Denver probably won’t seriously contend this season.

Bet the under. The paper-thin Wolves start two traditional bigs and three so-so 3-point shooters who dominate the ball in Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague. Those three will diminish each other — at least over the first stretch of the season. The Wolves will have to bash through walls of defenders in the paint.

It’s fun to joke that the bench doesn’t matter, since Tom Thibodeau will play the starters into the ground. Luckily, the foursome of Teague, Butler, Wiggins and Towns has been remarkably durable. But what if one of them misses 20 games? Can Karl-Anthony Towns give a crap on defense before we anoint him a top-10 player? Minnesota flopped to 27th in points allowed per possession in Thibodeau’s first season. Swing the ball just once, and the Wolves fractured, conceding both the rim and the arc.

And they might not register 12 months from now, either. But any conversation about who’s next absolutely needs to include the Mile High franchise that is doing a better Warriors impersonation than any other team.

All eyes were on Danny Ainge this summer, waiting on which move the Celtics president of basketball operations would pull off next. AP Photo/Elise Amendola
“It was a really busy summer,” Ainge said recently while reflecting on Boston’s blizzard of activity. “My golf handicap should be a lot better than it is right now.”

Beyond the jaw-dropper trade for Irving, the Celtics dealt away the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft and sent out its longest-tenured player, Avery Bradley, in order to clear cap space to ink Hayward. Boston also signed 12 players this summer, if you include rookie deals and a ceremonial signing of Celtics legend Paul Pierce so he could retire as a member of the team that drafted him.

Jordan on British cuisine: “Baked beans and breakfast does not go together.

McVay has installed a more up-tempo offense similar to what Goff ran at Cal and is emphasizing mistake-free football so Goff is more careful in his decision-making. The new offense also has set up running back Todd Gurley as a modern-day Marshall Faulk with his production jumping significantly as a runner and receiver (362 rushing yards, 234 receiving yards and seven combined touchdowns, on pace for 2,384 yards and 28 touchdowns this season).

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall on the NFL’s best defense: “We’re gonna shut down everybody we play, I promise you. We just have a different tenacity about us this year, a different mindset. A lot of guys came back stronger and more focused. We’re just more aggressive, more confident.”

I’m good with pie and mash though. That I could probably have every day but they’d probably have to move me to nose tackle, so I only had it once. Something about steak and ale pies doesn’t go well with being an athlete but chicken and leek, chicken and leek is healthy, right?”

McVay on his team’s 3-1 start and assessing the next four games: “The players have really done a great job about being able to buy into that and I think that’s a credit to our coaches as well. But, that’s really I know it’s like, ‘No duh, Sean.’ But, that really is our approach and I think that’s helped us because you have a tendency to want to look ahead, but really all you have is whatever this game is this week, your one day at a time approach and preparation.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid on rookie kicker Harrison Butker making the game-winning field goal to beat the Redskins: “Buttkicker-dot-com did a nice job.” nike_chargers_199

Jaguars fan belly flops into kiddie pool full of mayonnaise during tailgate

This is a figurative and literal nightmare. Every crevice of his body is packed full of emulsified egg food lube, and the crowd is LOVING every second of it. We don’t know if this fan has tickets to the game on Sunday, but if he does we’re just praying he has a way of getting hosed off first. Baking in mayo all day long in the Jacksonville sun sounds like a layer of hell Dante never made it to.

If this is what happens when the Jags are 1-0 things are going to keep getting Authentic Nene Jersey scarier until they lose a game. We’re all for it. You do you, Jags fans.

Update: We learned about how this got started from Alfie Terrance West Womens Jersey Crow, managing editor of SB Nation’s Jaguars blog Big Cat Country.

There’s been an ongoing joke among Jaguars fans that Titans fans eat mayonnaise straight from the jar. This has evolved, morphed and taken on a life of its own. So it wasn’t random, it was calculated — as calculated as diving into a pool of mayo can be.

Former Attorney General of New Jersey Peter Harvey, an independent advisor appointed by the league, spoke to the media via phone about what they learned over the course of the investigation. Harvey said that he came to the conclusion that Elliott had been physically violent toward his former girlfriend.

Elliott’s accuser did cooperate with the league’s investigation into her allegations. She met with league investigators six times. They had concerns with her credibility, but the independent advisors assigned to the investigation found the woman’s version of events credible even when taking into account her false statement to police on July 22 and other inconsistencies.

The letter to Elliott announcing his suspension also noted that a lack of cooperation from Elliott wasn’t a factor. If Elliott had failed to cooperate, his suspension might have been longer.

Raiders schedule 2017: Oakland’s playoff road isn’t pretty, including rough end

he Raiders’ 2017 schedule will be a good litmus test for how much they have improved from their breakout 2016 regular season. Getting back to the playoffs won’t be easy; Oakland’s opponents carry over a combined .564 winning percentage from last season, including their foes in the stacked AFC West and NFC East.

From wire to wire, there’s no breathing room or real gimme games for Oakland in 2017. One of the NFL’s most talented young teams will need to grow up faster, but with Derek Carr leading the way, that certainly can happen by the Bay.

Kundla was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, in the same class as Mikkelsen.

“That was one of the great highlights of my career,” Kundla said in 2014.

Kundla got his start in coaching at a Greek church and later coached the DeLaSalle High School team in Minneapolis. He spent just two seasons at DeLaSalle before serving in the Navy during World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters.

After the war, Kundla took over at St. Thomas, where he went 11-11 in his lone season leading the Tommies. He twice turned down offers to coach the Lakers before finally accepting the job. Kundla remained a fan of the Lakers and has always had high respect for former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, whom he described as “cool.”

Kundla’s wife, Marie, died in 2007. They had six children, one of whom is deceased. Kundla’s grandsons Isaiah and Noah Dahlman played at Michigan State and Wofford, respectively. His granddaughter, Rebekah Dahlman, was Minnesota’s all-time leading high school scorer before playing at Vanderbilt.

GM Jerry Reese refused on Thursday to discuss any potential Beckham contract negotiations.

Per Spotrac, the game’s highest-paid player, in terms of contract value, is Derek Carr. The Oakland Raiders quarterback recently signed a five-year, $125 million contract. Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts is second with a contract valued at $122.97 million. The highest paid non-quarterback is Denver Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller ($114.5 million).

Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons ($71.256 million) is the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver.

If this does become a long-term problem problem for the Ravens, a team desperate to move past its two-year playoff drought, they’ll need to find a viable starting quarterback to replace Flacco. You should know where I’m going with this.

Head coach John Harbaugh has talked publicly about Colin Kaepernick before.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings in March. “He’ll probably be starting somewhere next year at some point in time during the season.”

Do Ravens fans want Colin Kaepernick?

With an injury to Joe Flacco, the Kap question turns to Baltimore.

For three years, this was an ace draft pick. Cooks fit right into the Saints high-flying offense, emerging as a big-play threat for Drew Brees. However, Cooks began expressing frustration at his role in 2016, as rookie Michael Thomas supplanted him as the new No. 1 receiver. Evidently this was enough for the Saints to cash in on Cooks’ value, sending him to the New England Patriots for a first- and third-round pick.


NFC playoff predictions 2017: How Seahawks will win a stacked conference

The NFC West has sent nine of its teams to the Super Bowl over the past dozen seasons. Only the Seahawks have made three trips during that span.

In 2017, the NFC East and NFC South are stronger overall divisions than the NFC West, which gives Seattle the path of least resistance to home-field advantage and its easiest ticket to a third conference title game in five years.

Here’s a look at how the regular season and postseason will play out for the Seahawks and the rest of the NFC.

The outburst helped Harden become the first player in NBA history to record two 50-point triple-doubles in a single season.

Joel Embiid tried to steal the headlines in his anticipated return to the lineup after being sidelined three games with a knee injury. The rookie center scored 32 points with seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.

Embiid was among the most obvious All-Star snubs, but Harden is right where he should be — starting for the West.

Pelicans duo Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis led a balanced attack that shocked the Spurs in a 119-103 win at home. Davis had 16 points and a whopping 22 rebounds, while Holiday pitched in with 23 points and 11 assists.

Why he fits: Yes, this is another longshot. It was a longshot even before the Brewers stumbled out of the gate in the second half and were caught by the Cubs in the NL Central. Verlander would absolutely add to Milwaukee’s playoff chances this year and the next two years, but Detroit would have to kick in so much money for the small-market Brewers — who do have ample prospects in their system — to make this palatable. Just don’t see that happening.


NBA rumors: Manu Ginobili reportedly spurning retirement, finalizing new contract with Spurs

Retirement will have to wait for Manu Ginobili.

The soon-to-be-40-year-old Ginobili, a free agent who was expected to retire following the 2016-17 NBA season, is finalizing a contract to return to the Spurs, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ginobili played for the Spurs last season on a one-year, $14 million contract. He has spent all 15 years of his NBA career in San Antonio, where he has averaged 13.6 points per game in his career and been a member of four championship teams.

Last season Ginobili appeared in 69 games during the regular season off the bench, averaging 7.5 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. The Spurs were the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and were swept by the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

There’s a good chance that Nash will get statues in two countries — in Canada, where he is Mr. Basketball, and in Phoenix. But we’re not so sure that the greatest player in Suns history merits more than having his number 13 retired by Phoenix.

Nash has won all of the Suns’ top franchise honors. He’s in their Ring of Honor and made their 40th anniversary team in 2008. As only the second Sun, with Charles Barkley, to win a regular-season MVP, we’ll admit he’s probably going to get a statue.

But we’re setting a high bar. Despite his back-to-back MVPs, Nash’s playoff resume is holding us back from having him cast in bronze. In 2005 and 2006, when he won the award, the Suns never advanced to the NBA Finals. They never even got to a Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, losing to San Antonio in five games and Dallas in six games.

We’ve got no trouble with Canada giving him a statue. How many basketball guys qualify for one up there, anyway?steelers_122

Do the Raptors have any chance of stopping LeBron James?

There shouldn’t be much surprise that the Cavs and Raptors are back at it in the postseason, but the surprise might be that it is coming in the second round and not the conference finals as it did last year, when Cleveland wiped out the Raptors in six games. But one of the drawbacks of losing out on the top seed this year is that, after making quick work of Indiana, the Cavs have this difficult second-round opponent.

The Cavs were proud of their resilience in this series, particularly in Game 3, which required the largest comeback from a halftime deficit in playoff history. They felt they improved defensively in the final game, which is important for a team that struggled terribly in pick-and-roll coverage through much of the year. They’ll obviously have to be dramatically better in that area to last into a third consecutive NBA Finals.

“I thought we took a step forward,” Lue said. “That’s all I wanted to see. I know we can score the basketball. All the games came down to the wire, and when we needed to get stops, we got stops.”

When reminded his last first-round loss came five years ago against the Knicks, James immediately fished from his memory a devastating dunk now-teammate J.R. threw down for the Knicks.

Does it matter that LeBron was off by a few days, that this dunk actually occurred in Game 3, which James’ team won? It does a little, because it helps to know he is not perfect. This, and his singing in the locker room as he looked forward to a week or so off, offered sufficient proof he is mortal.falcons_052

The Bears got ripped by most for the move up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2.

Taking the pressure off quarterback Cam Newton got the Panthers high marks from most. Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel are new weapons for an offense that needed them. Defensive end Daeshon Hall was also considered a good selection in the third round.

The Bears got ripped by most for the move up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2. Only drafting one player on defense was a critique of the Bears’ draft this year.

The feelings about the Bengals draft centered on the selection of running back Joe Mixon in the second round. And it’s not even exactly about him punching a woman in the face. It was about the value of the pick since so many teams had him off their draft board. Some were averse to the pick of John Ross in the first round.

Yeah, so the Raiders lost their first 10 games with Carr. But keep in mind the team had to deal with a coaching change after four weeks, and Carr took just 11 sacks in those 10 games behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. Some organizational continuity in Oakland now is going far in helping Carr maintain his success label as a franchise passer.

Manziel wasn’t shoved into the lineup until Week 15 of his rookie season, and he’s not eligible for a success/failure stamp with just eight starts to his name. Those starts were pretty ugly, though, and Johnny Football busted miserably in Cleveland.

Like Bortles, Bridgewater spent the first two weeks of his career on the bench before coming in as relief in Week 3. After that, he was named starter for the rest of the season.


What happens to Robert Griffin III?

Last year, the Browns cycled through five quarterbacks in less than one-third of a season, but seem unlikely to keep more than three on their roster for 2017. Cody Kessler is a cheap, relatively productive piece who could emerge as a key piece of the team’s future plans. Osweiler, with his guaranteed money, carries little risk as part of the roster. Adding a young passer like Garoppolo or, say, Deshaun Watson, seems like a necessity as well.

That makes three quarterbacks, leaving RGIII (and Kevin Hogan, who may head back to the practice squad) as the odd man out. The veteran quarterback came to Cleveland to rebuild his value as a starter, but proved the concerns about him being injury-prone true after breaking his shoulder three quarters into his first game with the club. Though he returned late in the season to lead the Browns to their only win of the year, he failed to distinguish himself as an essential piece of the team’s puzzle.

Cutting Griffin would net Cleveland $7 million in cap space, bringing the cost of the Osweiler transaction down to a more reasonable $9 million for 2017. If the team decides to keep the former Texan, RGIII’s time with the Browns will be all but over.

The Browns don’t know who their starting quarterback will be in 2017. They just know he’ll be well protected. Cleveland spent big to upgrade its offensive line, adding J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler while extending the contract of guard Joel Bitonio. The team currently has four quarterbacks on the roster, none of whom are established winners.

He’s more polished than the average 22-year-old NBA center, an attribute likely credited to his championship years in the Croatian League. The seven-footer showed his touch around the basket with his finesse moves in the low post.