Cubs casting wide net with eyes on pitching upgrades

Kids Joe Pavelski Jersey By the end of the month — or perhaps by the end of next week’s winter meetings — the Chicago Cubs will have fortified their bullpen in some capacity. This is as much as we can know about anything as the hot stove season heats up. Their search for a young, controllable starter may go on for months, but one way or another the world champions will add to their relief staff as they attempt to repeat.

The major question is if a big addition will come via free agency or trade. The Cubs seemingly have answered that several times and did again earlier this week.
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Carlos Beltran would have been a better fit because he is a a better player, but he is going to be 40 next season, while Holliday will be 37. Holliday has not aged as well.

The Cardinals have been relatively quiet this winter outside of signing reliever Brett Cecil and trading away starter Jaime Garcia, leading to a clamoring for action from some of their fan base frustrated by a rare hiatus from playoff contention and again wondering when the team’s front office will make a major splash.

If Mozeliak is heeding the buzz as the Cardinals head to D.C. for the winter meetings, he might be most compelled to pursue leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler, who has generated the most rumors since the team’s initial impulse to add a center fielder and move Randal Grichuk to left.

The hang-up is age. Fowler will be 31 by the time next season begins, which could rule him out if his camp is seeking a deal longer than three or four years.

If those discussions are ongoing, that is far from the only iron in the fire for the Cardinals, who also are believed to be discussing corner outfielders and, perhaps, even shortstops and second basemen.

Whether they touched base with Greg Genske, the agent for third baseman Justin Turner, is unknown, but a source indicated the team’s interest in Turner — who might be the best hitter on the market — is far from strong. The only way Turner, 32, lands in St. Louis is if his market falls apart and he can be acquired on a short-term basis.

The Spurs have now captured 12 consecutive road victories dating to last season

At the end of the first half, San Antonio¡¯s top scorers Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge had combined to connect on 2 of 11 for five points, which is why the Spurs¡¯ bench rose up at just the right time. San Antonio¡¯s reserves contributed 44 of the team¡¯s 94 points, with each of them playing approximately 15 minutes or more, led by Mills with 29 minutes of action.

The Spurs have now captured 12 consecutive road victories dating to last season, which ties the longest overall road streak in franchise history, and their revamped bench played a major role. At times during the 2015-16 season, San Antonio¡¯s bench carried the team, only to fall flat in the team¡¯s series loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.

¡°The bench wasn¡¯t as productive in the playoffs,¡± reserve forward Kyle Anderson said. ¡°I wouldn¡¯t say we weren¡¯t productive. We just didn¡¯t have that spark that we normally did.

I thought the second unit was great all [last] season, but not in the playoffs. I guess we sort of leveled off last season. So that¡¯s been a focus for this year¡¯s bench: to stay on it the whole season. That¡¯s what we take pride in: bringing that juice off the bench. Every game, no matter who it is, we look at it as something we want to make sure we handle and stay on top of every game. That¡¯s why we always say, ¡®Make sure you bring that juice off the bench,¡¯ because we always want to be a spark off the bench.¡±

The group certainly did as much against the Mavericks. The second unit turned over the ball only one more time (six) than the starters, dished two more assists (nine), nabbed three steals and blocked three shots; all numbers comparable to contributions from the first group.
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¡°We have a great first unit. But everybody is going to have off nights, and it¡¯s our job that when that happens to come in and pick them up, and to use one of our biggest advantages, which is our depth,¡± said David Lee, who contributed seven points and five rebounds.
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It really comes with us coming in and playing with the proper energy. If we do that, it¡¯s not always going to show up in the stat book because sometimes our minutes [are limited] depending on how the first unit does. Our goal, myself, Patty, Manu, Dewayne, guys like that, Jonathon Simmons, we¡¯re coming in talking about how we¡¯ve got to come in with energy and juice. That¡¯s what we did tonight.¡±

Jets coach Todd Bowles still evaluating Geno Smith

Todd Bowles addressed the media at the NFL Combine on Wednesday, touching on a number of different topics, including the team’s uncertain quarterback situation.

Bowles was noncommittal on the future of incumbent starter Geno Smith. He said that Smith “has a good arm, he’s a good athlete, and he can throw the ball and make all throws.” But the head coach wouldn’t elaborate on Smith’s ability to be a No. 1 QB Justin Britt Authentic Womens Jersey until he meets with him and has a chance to fully evaluate the 2013 second-round pick and “what he’s good at, what he’s not good at, what kind of intangibles he has going forward.”

Smith was in the discussion for worst starting quarterback in the NFL last season, fighting for supremacy with the likes of Josh McCown and Blake Bortles. Smith threw 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, including three in the first quarter during a Week 8 loss against the Buffalo Bills. The showing cost Smith the starting job until Michael Vick proved equally horrendous a month later, prompting then-head coach Rex Ryan to revert back to Smith in December.

Using the low end of the league’s latest salary cap estimate, five teams are projected to be above the cap right now, via Over the Cap: New Orleans Saints ($23.5 million), Arizona Cardinals ($10.1), New England Patriots ($4.9), Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.7) and St. Louis Rams ($1.1).

Suh’s tag would be north of $26 million, thanks to the aforementioned signing bonuses applying in the final year of his deal, 2014. On top of that, the Lions already have $9.7 million against the cap in dead money for 2015 and that number cannot be eliminated. If he’s tagged, it’s K.J. Wright Authentic Womens Jersey there. If he re-signs, it’s there. And if he leaves for another team, it’s there.

Griffin is currently working with his private quarterback coach, Terry O’Shea. When he returns later in the spring for official practices with Washington, he’ll have another coach working with him after the team hired quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

The Flames’ problems run deeper than their goaltending

Evander Kane, Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury good candidates to be on early trade-bait list

Which young players were at their Koa Misi Authentic Womens Jersey best this week? Who needs to step it up? Alex Galchenyuk and Connor McDavid find themselves leading the way in this edition of our under-24 rankings.

The Flames’ problems run deeper than their goaltending, but it’s hard not to wonder how things might look for Calgary with Bishop in net if a deal with Tampa Bay at the June draft not fallen through . Bishop is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and it’s pretty clear the Lightning made their choice when they extended young Andrei Vasilevskiy to a three-year, $10.5 million deal last summer (a deal that kicks in next season).

Not to mention the fact that they agreed to trade parameters with the Flames only to see the deal fall through because Bishop couldn’t agree to contract terms with Calgary on a new extension.

If Bishop walks away for nothing July 1, it’s not nothing: The Bolts get $6 million in Laremy Tunsil Authentic Womens Jersey cap room, which they can use on new contracts for Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin, all pending restricted free agents. Plus, perhaps, Bishop helping the Bolts win a Cup before leaving? I suppose it all comes down to what kind of offers the Lightning get for Bishop before March 1.

The 33-year-old veteran is an unrestricted free agent July 1 and given all the money tied up on the Flames’ blue-line, it seems unlikely they re-sign Wideman unless somebody else is moved out, which is also a possibility. But if the Flames don’t get back into the playoff race before March 1, they would look at recouping an asset. He’s a right-handed, top-four blue-liner who still has bite in his game, playing more than 21 minutes a night. There’s got to be a market for that among serious playoff teams, right?

Jordan clearly needed some hard feelings to be smoothed over with the Clippers

Jordan clearly needed some hard feelings to be smoothed over with the Clippers, particularly with point guard Chris Paul, but the Mavs took on the challenge of trying to get him to leave a loaded team in the city that NBA players love the most. With Paul and Griffin, Jordan had as teammates a pair of perennial All-Stars in their primes.

DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and eight rebounds in the Clippers’ win over the Mavericks.

Mavs fans have every right to despise Jordan for the way he went about his decision in free agency a couple summers ago, ripping their hearts out by reneging on his commitment to come to Dallas. But nobody can deny that Jordan ultimately made the right decision.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis dropped 45 Bernie Kosar Womens Jersey points and Cleveland’s Kevin Love scored 34 in the first quarter alone to lead Wednesday night’s standouts.

Better yet, take a glance at the Western Conference standings. The Clippers are in the top spot, with an NBA-best 14-2 record. Dallas is way down at the bottom, at 2-12, with every other team in the league owning at least twice as many wins after the Mavs lost seven straight games for the first time since February 1999.

“I feel like anywhere I would have been DeAndre,” Jordan told ESPN after putting up 16 points and eight rebounds in the rout. “I would have tried to help the organization out any way that I could, but I’m definitely happy where I’m at. This is a great organization for me. I’ve been here all my career, so it’s great.

“I wish these guys nothing but the best. I still owe those guys a lot for taking a chance on me. I just wish things would have gone differently.”

It took a remarkable recruiting job by the departed Parsons and Mavs owner Mark Cuban Briean Boddy-Calhoun Womens Jersey to talk Jordan into making what turned out to be a temporary commitment.

The Mavs, on the other hand, wanted Jordan to be part of a core with Dirk Nowitzki and Parsons. That’s a legend near the end of his career and a good player who has never been an All-Star and was coming off hybrid microfracture surgery on his knee at the time he was wining and dining Jordan.

Mexico makes itself clear: More NFL, please

Around here they call him Tony Pomo.

Yes, it rhymes with Romo.

“But there’s more to it than that,” Roberto García Arrelious Benn Authentic Jersey points out, using his right hand to mimic what one would do while taking a swig of alcohol.

See, García explains, pomo is slang for a bottle of hard liquor. And Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys star who is now a backup quarterback, has long reminded many a Mexican NFL fan — García included — of a man who has consumed a lot of, well, pomo. You know, because of all the injuries.

“He’s always down,” García said, laughing. “He’s always out of commission.”

Johnson wasn’t always perfect — he and partner Lindsay Arnold made a big mistake in the Viennese Waltz on his first dance of the night — but his improvement as a dancer was obvious throughout the season.

“Without a doubt,” judge Len Goodman said, “the most improved dancer in this final.”

On the final Monday of competition, Johnson and Arnold scored 75 of 80 points — a 35 for the Viennese Waltz, and then, in his final dance of the night, a perfect 40 of 40 in the freestyle.

Arnold said she doesn’t trust many professional dancers to do some of the lifts she let Johnson Arthur Brown Authentic Jersey do on Monday night. That’s how much she has grown to trust Johnson, and with good reason.

That Johnson had made it this far was shocking to most people, even though he showed some potential the first few weeks of the competition. Considering he had rarely danced before — he didn’t even dance when he scored touchdowns for the Lions — being a finalist is a pretty impressive achievement for the 31-year-old.

Cleveland and New York meet each other again on Dec. 7

“Sometimes Phil just says things and he says the first thing that comes to mind and then probably is in his office right now regretting it. I don’t know. When it comes to Phil, you just never know what’s going to be said, what’s coming out. It depends on who’s listening. People take it the right way or people take it the wrong way. You just never know when it comes to Phil. I just don’t understand him talking about LeBron right now, in November. I don’t understand that.”
This isn’t the first time Jackson’s launched venom James’ way. In 2015, he labeled LeBron one of the reasons NBA players lack structure.

“I watch LeBron James, for example,” Jackson said to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “He Chris Sabo Authentic Womens Jersey might [travel] every other time he catches the basketball if he’s off the ball. He catches the ball, moves both his feet. You see it happen all the time. There’s no structure, there’s no discipline, there’s no ‘How do we play this game’ type of attitude. And it goes all the way through the game. To the point where now guys don’t screen—they push guys off with their hands.”
Cleveland and New York meet each other again on Dec. 7.

DeRozan takes a whole lot of shots in general, but the fact that’s he’s able to outshoot entire teams in the mid-range so far this season speaks to how far the NBA has shied away from that area. Those shots aren’t usually as efficient as a layup or three-pointer, but they are for DeRozan.

There’s more to DeRozan’s act than just being the The Lone (Mid) Ranger, of course. He gets to the line 10 times per game so far, and his 5.8 made shots within five feet of the basket puts him No. 29 in the league.

But try to convince me that a player that hasn’t cracked the top 25 in shots made around the rim and doesn’t make three-pointers is leading the NBA in scoring, and I’d laugh in your face. As the modern NBA hones in on long balls and rim attacks, DeRozan’s first nine games have been a glorious, remarkable outlier.

Toronto is as good as they’ve ever been in franchise history — and they didn’t even see it coming, almost Dave Concepcion Authentic Womens Jersey blowing up the team before they started winning everything back in 2013. They’ll happily take another loss in the conference finals, even if they’d love to have more. You have to feel a little sympathy that maybe the Raptors would have a better chance if it wasn’t for James. But in the end, there’s nothing they can do. He’s just so good, as is the team in Cleveland around him.

Welcome back to the Eastern Conference. It’s pretty much the same as last year, with the Cavaliers on top, and that’s totally fine.

Minnesota beat the Hornets by 12 points in the first, second and fourth quarter on Tuesday. But that wasn’t enough for a win, because the Timberwolves lost the third quarter by 19.

Can Harden or Westbrook achieve ‘Tiny’ feat?

Nate Archibald is watching James Harden and Russell Westbrook closely. He finds himself talking about them with increasing frequency.

The NBA legend universally known as Tiny, ?most of all, is rooting for one of them to do what only Archibald has done in this game: Lead the league in both scoring and assists in the same season.

Yet he’s convinced that Harden and Westbrook, like Travis Swanson Authentic Womens Jersey Archibald himself some 43 years ago, aren’t consciously trying to pull a Tiny.

Record-book glory, he insists, is just the unintended bonus.

Remember our encylopedia-length Weekend Dimes back in the day? On Fridays, whenever the schedule allows, we like to try to recapture the spirit of the WD thing with a mini Son of Weekend Dime … because you know what nostalgic saps we are here at Stein Line Live.
“It wasn’t by design when I did it,” Archibald told ESPN.com by phone this week, harking back to his 1972-73 season with the Kansas City/Omaha Kings, when he averaged 34.0 points and 11.4 assists.

Kovalev interrupted, saying, “He spent $400,000. I counted.”

Duva loved what she saw from Kovalev in the Boone rematch, but just to be sure she asked Hall of Fame promoter and matchmaker Russell Peltz, her close business associate, who was at the fight, for his take. With Peltz’s glowing approval, Duva signed Kovalev. Four fights later, Kovalev made his HBO debut, going to Wales and destroying Nathan Cleverly inside four rounds to win a world title.

“The fact that other promoters passed on Sergey blows my mind,” Duva said. “We Tyrunn Walker Authentic Womens Jersey took one look at him that night and I still remember the look on Russell Peltz’s face. I said, ‘Oh, God, thank you, thank you!'”

Duva’s company, founded in 1978 by her late husband Dan, promoted many big stars, including Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But the company was in need of a new centerpiece and she found one that night in Kovalev.

“It must have been my husband in heaven,” she said. “I knew what to do with Sergey. They say the elements of success are drive, having a chip on your shoulder and someone who can make the system work for you. Sergey’s got a great big chip on his shoulder. He has more drive than I’ve ever seen. And I know how to make the system work. I just needed that talent and there he is.”

Duva convinced HBO to get on the bandwagon and Kovalev, known as “Krusher” for his devastating power, has been unstoppable, rising up the pound-for-pound list, notching impressive victories against former world champion Jean Pascal (twice) and beating Bernard Hopkins easily to unify three world titles. But what was it that Klimas saw in Kovalev during the uncertain times that convinced him this project wasn’t a waste of time?

LeBron James takes on Phil Jackson’s ‘special treatment’ comment

A sanguine start to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season — a few weeks full of wins, record-setting shooting and utopian unity among its defending-champion roster — was interrupted by the 71-year-old president of the New York Knicks who has been paid more than $25 million to have his team lose twice as many games as it has won since he was hired in March 2014.

Phil Jackson’s comments about the “special Authentic Ryan Clady Jersey treatment” of LeBron James and his “posse” bounced from New York, to Los Angeles, to Cleveland, back to New York again. And James was left sitting in a half-empty locker room at Quicken Loans Arena trying to piece together what just happened.

“What does that mean?” James asked ESPN, referring Authentic Ryan Fitzpatrick Jersey to Jackson’s assertion that the 14-year veteran receives special treatment. “I want to know what that means, though.”

“I never liked standing out, LeBron James said. “I’m an only child. I always wanted like brothers around me all the way from when I started playing ball.”

James’ coach, Tyronn Lue, had a hard time figuring it out, too. Before the Cavs’ 121-117 win over the Toronto Raptors extended Cleveland’s record to an East-best 9-1 on Tuesday, Lue shot down Jackson’s notion.

“He hasn’t asked for special treatment,” Lue said. “We treat everyone the same around here. Everyone grown men, we treat everyone the same, and LeBron has never come to me and asked for special treatment or to do anything different.”

For his part, Hoiberg has repeatedly praised the chemistry of his new-look team early in this campaign. The young coach seems much more at ease with his players this season, underscored by the brief exchanges with the team football.

“It’s huge to have chemistry,” Hoiberg said. “When you’re out there playing for your teammate, when you’re having fun with your teammate, it’s a lot easier game to play. I think when you have that chemistry, it breeds confidence. And this game is a lot easier to play when you have that as opposed to going out there and playing timid.”

Few Bulls players are timid when they come in contact with the football. Each player, it seems, believes he is better than what his teammates believe — which increases the trash talking within the group. As he did with Team USA, Butler loves telling his teammates how good of a wide receiver he is.

“I will embarrass you,” Butler said to a couple of teammates after a recent practice. “I will embarrass you on the football field.”

In quieter moments, Butler acknowledges he probably couldn’t make it in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean he’s not the best football player on his own team. The bravado he has while discussing his football prowess with teammates is even more grandiose than his confidence on the basketball floor.

Coach Jason Garrett, Romo’s BFF, had no choice but to bench Romo

In the offseason, he’ll be released or traded and allowed to resurrect his career as a starter.

Coach Jason Garrett, Romo’s BFF, had no choice but to bench Romo. He preaches the importance of a football team being a meritocracy.

He talks about the importance of players earning their role on the team every day with their preparation, practice and performance. There’s Robert Alford Authentic Womens Jersey no way he could bench Prescott.

A decade ago, Romo was the young guy who dazzled a city with his superior play and infectious personality. Now, it’s Prescott.

He has done it with superb play and a humble attitude. He has been deferential to Romo while earning a leadership position with his performance.

The latest example occurred Sunday, when Ryan Schraeder Authentic Womens Jersey Prescott twice led the Cowboys from behind in the final two minutes.

“Bill said to me, ‘What are you doing?’ I had just heard enough. Wolf Blitzer was talking so fast it hurt my brain.

“I sent my staff a riff earlier in the day from George Carlin about not voting. If you vote, you are responsible for what you get.”

Phil Jackson is, of course, a president of a different kind. He’s in control of the New York Knicks and fully endorses the notion that if his platform doesn’t pan out, he will assume responsibility.

Jackson sat down for an exclusive interview with ESPN.com the morning after the election to discuss Derrick Rose, the triangle, Carmelo Anthony’s activism and Gregg Popovich’s “asterisk.”

Jackie MacMullan: You have been under siege since you’ve taken over the Knicks, which has been different for you. In your coaching travels you’ve been all but untouchable. How have you handled the adversity?

Phil Jackson: I knew the parameters of what would go on from years of playing in series against the Knicks. I remember all the barbs. It’s a process of sticking to my beliefs and being able to say, ‘Whatever.’ This is what I was hired to do. I’m going to follow the plan and if it doesn’t work out, it will be evident.