Former first-round pick Shane Larkin signing with Celtics, report says

The Celtics’ roster continues to evolve.
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Boston reportedly is making moves to sign Shane Larkin, ESPN.com reported Thursday.
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The free agent point guard spent last season in Spain playing for Saski Baskonia, where he averaged 13.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

By trying to compete for a spot on Boston’s starting lineup, Larkin bypassed a $6.3 million contract with Saski Baskonia.

A first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Larkin played one season for the Mavericks, one with the Knicks and one with the Nets before going overseas.

The Celtics on Friday made their four-year, $128 million signing of Gordon Hayward official after juggling their roster to fit him under the salary cap.

Only Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown were on the team last season.

Hart pulled out after a brief dalliance with the draft last year, and he has come back with a terrific senior season, averaging 18.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists and re-establishing his 3-point shot (40.7 percent) along the way. But you’re not going to find many scouts willing to put him in the first round, and that’s puzzling to fans who have watched him carry the nation’s top team over the last two seasons.

Hart is a 22-year-old senior, which dents his stock, and though he has improved in many areas this year (strength, playmaking, shooting) he is not great at any one thing. He’s 6-5 with a big wing span (6-8), but isn’t a top-shelf defender and isn’t considered a future 3-and-D wing. The guy finds ways to help his team win, though, and if Villanova can take another extended tournament run, Hart might just show enough of his improved game to persuade a team with a low first-rounder to grab him.

76ers’ Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington out for season

The 76ers will be without center Jahlil Okafor and forward Robert Covington for the remainder of the season.

Counting Friday night’s battle against the Cavaliers, the two starters will miss the last seven games of the regular season.

“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” Ball said on ESPN 710 LA. “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Ball declared for the NBA draft after the Bruins were ousted from the NCAA Tournament, where he and Fultz are considered top prospects.

However, Ball and UCLA crushed the Huskies both times they met this season by at least thirty points.

Even though Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, Washington only won nine games this season. Ball posted 7.7 assists per game and 14.6 points, but UCLA fared much better with a 27-3 mark.

Both are freshman, but UCLA’s success could give Ball an edge in the upcoming draft.

The Celtics run a lot of side pick-and-rolls with Thomas as the ball handler while overloading the weak side with shooters. It gives Thomas and the roller plenty of space without having to worry about a third defender obstructing his path to the basket.

As we’ve already touched on, Thomas is also comfortable playing without the ball in his hands. He told reporters in January that it’s nearly impossible for defenders to chase him around screens and catch up with him once he’s gained a step on them. It becomes especially useful in fourth quarters when teams begin to load up on him in an attempt to limit his touches because it means they have to account for him at all times.steelers_106

Nationals’ Joe Ross to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

Nationals right-hander Joe Ross will undergo Tommy John surgery this week, manager Dusty Baker announced Saturday.

Ross exited his start last Sunday against the Braves after 3 1/3 innings with triceps tenderness. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday, and an MRI later revealed a full thickness tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Jermey Parnell Limited Jersey Knebel had recorded at least one strikeout in 46 consecutive appearances, but did not strike out a batter in Wednesday’s game. He entered the game in the ninth inning with the Brewers holding a 2-1 lead, but Pirates first baseman John Jaso nearly tied the game with a long fly ball to center field that Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton caught at the wall.

Sidney Jones Limited Jersey Knebel then walked David Freese before giving up a single to Gregory Polanco to put runners at the corners. A single by Francisco Cervelli then did tie it. An infield pop-up by Jody Mercer was followed by Adam Frazier’s inning-ending fly ball to Broxton in center.

It was the fifth blown save of the season for Knebel, who had 16 saves and was actually selected to last week’s MLB All-Star Game.

The Pirates walked off in the bottom of the 10th inning as Max Moroff’s RBI single off Jared Hughes gave the Pirates a 3-2 victory.

That lead held until the bottom of the ninth when the Red Sox scored twice on an error and a walk-off, bases-loaded walk. Closer Aroldis Chapman was told to intentionally walk Hanley Ramirez to load the bases. He then walked Andrew Benintendi to score Dustin Pedroia as the game-winning run.

Sanchez’s blast that cleared the wall to send the ball into the Boston streets may not have resulted in a Yankees victory, but it was one of several no-doubt home runs as baseball returned from the All-Star break.

Eight cities that make sense for MLB expansion

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Alex Pietrangelo Jersey The Rams’ and Chargers’ moves to Los Angeles serve as reminders of the stability that Major League Baseball has enjoyed with its teams, with only one team relocation in the past 40 years – the Expos’ move from Montreal to Washington to become the Nationals.

The possibility of a baseball team moving still exists, but even in the cases of the A’s and Rays — the two teams with the biggest stadium issues — staying at least somewhat local is generally seen as preferable to packing up and moving across the continent.

Baseball’s most likely route to opening new markets is expansion to 32 teams. But where would the new team(s) go? Here are some candidates.

Strasburg, a three-time All Star, has been a household name since being drafted first overall by the Nats in 2009 out of San Diego State.

Murphy burst onto the scene, and into living rooms across the country, during the 2015 postseason, when he batted .529 with four home runs for the New York Mets in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, winning that series’ MVP award. He followed up that performance by batting .347 for the Nationals in 2016 with 25 home runs, and is doing much of the same this year.

Zimmerman has been a fan favorite in Washington since breaking into the big leagues in 2005, earning two Silver Slugger Awards and two All-Star nods along the way. Scherzer, on top of winning two Cy Young awards, is a five-time All Star, has thrown two no-hitters, and is considered to be one of the best pitchers in baseball today.

And then there’s Bryce Harper, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year, the 2015 NL MVP, a five-time All Star, and one of the most recognizable faces in the game thanks to commercial endorsements from Gatorade and Under Armor.

NBA center market continues to grow, but who still needs traditional big men?

Over the past few seasons, the NBA has built a burgeoning crop of talented centers. At the same time talented future stars joined the league, many NBA teams moved away from giving all 48 minutes to traditional centers, so the increase in supply met a decrease in demand.

For example, the Raptors ended up starting and finishing a few games with Serge Ibaka at center in their first-round series against the Bucks. While Toronto needs to have someone capable of logging minutes at the position, the two seasons and $32 million plus a $17.6 million player option owed to Jonas Valanciunas may be a little rich considering their prodigious luxury tax bill should both Kyle Lowry and Ibaka choose to return.

His versatility on offense and defense would be a welcome addition to the Trail Blazers roster. George can score at the rim, from midrange and behind the 3-point line, and he would make an immediate impact. Putting him in a lineup that already includes McCollum (23.0 points per game) and Lillard (27.0 points, 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game) would give Portland a 1-2-3 combination that all shoots close to better than 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

For the Trail Blazers, the eight seed in the Western Conference playoffs this past season, the triumvirate would put them in position to avoid another brutal first-round matchup like they had this year against the Warriors. It’d be a significant upgrade at the wing position over former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner (9.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.8 apg), whom the Blazers inexplicably signed to a four-year, $70-million deal this past offseason, only to see him lose his starting gig to Mo Harkless (10.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg).falcons_042

We’ve been in that situation all year and Russ has made shots

THIS PAST SEASON: Lowry, 31, enjoyed career-best season with 3.2 3-pointers per game, 41.2 percent from beyond the arc in 37.4 minutes per game. The 6-1 guard averaged 22.4 points, 7.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Raptors. He sat out with an ankle injury Sunday as the Cavs swept the Raptors and missed 21 games during the regular season after undergoing wrist surgery.

After the Raptors were swept, Lowry made it clear he wants to play for a championship contender and despite improvements to their roster, the Sixers aren’t the answer. Could a max contract change is mind? It might make him think about making a return to Philadelphia but he’ll be 32-years-old by the time the playoffs roll around next season.

In short: when Westbrook is on the floor doing his thing, the Thunder will succeed. His performances haven’t led to victories yet, but it’s hard to win on the road against a team like the Rockets. He at least kept the game close in Game 2, and that’s all you can ask for: a chance to win.
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Elite Womens Kyle Emanuel Jersey We’ve been playing that way all year, Thunder guard Victor Oladipo said Thursday. We’ve been in that situation all year and Russ has made shots. We’d all be sitting here talking differently if he was making shots in the first place and we would have won.

Westbrook likely won’t be putting up 18 shots in a single quarter again, but he should have the green light to do it if that’s what he feels is the right decision.

NBA cops to officiating error that may have impacted Celtics-Wizards Game 6

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Elite Jourdan Lewis Jersey It may not have mattered — and the Celtics probably don’t want to hear it — but Boston should have had another second to get a potential series-winning shot off in Game 6 against the Wizards on Friday night, the NBA acknowledged in its Last Two Minute Report (via the Boston Globe).

After John Wall hit a 3-pointer to put Washington up 92-91 with 3.5 seconds left in the game, the Wizards’ Kelly Oubre Jr. fouled Boston’s Kelly Olynyk with 2.7 seconds remaining — but the clock was stopped with 1.7 seconds left. The Wizards had a foul to give, so the Celtics had to inbound the ball rather than go to the free-throw line.

After receiving the inbound pass from Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas missed on off-balance 3-point attempt. One second can be huge late in a basketball game, and had they had 2.7 seconds instead of 1.7 seconds, the Celtics may have gotten a significantly better look on their last shot.

It’s great any time you can hear his voice, see his face, Stephen Curry said, via mercurynews.com. He’s obviously been doing his homework in between his down times helping us get prepared for this series and you know he misses being around for the day-to-day routine and the atmosphere, practice, locker room and games and all that. His ability to be here means a lot. I hope he’s feeling better.

Brown was impressed with Kerr’s demeanor and commitment the last couple days.

He looks good, Brown said. We started meeting here at 9:30 (a.m.) and he was here at 9:30, was here throughout the coaches meeting and was here throughout practice. We came in at 8:30 (Friday), a little bit earlier, and he was here for that, too.

I eat one can of tuna and an apple a day.

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When you think metabolism, everybody will think fast or slow, Goglia told ESPN.com. And it’s not. Metabolism is ultimately hot or cold. The definition of a calorie is a heat-energy unit. So if calories are heat and metabolism is a function of heat, and if fat is a lipid and only converts to energy in a hot environment, it just makes sense that you have to eat a certain amount of calories to generate enough heat to burn fat. And that’s counter-intuitive to every civilian out there.

Every fat guy will say, ‘Food makes you fat. I eat one can of tuna and an apple a day.’ And that’s why they’re fat. Not enough caloric heat. Especially in athletes. Athletic temperatures are huge metabolically. They have a big metabolic load. The more muscle you have, the more food you need. That’s the baseline concept.

Jack Crawford Youth Jersey Wilson’s limited mobility last season began in Week 1 when he suffered a high ankle sprain. He then sprained his knee in Week 3 against the 49ers. Wilson’s injuries were part of the reason the Seahawks slipped to 25th in the league in rushing yards per game (99.4). Wilson thinks his new meal plan will help him perform at a higher level in 2017.

Just trying to really focus on trying to eat really, really well and have great nutrition, Wilson told ESPN.com. I think it’s critical. It allows you to wake up feeling good, feeling strong. It allows you to excel throughout the day and have tons of strength and energy.

Instead of being released, Martin will enter training camp back on top of the depth chart. He looks and feels good to the point they expect him to be rejuvenated for his return in Week 4. Behind him, Jacquizz Rodgers, a Koetter favorite, remains the versatile No. 2 and certainty can lead the committee when Martin can’t play.

McNichols is a speedy third-down pass-catching type, so that puts a cloud on the near-future role of one-time preferred change of pace Charles Sims. All signs point to Martin, 28, getting a familiar workload with a chance to produce like he did in 2012 and 2015.

Freddie Freeman to rejoin Braves Tuesday, start at third base

After 935 career major league games at first base, Freddie Freeman is set to make his debut on the opposite side of the infield.

The Braves activated Freeman from the disabled list Tuesday and said he would start at third base against the Astros later in the day.

Pagan’s attorney told the court his client lost his job and suffered public ridicule after the incident. Assistant Crown Attorney Rebecca Edward argued Pagan’s behavior was “unsportmanslike and definitely non-Canadian.”

Pagan also wrote an apology letter to Kim, who acknowledged Pagan before Wednesday’s game.

“People make mistakes, so I’m sure it’s not going to happen again. I appreciate it,” Kim said, via The Baltimore Sun. “Just the fact that he got punished for what he did, I think that was enough.”

But there were several accomplishments missing from Miami’s big season. The Dolphins continued an 8-21 skid against the Patriots, losing both their games against New England by a combined 28 points. Their postseason run featured fewer than three minutes in which they weren’t losing. Most glaringly, only one of the team’s wins came against an opponent with a winning record.

When the team won, it wasn’t exactly convincing, either. The Dolphins needed overtime to defeat the one-win Browns. Two wins over the 7-9 Bills came by a combined six points. Victories over the Jets, Rams, 49ers, and Chargers were all by seven points or fewer.
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Superteam standings: Ranking the contenders on star power

Minutes after his Cleveland Cavaliers lost the 2017 NBA Finals to a juggernaut Golden State Warriors squad, LeBron James was still playing hard-nosed defense.
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When asked for his take, given his role in forming two famous superteams, James pushed back: I don’t believe I’ve played for a superteam. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe we’re a superteam here. So, no, I don’t really, I don’t.
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This is a superteam that embraces the name. Remember, they hosted a Super Villains party back in November with a customized Snapchat filter and a fancy balloon arrangement to boot.

Even dominating this points system probably understates their superteam standing. The Warriors are in the discussion for the best team ever despite not having a single player voted first-team All-NBA. If Curry and Durant were voted first-team All-NBA this season, they’d be bumped up to 40 SuperPoints. Even still, the Warriors have drawn the ire of the rest of the league by compiling four stars and are 14 points higher than the next-best team. Oh, and that’s not including the 2015 Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala.

How they move up: They don’t, really. The best chance for a fifth star is probably Patrick McCaw, but he’s a second-rounder who averaged just 4.0 points this season. Then again, Green averaged 2.9 points during his rookie campaign and he’s now accepting NBA awards in tuxedo shorts.