Month: September 2016

Dwyane Wade adjusting to his new jersey, new team

Dwyane Wade says he first dreamed of playing for the Bulls at 9 years old, but the reality of seeing the future Hall of Famer in a Chicago Bulls jersey after 13 years in Miami is going to be an adjustment for everybody — Wade included.

“It’s really not the jersey. It’s the same material, so it feels the same,” Wade said with a smile during the Bulls’ media day on Monday.

As happy as Butler and various Bulls personnel are that Wade is in town, Wade seems happiest of all that he gets to wear the jersey he grew up dreaming about.

“1991, when the Bulls won their first championship,” Wade said of when he first envisioned being with the Bulls. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I can do that, I can be out there with those guys.’ I could go out in my backyard, I see the snow, it didn’t matter. I’d try to emulate the things that my favorite players were doing. At 9 years old, that’s where my vision started. Not only to play in the NBA, but to play for the Bulls.”

“This is the first time my team has gone the extra mile to really take care of me both on and off the court,” he said. “They even care about how well I sleep. They just care about me so much.”

Lin can appear shy at times, but he doesn’t hide how badly he wants to lead as a starting point guard in the NBA.

“I always wanted to be a leader,” he said. “Three months after I joined the Rockets, James Harden was on board so he became the leader. The situation with the Lakers wasn’t good either. I just didn’t have the opportunity to prove myself. But I think I have a pretty good chance this time.”

Head coach Kenny Atkinson considers Lin to be the Nets’ Eli Manning. He believes in Lin’s leadership and has asked Lin to be the commander of the Nets. Lin has responded by emphasizing some of the important goals that the Nets players need to focus on.

“Defense is really important,” Lin said. “Team chemistry is really important and this training camp is really important!”

But besides his focus on basketball, Lin is apparently enjoying city life.

“My favorite restaurant in Manhattan is a sushi restaurant. I wish I could eat there every single day, but I can’t afford it. It’s too expensive,” he said, laughing.

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Mavericks’ Deron Williams leads Grannies With Attitude to dodgeball glory

FRISCO, Texas — Deron Williams wanted his charity event to be different. Mission accomplished for the Dallas Mavericks’ point guard.

Williams loves golf, as many NBA players do, but there are dozens of charity golf tournaments every offseason. He preferred to pick a less traditional sport for a charity event, so he decided to go with dodgeball.

“It’s a big honor for him, not just him, but everybody that looked up to him,” Thomas told reporters while volunteering to help revitalize East Boston’s McKay School on Friday morning. “He’s pound for pound the best player to ever play the game, in my eyes, and, on the court, I definitely want to be just like him.”

Thomas got a chance to meet Iverson in Philadelphia last month and emerged with an autographed jersey. Posting a picture of the two together, Thomas wrote on Instagram, “There will never be another Allen Iverson but I’m for damn sure going to be the closest thing to you.”

He reaffirmed that statement Friday while reflecting on Iverson’s induction.

“He told me I’m cut from the same cloth as him,” said Thomas. “I go about my ways the same way he did, and now that he’s told me that, nobody can tell me anything. So that’s a check off my list, that he approves of my game. He’s really a fan of, not just me as a basketball player, but me as a person. And that says a lot because I followed every footstep that he took and I want to be just like him.”

Uniforms were mandatory for the teams entered in Saturday’s Deron Williams Celebrity Dodge Barrage. And Williams picked the uniforms for his team, which returning Mavs knew was potential trouble.

In case it isn’t already apparent, that means the value in Rounds 3 and 4 lies in the other positions, particularly power forward and center. So if you already drafted a pair like Cousins and Griffin, that means you are suddenly set in the frontcourt while a swarm of bigs remain available: Kevin Love (35), Marc Gasol (37), Pau Gasol (38), Andre Drummond (39), DeAndre Jordan (40), Derrick Favors (41), Rudy Gobert (44), Nikola Vucevic (45) and Nikola Jokic (47).

If you enter Round 3 without at least one of the 10 point guards ranked inside ESPN’s top 25, you’ll feel like you just got trapped heading into your third turn of tic-tac-toe. You’ll find yourself with an unbalanced roster that’s too deep up front and woefully thin in the backcourt, dependent on second-tier fantasy point guards like Reggie Jackson, Brandon Knight and/or Mike Conley to carry the load despite incomplete fantasy résumés.

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Red Sox’s Drew Pomeranz pummeled in loss to Orioles

BOSTON — Given his recent run, this was probably similar to an out-of-body experience for Drew Pomeranz.

Since coming over to the Boston Red Sox from the San Diego Padres via trade on July 15, the All-Star left-hander has been one of Boston’s most consistent arms in its second-half pennant push. Headed into Tuesday’s matchup with Baltimore, Pomeranz had surrendered three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, artfully weaving in a sophisticated knuckle-curveball with some mid-90s heat.

But it all blew up in his face, a steady burn over the course of 45 pitches, in an elongated second inning that left the heavy-hitting Baltimore Orioles with a 5-0 lead, having done enough damage to chase Pomeranz from the game a few at-bats into the third inning. With little help from his own bats — the Red Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position — Pomeranz took his third straight loss.

With Baltimore’s 6-3 win and Toronto’s loss to Tampa Bay, the Orioles moved into a tie for second place in the AL East with the Blue Jays. The teams also sit tied for the two AL wild-card spots, while Boston maintained a two-game lead for the division title.

But it isn’t as simple as it seems, in part because of sample-size issues. Garcia had a career 3.31 ERA in seven seasons before this one. That’s borderline elite. What if Reyes loses touch with the strike zone, as he has done in stretches this season, including large chunks of Tuesday’s game? He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings after Matheny wasted little time yanking Garcia in the second inning, but Reyes walked nearly one-third of the batters he faced. Reyes was as dominant as usual but also, at times, as wild as the Cardinals feared he might be. He walked six batters and threw nearly as many balls (42) as strikes (43).

The first order of business will be determining if Garcia is healthy. His velocity has held surprisingly firm, but he has pitched more innings than in any other season since 2011, when he was 24. He acknowledged that he could be hitting a wall of either physical or mental exhaustion.

So what’s going on? The fact that Pineda and Ray show up at Nos. 1 and 2 on the list is perhaps an indicator that the game is changing, that it’s possible, in this era of strikeouts, to both strike out a lot of hitters and give up a lot of hits because of the approach of hitters. If we relied on FIP — fielding independent pitching — we might suggest that Pineda and Ray have simply been unlucky, undone by bad defense or bad luck in allowing a high batting average on balls in play. Among qualified starters, Ray has allowed the second-highest BABIP at .356 (only Collin McHugh is higher) and Pineda is fourth at .344. Except this has happened before to both pitchers. Pineda allowed a .335 BABIP last season and Ray a .317 mark.

In his seventh consecutive gem, Price dominated the power-packed Orioles for eight innings of a 12-2 throttling in which he was staked to a 5-0 first-inning lead and David Ortiz tied Mickey Mantle for 17th on the all-time home run list with 536. Price gave up only two hits, and although they were towering solo homers by Chris Davis and Manny Machado, it barely caused the ace lefty to flinch.

“Solo homers don’t beat you,” Price said, a slight smile creeping across his face, “unless you’re in San Fran and you lose 2-1.”

Saints ‘win’ standoff, but Drew Brees deserves kudos for playing ball

METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees just led the New Orleans Saints to another big victory.

The Saints deserve congratulations because they essentially “won” their contract standoff with Brees on Wednesday.

They got exactly what they wanted by limiting his extension to just one year for a fully guaranteed $24.25 million, according to league sources. The extension takes Brees through the end of the 2018 season. The Saints got to lock up their Hall of Fame quarterback for a little while longer, but they didn’t have to commit to the 37-year-old beyond 2017.

Brees, meanwhile, deserves a ton of kudos for playing ball instead of playing hardball.

Instead of maxing out his value — which could have been enormous if he hit the open market next March — Brees left money on the table and turned this deal into a win-win.

“I plan to play for longer than two years, so yeah, I think my mindset going into this was to be able to secure a deal that would take me for as long as I plan on playing,” Brees admitted Wednesday. “But this is what was in the best interest of the team. And so that’s why it was a two-year deal [one year left on his current contract plus the extension].”

The deal is a “win” for Brees, too, for a few reasons.

First, he got fair market value for an elite quarterback — whether you want to consider it a one-year, $24.25 million extension or a two-year deal worth $44.25 million.

Brees is also betting on himself — because he is scheduled to hit the open market again in 2018, when he turns 39. (And who knows, maybe he will be ready to bail out then if the Saints don’t get things turned around).

Brees has insisted repeatedly that he plans to keep playing at a high level into his 40s. And if he keeps playing near his current level, teams will probably be just as willing to back up those money trucks two years from now.

And I’ll probably implore the Saints to re-sign him again, just as I did this offseason.

This is the Saints’ 50th year of existence — and they’ve had exactly one Hall of Fame quarterback during those five decades. They were wise not to push him out of the building.

I loved defensive end Cameron Jordan’s reaction Wednesday when he was asked if it would be hard to be in the running without Brees.

“We don’t have to worry about that, do we?” Jordan said.

“I’ve come a long way,” Goff told reporters. “I feel good with where I’m at.”

But Goff finished the preseason completing only 22-of-49 passes for 232 yards, with two touchdowns, two interceptions, two fumbles and four sacks.

The 21-year-old had two drives against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the first ending in an interception and the second ending in a sack. His first two drives against the Kansas City Chiefs ended with a lost fumble and a near-fumble sack, but Goff showed flashes of promise in the second half, which culminated in the game-winning touchdown drive. In Week 3, against the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos in Denver, Goff was up-and-down throughout, a handful of impressive throws sprinkled in with some errant ones. Then came Week 4, which quickly turned sour.

“He is much better now than he was before,” Fisher stressed. “He is comfortable and understands things. He has progressed, so we are a lot further along than when we started.”

That doesn’t say much about where it all began.

In his four games, Goff faced 21 third downs in which he did not hand the ball off to a running back. He converted only four of them. Five others ended in either an interception, a sack or a fumble. Often the game seemed a little bit too fast, which was perhaps to be expected for a rookie quarterback who needed to learn how to take snaps from under center and call plays from the huddle.

Perhaps Goff will one day live up to his promise, but the preseason finale was definitive proof that he is not yet ready.

Now there’s no telling when we’ll see Goff in a game again.

Goff said he will take “the good things I did and all of the stuff I can learn from” in hopes of building on his first preseason as a professional.

“Obviously there’s a lot of both. I was very happy with the growth I’ve been able to make mentally, physically, everything. Just how comfortable I feel now as opposed to the beginning of training camp. Just continue to build off of that and continue to build that confidence.”

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