Tagged in: next season

Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner hopes he plays Sunday, optimistic he stays with team next season

A week after acknowledging his unclear future with the Seahawks, All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner struck a more hopeful tune Wednesday, saying he has “a lot of optimism” that he’ll be back in 2022 for an 11th season in Seattle.

Wagner stated he hasn’t given up on the chance of playing in the team’s season finale either, saying he’s going to get “as much treatment as I possibly can” on his sprained knee in the hopes of suiting up Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

“I’m going to take it one day at a time,” said Wagner, who hurt his knee on the opening play of the Seahawks’ blowout win last week over the Detroit Lions and didn’t return. “I have a lot of days before Sunday and we’re going to see what happens.”

Last week, Wagner answered in the affirmative when asked if he has wondered whether he’ll be back with the Seahawks next season given his huge cap number.

The Seahawks’ defensive captain and longest-tenured player (along with quarterback Russell Wilson) said there’s “obviously” going to be some changes on the heels of Seattle suffering double-digit losses for the first time since 2009 and added, “Whether or not I’m part of those changes, I don’t know.”

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On Wednesday, Wagner was asked if that insecurity has given him any more incentive to play Sunday.

“Not really, because in my mind I don’t feel like this is my last time,” he said. “I don’t feel like this is my last time putting on a Seahawks uniform. I don’t feel like this is my last time doing that. I understand there is a business side to this, but there is a lot of optimism on my end that I’ll be back. So I’m not worried about it. Obviously, I can’t control everything. I can only control my part. And my part on this is I feel like I love this city. I love this team. I love the Seahawks. So I always wanted to be a part of a franchise’s good times and bad times and every time. So this is a team that I would love to be able to be a part of for a very, very long time.

“So on my end, that’s where I’m at, that I’m a Seahawk until they tell me I’m not. So that’s my mindset. So I don’t see it as that was my last game or this next game could be my next game.”

Wagner, 31, serves as his own agent and negotiated his three-year, $54 million extension in 2019, then a record for off-the-ball linebackers in terms of annual average.

He’s arranged to count $20.35 million against the salary cap next season — second on the team to Wilson’s $37 million cap hit for 2022 — in what’s scheduled to be the final year of that deal. None of the $16.6 million Wagner could earn next season is guaranteed.

Wagner was asked what gives him optimism that he’ll be back next year.

“I would like to say that I’m a pretty good businessman and I would like to say I have a lot of respect here,” Wagner said. “So I’m just going to go into my businessman mentality and work some stuff out.”

Asked whether that means he’d be amenable to working out a different contract with Seattle, Wagner said with a smile: “I didn’t say that. … I said I’m a businessman. That’s all I said. Put my business cap on. I did not say I’m doing all that.”

Wagner was named to the Pro Bowl for an eight consecutive season last month, and he could be a first-team All-Pro for the seventh time.

Wagner is the Seahawks’ all-time tackles leader and broke his own franchise record for tackles in a season two weeks ago. His 170 tackles were leading the league until last week, when he was overtaken by the Atlanta Falcons’ Foyesade Oluokun (179).

Wagner hadn’t missed a snap this season until he was hurt versus Detroit when his foot slipped as he tried to plant on the wet turf at Lumen Field. He tried to return for the next snap following the injury timeout but had to miss at least one play per NFL rules. That’s when the Seahawks decided to take him to the locker room for evaluation and ultimately kept him there for the remainder of the game.

Coach Pete Carroll called it a sprained knee capsule and said the injury wouldn’t require surgery. He said the team is keeping its fingers crossed that he can play Sunday.

As expected, Wagner didn’t practice Wednesday.

“I just want to thank everybody that reached out,” he said. “I’m good. Ain’t got to worry about nothing. It’s not serious. I’m grateful that I do yoga. I just learned that I can do the splits if I want to.”

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Kawhi Leonard declines $36 million player option for next season

Kawhi Leonard has declined his $36 million player option for next season, becoming a free agent, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The expectation is that Leonard will negotiate a new deal to stay with the LA Clippers.

Yahoo Sports first reported that Leonard has declined his option.

Leonard’s decision comes in the wake of having surgery on July 13 to repair a partially torn right ACL that kept him out of the LA Clippers’ final eight playoff games.

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Leonard could potentially miss a chunk of the upcoming season.

The Clippers stated in their news release revealing the surgery that there was no timetable for his return.

Despite the injury, Leonard remained the biggest star in the league with a decision to make this summer concerning his future.

He decided between opting into his contract for $36 million in 2021-22 with the option of then signing a four-year, $181.5 million extension that would start in 2022-23 or declining the option and potentially signing a four-year, $176.2 million deal.

Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 52 regular-season games during his second campaign with the Clippers. He missed nine out of 10 regular-season games in April due to a foot injury.

Prior to Leonard’s knee injury, the Clippers got a glimpse of their potential with Leonard and Paul George playing their best basketball together on the playoff stage.

Leonard averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 57.3 percent in 11 postseason matches.

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Ben Simmons likely out for season

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is likely to miss the rest of the campaign, sources tell ESPN.

Simmons will have a loose body removed from his left knee in the coming days, the team informed Saturday.

Only a deep Sixers playoff run could keep a fleeting hope of his return alive this season, sources said. Even then, his return from the procedure — expected to take place outside of the Disney campus in the coming days — is largely expected to come next season.

The Sixers are preparing now for a postseason run that will come without Simmons, one of the league’s most talented and versatile weapons.

The loose body was a result of a left patella subluxation suffered in Wednesday’s triumph over the Washington Wizards. A subluxation of the patella means that the kneecap popped out of place but returned on its own. The Sixers had moved Simmons to the power forward spot, and now the team’s offensive focus turns fully to All-Star center Joel Embiid.

The Sixers will suffer considerably on the defensive end without Simmons, and offensively they’ll count on a lineup of shooting surrounding Embiid that could give him more room to operate around the basket.

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The injury also means the return of Al Horford in Philadelphia’s starting lineup.

Horford had been replaced in the starting five by guard Shake Milton when Simmons was shifted to power forward after the Sixers arrived in Orlando, but now is back starting next to Embiid.

The Sixers have struggled to maximize the talents of both big men when they have shared the court together since signing Horford as a free agent last summer. That has led Brown to try to limit the amount of time they were going to play together moving forward. Now he has little choice but to try to make it work.

Horford started next to Embiid and played quite well in Philadelphia’s 108-101 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes. “We need [Horford] more than we’ve ever needed him,” Brown said afterward.

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