Pittsburgh is cruising to a spot in the dance and, despite how they played against the Lightning

Heck, go support the Rays. They¡¯ve done things in the off-season. Tickets are cheap and the building is air-conditioned.

Okay. So maybe you¡¯re not a baseball fan. Maybe you need hockey in your life. The next couple of months are a great time to figure out what team to root for in the postseason. It¡¯s okay. I¡¯ve checked the fan guidelines and it is perfectly acceptable to root for another team once yours has been eliminated from the playoffs.

Do you want to root for a former coach? Great, you have two choices right now. John Tortorella is leading a Columbus team that is defying expectations. Guy Boucher is doing the same in Ottawa.

Are you a fan of young, exciting players that are helping their teams break long playoff droughts? Again, you¡¯re in luck. Toronto and Edmonton are full of young guys (and Kris Russell) who are fun to watch on the ice.

Proven winners? Pittsburgh is cruising to a spot in the dance and, despite how they played against the Lightning, the Blackhawks should make it as well.

Limited Womens Paul Martin Jersey It¡¯s also probably fair to wonder how much more Pokka can really learn in Rockford. It¡¯s his third full season there since being acquired in the Nick Leddy trade, and he¡¯ll turn 23 years old in June. The Blackhawks will need to figure out exactly what they have in Pokka sooner than later, whether it¡¯s as an NHL player or as a trade chip.
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He¡¯s still a skilled, almost NHL-ready defenseman, though, which is valuable in a league that places a premium on good, cheap blue liners.

The Blackhawks tried to sign Hayden in the summer, but he opted to return to Yale for his senior year as team captain. He has no regrets so far, as he¡¯s continued elevating his game for the Bulldogs. His production has steadily risen over his four college seasons, and he¡¯s now third in college hockey in goals per game.

The Patriots won Super Bowl LI in dramatic fashion, but we’re already looking toward next season

The Cowboys probably would prefer to stretch the dead-money hit over two seasons, but doing so would ensure they won’t get a return for their deposed starting quarterback. A seventh-round pick probably isn’t enough for the Cowboys to justify accelerating all that dead money into 2017, but there has to be a point where the trade compensation would make it worth Dallas’ while.

If a team offers Jerry Jones a fourth-round pick that could conditionally rise to a second-rounder, similar to the trade that brought Brett Favre to the Jets, I think the Cowboys would consider that good value.

The Patriots won Super Bowl LI in dramatic fashion, but we’re already looking toward next season. Which teams are poised to make big leaps? Here’s our way-too-early 2017 hierarchy.

The Patriots are at risk of losing both LeGarrette Blount and Martellus Bennett in free agency this offseason. Which other teams will look different next year?

Elite Youth Mike Singletary Jersey Burnett signed a four-year, $24.75 million extension in 2013, and while he’s been solid, it’s worth questioning whether he’s worth an average salary ($6,187,500) that still ranks 13th among all NFL safeties more than three years later.
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The big decision will be Hyde. He’s likely seeking a deal in excess of $4 million per season. The Packers will have to figure out whether they value his versatility and dependability enough to make that kind of an investment. If they don’t, surely another team will.

The potential of Brice and Evans, who played more on special teams than on defense, could be a reason the Packers pass on Hyde if that’s the price tag.

The Packers have plenty of work to do on defense, but not necessarily at this position; pass-rushers and cornerbacks are a much bigger priority on this side of the ball.

Phil Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony could backfire on Knicks

Shortly before leaving the New York Knicks’ practice court on Tuesday, Phil Jackson walked over to Kristaps Porzingis and chatted with the young star. It was a short conversation and seemed amiable, with Jackson and Porzingis sharing a smile.
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It¡¯s safe to say Jackson hasn¡¯t had the same interaction with Carmelo Anthony in quite some time.
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The team president has been taking shots at his star forward — directly and indirectly — throughout the season. The latest critique was delivered on Tuesday afternoon, in the form of a tweet.

Jackson seems to agree — at least in part — with the premise brought forth by Los Angeles-based writer Kevin Ding, who published a column on Bleacher Report that eviscerates Anthony, questioning his desire to win.

Jackson also makes reference to Michael Graham in the tweet, saying that he ¡°learned you don’t change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.¡± Graham was a talented player from Georgetown whom Jackson coached in the Continental Basketball Association. Their relationship was short-lived, and Jackson lamented that he could never reach the forward.

The Cavaliers already have two of the top 10 players in isolation plays this season (LeBron James and Kyrie Irving). No team in the past 10 seasons has had three rank in the top 10. Adding Anthony would mean adding a consistent leader in that department; he ranks third this season.

Ibaka scored 28 points in 40 minutes in the Magic’s loss at Houston on Tuesday night. Ibaka would bring a defensive presence and another shooter that could fit into Mike D’Antoni’s offense. In late December when the Rockets lost starting center Clint Capela to a fractured fibula, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Houston entertained acquiring Sacramento center Kosta Koufos.

Cousins has played for six coaches over his seven seasons

Hired with an expectation to repeat the fixes he has executed elsewhere, coach John Fox has instead stumbled to a worse record (.281 win percentage) than predecessor Marc Trestman (.406). Fox’s usually sound defense has been terrible, allowing the eighth-most points in the NFL the past two seasons, and he was unable to coax stability from quarterback Jay Cutler. (In fact, Fox appeared to favor journeyman Brian Hoyer last season.) The Bears finished 2016 with the NFL’s fourth-lowest Total QBR (45.7) and appear poised to start over at the position in 2017.
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Rookie running back Jordan Howard is a bright spot, having amassed the NFL’s second-highest total of rushing yards (1,313), and he could take the pressure off a new/young quarterback in 2017. The Bears could also get a boost from the presumed return of multiple high-end players who suffered injuries in 2016, from offensive linemen Chris Long and Hroniss Grasu to receiver Kevin White to cornerback Kyle Fuller.

“In a way, they deserved each other,” a Kings source says. “Unfortunately the rest of us didn’t.”

Cousins has played for six coaches over his seven seasons. The one he trusted most (Malone) lasted six fewer games (106) than the one he trusted least (Karl, pictured).

Game Mens Zach Line Jersey IN A CONFERENCE room inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas in October, a few weeks before this season, referee Bennett Salvatore is briefing the Kings on the NBA’s points of emphasis with regard to officiating. It’s an annual rite for each of the 30 teams, and Salvatore opens the session by letting the players in attendance know that game officials appreciate an open line of communication. Refs care about getting the calls right, he says. If you have concerns, we want to hear them.

The 9 most interesting NFL training camp battles

We are in the midst of training camp season. Let the battles begin! There are plenty of jobs open across the NFL, and these are the nine most interesting.

If any suspension remains after Goodell’s ruling, Brady is expected to challenge the decision in federal court. It’s possible that Goodell could cut down Brady’s suspension to less than four games, but the NFLPA has already begun work on a case to be heard in front of a federal judge and feels confident that it is a strong case, so the chance to eliminate a suspension altogether is likely going to be pursued.

That case is expected to be filed by the NFLPA in Massachusetts or Minnesota. Massachusetts would serve as a sort of “home field advantage” for Brady, while Minnesota has been a labor-friendly state in the past, and is the state that ruled in favor of Adrian Peterson after he took the NFL to federal court for upholding an indefinite suspension during the 2014 season.

Of course, it’s possible that no such case will be necessary. Goodell said that Brady’s non-cooperation with the league’s investigation played a factor in the punishment handed down and that “new information” provided by the quarterback could result in a different decision. If Goodell eliminates Brady’s suspension altogether, that would officially mark the end of DeflateGate.

The NFLPA has laid out a few points that it wants to attack the NFL on, including the fact that Goodell didn’t recuse himself. The union’s argument would be that Brady wasn’t treated fairly and didn’t receive due process. A league-funded investigation found him guilty, the league commissioner punished him and the league commissioner heard his appeal.

Gronk couldn’t last 5 minutes before twerking on ‘Celebrity Family Feud’

Rob Gronkowski immediately started talking about his dance moves on Celebrity Family Feud without much prompting. This was an invitation for Steve Harvey to call Gronk out.
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Landon Turner, G (senior): Turner takes the title of the ACC’s best interior blocker. He’s a strong blocker in the phone booth and will fit right in on an NFL team that runs a power line. He’s not going to be a guard who will get out in the move and pick defenders off in the open field, but he shouldn’t be expected to. If he can turn up his aggression a little bit this season, a spot in the top 100 picks in the draft should be attainable.

Quinshad Davis, WR (senior): Davis was expected to be a sensation a year go, but he had merely a decent season with 41 receptions for 470 yards and six touchdowns. Davis can extend to get some bad passes, which is a necessity playing for the Tar Heels. Although Davis may not profile as a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in the NFL, he has good size and good enough hands.
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Deon Bush, S (senior): As is the case with any of Miami’s draft-eligible players for 2016, a lot can change between now and next April. But of said group, Bush is the player I feel will end up with the highest draft grade by the conclusion of next season. His size, speed and ball-hawking nature should lead to a second- or third-round selection in 2016. With a big season, he could even end up among the first 32 players picked. (More on Bush here.)

Tracy Howard, CB (senior): Tracy Howard has all the tools to be a big-time college cover corner and a high draft pick. But his film needs to match his talent. Additionally, it will help his cause if UM moves him around some this year and lets him cover on the outside and the slot. (More on Howard here.)

Marc Stein makes his picks for the NBA All-Star starters

Game DeVante Parker Jersey When it comes to admiring the staggering numbers that Russell Westbrook and James Harden are putting up nightly, Kyle Lowry is like the rest of us. He too is in awe of the “ridiculous numbers” and admits it has been “unbelievable to watch.”

Game Clay Matthews Jersey But don’t let Lowry fool you. Quietly, the Toronto point guard is putting up superb numbers that are usually produced by the likes of Harden, Westbrook, LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

He thinks deeply about what it takes — what it means — to be a great quarterback. For years, when he discussed his craft, it was fascinating as he delved into the magnitude of responsibility on each play. But it was also a little sad. You could feel the pressure building inside him as he spoke, almost making the game a little more complicated than it needed to be — the curse of the over-invested.

“Most importantly, foreign players must have the willingness to blend in and be part of [everything],” Shao said. “Many teams now value this quality given Marbury’s story. Some players are willing to do everything to help their teams win while others — who have no intention to stay long in China — just focus on racking up stats for themselves so they can get another job later elsewhere.”

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the franchise’s most high-profile player over the past two years, will be released. He will be 33 years old in March, his production dropped significantly and he’s due to make a non-guaranteed $7.5 million in 2017. He was also a distraction in the locker room. His boisterous style chafed teammates, creating factions. For the sake of team chemistry, it’s probably best to move on from Marshall and lean on the team’s young receivers. — Rich Cimini

Then-Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford tweeted: ¡°He got a black squeeze!¡±

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The Sacramento Kings rookie center Hassan Whiteside tweeted: ¡°Dirk got himself a black girl hahaha.¡±

Then-Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford tweeted: ¡°He got a black squeeze!¡±

WNBA star Candace Parker used the line ¡°jungle fever¡± on Twitter and wrote ¡°love it¡± after they smooched.

Gerald McCoy Game Jersey AtlantaBlackStar.com wrote, ¡°Jessica quickly became a hot topic on Twitter for several reasons including shock and praise that she was on the arm of Dirk Nowitzki.¡± ThePostGame.com had a story with the headline: ¡°Dirk Nowitzki¡¯s Kiss Heard Round Twitter.¡±

¡°Honestly, this is the first I am seeing a lot of these tweets,¡± said Nowitzki, when shown the list of tweets that night at the 2011 ESPYS. ¡°That was a crazy time for me with the championship and The ESPYS and I¡¯m glad I got to spend it with Jessica.¡±

Hood will miss at least one game, but he is not expected to be out an extended period of time.

The severity of Hood’s injury was first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.

“It’s unfortunate, for sure, and unlucky,” Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said Saturday night. “Hopefully, he has a speedy recovery. He’s a big piece of what we do. It sucks to see anybody go down.”

Hood, a third-year guard out of Duke, had 14 points before leaving the game. He is averaging 14.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists this season.

Chargers betting big on Melvin Ingram

I ain’t gonna lie, I am definitely a homer when it comes to Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram. I have been a fan of his since he was playing at South Carolina. When he came out of college in 2012, I felt very strongly that he would have a very nice NFL career. The one thing nobody can ever predict with any accuracy is whether a guy with a lot of potential will end up getting injured. It is the No. 1 factor for sidetracking promising careers, and those injuries always seem to come at the worst times.

Ingram didn’t exactly set the world on fire as a rookie. He was trying to get accustomed to playing a stand-up rush linebacker position instead of putting his hand in the dirt as a defensive lineman like he did in college. He was active for all 16 games and appeared to be getting better throughout the season as he became more comfortable with the position.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
The top tier of wide receivers includes Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green and Johnson, in some order. Well, of that group of eight, four — Bryant, Brown, Thomas and Nelson — have played every game the last two seasons. Odell Beckham Jr. dealt with one injury, then looked fine afterward. So the injured guys are Jones, Green and Johnson. Johnson is the oldest of that group, and has seen his numbers decline the last two seasons in a row. He’s still elite, still belongs in that top group, but he simply isn’t all-caps CALVIN JOHNSON anymore.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Take out a five-game season in 2010, and Vincent Jackson hadn’t dipped below seven touchdowns in a season since 2007 before his two-score year last year. The rookie Evans caught 12. If you are taking your pick of a Tampa Bay wide receiver, I think the obvious bet is Evans over Jackson (who is already one of our favorite sleeper candidates), but it seems unlikely to 12-to-two touchdown imbalance will maintain.

McDermott has discussed with the Bills the staff he would like to put together

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The Kansas City Chiefs were 7-1 against opponents that finished the 2016 season in the top 10 in scoring. And they didn’t collect those seven wins by employing a ball-control offense aimed at keeping the ball away from their high-scoring opponents.

They won most of those games by outscoring their opponents: 33 and 37 points against the Chargers, 26 against the Raiders, 27 against the Saints, 30 against the Colts and 29 against the Falcons. Only in a 21-13 win over the Raiders did the Chiefs fail to surpass their season scoring average of 24.3 points.

The Chiefs might be wise to remember that as they prepare for Sunday’s divisional round playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Steelers are yet another opponent that finished in the top 10 in scoring, in their case tied for 10th at 24.9 points per game. Pittsburgh, in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, has a collection of skill players that most other teams can only envy.
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Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is meeting with Buffalo Bills ownership for a second time concerning the team’s coaching vacancy.

Bills owner Terry Pegula and his wife, co-owner Kim Pegula, tapped Bills general manager Doug Whaley to lead the coaching search after Rex Ryan was fired Dec. 27. Whaley, who will enter his fifth season as Bills general manager in 2017, said he was part of a “committee approach” that included team president Russ Brandon when Ryan was hired in 2015.

McDermott has discussed with the Bills the staff he would like to put together, and former San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy is a candidate for offensive coordinator if McDermott gets the job in Buffalo, the sources said. McCoy was the Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012 before becoming the Chargers’ head coach in 2013.

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