Sources: Russell Westbrook hosting ‘summer hype house party’ with Paul George in town

Paul George arrived in Oklahoma City early Saturday evening, as Russell Westbrook was hosting a private party in town late Saturday night as free agency opens, sources told ESPN.

What’s the key to creating a new superteam in L.A.? Kevin Pelton explains how the team and the superstars might get it done

As OKC general manager Sam Presti noted in his draft news conference, Thunder officials have been in communication with George and his representatives since the end of the season. And the dialogue is said to be positive.

George will be an unrestricted free agent at midnight ET after declining his player option on Thursday.

George also is strongly considering the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Thunder and Lakers appear to have separated in a two-horse race.

The Thunder traded for George a year ago, shocking the NBA and embarking on a gamble of a 12-month recruitment with the hope of signing George to a long-term deal.

Ariza was 0 for 12 from the field in Houston’s Game 7 loss to Golden State in the Western Conference finals, missing all nine of his 3-point tries.

Smart organizations do smart things. We’ve seen that for a couple decades with the Spurs, and the Warriors have earned that reputation this decade with excellent pickups like Jordan Bell as a second-rounder last year.

In Evans, they’re getting a player who can play all three perimeter positions. Many don’t know Evans can play point guard, but he did it occasionally last season for Cincinnati and would have had a shot at playing there full-time had he returned to the Bearcats for his senior year. Evans not only can function on offense in those three roles, but he can also defend them, as well.

What Yankees pitching coach thinks of top prospect Justus Sheffield so far

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild watches video of the team’s premium minor-league arms whenever he gets a chance.

Sometimes he’ll pull out his iPad and squeeze in an inning on a flight. Sometimes he’ll watch when he wakes up in the morning.

Obviously, Rothschild hasn’t seen Justus Sheffield widely regarded as the team’s best pitching prospect throw in person since spring training. But he’s kept up with the 21-year-old lefty’s progress at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The younger Shanahan is building quite the résumé of his own. Before his impressive work with Garoppolo last season, he guided Matt Ryan to the 2016 MVP award, orchestrated Robert Griffin III ‘s electrifying 2012 Rookie of the Year campaign, and turned Matt Schaub into a Pro Bowl MVP.

Kyle is the best offensive coordinator. He’s the best play designer, former NFL quarterback and current NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms opined during the Falcons ‘ 2016 Super Bowl run. He’s the most creative offensive schemer in the game right now, and that’s saying a lot.

It’s saying a lot because Shanahan faces stiff competition from the likes of McVay, Saints coach Sean Payton, Eagles leader Doug Pederson, Chiefs wizard Andy Reid and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

As NFL offenses continue to grow more sophisticated with each passing year, the NFC West is fortunate to claim two of the league’s most innovative tacticians.

Watson’s knee injury was serious, full stop. However, since Watson has experienced a torn ACL and recovery previously while in college, and he returned even better than before, in this case there is reason for measured optimism. Seven months after the surgery, Watson is already going full speed without a knee brace in minicamp. Considering that a good chunk of returning from injury is psychological, Watson’s history should help him have the confidence he’ll need to come back at full speed.

Now the ultimate question: What would regression to the mean look like for Watson? For those who believe luck impacted his numbers last season, let’s suppose that he regresses quite a bit in touchdown rate and number of receiver drops. Let’s say that, overall, his production across the board drops a full 20 percent as a sophomore compared to those five games as a rookie. Even in that scenario, Watson would still average more fantasy points per game than any quarterback did last season.

Will the Falcons make history?

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings lost the NFC Championship Game, falling a win shy of becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl on its home field.

Now the Falcons have that opportunity, with Super Bowl LIII set to be staged in Atlanta’s sparkling Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Bengals made the postseason for five consecutive years from 2011 to 2015, and there is a sense of urgency from ownership on down to not just get back to the playoffs but break the longest winless playoff drought in the NFL.

The team believes Andy Dalton can return to the MVP-caliber form he showed in 2015. Since that season, which was cut short because of a broken thumb, the 30-year-old has seen a regression in passer rating, yards per attempt, completion percentage and touchdown and interception percentages.

Demand for Barkley’s jersey started immediately after his name was called in the NFL Draft and hasn’t slowed down: More Barkley jerseys sold on draft night than any other player since Fanatics began tracking the information for the NFL’s official online shop, per an ESPN report.

In New York, you walk around and people know you, Barkley said recently. It is not like, ‘Wow they know me, I have fame,’ but it is like people notice you and what you are doing.

I have not played a down of football yet so I am just handling myself. That is credit to my mother and father and my family and how they raised me. Hopefully I could continue to do the right things.

Barkley is wearing No. 26 with the Giants, just as he did at Penn State.

NBA draft rumors: Knicks, Sixers angling for Jayson Tatum 2.0?

Dolphins players are amazed by new DE Robert Quinn’s bend.

Bills WR Austin Proehl, a former Panthers ball boy, didn’t think anyone could match Cam Newton’s arm strength, until Proehl saw Bills QB Josh Allen.

Jets K Cairo Santos has weighed in on the World Cup.

The Patriots Alumni Association recently hosted more than 200 local kids for a Football for You clinic.

Harrison knows catching Barkley will be the hardest part.

The guy’s explosive, Harrison said. You can see how they’ll use him in the offense, which will be to our benefit.

A two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection, the 25-year-old Beckham has made nice with new coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman, attending some optional organized team activities in the spring. He also took part in positional drills at this past week’s mandatory minicamp, though he was held out of 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 team drills. He was cleared to practice fully.

It’s like any relationship, we constantly communicate, Shurmur said previously. We’ve spoken on the phone, we text. It’s like any relationship, we’re very honest and open with one another and we communicate frequently.

Beckham is entering the final year of his five-year rookie contract, and is scheduled to make $8.45 million this season. He is seeking a long-term extension that would make him the highest-paid receiver in the league. Steelers wideout Antonio Brown owns that title now, making $17 million per year.

Beckham was in good spirits on Saturday, arriving shortly after the camp began, and addressed the 550 or so campers twice — after he arrived and at the day’s conclusion. He engaged the kids in drills and one-on-one competition, posing for photos and making a few of his trademark one-handed catches.

Henry played 40 percent as Murray’s backup. Henry likely gets more this season, with Lewis staying close to what he had last season, per Wolfe. The Titans expect them to work together, sharing the load, not competing for playing time. Both will play. Both will get touches. They’ll work together fine, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. I think they both have shown they don’t have to be the guy to get 30 carries. Those 30-carry-a-game guys, I don’t think they exist anymore.

It was nice to sneak one out of there. I could walk away and say I got another one under my belt, Boone said. I was kinda digging that a little bit. Then Marcus (Thames) jumps in behind me and hits one 20 feet further.

Billy Price fully cleared from pec injury ahead of Bengals training camp

Bengals first-round pick Billy Price‘s workload was limited during the team’s offseason program, but it looks like it is all systems go for the center at training camp.

Price partially tore his pectoral muscle while doing the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine in March, which led to surgery a few days later and questions about whether it would impact his landing spot in the draft. Word that Price should be ready for camp all but put an end to those and the Bengals made him the 21st overall pick in April in hopes of hearing exactly what Price tweeted on Monday.

The regime of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo handpicked Webb in the third round of the 2017 draft and they are both gone. It might be overstating things to insist the new regime of Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur is completely bullish on Webb, but there is no doubt there is intrigue, just as there is no doubt Webb is doing everything he possibly can to show he is next in line.

Miami made Gesicki the 42nd overall choice.

He was a four-year letterman and three-year starter at Penn State, where he caught 129 passes for 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns. Gesicki finished his collegiate career with at least one reception in 27 consecutive games.

His 129 receptions, 15 receiving touchdowns and 1,481 receiving yards were the most in school history for a tight end and ranked ninth, ninth and 17th, respectively, in those statistical categories by any player in school history. As a senior in 2017, Gesicki was a second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honoree.

Winfrey also touched on the controversy surrounding Brady’s relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a firestorm ignited by a lightning-rod ESPN article that came out during the 2017 season and suggested the two men were on the outs. As he did at the time, Brady denied there were any ill feelings between him and his coach.

I mean, I love him, Brady said. I love that he’s an incredible coach, mentor for me, and he’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything, but that’s relationships.

The Borgata casino also plans to launch sports betting Thursday

There will likely be two places in New Jersey — not just one — accepting legal sports bets starting Thursday, NJ Advance Media has learned.

The Borgata, Atlantic City’s top-performing casino, is planning to open its sports wagering parlor Thursday morning, pending approval from the state, a spokeswoman for the gambling hall told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.

The casino would launch at about 11 a.m., spokeswoman Liza Constandino said.

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia threw out an interesting idea this week: Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

This is not to say the Phillies won’t look to upgrade their offensive output at third base in July if they can manage to right their ship this month and stay relevant in the playoff chase. They have an obligation to improve if they think they can make the postseason now. But Mike Moustakas, a rental player without Machado’s price tag of prospects, might fit the team’s plan better.

Moustakas, 29, entered play on June 12 with 13 HR and 42 RBI. The veteran slugger signed a one-year, $6.5M deal with the Royals before the season. The deal comes with a $15M mutual option for 2019. If  Machado arrives in the offseason, the Phillies could decline the option for the cost of $1M.

Since the start of 2012, Moustakas has averaged 26 HR per 162 games played.

You know, their bodies are obviously the biggest thing for them, but there is a mental part of this that they need to keep up with and stay on top of, Patricia said. Review the material, hopefully have some questions when we get back to training camp that they’re asking and we can answer for them and keeping the process rolling.
]
The Lions wrap up their OTAs this week and will be back on the practice field the final week of July, with the rookies returning a week earlier. The team opens its preseason slate Aug. 10 against the Oakland Raiders, and are holding a pair of joint practices with the Raiders in the days leading up to the matchup.

The team also has joint practices lined up with the New York Giants the following week, at the Lions’ practice facility in Allen Park.

After making The Catch over Everson Walls, Dwight Clark helped him get paid

Dwight Clark, the 49ers receiver who died on Monday at age 61, will always be remembered for making The Catch, a leaping grab over Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls that propelled San Francisco to the Super Bowl. And even though Walls was beaten on the play, he remembers Clark fondly.

While Earl Thomas and Frank Clark have stayed away from voluntary practices as they get set to enter the final years of their contracts, Brown has been at OTAs working with new offensive line coach Mike Solari. The Seahawks are trying to revitalize a running game that was abysmal in 2017 and the success of the offensive line will be a vitally important part of that pursuit.

That’s been the big gamble for most Bill Belichick lieutenants who strike out on their own. Belichick’s ways work only because they work. If pushing players too hard doesn’t translate to victories, the person doing the pushing quickly will be pushed out.

Still, if Monarrez was looking for an edgy opinion during the slow months, he should have at least added the caveat that, no matter his methods, Patricia will never lose his players if he wins games.

The first players to take a knee during the national anthem did so to bring attention to two issues — police misconduct and social inequality, McCaskey said, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. There are legitimate issues that deserve discussion and action. As a country, we can do better. It’s part of the founding fathers’ charge to us to form a more perfect union. Commissioner [Roger] Goodell said it very well, and it bears repeating — it was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

Real or not? Knuckleballer Wright just may save Red Sox

jets_054With a hole in their rotation and their bats suddenly silent, the Red Sox got a lift from Steven Wright, who could play a key role going forward.

With first place at stake, Cubs-Brewers rivalry gets chance to grow

Bryant has a seven-game hitting streak and is 13 of 31 in that span. But Maddon decided to put him in a different seat for the day because he hadn’t been driving the ball with his usual force.

What I did see was a different (more upright) stance at the plate, approach at the plate, Maddon said. That’s what I did see. I thought he looked really comfortable on defense. … And that might have been the residue of the at-bats.

Bryant said he wasn’t too surprised when he got the text from Maddon in the morning. After all, his manager likes to shuffle the lineup.

The Patriots added several veterans at receiver this offseason, but they have had precious little time to develop chemistry with Tom Brady.

Williams, who attended Arizona State University, has hit a bump in the road recently after a six-start April in which he made five quality starts, won four, and did not give up more than two earned runs in any of the six. Since then, he has given up four or more earned runs in five of his six starts with one victory and a 6.06 ERA. He is 0-1 with an 8.50 ERA in his last four starts since a 7-0 victory over the White Sox on May 15.

Williams made two strong starts against Arizona last season, his only two career appearances against the Diamondbacks. He gave only one fun in five innings in a win at Chase Field and one run in six 11 innings in a no-decision at home.Now what for Earl Thomas, Seahawks?

Patriots sign punter Corey Bojorquez

The Patriots signed punter Corey Bojorquez after he tried out at the team’s rookie minicamp over the weekend, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports.

The team had to make a corresponding move to get him on the roster.

It’s no secret that Bill Belichick likes left-footed punters, and Bojorquez is one, just like incumbent punter Ryan Allen. Bojorquez also has experience as a holder.

Thank you to the Parker Police and South Metro Fire Rescue in Parker for getting to me asap, attending all my needs and transporting me to the hospital safely. Thank you to the doctors at Parker Adventist for treating me as a first class patient also. I’m very grateful and humbled to be alive. My family and I thanks everyone who has prayed for me over the last few days. My thoughts and prayers are with the other victims and I hope they all are safe and doing well.”

Henderson told Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver that he feels sore, but it’s comparable to the soreness he feels after a hard-fought game.

According to 9 News, the driver of the other car was Rainbow Sunset Espinoza, a 37-year-old woman who is facing 11 charges: stealing a vehicle, driving recklessly, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, evading police, failing to turn on her headlights, driving a car without plates, driving while her license was revoked, running red lights, criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Henderson was one of four people injured, but all of them have now been released from the hospital.

I cannot express how humbled and honored that I am to be mentioned in the same sentence as Walter Payton. A man who did everything right not only on the field but also off of it.

You may have noticed, if you’ve been on the internet at all in the past three days, that everyone is talking about only one thing. That one thing is actually a question: Laurel or Yanny? The debate is tearing America apart at the seams and dividing the country. It all started earlier this week when someone posted a pronunciation of the word Laurel from Vocabulary.com. What happened next was total chaos. Looking for a hot new podcast that’s your home for all things NFL ? Look no further. The Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson has you covered every weekday morning with new episodes around 30 minutes each.

Although that clip clearly says Laurel, apparently there are people out there who hear Yanny, so that’s where we are right now.

The debate got so big that even NFL teams started arguing about it. Take the Panthers for instance — they couldn’t seem to agree on what exactly they were hearing.

Poor NFL Films. Things got so confusing that they had to change their address out of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.cardinals_019

Tom Brady absent for start of Patriots’ voluntary OTAs

Tom Brady’s offseason absence will continue.

The Patriots quarterback won’t be at the opening of the team’s voluntary organized team activities on Monday, ESPN reported, citing an unidentified source.

“Even without those fines, this is going to be tough on the players, and I want a chance to speak with the coaches and other players to get feedback on this policy and to build on the good work and momentum that we have built up on these issues of social justice, on legislation, and all the things that we can do. I don’t think that this policy will interfere with that at all.

“I have a really good relationship with the players, and I hope we can keep that going and I trust that we will. I’m so proud of our players and their efforts to date. I think that is the most important thing to get across. I could not be more proud of the guys.”

Hooker tore his ACL and his MCL in an October 22 game against the Jaguars during his rookie season.

The 15th overall pick in 2017, Hooker played in seven games with six starts. He made three interceptions and four pass breakups.

Carolina is home to many who cheer on the Steelers, and Tepper has pointed out the parallels to the Panthers’ fan base, but the sale of the Charlotte’s team redefines “Pittsburgh South.”

Tepper is coming off seeing MIke Tomlin turn the Steelers into a steady force, even though the team has fallen short of winning a second Super Bowl with their longtime coach going on a decade. The Panthers have at least been close to the level of being championship-caliber every season under Rivera.

But the Panthers also have teetered on becoming what they were under John Fox a boom-or-mediocre team in the NFC South from one season to the next. Fox was 63-49 in his first seven seasons, only a game and a half shy of Rivera in the same span, with one less playoff appearance and as many NFC championships.ravens_152