Nets Trade For Jah Okafor

Written by Zach Lowe at

Jahlil Okafor got his wish on Thursday when the Philadelphia 76ers finally traded the beleaguered No. 3 overall pick of the 2015 draft to the Brooklyn Netsin exchange for forward Trevor Booker.

The deal ends the stalemate that had kept Okafor on the bench for all but two games this season.

Once a prized piece of The Process, Okafor rapidly fell out of favor with the rise of star center Joel Embiid.

“Love you. New beginnings,” Embiid said he texted Okafor. “Good luck. And I made sure to let him know I was going to kick his ass.”

Team president Bryan Colangelo said he reached a deal with a team he declined to name to trade Okafor last season until it fell apart at the last minute. That led to an awkward situation where Okafor didn’t even travel with the team during the trade deadline. Okafor led the Sixers in scoring as a rookie with Embiid out with injuries. Okafor played 55 games last season and never really meshed with the franchise center. Okafor started piling up DNP-CDs and those stretched into this season, where the Sixers will chase a playoff berth without him.

“He can go play basketball again,” coach Brett Brown said.

The Sixers also sent seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2014 draft, and a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets for Booker. Booker, the 23rd overall pick of the 2010 draft, averaged 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds with the Nets.

 “There is a level of toughness and versatility that interests me,” Brown said. “He’s shown that he can play, handle not [playing] and be good people and handle himself like a pro.”
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Orioles Fielding Calls For Machado

Written by Mike Axisa at CBS

The Orioles are in a difficult spot right now. They went 75-87 and finished in last place in the AL East in 2017, and next offseason core players Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Adam Jones will become free agents. Britton’s name has reportedly already come up in trade talks.

Now, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Machado’s name has popped up in trade rumors as well. The O’s are getting calls about their superstar third baseman, and while they aren’t actively shopping Machado, Heyman says they are willing to listen to offers. There’s no harm in listening. Here’s more from Heyman:

There are no known offers, and it would obviously take a ton for the Orioles to even consider moving such a superstar. The Yankees and Phillies are among many teams expected to have interest in Machado, who is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season – though the call list isn’t known.

While this is going on, behind the scenes the Orioles are also discussing whether to try to make a play to keep Machado long-term. He could be expected to receive a contract in the range of Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million deal as a free agent, and other teams believe that might be too steep for the Orioles, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

Given the fact Machado will be a free agent next winter, and is likely to test the market in hopes of landing a record contract, it stands to reason only contending teams would show serious interest in acquiring him. A rebuilding club wouldn’t want to risk trading top prospects for Machado only to watch him sign with a big market team as a free agent next winter.

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Marlins Trade Dee Gordon To Mariners. Did They Get A Good Deal?

Written by RJ Anderson at CBS

On Thursday night, the Miami Marlins took the first step in a potential fire sale by moving second baseman Dee Gordon and international bonus pool money to the Seattle Mariners.

While Gordon looks to transition to center field for the Mariners, we decided to evaluate the Marlins’ return — Nick Neidert, Christopher Torres, and Robert Dugger — by asking Rotoworld prospect expert Christopher Crawford for his insight. Remember to follow Crawford on Twitter.

Would you say the Marlins got a legit return for Gordon, or was this a salary dump?

I would say that it’s closer to a salary dump than a legit return, but it’s definitely somewhere in the middle. When healthy, Gordon has shown the ability to be one of the better contact hitters in baseball, and he still has the speed to be among the league leaders in steals. Getting two of the Mariners’ best prospects is certainly a positive, but when you consider that Seattle still has one of the worst groups in the sport, it isn’t saying quite as much as that should.

What’s Nick Neidert’s long-term outlook?

Neidert is a starter, and should be a good one. He has a plus change — some have given it plus-plus grades — and he pounds the zone with four unique pitches that he commands as well as throwing them for strikes. The question is going to be if his 88-92 mph fastball can play up with the change, and if either breaking ball is good enough to miss bats. If it is, he’s a three. If not, he’s a four, but a good, reliable four.

Can Christopher Torres be the Marlins’ shortstop of the future?

Defensively, I don’t think there’s any question Torres can. His actions are excellent, and he has the athleticism and arm strength to be a real asset in the field. Offensively, there’s some question marks here. There’s very little power, and there’s significant contact issues. He does have good speed, however, and with some mechanical adjustments he might make enough contact to  have a 50-grade hit tool. He’s definitely interesting, but risky.

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Ball Children Hire Agent, Will Play Overseas

Written by Jeff Goodman at

LaVar Ball told ESPN that his sons LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have signed with agent Harrison Gaines, ending any speculation that LaMelo will play college basketball. The plan is now for both to play on the same team overseas.

“I don’t care about the money,” LaVar Ball said on Thursday morning. “I want them to go somewhere where they will play them together on the court at the same time. The priority is for the boys to play on the same team.”

Ball said earlier this week that the plan was still for LaMelo, who withdrew from Chino Hills (California) High School early in his junior season, to play at UCLA in two years. However, the elder Ball told ESPN that won’t be the case.

“He’s not going to play college basketball,” Ball said.

Gaines also represents the oldest of the Ball brothers, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. LaVar Ball said Gaines has been dealing with various overseas clubs about LiAngelo and LaMelo. Sources told ESPN that several teams in Europe and Asia have expressed interest.

“I don’t know the deals and who is offering what,” Ball said. “I’m letting Harrison handle all that, but I know there are a few teams interested. I just need to get them playing again.”

Ball said he will likely spend time wherever his two youngest sons wind up playing, and he also intends to have their uncles go over and help.

“There will be three people with them all the time,” Ball said. “I’ll go back and forth and probably stay out there a while at first.”

Ball pulled LiAngelo from UCLA earlier in the week and told ESPN that he was frustrated that the school hadn’t made a final determination on the length of his son’s suspension following an arrest for shoplifting while in China last month.

Lonzo Ball said after the Lakers’ shootaround in Philadelphia on Thursday that his brothers signing with his agent was a “good decision” and the family discussed the matter beforehand.

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Saints Loss To Falcons Changes NFC Playoff Picture

Written by Gregg Rosenthal at

Eleven yards away from burying his biggest rival in the NFC South race, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a pass that might haunt him until he faces the Falcons again. Luckily for him and NFL fans, that rematch is only two weeks away.

Falcons cornerback Deion Jones’ interception was one of those plays that can change the shape of an entire season in an instant. Here are a few of the quick playoff picture ramifications from Atlanta’s 20-17 victory:

The No. 1 seed in the NFC is all but out for New Orleans: A win over Atlanta on Thursday night would have put the Saints in truly commanding position to win the NFC South, considering they have already swept the Carolina Panthers. The Saintscould have started to set their sights on home-field advantage in the NFC or a playoff bye. That’s going to be a lot more difficult now with four losses, two more than the Vikings and Eagles. A head-to-head loss to the Rams also could hurt the Saints in seeding.

Even if the Saints do still win the division, it’s likely now they will be playing on Wild Card Weekend.

The NFC South could come down to the Falcons-Saints rematch: Now 8-5, Falcons go on the road to Tampa in Week 15. If they can win that game, Atlanta will head to New Orleans for a pivotal Week 16 matchup with a chance to take over first place in the NFC South. The team started 7-5 last season, so they know how a hot finish can translate to playoff success. Thursday night’s win over New Orleans, at the very least, gives the Falcons some breathing room in the wild-card race. Speaking of which …

The road for the Packers, Cowboys and Lions just got tougher: The three pack of 6-6 NFC wild-card hopefuls need the Falcons, Panthers or Seahawks to slip up down the stretch. It’s still quite possible that happens because of the difficult schedule all three teams face, but this win by Atlanta makes the path less likely.

The Panthers should be smiling too: Carolina has plenty of issues to worry about with their inconsistent passing game and the visiting Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. But the Panthers now join the Falcons and Saints in the “control their fate” NFC South party. The Falcons-Panthers game in Week 17 is going to be ripe with playoff implications. All three teams in the best division in football can win the division if they just win out. Deion Jones made sure of it.

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Josh Gordon Practices For First Time Since 2016

Written by ESPN at

Wide receiver Josh Gordon practiced with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 31, 2016.

It was the first regular-season practice since Dec. 26, 2014 for Gordon, who has been suspended for 53 or the Browns’ past 58 games because of several violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Gordon, who was allowed to work out with his Browns teammates for the first time on Monday, was reinstated earlier this month. Wednesday was the team’s first full practice this week.

According to reports, Gordon was the best receiver on the practice field Wednesday.

“The guy is ultimate talent. We all know it. It is time for him to step in and play his role on this team,” quarterback DeShone Kizer told reporters before practice.

Gordon caught passes from Kizer on Monday and the rookie quarterback came away impressed.

“It went well. He is a heckuva player, and I’m looking forward to when he is back out there for us,” Kizer told reporters.

Gordon is eligible to be activated to the Browns’ roster beginning Nov. 27, at the team’s discretion. The Browns are not obligated to activate him from the Commissioner’s Exempt list until Dec. 4. The team could release Gordon at any time.

The first game Gordon is eligible will be Dec. 3 in Los Angeles against the Chargers. That makes Gordon able to play the final five games of the season.

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Alshon Jeffery is Doubling Down On His Super Bowl Prediction

Written by Jeremy Bergman at

Typically, professional athletes tend to walk back bold predictions or statements made in the heat of the moment or the aftermath of battle. Alshon Jeffery is not one of those athletes.

The Eagles wide receiver on Tuesday doubled down on a hot take from over nine months ago, when he was playing for the Chicago Bears and nowhere near playoff contention.

“I guarantee you we’ll win the Super Bowl next year,” Jeffery declared then, right after Chicago had dropped to 3-13. The wideout said this knowing he was about to enter free agency, which made the statement all the more peculiar.

Now the most-targeted receiver on the best team in football, and ahead of a revenge game this week against Chicago, Jeffery’s confidence hasn’t wavered.

“I never said a team, though,” Jeffery told reporters Tuesday. “I never said a team.”

Jeffery’s transferable Super Bowl hot take looks better by the week. The 9-1 Eagles are in pole position to secure home-field advantage in the NFC and have put to bed any semblance of a race in the NFC East after dispatching of the Dallas Cowboys on national television.

No one would dispute that the Eagles at this moment have a far better chance to win a title than the Bears, who without Jeffery (or any go-to receivers, for that matter) are rebuilding with Mitchell Trubiskyand are stuck at 3-7 in the NFC North cellar.

But Jeffery cares not that his take has cooled.

“Winning championships, that’s most important to me,” he said. “A lot of players make a lot of money, but some of them never make the playoffs, never get to experience a lot of things. Like being here in Philly, the atmosphere where we all want that for each other. We all want to go to the playoffs. We all want to win a championship. We’re all together.”

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Ohtani Is Coming To America

Written by Jon Paul Morosi at

At last, we can say it: Shohei Ohtani is coming to Major League Baseball in 2018.

Officials from Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball agreed Tuesday on a new posting system to govern player transfers from Japan to North America, sources confirmed to Once MLB owners ratify the terms on Dec. 1 — viewed as a formality — the NPB’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters will post Ohtani to MLB clubs, initiating a courtship period for the two-way phenom that will culminate just before Christmas.

The deal’s terms were first reported by MLB Network insider Joel Sherman and subsequently confirmed to by multiple sources.

The posting agreement runs through Oct. 31, 2021, meaning it will continue for the length of baseball’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement. In some cases, the new provisions won’t take effect immediately. For example, the Fighters will be awarded a $20 million posting fee in exchange for transferring Ohtani’s rights, the maximum allowed under the previous posting agreement. In future years, NPB clubs will receive release fees according to the amount of guaranteed money in the player’s initial MLB contract: 20 percent of the first $25 million, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent on all amounts above $50 million.

A 25 percent fee will accompany all Minor League contracts beginning next offseason, according to the agreement.

The scaled release fees represented a breakthrough in negotiations. The compromise helped convince Japanese baseball officials to move off a prior insistence on “pull back” rights that would have allowed NPB teams to rescind posting offers if they produced lower-than-expected contracts.

“I thank both [Major League Baseball chief legal officer] Dan Halem and [Major League Baseball vice president and deputy general counsel, labor relations] Pat Houlihan for their commitment to try to reach an agreement,” Nobby Ito, chief officer for NPB rules and labor, said of the lead MLB negotiators with whom he worked. “I respect their professionalism throughout the negotiation in the last seven months.”

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Kirk Cousins is Dedicated to Washington. Is Management Dedicated to him?

Written by Cody Benjamin at CBS

Kirk Cousins’ career with the Washington Redskins has seemingly been as much about his debated worth to his team as his actual performance on the field.

How else do you explain the annual discussions of whether Washington should — or will — commit to Cousins for more than a single season at a time? And when the Redskins are yet again clawing for life as the latter portion of the season arrives, things like Cousins’ long-term future in D.C. seem just as pressing as the team’s current attempts to avoid a full-blown collapse.

Cousins, however, would tell you he’s got his sights set on sticking in Washington.

That’s according to Alex Duke, who profiled the quarterback for The Gospel Coalition and said Cousins is “fully invested in the present goal of getting the Redskins to the Super Bowl in 2018 or beyond.”

A Super Bowl might be a long shot for Washington (4-6) this time around, especially with the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles at 9-1 and having already swept Cousins’ club, but even as his second straight franchise tag expires following 2017, the veteran appears committed to the same organization that’s failed to ink him to a long-term deal.

“I want to be a diligent, hard-working, humble, and servant-hearted employee of the Redskins and teammate with the guys I play with,” Cousins told Duke.

And when the time comes for Cousins to move on, perhaps away from the game of football itself? Duke says the Redskins quarterback is already considering an array of occupations.

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Manute Bol Might’ve Been 50 Years Old When He Entered the NBA

Written by Chris Yuscavage at

When Manute Bol retired from the NBA in 1995, he was 32. At least, that’s what most people believed, because that’s the age was listed in his bio at the time. But according to a former college basketball coach who helped bring Bol to the U.S. in the 1980s, Bol may have actually been much, much older than that. He also may have been damn-near 40 when he was playing college basketball.

The revelation about Bol’s age came to light this week thanks to Kevin Mackey, a former head coach for Cleveland State who now serves as a scout for the Indiana Pacers. Mackey spoke with and talked about how Oct. 16, 1962, Bol’s supposed birthday, wasn’t actually Bol’s birthday at all. He admitted to making up the date soon after he brought Bol to the U.S. for a recruiting visit. He said Bol “didn’t know how old he was” at the time, which made it easy for Mackey to simply make up an age up for him.

“He had no idea of his age and the kid who came over with him didn’t know how old he was,” Mackey said. “No one knew how old he was. The immigration people were in the office [at Cleveland State] and they thought it was great. They loved it. And they were big fans of Cleveland State, they used to come to all our games. They wanted to cover themselves, because Manute was starting to get so much publicity. His picture was in the paper. He was on the 6 o’clock news because he was such a different looking guy than everyone else. At that time, no one had ever seen anything like it.”

As it turned out, Bol didn’t end up going to Cleveland State. He went to a Division II school called University of Bridgeport instead. And Mackey was later accused of paying Bol and other players from Africa during his recruitment of them. But it sounds like Bol shouldn’t have been playing at Cleveland State or any other college anyway. Because according to Mackey, he was more than likely 35 years old when he played college basketball, not 19 as Mackey had listed him at.

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