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Sources: Rockets, D’Antoni close to extension

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The Houston Rockets and Mike D’Antoni have rekindled discussions about a contract extension for the head coach and are nearing an agreement, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has agreed to eliminate the buyout language that was the primary reason that D’Antoni and his agent, Warren LeGarie, ended talks on May 30, sources said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Fertitta and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey visited D’Antoni at his offseason home in West Virginia this week to smooth over any hard feelings. LeGarie was not part of those discussions and told ESPN that a deal still needs to be worked out through him.

“Did Mike speak to those guys down there? Yes, he did,” LeGarie told ESPN. “As always, they asked Mike what he thought, and Mike said, ‘Sounds great, but talk to Warren.’ Mike’s job is coaching, and he leaves the negotiating to me.10

“Mike is always affable with everybody out there, not trying to raise the rancor in a situation clearly gone astray.”

After the previous talks ended, Fertitta told reporters during a hastily arranged media availability that the offer to D’Antoni was a one-year extension with a $5 million base salary plus $4 million in incentives for advancing in the playoffs.

However, the original offer included only $2.5 million in guaranteed money, due to a buyout in case the Rockets fired D’Antoni before the end of the season, or if they did not make the playoffs and terminated him after the season.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

LeGarie maintains D’Antoni deserves a multiyear extension with a higher base salary than what the Rockets have offered so far.

D’Antoni, who is under contract through the 2019-20 season, has a 173-73 record in three seasons with the Rockets. Houston is 23-16 in the playoffs during that span, losing to the Golden State Warriors the past two seasons.

Why D.J. Reader is an ‘invaluable’ piece of Texans’ defense

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Jadeveon Clowney isn’t the only member of the Houston Texans’ front seven due for a new contract this offseason.

While Clowney and J.J. Watt typically get the headlines, nose tackle D.J. Reader is the player doing the dirty work — “a grinder’s job,” according to Watt — as a presence in the middle of the defensive line, taking on “double-teams so everybody else can make the plays.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Don’t sell Reader short, though. He’s capable of making his fair share of impressive plays.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for what he does,” Watt said. “If you really watch the film closely, you’ll see D.J. sometimes runs down plays all the way down the line of scrimmage to the sideline. I think for a nose tackle to be able to do that, with the athleticism and the endurance he has, I don’t think he gets enough credit.”

“In terms of the success of our defense, [Reader] is invaluable,” Weaver said. “While he may not fill up the stat sheet, all those guys who are filling up the stat sheet, whether it’s a linebacker behind him or J.J. [Watt] or J.D. [Clowney] on the outside, they know that a lot of that success is the result of what D.J. is doing.10

“To me, D.J. is a strong pillar. If you’re talking about a house, you’re talking about a foundation. That’s D.J. Reader. He’s the guy who you build everything around. I think great defenses are built from the inside out. If you’re talking about the defensive line, that starts up front with D.J. Reader at nose tackle. Because if teams can just run right down the middle, if you don’t have a solid nose, it’s going to be bad for you. We force that ball to go outside, you don’t want to run into 90 [Clowney] and 99 [Watt] and 59 [OLB Whitney Mercilus] and all those guys. He enables us and allows us to do that.”

“He’s a leader on this defense,” Weaver said. “He’s very smart. He’s very smart and he relates to almost everybody. I think that’s where some of his leadership skills and traits shine. Because he’ll talk to the lowest guy on the totem pole, and the highest guy on the totem pole, and treat each and every one of them the same, and can relate to them. So, not only does he have tremendous value for us as a player, but he has tremendous value for us in that locker room as well.”

Reader says he’s not thinking about a new deal, but has felt like he has found a home in Houston. The Texans have typically signed their draft picks to extensions before the start of their fourth season. Still, there’s no doubt the Texans have Reader in their plans for the foreseeable future given his importance to the defense.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“He does a tremendous job,” Mercilus said. “He definitely holds down the middle of the line. He’s quiet, but you know his presence is going to be there. The linebackers would say something if he was getting pushed back, but D.J., you can’t push him back at all.”

Tom Coughlin’s ‘history with receivers’ brought Terrelle Pryor to Jaguars

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Tom Coughlin is known for many things. He helped build the Jacksonville Jaguars, taking them to a pair of AFC Championship games in eight seasons. He also won two Super Bowls as the head coach of the New York Giants and is a strict disciplinarian with some ridiculous-sounding rules.

But when Terrelle Pryor thinks about Coughlin he immediately thinks about wide receivers, which is why he was happy the Jaguars called him for a workout and eventually signed him last Monday morning.

“His view of receivers and how he teaches it, even when he was a head coach,” Pryor said. “I remember working out for him back in 2015. I was hurt coming off of the Browns and I got cut from the Browns in the preseason. I worked out for the Giants, and I was excited because I knew about Coughlin’s history with receivers and stuff. When I worked out for him and he didn’t sign me, I was kind of bummed out.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Jimmy Smith enjoyed seven of his nine 1,000-yard seasons and Keenan McCardell four of his five 1,000-yard seasons while Coughlin was coaching the Jaguars from 1995-2002. During Coughlin’s 12 seasons as the Giants coach, five receivers (Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nix, Victor Cruz, and Odell Beckham, Jr.) surpassed 1,000 yards receiving nine times.9

Coughlin isn’t doing any on-field coaching with the Jaguars in his role as executive vice president of football operations but he was at Pryor’s workout and attends organized team activities. Pryor is hoping Coughlin offering him a chance to win a roster spot over the next three months will allow him to make up for the past two disappointing seasons.

Pryor, whom Oakland selected as a quarterback in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, has only been a receiver since 2015. He seemed to be on his way to a productive career after catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns with the Browns in 2016, but multiple injuries and a clash with New York Jets coach Todd Bowles ruined his past two seasons.

The Browns didn’t re-sign Pryor and he joined the Washington Redskins on a one-year, $8 million contract. He suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 but played through it until opting for surgery in November and finished with 20 catches for 240 yards and one TD in nine games.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Pryor signed with the Jets and had 14 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games while playing through a groin injury. He also drew heavy criticism from Bowles during the preseason after he told reporters he had suffered a broken ankle during offseason workouts. Bowles and the Jets had previously said it was a minor injury.

The Jets cut Pryor in October (he was still dealing with the groin injury) but he landed with Buffalo and told reporters there that he felt he was underused in New York. Pryor caught two passes for 17 yards in two games before being cut.

Sources: Man Utd doubt Juve can afford Pogba

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United insist Pogba, who is under contract until at least 2021, is not for sale. And, privately, the club have also played down Juventus’ ability to pay a transfer fee which would be significantly higher than the £89.3 million United paid for Pogba in 2016 while also offering a salary that would tempt the 26-year-old to return.

Real Madrid are also interested in Pogba and sources have told ESPN FC he would prefer a move to the Bernabeu to link up with compatriot Zinedine Zidane. Solskjaer is keen to keep Pogba, who scored 16 goals in 47 games last season, and build a new-look team around the World Cup winner.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The Norwegian is set to name Ashley Young as club captain following Antonio Valencia’s departure but is open to offering Pogba a leadership role within the dressing room that would see him wear the armband when Young is not in the team.10

Should Pogba force a move, sources have told ESPN FC United have identified Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Leicester’s James Maddison as possible replacements.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham are also interested in 22-year-old Maddison, who impressed in his first season in the Premier League following his move to the King Power Stadium from Norwich last summer.

Eriksen is open to a move away from Tottenham after helping Mauricio Pochettino’s side reach the Champions League final. The Denmark international, who been at the club for six years, is also on Real Madrid’s radar.

Solskjaer is already targeting at least one new midfielder this summer after Ander Herrera left on a free transfer. The Spaniard is expected to join Paris Saint-Germain.

The Warriors want to fill the hole in Stephen Curry’s trophy case

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The 35-year-old swingman, who has been dealing with the injury throughout most of the Golden State Warriors’ postseason run, spends the moments following Game 2 of the NBA Finals limping through the locker room inside Scotiabank Arena. Iguodala peels off his jersey and tells the assembled media what continues to motivate him to play through injuries at the tail end of a 15-year career.

“I like Steph,” Iguodala says. “He’s a good dude, good guy to be around. That’s really the only reason why I like playing basketball.”

In this moment, Iguodala’s motive is far deeper than the joy he gets from playing alongside Stephen Curry; he is also determined to bolster Curry’s individual résumé. Coincidentally, that means getting Curry something Iguodala already has: an NBA Finals MVP award.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I’ve never seen a person, such a good person, ever get some backlash, whatever, from his peers,” Iguodala said. “Because they’re so jealous of what he has. … So whatever it takes to protect his legacy, I’m all for it.”9

Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, Curry is part of a small group of players who have won both a regular-season MVP award and a title but not claimed Finals MVP. Like Curry has the past two years, David Robinson and Julius Erving played alongside another MVP (Tim Duncan and Moses Malone, respectively) when they won their titles, while Kevin Garnett was four years removed from his MVP season — and on a different team — when he won his lone championship.
Iguodala echoed those sentiments, saying, “He’s not arrogant. He doesn’t go about life like a superstar. DeMarcus [Cousins] said it one day — he was like, ‘He’s the most normal superstar I’ve ever seen.’ He’s like, ‘This is unreal.’ But it’s just talk about culture. People don’t understand how important that is.“nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Curry has played well on the game’s biggest stage. He was the team’s leading scorer in the 2015 Finals, averaging nearly 10 points per game more than Iguodala, who won Finals MVP. He led the Warriors in scoring again in 2016, when they lost in seven games to the Cleveland Cavaliers — a setback Curry blames himself for.

Kevin Durant arrived that summer, and took the Finals scoring lead from Curry en route to winning each of the past two Finals MVPs. Still, Curry averaged 27.1 points per game over those two series, an increase over the 25.7 PPG he put up in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 regular seasons.

“I think if you ask him he’ll take that championship and everyone being healthy,” said Bogut, who was part of the Warriors’ title team in 2015 and, after stints with Cleveland, Dallas and the Lakers over the past two seasons, rejoined Golden State earlier this season. “In my opinion, I don’t think [winning Finals MVP] changes the direction of his career, but I guess for the media people that are out there criticizing him for not having that, it might silence them a little bit, for at least a year — until they find something else to criticize him for.”

Cards place Molina on IL due to thumb injury

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Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday because of a strained right thumb tendon.

The 36-year-old, a nine-time All-Star, got hurt during Saturday’s game against Atlanta and tried to play through the injury.

“It’s just a slight little tear between the thumb and the webbing, his right finger, rather,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.

Shildt said the injury affected Molina’s batting.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

St. Louis said the roster move was retroactive to Wednesday.10

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said surgery had not been discussed.

“We did an MRI this morning and that indicated that there is some damage to the tendon in his thumb, throwing hand, and we’ll have him see a specialist this afternoon, as well,” Mozeliak said. “Probably have a better idea of maybe length and what to expect by sometime tomorrow morning.”cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

Matt Wieters will get most of the playing time while Molina is sidelined. St. Louis selected the contract of Andrew Knizner from Triple-A Memphis.

Molina is batting .265 with four home runs and 33 RBIs and started 49 of the Cardinals’ first 53 games.

Knizner, 24, was batting .286 with five home runs and 17 RBIs at Memphis.

Boring? That description fits the Cubs’ bats with men on base

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While the Blues were playing the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final across town, Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant was hearing plenty of boos after calling St. Louis “boring” over the winter. But that word applied to the Cubs at the plate as much as anything else.

The team’s offense has gotten decidedly boring lately.

“We have to give ourselves a better chance, more opportunities than we’re giving ourselves,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep that knocked the Cubs out of first place in the NL Central. “That’s the ebb and flow of the season. We’re grinding right now as a unit. We have to get back on track.”

Rizzo got robbed by Kolten Wong late in Sunday’s contest to help preserve the win for the home team, but this can’t all be about a bad BABIP right now. The Cubs seem to be squeezing their bats about as hard as possible as soon as a runner reaches base. On Sunday, they nearly became just the second team this year to walk at least eight times without scoring — only a ninth-inning run prevented it.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“We just have to do a better job, reorganize our strike zones and make pitchers throw the ball over the plate and stay in the middle of the field,” manager Joe Maddon said.9

Maddon has no other answers for an offense that has just one hit in its past 33 at-bats with a runner in scoring position — and even that lone hit didn’t plate a run. If the ball isn’t leaving the ballpark these days, the Cubs aren’t scoring.

“It’s not like we’re in here moping around and, ‘Poor us, we can’t get a hit right now with a runner in scoring position,'” Rizzo said. “We’re doing our best, we’re just falling short.”

Some of this rhetoric is eerily similar to the second half of last season, when the Cubs inexplicably went into offensive hibernation. That led to another “B” word no Cubs fan ever wants to hear again. If Theo Epstein declares the Cubs offense “broken” anytime soon, as he did last October, there might be a mutiny in Chicago.

“We have guys in here that have driven in a lot of runs before,” Rizzo said. “The more opportunities we have, the better off we’ll be.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Rizzo isn’t wrong. By year’s end, the top on-base teams are usually the top run-scoring teams. That’s a fact.

But the Cubs seem to do things that don’t go with the norm. For example, despite respectable National League rankings in batting average (fifth) and on-base percentage (second), the Cubs drop all the way down to 14th — just ahead of the lowly Marlins — when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position. Let that sink in. They hit .255 overall but just .240 when runners are poised to score. Only one other NL team (Pittsburgh) has a drop of that significant. All others hit the same or better when the going gets tough for the pitcher.

That leads to a cruel joke forming for opposing teams: The best way to get out of an inning against the Cubs is to put a runner at second base.

“I don’t think we’re going up there just trying to hit homers,” Kyle Schwarber said. “Some of it isn’t falling right now. It’s the reality. We’re all up there trying to drive guys in.”

Roma owner sorry for season, explains De Rossi exit

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AS Roma president James Pallotta has admitted in a brutally honest open letter that the club’s season was a “complete disaster” but defied his critics by saying he would not standing down.

Roma fell far short of expectations as they finished sixth in Serie A and were beaten in the Champions League round of 16 by Porto. Coach Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked after that elimination in March and sporting director Monchi also left.

Roma, currently without a coach, have not won a major trophy since Pallotta, among the U.S. investors who took over the club in 2011, became president in 2012.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

He said the team’s lack of success was a “major regret,” adding that nobody “has been more disappointed, more depressed or more upset with how things have gone at Roma over the last 18 months than I have been… Last season for me was a complete disaster.”

The coach, he said, he been handed an unsuitable squad.10

“The team simply didn’t fit well together with the system that Di Francesco wanted to play,” said Pallotta. “He was clearly put in… a tough position this past year and was collateral damage. That’s something that we all regret.”

Roma fans were infuriated when the club decided not to offer stalwart midfielder Daniele De Rossi a new contract, forcing him out after 18 seasons, but Pallotta said he could not afford to risk the 35-year-old getting injured and leaving the side short of options in a key area.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“While I would love to have Daniele on the team, you only have two [defensive midfielders] and if one gets hurt, Roma is screwed. It’s just as simple as that.”

Palotta added: “We may have had some differences of opinion on how his playing career at Roma has ended but I’m not going to get into that in the public domain; that’s between Daniele and myself.

“Daniele was emotional but he’s emotional because he cares and has cared about Roma forever. He plays with his heart – we’ve seen it for 18 years with Roma and on the world stage with Italy. He shows his emotion in the locker room, that’s what made him a great captain, and I firmly believe that whatever Daniele has ever done, it has been for the betterment of the club.”

Source: Arsenal want Leipzig’s Upamecano

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Arsenal are targeting the signing of RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, a source close to the Premier League club has told ESPN FC.

While there has been no official bid for the 20-year-old Frenchman — a member of the Bundesliga’s meanest defence last season — the German side have been made aware of the Gunners’ interest.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Leipzig are in the midst of attempting to renew the former Valenciennes player’s existing contract beyond 2021 but might consider a sale in case Upamecano pushes for a move.8

Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League after losing the Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea on Wednesday night could hamper their pursuit of Upamecano.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Without the funds from UEFA’s most lucrative competition, meeting Leipzig’s asking price will likely prove too difficult for Unai Emery’s side.

In addition, a source in Germany has indicated Upamecano, whose Leipzig team have qualified for the Champions League as the third-placed team behind champions Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, would be less inclined to push through a move if Arsenal were in the Europa League next season.

How the NFL’s Australian punter revolution made its way to San Francisco

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In the run up to the 2019 NFL draft, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan spent an inordinate amount of time doing something they’d never done before.

“Kyle and I studied punters more this year than I think we ever will,” Lynch said.

A big part of that study time was the Niners’ glaring need for help after Bradley Pinion departed in free agency. But it wasn’t just that.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Quietly, a punting revolution has come to the NFL and it’s happening in plain sight. It’s coming by way of the land down under and a place called Prokick Australia based in Melbourne.
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For most of the past decade, Prokick has become sort of a punter factory for the college game, as former Aussie rules football players learn how to kick an American football under the tutelage of Prokick founder Nathan Chapman and his staff. In 2018, about 65 Division I schools had punters who came by way of Prokick.

Now, those punters are starting to make their way to the NFL, as Seattle’s Michael Dickson, Philadelphia’s Cameron Johnston, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Berry and the Jets’ Lac Edwards have all gone through the Prokick experience.

After plenty of film study, the Niners joined the fray by spending a fourth-round draft pick on Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky, the punter who quickly became the object of their affection at the Senior Bowl in January.

A league that has long leaned heavily on convention is starting to take the time to understand how the arsenal of punts deployed by former Aussie rules football players can impact a game.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Here’s the way I see it right now: If you are a punter coming through college and you want to make it, you better have all of these shots in your bag because that’s where it’s going,” Chapman said. “Right now, the NFC West has two of them and they’re both very good at it and every other team is going to play them twice. So there’s four games a year where you might play against a real pain-in-the-ass punter. And everyone else is thinking, ‘We better get one — if we don’t get one of these, we are going to be behind the eight ball.'”