LeBron James appears to troll Enes Kanter and Knicks with ‘I’m King’ shoes at MSG

LeBron James got the last word Monday night, trolling New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter with “I’m King” shoes in his visit to Madison Square Garden.

Back in November, Kanter had to be separated from James in a chippy game at MSG.

The feisty Kanter challenged the Cavaliers superstar.

“I don’t care what you call yourself. King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are,” Kanter said. “You know what, we’re going to fight and nobody out there [is] going to punk us,” Kanter said.

Jack was the starter earlier in the season before falling out of the rotation entirely while the Knicks turned to young guards Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina and Mudiay.

“The job is 82 games,” Jack said. “If you’re not in, you cheer for everybody else. But if he calls your number, be ready to come in there and be ready to come in there and contribute as best you can.”

The game was close most of the way until the Bucks, trailing by one, took control with a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter. Middleton’s basket gave Milwaukee the lead for good, Tony Snell and Parker made 3-pointers, and Bledsoe made four free throws as the Bucks surged to a 106-95 advantage with 2:17 to play.

He made one Pro Bowl in 2014 and was a member of the Patriots 2016 Super Bowl champion roster.

Before his time in the NFL, Bennett was the No. 1 tight end in the country coming out of Alief Taylor High School in the Houston area.
The Cowboys drafted Bennett in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

“You can get there only by working in this kind of environment,” said Terry Shea, a longtime NFL and college coach who runs The Spring League’s football operations. “If he were back home throwing to his buddies against air, he wouldn’t get any of this, so from this standpoint, I would say he’s really grown here.

“I’ve never been around Johnny Manziel until this moment of time, but I see a very quick arm. I see very active eyes. He sees things, and those classic Johnny Manziel plays, particularly when he’s on the move, I’ve seen those come up here.”

D-backs’ Torey Lovullo: I made a mistake with my choice of words

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo says he regrets his choice of words that set off St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and triggered a benches-clearing incident.

Lovullo came out of the dugout to argue with plate umpire Tim Timmons in St. Louis on Sunday, blaming the umpire for a called third strike he claimed was influenced by the All-Star catcher’s pitch framing.

Lovullo used a profanity that set off Molina, and the manager was ejected.

Lovullo was arguing a called third strike on A.J. Pollock leading off the second inning. He had not liked a called third strike against David Peralta starting the game.

Lovullo said he praised Molina while using a profanity and said “but he can’t turn balls into strikes.”

Philadelphia’s 20 runs were tied for its ninth-most in a game since 1900 and marked the 14th time it has scored 20 or more in that span. The last time the Phillies scored 20 runs was July 6, 2009, when they had 22 against Cincinnati. …. The Phillies scored 17 runs within the first four innings of the game for just the third time in franchise history.

Outfielder Nick Williams had a conversation with Kapler after making critical comments following the home opener Thursday. Williams, who hit .288 with 12 homers and 55 RBI in 83 games as a rookie, was frustrated after not starting four of the first six games.

“I guess the computers are making the lineup, I don’t know,” Williams said, referring to Kapler’s fondness for analytics.

“He’s a terrific athlete,” Kapler said. “We want our players to want to play every day.”

Williams said his comments were a joke.

Rizzo had just driven in Kris Bryant with a double off the left-field wall to break a 2-all tie in the third when Happ drove a two-run homer about two-thirds of the way up the right-field bleachers to push the lead to three. That gave the Cubs a club-record six players with 20 or more homers.

Chicago broke it open in the fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Baez had a two-run double and Schwarber finished the rally with his drive to left-center against A.J. Schugel.

Cubs center fielder Jon Jay had the crowd roaring in the third with spectacular catches on back-to-back plays. He sprawled out on the warning track to snag Andrew McCutchen’s drive after turning the wrong way, then raced into the right-center gap to run down Josh Bell’s liner.

Former Raiders assistant coach Rod Woodson appeared on Fox Sports’ “Undisputed” earlier in the week, when he expressed some criticisms of his former team and the moves they made in NFL free agency.


The best NFL free-agency values, worst overpays of 2018

NFL free agency reached peak frenzy before the signing period officially opened as teams embraced the confusingly named legal tampering period.

Despite all the excitement, most rosters are a little worse off now than they were before. That’s because many depth players remain unsigned, while many of the signings featured desperate teams overpaying to fill needs.

The Giants were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. They’re .125 average (3 for 24) batting with runners in scoring position is the worst in the majors.

Our guys were battling, Holland said. It was a pitcher’s duel going in and he lasted longer than I did. Just processing this game, they were hitting the ball. They made contact, found some holes, hit mistakes.

Sherman, who acted as his own agent, agreed to a three-year contract worth $39 million with the team earlier this month that included a $5 million signing bonus. The deal also includes guarantees that roll over each season if he makes the Pro Bowl.

But with the 49ers transitioning back to contenders, Sherman has his sights set on getting back to the Super Bowl.

(Quarterback) Jimmy (Garoppolo) is a tremendous asset to this team, Sherman said. There are a lot of young guys I expect to have a big leap from last year to this year.

It’s (GM) John (Lynch) and it’s (coach) Kyle (Shanahan). They brought stability to this organization. They brought fun, they brought belief, they brought faith. The players believe they can win. The players believe in the staff.

The new rule could be ready to be presented to NFL owners at next week’s annual meeting in Orlando.

This news is sure to cheer NFL fans and players, who have harshly criticized the league’s confusing and ambiguous definition of what constitutes a catch. Last season in particular, a no-catch call on an apparent touchdown by Steelers tight end Jesse James late in their game against the Patriots likely cost Pittsburgh the victory.

The Dez Bryant play, that’d be a catch under the new rule, Vincent said, mentioning the Dallas receiver’s overturned catch on an apparent TD in an NFC playoff game against Green Bay in 2015.cardinals_289

Minor freezes up Jays for 1st win as starter since ’14

Mike Minor didn’t think about Saturday’s significance until his parents texted him after the game.

Minor pitched two-hit ball over six innings to win a start for the first time since 2014 and the Texas Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 in one of the coldest games ever at Globe Life Park.

The 30-year-old Minor hadn’t started and gotten a victory since Aug. 24, 2014, while with the Atlanta Braves. He missed the 2015 and ’16 seasons with a torn labrum and was a reliever last year with the Kansas City Royals.

“He stuck with what was working for him,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “It was electric stuff.”

“He was pounding the zone on a cold night for the most part,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

Minor walked two of his first three batters. Yangervis Solarte then hit into a double play started by Profar, who played third base in place of Adrian Beltre — Banister said the 39-year-old Beltre in part because of the cold.

Last season, King had a career-best 42.7-yard net average.

For his career, King has 156 punts inside the 20 and only 33 touchbacks.

Riley Dixon was the team’s punter the past two seasons, averaging 45.7 yards per punt.

Jeff Blashill, who coaches Larkin in Detroit, is back after making his international coaching debut at worlds a year ago.

“He’s experienced,” Zito said of Blashill. “He’s been there before. He was hungry to go. And I think he brings a nice balance. He brings a great balance of the technical expertise of the game — he’s a student of the game and he’s studying, he’s always into the little nuances that make up a game — as well as the personal, one-on-one to get the most out of the individuals.”

Overall, Ginobili scored 17 points in 19:12, making all seven field goal attempts. It was the most shots Ginobili made in his career without a miss in his career, and it complemented a night where All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 28 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the field. Ginobili scored a total of 10 points in the fourth quarter on 4-of-4 shooting to go with an assist, two rebounds and a steal.texans_276

Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson tears meniscus while working out for an NFL team

Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson worked out for a team in an effort to bolster his draft stock, but he may have hurt his draft stock instead.

Nelson tore his meniscus during a private workout, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Nelson needs surgery and will be out three or four months.

Third, a good agent will prepare the player for the Wonderlic test, boosting his score to something higher than it otherwise would have been. (Whatever Jackson’s score was — and we’ll post none of them here — having a good agent wouldn’t have made it worse and likely would have made it better.)

Fourth, a good agent will advise the player on whether and to what extent to engage in Scouting Combine activities, and whether and to what extent to engage in pre-draft team visits and private workouts. A good agent will prepare the player regarding what to say and how to say it when meeting with teams. A good agent will serve as the buffer between the player and teams that may not be happy to hear that, for example, the player won’t be visiting the facility or throwing privately for its coaching staff.

“It’s been a battle all year. It’s been a grind, but we’re in that position,” said Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on Pastrnak’s tying goal 8:08 into the second period.

The Bruins host Florida on Sunday night in a game postponed by a winter storm Jan. 4. Boston is one point behind Tampa Bay, which lost in overtime at Carolina, for the top spot in the East and the Atlantic Division.

Danton Heinen also scored for Boston, which added late goals by Noel Acciari and David Backes in the final two minutes to put away the Senators and complete the season sweep.

Anton Khudobin stopped 26 shots for the Bruins.

“We have a chance to move into first. That’s what we all can ask for — to have a chance,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. “It’s in our hands tomorrow.”

Ryan Dzingel scored both goals for Ottawa and Colin White had two assists. Daniel Taylor made 29 saves for the Senators, who finished 28-43-11 one year after reaching the Eastern Conference finals.

Former Seahawks, TCU QB Trevone Boykin charged with felony in domestic violence case

Former Seahawks and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, according to a release from the Mansfield (Texas) Police Department (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

“So he goes into a choke. I remember him choking me, and I’m trying to calm him down. And I just couldn’t. And I blacked out. I just couldn’t calm him down at all,” Bailey alleged.

“The pressure was just hard. The pressure got hard to where I just remember just collapsing completely. And I just woke up in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor. My whole right side was full of blood on the kitchen floor.”

Bailey said Boykin eventually drove her to Dallas Regional Medical Center, but when the staff began questioning them separately about the incident, Boykin is alleged to have left the hospital and didn’t return. She said she had to be airlifted to a different hospital because she was struggling to breathe from a swollen and constricted airway.

Before Wednesday’s charges, police confirmed to WFAA that Boykin is under investigation.

Boykin released a statement after the Seahawks released him, calling Bailey’s story “false.”

Atkinson signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2014 out of Notre Dame. After two seasons in Oakland, Atkinson spent 2016 with the Browns before returning to Oakland last offseason when he was claimed off waivers. He was released at the end of training camp and signed with the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, it almost goes without saying at this point that there was another viable backup available both years, one who would have made Mallett, Griffin and the other five (yes, five) quarterbacks the Ravens signed in that span irrelevant.

It’s beyond obvious, of course, that no team is going to sign Colin Kaepernick this offseason. But seeing how smooth, routine and off-the-radar the Ravens’ signing of Griffin was reminds all of their clownish handling of the mere prospect of trying out Kaepernick last summer, when Flacco’s back issues made the position an urgent need. Not that anyone in the NFL covered themselves in glory, but the Ravens’ moment in the spotlight reflected particularly poorly on them.

Suffice it to say that the Ravens managed to add Griffin without running it past their major advertisers, asking fans for their input, consulting with Ray Lewis (and having Lewis put Griffin’s name in his bible) or requesting that the public “pray for us.”

Will Giants keep OBJ?

With the Rams trading for a receiver other than Odell Beckham Jr., the question becomes whether the Giants will trade Beckham elsewhere.

The comments from new offensive coordinator Mike Shula suggest that they’ll move forward with this “vital part” of their offense. But the obvious remarks from Shula don’t really mean anything when it comes to what ownership or the front office will do.

However it plays out, it’s time for the Giants and Beckham to get on the same page, even if getting on the same page means agreeing to go their separate ways. That won’t be easy, because Beckham’s next team would have to be willing to give him a huge contract and to give the Giants a pair of first-round draft picks, at a minimum.

Besides, with the Rams out of the mix, who’s really left? The 49ers, maybe. The Chargers, ideally. The Patriots likely won’t be part of the process, despite the speculation and fascination.

Doing nothing may be the least viable option, which perhaps means that the bottom line will be a trade or a long-term deal. The Giants eventually will have to decide which of those two options they’d most willing to accept.

For more on OBJ and various other topics, check out Wednesday’s PFT PM podcast.

Howard also started 32 games over two years with the Jets and has 88 career NFL starts. He’d be a backup to left tackle Terron Armstead and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk if he lands a job with the Saints, however. The Saints have also brought back Jermon Bushrod as a depth option in the wake of Senio Kelemete moving on to the Texans.

Atlanta, despite being without injured starters Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder, has continued to play hard for coach Mike Budenholzer. The Hawks have won two straight for only the second time this season and three of their last five.

“(The Boston win) is especially gratifying, knowing you have a couple impact players out and still be able to do what we do,” forward Taurean Prince said. “It’s good to see what we’re able to do, even without a full team.”cardinals_005

Broncos expected to shop Riley Dixon

Now that the Broncos have signed veteran punter Marquette King, they are expected to shop Riley Dixon, Mike Klis of Denver’s 9News reports. However, since everyone knows Denver isn’t keeping Dixon, the chances of a team actually trading even a seventh-round pick are slim.

Few punters are drafted, much less traded, though Dixon was a seventh-round pick in 2016.

Dixon, 24, averaged 45.6 yards per punt last season with a 40.2-yard net. He had 23 punts downed inside the 20, three touchbacks and allowed one touchdown return.

In his rookie season of 2016, Dixon averaged 45.7 yards per punt with a 41.3-yard net. He had 28 punts downed inside the 20 and six touchbacks.

“This game is a sort of a hybrid between traditional football concepts and what are known as flag concepts,” Wuerffel said. “I think we’ve got the traditional football down. We need to find some players that are real familiar with the flag world. It’s different grabbing a flag and there are techniques to that we have to learn.

“We’re looking to see if there are a couple of really good defenders that we can pick up to help us.”

Based upon his high school experience as a two-way player, Harvin would fit the bill if he wants to take the plunge.

A major reason the Cowboys find themselves in such straits is the result of Tony Romo’s six-year, $108 million contract that was restructured multiple times after it was signed in 2013. The Cowboys felt confident enough Romo would be their long-term starting quarterback that there was not too much concern about the day of reckoning when the conversions of base salaries to guaranteed money for cap relief would come due.

That moment came much earlier than expected last offseason when Romo retired in the aftermath of his 2016 back injury and emergence of then-rookie Dak Prescott. Even with the $17.8 million charge being spread over two seasons, Romo still counts another $8.9 million against the 2018 cap, which was set leaguewide at $177.2 million.

I know it’s practically impossible to do in our standard mixed game, with its limited benches, but Flaherty is as close to a bench stash as you’ll get in those formats, and he’s an instant add the moment there’s a rotation opening in St. Louis.texans_002

76ers’ Ben Simmons says ‘100 percent’ he is Rookie of the Year

76ers rookie Ben Simmons made it clear who he believes should win the Rookie of the Year award.

“Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent,” Simmons told ESPN at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday.

The Sixers point guard doesn’t want to be compared to Mitchell, or any other rookie.

“I don’t really listen to comparisons,” Simmons said. “You can compare players and whatever it is, but at the same time, everybody is their own player.”

And although the Rookie of the Year award may be the first personal goal he would like to obtain, he has loftier goals in sight.

“Championships,” Simmons said. “I want to be the Defensive Player of the Year … MVP. There’s a lot of accolades I want to get, but I ultimately want to win a ring.”

Their quest to end the franchise’s 14-year absence from the playoffs still isn’t finished.

Karl-Anthony Towns slammed his way to 24 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who toughed out a 113-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night to move one step closer to the postseason.

“We had to play as if we had that kind of desperation in us,” said Towns, who had five dunks to help ignite the crowd.

They haven’t always displayed that attitude down the stretch, which is why they weren’t able to clinch that long-sought spot before their 82nd game. They’ll have to beat surging Denver on Wednesday night to get in, because the Nuggets won their sixth straight game to stay tied with the Wolves in eighth place. Denver’s victory over Portland ended about an hour after Minnesota’s, but the players expressed nonchalance about following along as they left the arena.

Much of this, of course, is simply the way NFL business is conducted these days. Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas (if and when he is moved out) were going to face the fate of every player who signs a big deal in his prime. No matter how much they’ve won, how much they’ve redefined their positions and how much they’ve created unique identities, their team was going to want someone younger and cheaper sooner rather than later.

As for the aforementioned violence against women … that’s how the Npatriots_105-223x223

Marcus Peters is a great cornerback, but Odell Beckham is a generational talent at wide receiver.

This can be easy to forget with all the extracurricular OBJ stuff that seems to have worn the Giants down, but a healthy Beckham cannot be covered. It remains difficult to imagine the Giants cutting ties with a 25-year-old Hall of Fame talent, but maybe there’s more to the story than we know.

If I were Howie Roseman, I’d try like hell to make a trade. Is there a QB-needy team quietly looking to address the position before the draft Will a contender get desperate if they lose their starter before Week 1 Who knows better about that scenario than Roseman, who got two picks — including a first-rounder — in the Sam Bradford trade that followed Teddy Bridgewater’s stunning knee injury in September 2016

And if we get to Week 1 and nothing materializes for Philly Well, then you’ll just have to live with having the best backup quarterback in the league… again.

Kelly announced earlier this month that his oral cancer returned after he was declared cancer free in 2016. The 58-year-old was diagnosed with cancer in his jaw in 2013 and had surgery a short time after his diagnosis. After doctors determined cancer had spread to his nasal cavities, he underwent additional treatments and had another surgery in March 2014.

Prayers and best wishes from everyone at NFL Media go out to the entire Kelly family as the Bills star continues his battle.

The commissioner added that the league is still determining what types of helmet hits would warrant an ejection versus a 15-yard penalty.

That’s exactly the work we need to do over the next few weeks, he said. We’ve done a great deal of work on this, but now we want to go back and look at what’s that standard of when it’ll go from a disqualification of a player to a fine or suspension or any other alternative from there. That’s the work that we’re going to be doing, and that’s the work that we’ll be educating our clubs back in May and June with the clubs individually.