Bulls’ Gibson putting in work, staying focused in contract year

The media played it for all the laughs and clicks it could get, LeBron James was a good sport and Dwyane Wade had a blast teasing his blue-pinstriped BFF from the Cleveland Cavaliers as James paid off a World Series bet Friday evening.
But Taj Gibson was not amused. Nothing against the frivolity per se, but Gibson wasn¡¯t going to let himself get drawn in, lest he drop his guard.

“LeBron, he’s that dude, man,” Gibson told reporters after Chicago¡¯s unexpected 111-105 victory at the United Center. “I’m happy to be able to say that for most of my career I was able to play big games against him. Playoffs, regular games, rivalries, whatever you want to call it, because he’s the man.

It’s impossible to know what these Celtics truly are or what they might become. Boston has rarely put together a full 48-minute effort and sweats out wins against subpar competition as emphasized during this weekend’s back-to-back wins against the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid.

Elite Brent Celek Jersey Boston’s schedule is about to crank into overdrive. The Celtics play nine of their next 14 games on the road, including visits to four of the current top six teams in the West over the next two weeks. A return trip to Cleveland, where Boston lost in early November, looms at the end of the month.

The Celtics are going to have to play better than they have lately to keep their heads above water. Despite winning six of their last eight, Boston’s play hasn’t inspired much confidence. The Celtics have won five straight away from TD Garden, but the combined records of those five teams entering Sunday’s action was 33-67 (.330 winning percentage).
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On Monday, the Celtics drop in on a Rockets team that went 4-1 on a recent five-game road trip that included a double-overtime victory over Golden State. The Rockets own the third-best offensive rating in the league and sit seventh in net rating (plus-3.3). For sake of comparison, Boston is 12th in the league in net rating at plus-2.0 (but has the potential to elevate higher as its defensive rating stabilizes).

Gronkowski already has missed three games this year and played a limited role in two others

Eric Karabell’s Week 13 watch list includes Rob Gronkowski’s intriguing position and his thriving team, each in search of aid
The strength of the Patriots’ offense, especially over the past decade under the on-again, off-again stewardship of Josh McDaniels, has been its ability to change its shape. Having Tom Brady helps, of course, but we saw how effective the offense could be during the first three weeks of the season, with Garoppolo at quarterback and Gronkowski either out or a shell of his usual self. The Patriots have managed to transition from a spread attack with Randy Moss and Wes Welker to the two-tight-end sets of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to an offense that incorporates both. They’ve overcome subpar offensive lines and managed to get the most out of players other teams weren’t interested in, such as Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis and Martellus Bennett.
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Bennett looms large in how the Patriots will handle the Gronkowski mess. The goal for this year was to build an offense around the twin terrors of Gronkowski and Bennett, who would be able to stay on the field and dictate mismatches regardless of the defense’s personnel choices. Injuries have prevented them from ever really pulling that off. By the time Gronkowski made it back from his hamstring injury, Bennett got hurt, suffering an ankle injury in a three-touchdown performance over the Browns.

What’s next for Gronk?

Gilbert Perreault Elite Jersey This is the thorniest question of them all, and the one that is toughest to answer. Gronkowski has made critical decisions in his professional career with his back in mind. In 2009, Gronkowski missed his junior season at Arizona and underwent his first back surgery. He subsequently decided to go pro instead of returning to school to rebuild his stock, which almost never happens. Organizations passed on Gronkowski out of concerns about his back and the missing year of tape, which is how a Hall of Fame tight end gets taken 17 picks after Tim Tebow and falls to the Patriots in the second round.

While the tight end emerged as a star and was mostly injury-free before suffering a high ankle sprain during the 2011 playoffs, it became clear that Gronk (or his representation) was concerned about his long-term ability to stay on the field. It’s hard to otherwise explain the deal he chose to sign before the 2012 season, just two years after entering the league. While reports at the time suggested that the six-year, $54 million deal was the biggest contract ever handed out to a tight end, the structure was incredibly team-friendly and contained just $12.9 million in guaranteed money.

Texans star J.J. Watt donates $10K to help high schooler

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt donated $10,000 to a Houston area high school football player who is in a coma after he was injured in a game last weekend.

Grant Milton, a senior at The Woodlands High School, suffered an injury in a playoff game on Saturday that required emergency surgery.

A GoFundMe page was started to accept donations toward medical costs and living expenses while the family is dealing with the injury. Watt included a note with his donation, saying, “If there’s anything that I can do to help, please let me know. Sending my best wishes to Grant and the entire Milton family.”

Maybe this was Manning’s way of making sure the silent game doesn’t send the rookie into a funk. Or maybe he really did feel badly about how it all went down.

Either way, the Giants are going to need Shepard moving forward. He’s second on the team with 44 catches, 476 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Manning is going to need his No. 2 target to produce down the stretch, beginning this Sunday when they play a difficult game on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Shepard is confident it will happen.

Limited Womens Richard Hamilton Jersey Brees said he sees frustration bubble up in a teammate every week or two since he’s been in New Orleans.

“Listen, there’s not a guy who works harder in here than Brandin Cooks and expects more out of himself and wants to be a part of what we’re doing and our success,” Brees said. “That was just one of those games where there was opportunities called for him and the coverage kind of rolled his way or whatever it was and the ball ended up going elsewhere. And it was just one of those bad luck things for him personally, I guess.

Limited Womens Nick Foles Jersey “But obviously as a team we were rolling. And that just opens up opportunities for other people. And I think Brandin recognizes that, we talked about it after the game. And, listen, if we can go out and score 49 points and play like that and win every week, then I think everybody would be OK with it.”

Adrian Peterson ‘hasn’t closed the door’ on staying with the Vikings

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is not happy. Peterson, who is currently serving a suspension for hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch, reportedly is disillusioned with the Vikings, according to Chris Tomasson and Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The tension between Peterson’s camp and the Vikings boiled Jermaine Jones Authentic Womens Jersey over at the NFL Combine, when agent Ben Dogra and Minnesota’s vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski began yelling at each other at an Indianapolis restaurant on Friday night, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Despite this, Nelson Peterson, Adrian’s father, claims that his son is still willing to play for the Vikings, contrary to what Dogra was asserting:

This preference for help in the trenches also comes despite the fact that the Cowboys have used their first-round pick on an offensive lineman in three of the last four drafts — Tyron Smith (2011), Travis Frederick (2013) and Zack Martin (2014). With the 27th overall pick, Dallas likely won’t be able to snag one of the top offensive linemen, but this year’s class is considered deep and there is a good chance the team would be able to find another gem late in the first round.

The New York Giants released defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on Tuesday afternoon, reports NFL.com’s Kimberly Jones. The veteran has spent his entire nine-season career with Big Blue, winning two Super Bowls during that time.

This past season the 31-year-old had a career-low 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles in 11 games before John Brooks Authentic Womens Jersey a knee injury ended his campaign in late November. The advanced metrics were not kind to Kiwanuka the past two years. According to Pro Football Focus, he rated as the second-worst 4-3 defensive end in 2013 and the third-worst in 2014.

Kiwanuka was supposed to count $7.45 million against the salary cap next season, the fourth-highest cap charge on the team. The Giants will gain $4.825 million in cap space by cutting him, per Over the Cap.

In general, the balance between Anthony, Porzingis and Rose has worked well in the past three games

Carlisle on Nowitzki’s health:

“This is a guy who’s given everything to this franchise and right now, as tough as it is for us, we’ve got to be mindful of the big picture. We’ve got to make sure that Dirk’s last year or two or three, or whatever it is, come down the right way. I want him to be able to play in his last game, whenever that is. You don’t want to see a situation where a great warrior like him, who’s close to 30,000 Tyreek Hill Authentic Womens Jersey points and is possible to get to top five in all-time scoring, can’t get through the last few games of his career. That’s not what you want to see.”

Forget the rebounding differential or the free throw disparity, a highly entertaining Black Friday matinee between the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs essentially boiled down to this: On maybe the game’s most crucial possession, the veteran Spurs confidently ran a simple action that generated a wide-open look, while the young Celtics endured a monster communication lapse that spelled their demise.

He’s 26-for-56 (46.4 percent) from beyond the arc when sharing the floor with Anthony and 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) when he’s on the court without him.

In general, the balance between Anthony, Porzingis and Rose has worked well in the past three games. The Knicks have beaten three teams (Portland, Atlanta, Charlotte) that entered the week with a combined record of 23-10. And Rose, Anthony and Porzingis have all played prominent roles.

Nerlens Noel: Nothing has changed here. Noel has yet to appear in a game this season after Zach Fulton Authentic Womens Jersey electing to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery last month, but word is he’d still prefer to be shipped to a new address with so many big men to battle for playing time in Philly. Count on the Sixers to accommodate him eventually.

Donatas Motiejunas: This isn’t a trade story, but it counts nonetheless as one of those aforementioned ?fascinating situations. Our story from late Wednesday night, co-scribed here with Calvin Watkins, details all the latest twists and turns, but here’s an important footnote: One source close to the talks expressed confidence that Motiejunas isn’t as far away from advertised when it comes to landing a contract.

A quick follow-up to our recent note about the NBA Development League and its expected salary jump into the range of $50,000 to $75,000.

The case for (and against) the Cubs bringing back Dexter Fowler

Only the Chicago Cubs could potentially let a catalyst like center fielder Dexter Fowler leave via free agency and still be considered a favorite to repeat as world champions.

That’s a testament to how deep they’ve Derek Anderson Authentic Jersey become now that Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras have taken the next steps in their careers, not to mention the improvement of co-NLCS MVP Javier Baez. “Freaky” is how one longtime National League Central scout labeled the Cubs’ depth.

But that doesn’t mean that if Fowler left, it wouldn’t be a tough loss to stomach at the top of Chicago’s lineup.

“One might assume.” One might assume that, if Martin Perez’s WARs are 1.8, 1.8 and 1.9 (as they were in 2016), that Martin Perez is a 1.8- or 1.9-win pitcher. But we’ve already seen, with Ray, that one model of WAR can be wildly misleading. We’ve seen, in fact, that two can be. It’s not much of a leap to think even three could be, all at once, and in all the same ways, especially for unique players such as Zach Britton or Yadier Molina or David Ross or for players on the extremes.

Last week, Justin Verlander finished second in the AL Cy Young voting, as he was left off two five-person ballots entirely. I would’ve voted for him. His WARs were fairly tightly bunched, all at or near the top of his league: 6.8, 6.6 and 5.2 wins. The internet did what it does: It went after the two voters, tweeting at them that they were classless, clueless, hacks, morons, should have their voting privileges taken away, etc. It threw around slurs. “I hope you and everyone you love dies,” one person, predictably, tweeted (now deleted) at one of the voters. If you ever want an argument Devin Funchess Authentic Jersey against certainty, pick any well-traveled tweet and read the replies.

Those WARs for Verlander are compelling, and WAR as a framework is clearly the best, most comprehensive, most objective way for most of us to assess players. But baseball is not something we’ve cracked, and Robbie Ray is a good reminder that, until we do, we’re all still staggering, out of the darkness but blinded by too many lights. It isn’t a matter of whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just a thing. Be grateful you aren’t the general manager of a team that has to make hundred-million-dollar decisions in this era.

Jay Cutler’s shoulder injury thrusts Matt Barkley into the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against Tennessee

Jay Cutler’s shoulder injury thrusts Matt Barkley into the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. Barkley’s only 2016 action occurred on Oct. 20 in Green Bay when he completed 6 of 15 pass attempts for 81 yards and two interceptions. Barkley’s career pass rating is 34.2. The Bears will also be without tight end Zach Miller (foot) and linebacker Jerrell Freeman (PED suspension). Linebacker Leonard Floyd (neck) avoided serious injury at MetLife Stadium but is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

The will-he or won’t-he of linebacker DeAndre Levy’s return to the lineup could potentially C.J. Fiedorowicz Authentic Womens Jersey happen Thursday against Minnesota. He practiced all last week on a limited basis coming off his knee injury, and as long as he doesn’t suffer a setback before Thursday, there’s a chance he’ll suit up for the first time since Week 1. He’s a player the Lions could sorely use considering their issues covering tight ends throughout the season. If it isn’t this week, it would seem next week against New Orleans would be the target.

As for the here and now, Luck’s injury derails a team that on Sunday played with all of its offensive Chris Clark Authentic Womens Jersey starters for the first time since Week 2.

Luck had avoided the injury bug and taken every offensive snap this season. Although he’s absorbed an NFL-high 35 sacks, he succeeded with the aim to better protect himself by taking fewer risks when running, which included decisions to slide quicker and run out of bounds.

On the fourth-quarter play in which he is believed to have been injured, there was no escape as the pocket collapsed. Although Derrick Morgan and Austin Johnson split the sack, it was the 314-pound Johnson who landed on Luck to cause the quarterback’s head to bounce off the turf.

Luck didn’t exhibit any obvious symptoms afterward, and remained in the game. It seems more significant now that his next pass was incomplete and on the next series, he was intercepted on a throw that he lamented afterward was the result of a “bad decision.”

After not being examined during the game, Luck was seemingly healthy when he completed an 11-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton with two minutes left that sealed the victory.

LeBron James donates $2.5 million to a new Muhammad Ali Smithsonian exhibit

LeBron James is making a significant donation to a new exhibit honoring the life of Muhammad Ali at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

James, his business partner Maverick Carter, and his foundation will donate $2.5 million to help create the exhibit, called “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change.” James is one of several notable Chris Mullin Authentic Womens Jersey NBA figures who have donated money, including a $5 million donation from Michael Jordan and at least $1 million from Magic Johnson and his wife Cookie, per USA Today.

Ali died this past June at the age of 74. Like many athletes, James was shaped by his character and influence.

“Expose him. Ruin his life.”

Then he dunked on Capela so hard that D’Antoni had to get mad at the ref for not preventing it. But it’s not the ref’s fault. He’s just the bystander to a crime. There wasn’t a five-second violation, but like all catastrophic events, time slows down and a second seems to last forever when you’re in danger.

Even the Rockets bench knew something terrible was about to happen once Westbrook got the ball. They went from being very animated at the beginning of the play to being as quiet as Black Bolt once he took off. It’s like watching little school kids in a classroom right before the principal walks in. They were aware that they all needed to think of different care packages to send their teammate. Maybe a card, some fruit, a teddy bear, and a video of Robin Williams reminding Capela that it’s not his fault.

Because this is just what Russell Westbrook does. He dunks on you unnecessarily, then yells at you as you struggle to regain your balance.

That might be worse than the actual dunk, because you never did anything to him. Why is he so David Lee Authentic Womens Jersey mean? All you wanted to do was play basketball, and now you’re going to have to avoid social media for a while because people are going to be tweeting videos of the incident with numerous flame emojis and jokes about how Westbrook made it hard for you to see a rim without being triggered.

And you were just seven seconds away from leaving the game with your dignity intact. That’s just tough.

Philly’s top performer? Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has coaxed a lot out of this group

This is really more about the defense, which was supposed to be better and has instead been excellent from the jump. Philadelphia leads the league in defensive DVOA despite starting the likes of Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin regularly at cornerback. The Eagles win by giving those corners help and getting pressure with their front four, which has finally unlocked Brandon Graham’s career-year mode. The Eagles are fourth in the league in both pressure rate and sack rate despite the fact that they blitz just 19.2 percent of the time, the Isa Abdul-Quddus Authentic Womens Jersey sixth-lowest rate in football. As is the case in Atlanta, the concern now might be holding onto defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who rebuilt Philly’s defense on the fly.

The Giants remain incredibly unbalanced and have one of the worst running games in football, but with Odell Beckham Jr. catching six touchdown passes in five games, it doesn’t really seem to matter. (Remember when he went four games without scoring and people were blaming him for the Giants’ problems? Almost like that was a random fluke!) It’s no surprise that the defense is better after an enormous offseason spending spree, but the Giants are up to eighth in DVOA with the Bears and Browns on the schedule over the next two weeks, and it’s not just the big-ticket free agents who are producing. Jason Pierre-Paul is not generating a ton of sacks, but he has six knockdowns and five pass deflections in four games. Even better, second-year safety Landon Collins has turned into a star, leading the team in tackles, interceptions, and (in a tie) sacks.

I probably don’t need to explain this one, right? Dak Prescott didn’t just save the Cowboys this season; he fundamentally changes their next decade. Dallas was going to need to seriously try to find a replacement for Tony Romo as soon as this upcoming offseason. Now, they don’t have to use a first-round pick on a quarterback and can instead apply that to upgrade a perennially overachieving defensive line. With Prescott due to make a total of just under $2.2 million over the next three seasons, the Cowboys also can trade Romo and create a modest amount of cap space next year before freeing things up dramatically in 2018 and 2019, a move that will allow them to re-sign their own talent or go after top-level contributors in free agency for the first time in years. Finding a franchise quarterback in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft cures a lot of ills very quickly. The last two teams to do it were the Seahawks with Russell Wilson and the Patriots with Tom Brady. Worked out well for those teams, right?

Only some of this is chalked up to Carson Wentz, who has been James Ihedigbo Authentic Womens Jersey mediocre since his sizzling 3-0 start. Wentz is now down to 30th in opponent-adjusted QBR, below Osweiler, and is 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A). To be fair, Wentz is also getting precious little help from his receivers, who are dropping 6.1 percent of his passes. Only the two 49ers quarterbacks and Matthew Stafford (a league-high 7.5 percent) are suffering from higher drop rates.

It’s unanimous! Corey Seager’s drive fuels quick rookie rise

Looking at Corey Seager’s June 3 game against the Atlanta Braves simply as the night he hit three home runs might be missing the point.

Sure, three-homer games are productive. And Authentic Dee Milliner Jersey sure, they lead to victories. In fact, every one of those three long balls was important in a 4-2 win.

To look at it another way, June 3 was one of 14 three-hit games that Seager produced. He collected at least one three-hit game in every month of the regular season, proving to be a stunning model of consistency — and that was every bit the reason he was named the 17th Rookie of the Year in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

Having witnessed the same shift in Boston, Theo Epstein knows this better than most. After almost 100 years of failure, the Red Sox still do business now the same as they did before winning the World Series in 2004-last winter, they signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million free agent contract, just as they signed Manny Ramirez to an eight-year, $160 million contract in December 2000. But the national sympathy for their eternal heartbreak is gone. Even before Game 7, there was nothing cute or disadvantaged about the Cubs either, as evidenced by their enviable ability to Authentic Dennis Byrd Jersey sign Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million contract-and bench him during the World Series.

The Red Sox marketed and sold themselves as a ragtag band of rebels fighting both the supernatural and the omnipotent Yankees. Fans of the Rays, who happened to be the real underdogs, even coined a term for Boston’s sly deception, referring to them as the Just as Evil Empire. Chicago, like Boston 12 years ago, can no longer claim the image of underdog on the field-especially since the Cubs are far from underdogs on the balance sheet, where they rake in profits. An identity change is coming, and they should embrace it.

In this money game, with no salary cap and limited revenue-sharing, the Cubs, in the third-biggest market in the country, should have been dominant for decades. Instead, they were baseball’s family screwup, partying with the trust fund money, winding up on academic probation. The generations of fans desperate for a winner have certainly suffered since 1946, but ownership certainly did not. The Cubs have been one of the richest teams in baseball. The team sold in 2009 for $845 million and in March was estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.2 billion, fifth best in MLB. The lovable loser narrative was lucrative-it sold lots of tickets, beer and T-shirts and allowed an enormous fan base to feel sorry for itself-but in reality, the Cubs were cursed only in one way: by their own ownership mediocrity.

Today, they have the opportunity to be the dominant team in the National League-and probably in baseball-for years to come. In Epstein, they have a president of baseball operations who knows how to build a farm system so well he can take big gambles on free agents, and the Ricketts family’s enormous resources can help the team survive even a deal like Heyward’s. With old money but a new-school attitude, baseball wants its teams built the Epstein way, lest they face oppressive luxury tax penalties.