered serious and he expects Bryant to be activated next Tuesday. Maddon said the team wants to “make sure that he is well” and “cool down and just have him be well afterward.”

The 2016 NL MVP is batting .280 this season with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. He had a home run among his six hits in a series last week against the Dodgers, but was just 1-for-8 in the Cubs’ previous series at Cincinnati.

Bryant’s OPS in June is .707, 200 points lower than his career average.

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Manager Joe Maddon again on Monday night bemoaned a lack of quality at-bats from a struggling lineup that struck out nine times in seven innings against Kenta Maeda — seven swinging — while managing just three singles and a walk against the Dodger starter.

“We just have to work better at-bats. We chase too much,” Maddon said.

The Cubs have lost five consecutive games and seven of nine.

Monday’s loss was the 38th game this season in which they’ve scored three or fewer runs; They average 7.8 runs in the other 38 games they’ve played.

The Cubs also put right-handed pitcher Justin Hancock on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Additionally, right-hander Duane Underwood Jr. has been optioned to Class AAA Iowa.

The hope for the Cubs is that Bryant will be ready to roll next week. And that, in the interim, they’ll be able to find their way back onto the right side of the ledger before then.

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Falcons sign safety Ron Parker to 1-year deal

The Falcons have signed a one-year deal with safety Ron Parker, who spent the last five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 30-year-old Parker had 318 tackles, nine interceptions and seven sacks in 80 games with the Chiefs. He started in all 16 games in 2017 and had 67 tackles with two interceptions.

Parker, from Newberry College, signed with Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He will add depth to the position with the Falcons, where he will compete for time behind starters Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal.

Parker’s signing comes days after free-agent safety Tre Boston complained about the market for his position of choice.

“It’s kinda’ rough, man. They got us where they think they want us,” Boston told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “For us, we have to communicate with each other so we don’t take this minimum wage.”

Hopefully Parker has done his part.

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With the move, the Falcons add another intriguing piece to a secondary that is filled with proven veterans.

Parker was released by the Chiefs in May after signing a five-year contract extension worth a reported $30 million in March 2015. During his time with the Chiefs, Parker was at his best when allowed to play in coverage, either as a corner or deep safety. He also grew into a respected locker room presence and team spokesman, particularly last season, when star safety Eric Berry suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the season opener.

Ron grew up on St. Helena Island and played football at Beaufort High School and then for Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina. He started his NFL career playing for the Seattle Seahawks and has found a home over the past few years providing some big play defense with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ron is still very active in giving back to the Beaufort community with his annual Ron Parker Football Camp at Beaufort Middle School. Parker coaches area kids and brings in other pro football players, along with his friends and family from Beaufort, to help out.

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Federer falls to Coric in Gerry Weber final

Borna Coric defeated defending champion Roger Federer 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2 to win the Gerry Weber Open on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Croat saved three of the four break points he faced and took his second match point to end Federer’s 20-match winning streak on grass for his second career title.

Federer had been going for his 99th, one week after taking his 18th grass-court title in Stuttgart.

“[I am] just really surprised… I had not even dreamed of this,” said Coric.

Coric, who also beat second seed Alexander Zverev in the first round, snapped Federer’s 20-match win streak on grass after two hours and six minutes, hitting 11 aces and saving three of four break points en route to his second tour-level title (2017 Marrakech). The 21-year-old saved two set points at 4/6 down in the first-set tie-break and secured the only break of the deciding set, in the sixth game, en route to victory.

“[During] the whole whole week I was serving really well,” reflected Coric. “I felt confident that I could hold serve and then automatically I can play with less stress.”

Coric has now won 24 of 34 tour-level matches this season. The World No. 34, who reached the semi-finals of the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals last November, showed signs of his best form during back-to-back ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in March. Coric reached the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals, losing in three sets to Federer, before falling to Alexander Zverev at the last-eight stage of the Miami Open presented by Itaú. The talented Croatian is now 2-3 in tour-level finals.

Federer, who owned a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the Croatian heading into the championship match, was aiming to win a 10th title in 12 finals at the event and retain his status as World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. As a result of his three-set loss to the Croatian, Rafael Nadal will return to the top spot of the ATP Rankings on 25 June.

“I’m definitely going to leave with my head high, thinking it’s been a good run in Stuttgart and Halle,” said Federer.

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Cilic Beats Djokovic to win Queen’s

Marin Cilic saved a match point before beating Novak Djokovic to win his second title at Queen’s Club.

The 29-year-old Croat fought back to win the Fever-Tree Championships 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in the longest final in the tournament’s history.

Cilic, who won the title in 2012 and was runner-up last year, saved match point at 5-4 in the second set and came back from 4-1 down in the tie-break.

His serve was crucial in the final set as he won in two hours and 57 minutes.

“It was a special win for me because last year I had a match point and didn’t convert it,” said Cilic.

“It was a tough match, with no breaks for me until the final set.”

Former world number one Djokovic, seeking to secure his first title since winning at Eastbourne last year, was upbeat despite his loss.

“I have to congratulate Marin on a fantastic week,” said Djokovic, who was playing in the tournament for the first time in 10 years.

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“He deserved to win and came up with some big shots. It’s a tough loss for me. But I have to see the positive because I haven’t played a final in almost a year.”

Djokovic, 31, took a wildcard in an attempt to regain his best form before Wimbledon, having had surgery on his elbow in January.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion went into the 99th final of his career with a 14-1 head-to-head record over his opponent.

Cilic had lost his three previous finals, but he grew in confidence in the final set. His serving improved and his running forehand pass to set up the pivotal break of serve was breathtaking.

A second consecutive win over Djokovic, after 14 prior defeats, should further fuel his confidence ahead of Wimbledon.

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Yankees’ Gary Sanchez injures groin

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is likely headed to the disabled after pulling up while running out a double-play grounder Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sanchez hurt his right groin/hip abductor and “it’s probably going to be a DL situation.”

Sanchez was injured in the 10th inning. He slowly walked back to the dugout and was replaced defensively by Austin Romine.

“What can I say?” Sanchez said through a translator. “That’s the way baseball is sometimes. Now I’m just hoping it’s not a long time.”

Sanchez will undergo an MRI exam Monday.

The 25-year-old Sanchez went 0 for 4 in the 7-6, 12-inning loss. He’s hitting only .190 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs, a season after he made the AL All-Star team while batting .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs.

Austin Romine will take over as the starting catcher and Kyle Higashioka is likely to be called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday to serve as the backup.

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“You never want to see your starter go down, especially the type of caliber player that Gary is. He’s an All-Star,” said Romine, who has a .305/.370/.524 slash line in what has been by far the best of his seven major-league seasons. “But we have to move forward. I have to fill in as best I can and I’m looking forward to playing.”

The Yankees set their rotation for the Phillies series, going with Jonathan Loaisiga on Monday, Luis Severino on Tuesday and Luis Cessa on Wednesday.

The choice of Cessa will give CC Sabathia extra rest and also allows him to open next weekend’s series against the Red Sox, which starts Friday at the Stadium.

“With the stretch we’ve been in, we just really value giving an extra day and CC actually having an extra two days now with the off day [Thursday] and then being able to start the first game against Boston,” Aaron Boone said. “We just felt it was really valuable.”

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