11

Durant: Celtics will be fine once playoffs start

Durant said he thinks the Celtics need time to find a rhythm within their roster. Both Gordon Hayward and Irving missed the Celtics’ strong playoff run last year, and the team has struggled to find consistency at times.

“Everybody else probably thought they were supposed to be clicking and winning 65 games,” Durant said. “Because they had the talent and they went to the Eastern Conference finals last year, Game 7, but it’s a new season. There’s a lot of teams that changed their rosters to play, to stack up in the East, so it’s a different team. So they’re still getting used to each other, getting Gordon Hayward back and Kyrie back, and another year of experience for the guys that went through the playoffs, so it’s going to be throughout the season.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Many pundits picked the Celtics to reach the NBA Finals and play against Durant and the Warriors, but the Celtics currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, with a 38-26 record.11

“It’s just the nature of the game,” Durant said. “They’ve got a bunch of young players, they’ve got a couple veterans that have been through the struggle, so they’re still trying to figure each other out. It takes more than just a half a year or a whole year to figure it out. They’re just going to keep growing, so what you see right now is probably not the finished product.”

Durant, who went through his own growing pains after signing with the Warriors a couple summers ago, believes the Celtics need to have patience as they continue developing their chemistry.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“You can’t accelerate [the process],” Durant said. “I like to compare a lot of people to relationships — would you like to accelerate a relationship that goes straight from dating to marriage in a month? [Building teams is] just the same thing. Over time you got to learn patterns of behavior, how guys like their routines, where they like the ball, all that type of stuff. It’s just from building every day on the basketball court, so it’s going to take some time.”

When the Warriors do face the Celtics, they will do so with several players battling nagging injuries. Backup center Kevon Looney will not play Tuesday after an MRI revealed pelvic inflammation, according to Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Looney took part in shooting drills after Monday’s practice, so the injury does not appear too serious.

12

Trout: ‘Haven’t even thought about’ contract

Mike Trout says he is only concentrating on one thing regarding his future — the upcoming season.

The Los Angeles Angels star said he is happy for Bryce Harper, who has agreed to a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, but that he hasn’t considered how Harper’s deal will set the stage for his own negotiations.

Trout can become a free agent after the 2020 season. He is owed $33.25 million in each of the next two seasons, completing a $144.5 million, six-year contract.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Trout told reporters before a spring training game Friday against the Kansas City Royals. “Obviously, you guys bring it up a lot and I appreciate you asking me all these questions, but right now is not the time to think about it. I still have a couple more years.”12

Angels owner Arte Moreno reiterated last month at the start of spring training that re-signing Trout is at the top of the franchise’s priority list.

“One of the last interviews I gave, I said it’s not in the back of our mind but in the front of our minds,” Moreno said. “I think it also depends a little bit upon the agent and the player. It’s not like it’s just us.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Trout is a two-time American League MVP who has finished in the top two in voting six of the past seven years. He led the majors last season in on-base percentage (.460) while hitting .312 with 39 home runs and 79 RBIs.

Trout, who said he called Harper to congratulate him on the contract, mentioned that he also followed the recent deals involving Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado. Arenado agreed to an eight-year, $260 million deal with the Colorado Rockies while the San Diego Padres signed Machado to a $300 million, 10-year deal earlier in spring training.

“It took longer than people expected,” Trout said. “You look at the health of the player. The first couple weeks you are not used to that baseball conditioning. But now they are going to be ready for opening day.”

12

The Warriors might have the most talented starting five ever

Steve Kerr is no stranger to being surrounded by Hall of Famers. He was a reserve guard on a 1996-97 Chicago Bulls team that had four players — Michael Jordan, Robert Parish, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman — eventually enshrined in Springfield, along with head coach Phil Jackson and assistant coach Tex Winter. He ended his playing career on a 2002-03 Spurs team that has already seen David Robinson go into the Hall of Fame, with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich certain to follow someday.

But even he has never seen a roster quite like this season’s Golden State Warriors.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“I’m well aware of how lucky I’ve been to basically inherit a team that had multiple Hall of Famers on the roster,” Kerr told ESPN recently with a laugh. “I probably wasn’t aware of it when I took the job, but it quickly became apparent how good these guys were.”12

The Warriors’ starting five of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins has combined for 19 All-NBA selections, 28 All-Star Game appearances, five scoring titles, five Olympic gold medals, three MVP awards and a Defensive Player of the Year trophy. Andre Iguodala comes off the bench with an All-Star appearance, an Olympic gold medal and a Finals MVP in his trophy case.

When Cousins made his Warriors debut on Jan. 18, he was immediately inserted in a starting lineup that bore more resemblance to a Dream Team than a typical NBA lineup.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I think our starting five could be a Team USA starting five,” Thompson said. “That’s how good it is. I’m very grateful to be in this position, not a lot of players ever experience something like this in any sport.”

For Cousins, who is still trying to get up to speed playing alongside the most talented teammates he has had in his career, the idea of playing with Hall of Famers is something he has come to terms with over the past few months.

“I kind of got past that part of it,” Cousins said with a smile. “Just kind of seeing them in the gym every day and thinking like that when I first got here. It’s fun. It’s fun to play with great players, it’s fun to play with guys with a lot of talent that know how to play the game.”

11

These step-back 3s are sent from another planet

James Harden is dribbling up to the left wing, and the Houston Rockets are down three with 48 seconds left. Kevin Durant calls off Andre Iguodala. He wants to guard his former teammate in one of the most intense moments of the 2018-19 regular season.

Durant, one of the longest wing defenders this league has ever seen, picks up Harden about 35 feet from the rim. His arms are already raised to prevent even the longest 3s Harden might consider.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

But it’s not Durant’s arms that Harden is focused on — it’s his Nikes. As the pair arrives at the 3-point line, Harden invites his old friend to dance. Harden crouches into his coil and begins to break down Durant. It won’t take long. He’s about to tie the game with the definitive move of the year.11

Harden uses a left-handed dribble to edge toward the 3-point line. With exactly 46.0 seconds remaining, the ball has bounced back up into Harden’s hand. He’s done dribbling, but his unhurried demeanor still gives no hint that a split-second later he’s going to bury the game-tying 3 in KD’s face.

On average the Harden step-back creates about 6 feet of shooting space, per Second Spectrum data. By the time Harden brings the ball through his shot pocket, the defender attempting to close the gap is always too late.

Check out that last still. It looks like a teammate set up Harden for a standard catch-and-shoot 3. But this space was created by the shooter himself, and that’s what makes it so damn dangerous: Harden can create clean 3-point looks at will.

Depending on what you consider to be the beginning of the act, Harden’s step-back jumper takes about one second. In that second, he breaks his defender’s balance, creates the shooting space, brings the ball through his shot pocket and releases it. It’s the most dangerous second in the NBA, and although defenders know it’s coming, they don’t know exactly when. At T-minus-1 they’re still clueless that liftoff is already happening.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Despite the fact that Durant’s wingspan is enormous, despite the fact that he was Harden’s teammate for years in OKC, despite the fact that the stakes were so high, and despite the fact that we all knew what Harden wanted to do — it didn’t matter. He did it anyway. He tied this Jan. 3 game with the step-back 3. The Rockets ended up winning in overtime.

12

Bills release tight end Charles Clay

The Buffalo Bills have released tight end Charles Clay, the team announced Friday.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Clay, 30, was scheduled to count $9 million against the Bills’ salary cap in the final season of a five-year, $38 million contract. He finished last season with a career-low 184 receiving yards while averaging a career-low 8.8 yards per catch. Despite playing in 13 games and making 12 starts, his 21 catches were his fewest since 2012.12

Former Bills general manager Doug Whaley made signing the transition-tagged Clay away from the division-rival Miami Dolphins one of his signature moves of the 2015 offseason. The Bills guaranteed $24.5 million of Clay’s deal, but his production in Buffalo never matched what remain his two best seasons — for Miami in 2013 and 2014.

Clay’s most recent touchdown came in Week 3 of the 2017 season. He surpassed 30 receiving yards in only two games during the 2018 season and was made a healthy scratch for a Week 16 contest at New England.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

In eight NFL seasons, Clay has caught 339 passes for 3,631 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for a score in 2013.

11

Embiid, Marjanovic both ruled out for OKC game

All-Star center Joel Embiid and backup center Boban Marjanovic are both out for the 76ers’ game Thursday against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, the team announced Tuesday.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Embiid is in Philadelphia for rehab on his sore left knee and has not yet been re-evaluated. The Sixers said they expect they will have an update before Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors in Philadelphia.

Last Wednesday, the Sixers announced that Embiid would be out at least a week with left knee soreness.11

Marjonovic was diagnosed with a bone bruise and mild sprain of the right knee and will be re-evaluated in around five to seven days, the team said Tuesday.

Marjanovic injured his knee in the Sixers’ win over the Pelicans on Monday. He underwent imaging, including an MRI and CT scan, that revealed the extent of the injuries.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Coach Brett Brown said results of Marjanovic’s MRI provided “a sigh of relief given what my gut feel was.”

The Sixers last faced the Thunder on Jan. 19, with OKC coming away with a 117-115 win in Philadelphia. In that game, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook took exception to a foul by Embiid with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, leading to a war of words between the two players who ended up on the same All-Star team last week.

12

Steelers GM says team will not use tag on Le’Veon Bell

Leading up to Colbert’s announcement, the value of a transition tag for Bell and how the Steelers might apply it were up for debate. Though Colbert said Bell’s tag would have been $14.5 million, which was the NFLPA’s number, the Steelers and the NFL considered arguing the number should be closer to $9.5 million because Bell sat out, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That point is now moot.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

If the Steelers tried to execute a sign-and-trade off the transition tag — matching another team’s offer sheet and then dealing him — the NFLPA would likely argue the team was breaking the spirit of the tag and the CBA, according to a source.

Colbert also said the Steelers will not offer a discount in a trade to get rid of disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown. The GM said no relationship is irreparable, so if the team can’t find good value for him, keeping Brown might be an option.12

“We’re all disappointed we’re at this point. How things transpired, we’re all disappointed,” Colbert said. “Respectfully, we did agree [that looking] into a trade would probably be the best course of action for both sides. …. By no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. We will not be discounting you on the trade market and we will not release you.”

He added that the Steelers have not had any active trade talks about Brown with other teams to this point. Colbert said that Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus will be involved but “we will control this.”

Team president Art Rooney II spent 20-to-30 minutes with Brown in South Florida on Tuesday to discuss Brown’s situation, Colbert said.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

As for what went wrong with Brown, Colbert deferred to Rooney’s discussion but pointed out on two different occasions that Brown is a “highly emotional” player, which is good “98 percent” of the time.

“We know we have a significant player. We know it’s probably best to move on,” Colbert said. “But we’ll also know we’ll only do that if it benefits us.”

11

Kevin Durant steals the show in Charlotte, wins second All-Star MVP

Durant, who last won the award in 2012, shot 10-for-15 from the floor (6-for-9 from 3) as Team LeBron set an All-Star Game record for most made 3s in a game with 35.

“We just didn’t want to lose,” Durant told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after accepting the MVP trophy on the court after the game. “We know we had a lot of talent over there that can do multiple things. We just wanted to turn it up a bit on the defensive side. I think the group closed the third quarter really changed the game for us. It is fun being around such greatness. Seeing how these guys operate on the day to day. I’ll miss my time here.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

He added 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks as LeBron James improved to 2-0 as a captain since the NBA All-Star Game changed to a draft format last year. Durant paid off as James’ No. 1 overall pick in the draft.11

“It’s all sweet to me,” Durant said when asked to compare the award to his other career accomplishments. “I mean, it’s hard to rank. Everything’s special. But it’s cool to be out there with some of the best players to ever play the game, and to win an MVP here in front of my family and friends is pretty sweet. I just keep trying to rack them up, I guess.”

The 11-year veteran’s trophy case is getting mighty crowded these days after he took home back-to-back NBA Finals MVP awards for the Golden State Warriors’ championships the last two years.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Durant, who is not expected to opt in to the final year of his contract, worth $31.5 million, with the Warriors and instead test free agency this summer, was asked if there were any teammates in particular he enjoyed playing with on Team LeBron.

Several of his teammates — Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson — are also expected to test free agency this summer. James’ team, the Los Angeles Lakers, will have the salary cap space to sign a max free agent of Durant’s caliber.

11

49ers won’t take him, but Kyler Murray moves will impact Niners’ draft

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray’s announcement last week that he intends to focus on football made waves in the Bay Area, particularly at the headquarters of the Oakland Athletics.

While the A’s most directly felt the impact of Murray’s apparent decision to bypass the chance to play baseball for them, the ripple effect of Murray’s news made its way to the area’s local football teams.

On the surface, the San Francisco 49ers and Murray won’t have much to do with each other. The Niners have a huge investment in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and there’s next to no chance that Murray will be on San Francisco’s radar with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

There’s a long way to go until the draft, but many are expecting Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa to be the top overall pick, which, for now, is held by the Arizona Cardinals. Given the 49ers’ need for a dominant edge rusher, Bosa would be an ideal fit.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been connected to Murray since video surfaced of new coach Kliff Kingsbury praising Murray last year and saying he’d take him with the top pick.11

Kingsbury has attempted to quell that speculation, saying that Josh Rosen is the guy in Arizona. But you don’t have to look hard to find examples of teams being committed to a quarterback right up until the moment they aren’t. In 2015, the Rams spent months trying to convince the world that they were sticking with Sam Bradford. Then, on the first day of the league year, they traded him to Philadelphia for a package that included Nick Foles.

If, over the next couple of months, Arizona trades Rosen and drafts Murray, that would be the easiest path to giving the Niners a chance to land Bosa.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Even if that doesn’t happen and Arizona stays with Rosen, having Murray in the mix could improve the Niners’ position. With teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins in need of quarterbacks — and others, such as the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers lurking as potential surprise entrants in the derby — the only way to ensure landing the signal-caller they want is to trade up to No. 1.

Simply put, any situation in which someone other than Bosa goes No. 1 overall would be a boon to the Niners, and while Murray’s presence doesn’t guarantee such a scenario, it certainly doesn’t hurt the chances of it happening.

12

The Sean McVay era is here, but good luck replicating what the Rams’ coach has done

He understands it so much so that the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator seized the opportunity in front of a large media contingent to offer the credentials of his son, Wes Phillips, who is a tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins.

“Wes is a young offensive coach that knows Sean McVay,” Phillips said, serious as ever, “if anybody is looking for a head coach.”

The room laughed. And it seems far-fetched, yet somehow it wouldn’t be shocking if Wes Phillips’ phone began to ring.

Call it the Sean McVay Effect.

The Rams hired McVay in January 2017, when he was 30 years old, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He took a 4-12 team that had suffered a 12-year playoff drought and clinched a division title in his first season. In his second season, the Rams again won the NFC West. It was the first time since 1979 that the team had won consecutive division crowns.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Last week, McVay, 32, became the youngest head coach in NFL history to produce a playoff win, with a 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional round. And on Sunday, with a win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game at the Superdome, he could become the youngest head coach ever to advance to the Super Bowl.12

“It’s something that, when you get a chance to play for one game away, that’s exactly why you do all this hard work,” McVay said. “We’re going to go there and give it our best shot and compete to the best of our ability and see what happens.”

But regardless of Sunday’s outcome, McVay’s tenure in L.A. is already considered a resounding success and is leaving an impression around the NFL. Teams across the league are in a hurry to find the next McVay — a coach who can offer an explosive brand of offense and be a quarterback guru. The Rams average 32.9 points per game, and under McVay, Jared Goff went from bust to boom.

The Cincinnati Bengals appear set to hire Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, another 30-something offensive coach, who has spent two seasons with McVay (including one as receivers coach) and has prior NFL experience with the Bengals and the Miami Dolphins.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

And the Arizona Cardinals opted for an unconventional hire in Kliff Kingsbury, a 39-year-old who was fired after producing a losing record in six seasons at Texas Tech but — as a (since-modified) Cardinals news release pointed out — “is friends with Rams coach Sean McVay — the 32-year-old offensive genius who has become the blueprint of many of the new coaching hires around the NFL.” Before Kingsbury accepted the position, McVay extended to him an invitation to join the Rams’ staff as an offensive analyst for the playoff run.

When one league executive was asked via text message whether the McVay-like hires were a trend or a coincidence, the executive responded only with a link to the famous “McDowell’s” scene from “Coming to America.”