Kawhi Leonard is leaving few clues about his upcoming free agency

When Kawhi Leonard was a kid growing up in Southern California, he was surrounded by Los Angeles Lakers fans. His adolescence matched the heyday of Kobe Bryant’s tenure with the franchise, and his family — like so many others in Riverside and other parts of the Inland Empire where he grew up — was full of devoted followers of the purple and gold.nfl cheap jerseys nike

For the past two offseasons, the Lakers have kept their powder dry in the trade market. Rather than sacrificing any of their young core — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — to pursue a trade for someone like Paul George or Leonard, the Lakers have been content to sit back, let them grow and hope the combination of a young talent base and the bright lights of Hollywood will be enough to lure star power back to Los Angeles again.

It turned out to be enough to get the biggest star of all, LeBron James, to join the Lakers on July 1. But George spurned the chance to play alongside James this summer, opting to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the start of free agency. And while there is plenty of time for things to change, there is a sense within the league Leonard will do the same next summer.

It was a throwaway line at the end of a short, perfunctory postpractice interview — one that, like virtually every such session Leonard is a part of, he dutifully worked to end as quickly as he could. But it also was a small window into the mindset Leonard has employed as he has lifted himself from being a high school star plying his trade 60 miles east of Los Angeles into the sport’s best two-way wing player.10

A survey of several league executives this weekend had the Lakers trailing, even among Staples Center tenants, in the competition to get Leonard, with the LA Clippers universally being placed ahead of them. Rather than seeking to team up with James, the thinking is that Leonard would prefer to have control of his own team, which the Clippers would offer, while still giving him the ability to return to his native Southern California.

The Lakers explored a potential Leonard trade this summer, but the San Antonio Spurs’ asking price prevented a deal from ever coming close to fruition. The Clippers, meanwhile, have relentlessly pursued Leonard since the summer but didn’t have the assets necessary to get a deal done.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Toronto, however, did, ultimately sending an All-Star (DeMar DeRozan), a young talent (Jakob Poeltl) and a first-round pick to San Antonio for Leonard and Danny Green. And now that the Raptors get to spend a season recruiting Leonard to remain north of the border, the Raptors have a quiet confidence about their ability to get him to stick around next summer.

One source of optimism stems from the fact that Thunder general manager Sam Presti was able to hang on to George — despite George having openly stated he wanted to play for the Lakers, Oklahoma City being one of the league’s smallest markets and the Thunder having lost in the first round of the playoffs last season. But the bigger source of optimism is what Toronto has to offer Leonard if he does decide to stay.

Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: A golden night for Jamal Murray

Multiple overtime games, 40-point performances and blockbuster 20/20 (points and rebounds) efforts defined just another high-scoring night in the NBA.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The most exciting performance of Monday’s nine-game slate featured Denver’s Jamal Murray compiling a career-high 48 points as his Nuggets downed the Boston Celtics. Not only did the breakout scoring display secure Denver a pivotal win to improve to 9-1, with signature wins over contenders such as the Warriors, Jazz and now Celtics, but Murray’s 48 points are the most by a Nuggets player since Carmelo Anthony dropped 50 against the Rockets in February of 2011.

Murray’s 48 points are the most by a Nuggets player since Carmelo Anthony dropped 50 against the Rockets in February of 2011. They were also the most points ever scored by a Canadian-born player, while Murray became the seventh different player from the University of Kentucky to score 40 in an NBA game during the last three seasons — more than twice as many as any other school. A rising fantasy asset, Murray is enjoying a 16 percent leap in shots per game and a 13 percent jump in scoring output in his third professional season compared to last season’s strong sophomore effort.5

While impressive box scores defined the night in the positive sense, seeing Oklahoma City’s superstar Russell Westbrook leave Monday’s win over the Pelicans with a seemingly serious ankle injury was undoubtedly a tough takeaway from Monday. Westbrook needed help leaving the court and subsequent tests revealed a high-ankle sprain, although thankfully with x-rays proving negative in regards to any fracture.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Westbrook was on the way to yet another triple-double performance, with the Thunder earning their fifth straight win after starting 0-4, becoming just the third team since the merger to start 0-4 and then win as many as five straight. Though Westbrook’s status is currently unclear, the Thunder have a favorable upcoming schedule; each of their next six games come against teams with losing records, including four against the Suns, Mavericks and Cavaliers — owners of three of the four worst records in the NBA.

As Westbrook heals, shares of Dennis Schroder could prove profitable, as he’s available in roughly a third of ESPN leagues and unsurprisingly posted a season-high usage rate of 33.2 percent last night. With a strong offensive rating of 114 (team points per 100 possessions while he’s on the floor) and a usage rate at 28.3 percent the past three games, Schroder could capably turn in rewarding fantasy production with Westbrook sidelined.

With an eye on meaningful fantasy performances and relevant statistical trends, let’s delve into the night that was in the NBA.

Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce have special homecomings in Cleveland

When it comes to being prepared to play, coach Andy Reid doesn’t worry about two of the Kansas City Chiefs in particular: running back Kareem Hunt and tight end Travis Kelce.

“They don’t need much to get them going,” Reid said. “That little extra doesn’t hurt. They were excited to be here. They get to play in front of family and friends. It can be expensive at times, but it’s worth it.”nike nfl cheap jerseys

Hunt and Kelce showed a lot to the hometown crowd. Hunt accounted for 141 total yards, while Kelce led the Chiefs with seven catches and 99 yards in the 37-21 win over the Cleveland Browns.

The two scored all five Kansas City touchdowns. Hunt had three and Kelce two.6

“We definitely can relate because we both came from this area,” Hunt said. “We know everything about it. It’s kind of special we’re on the same team going out there and having a big game for both of us. He had a big game and I had a big game. I think only Cleveland people scored today. That’s a good thing.”

Said Kelce, “That just tells you the type of special place that lies here in Northeast Ohio. It’s dear to my heart, and I love it to death … Browns fans, I’m sorry we had to do it, but we’re about business in Kansas City.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Each player shelled out for tickets for family members and friends. Kelce said he “couldn’t even count” how many people from the area he had at Sunday’s game.

Hunt, as a gesture of appreciation, bought tickets for the players and coaches at his former high school, Willoughby South.

“It’s really a dream come true that I’m able to do something like that for the high school and for the program, for the coaches,” Hunt said. “I just really wanted to go out there and win this game because it meant more to me, this game, than a lot of the other ones.

“I was definitely very excited coming into the game. It’s a stadium I used to drive by every day, almost. Now actually getting to play on the field in the NFL is really an honor.”

Christian McCaffrey’s leap reminds he’s still Panthers’ most dynamic weapon

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey didn’t anticipate having to jump about 5 feet to get over Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis during his 32-yard, first-quarter reception on Sunday.

It just instinctively happened, as everything seems to with the eighth pick of the 2017 draft.

But McCaffrey did anticipate some of the comments he heard after the 42-28 victory.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“‘White man can jump,'” McCaffrey said with a laugh. “Got a lot of those, but I saw those coming.”5

McCaffrey has been relatively quiet the past month, in terms of big games and spectacular plays. In some ways, he has been overshadowed by 2018 first-round pick DJ Moore and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel.

Samuel actually stole the spotlight on this day, with a 33-yard touchdown run on a double reverse on which he covered 103.9 yards.

But the leap was a reminder that McCaffrey is just as dynamic as anybody on Carolina’s offense. He picked up another 25 yards after the catch to set up the first of his two touchdown runs after having only one in the first seven games.nike nfl cheap jerseys

His overall play was a reminder of just how valuable he is.

McCaffrey rushed 17 times for a team-high 79 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes on six targets for a team-high 78 yards. That’s a substantial increase from the past month.

McCaffrey averaged 11.5 rushes for 38 yards the past four games since gaining 184 yards on 28 carries in a Week 3 win against Cincinnati. He averaged 4.8 catches per game for 30.6 yards in the five games since he caught 14 passes for 102 yards in a Week 2 loss at Atlanta.

KCCA FC head coach Mutebi attacked by ‘thugs’

KCCA FC head coach Mike Mutebi has sustained injuries after being attacked by ‘thugs’ at his residence in Kawempe, Kampala on Monday.

The Uganda Premier League-winning manager subsequently received treatment at the Nsambya Hospital, and should return to the dugout imminently.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Our coach was attacked at about 2am by thugs who broke into his home,” team spokesman Moses Magero told KweséESPN. “He is out of trouble after receiving treatment at Nsambya Hospital.7

“Apart from the few cuts, Mike is not in any form of danger, and is ready to lead the team in our Uganda Premier League game against SC Villa on Tuesday.”

Mutebi guided KCCA FC to the group stage of the CAF Champions League this season.

“That’s part of life,” he told KweséESPN. “Thankfully, I didn’t sustain very serious injuries, although I had to fight and protect myself against the thugs.”

Last Saturday, KCCA FC fought from a goal down to hold league champions and table-toppers Vipers SC to a 1-1 draw at St Marys Stadium in Kitende.nfl nike jersey cheap

KCCA are currently third on the log with 12 points after six games, while Vipers SC lead with 14 points and Bidco FC are second on 13.

The other games on Tuesday will see Nyamityobora FC host Kirinya Jinja SS, while Ndejje University FC battle fourth-placed Bright Stars FC.

Bidco FC have the chance to go top when they host URA FC at the Njeru Technical Centre Stadium.

Juventus continue unbeaten start in Serie A with win vs. Cagliari

Paulo Dybala scored after 44 seconds for Juventus but they were made to struggle in a 3-1 win over a brave Cagliari team as they stayed six points clear in Serie A on Saturday.

Juventus have now won 10 of their 11 league games but they needed the help of an own goal by Filip Bradaric after Joao Pedro had equalised for Cagliari.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Dybala gave Juve the perfect start when he received a pass on the edge of the penalty area, twisted one way and then the other and, despite slipping as he struck the ball, scored with a right-foot shot past Alessio Cragno.6

Cagliari fought back and, after having a penalty appeal for handball turned down following a VAR review, forced Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a point-blank save to block a Leonardo Pavoletti volley.

The Sardinian side deservedly levelled in the 36th minute when Joao Pedro controlled Darijo Srna’s cross with an excellent first touch before beating Szczesny with a low drive.

But Juve were gifted a goal less than two minutes later by Bradaric who, under no immediate pressure, slid in and diverted Douglas Costa’s low cross into the net.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Cristiano Ronaldo, who hit the post on the stroke of halftime, laid the third on a plate for Juan Cuadrado with three minutes left after Cagliari were exposed on the counter-attack.

Juve have 31 points out of a possible 33 with Inter Milan, who beat Genoa 5-0

Sources: Luke Walton takes heat from Magic Johnson for Lakers’ start

In a meeting on Tuesday, following a winless two-game trip, Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson admonished coach Luke Walton for the team’s sluggish start to the season, league sources told ESPN.

Johnson’s cutting appraisal elevated an already acute awareness within the Lakers coaching staff that there are intense and immediate pressures on Walton to deliver the franchise a winner in short order.cheap nike nfl jersey

Despite Johnson’s prior proclamations of needing to allow time for Walton to develop a young roster surrounding four-time MVP LeBron James, evidence is mounting that Walton’s job security ultimately depends upon his ability to significantly improve upon a 3-5 record to start the season.5

Johnson’s aggressive meeting tone circulated to individuals throughout the organization, including to principal owner Jeanie Buss, league sources said. Throughout his tenure with the Lakers, Johnson has earned an internal reputation for an oftentimes volatile management style, including with his handling of Walton and the coaching staff, sources said.

Buss’ support for Walton has remained unwavering since Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka assumed command of basketball operations in 2017.

Walton was hired by her brother, Jim Buss, and ex-general manager Mitch Kupchak less than a year before Johnson and Pelinka took over.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

One of the greatest players in the history of the game, Johnson’s business interests often lead him to be traveling away from the team. Johnson relies on Pelinka to run the day-to-day basketball operations and offer reports and analysis up to him.

Those invested in Walton’s Laker staying power felt a wave of relief once Dallas’ frantic comeback fell short in the Lakers’ 114-113 victory at Staples on Wednesday. In the wake of Johnson’s chiding, the prospect of riding a three-game losing streak into this weekend’s games — away at Portland and then the second of a back-to-back against surging Toronto — loomed to those on the staff, league sources said.

The Lakers’ slow start includes the absences of two starters, forward Brandon Ingram and guard Rajon Rondo, to suspensions of four and three games, respectively. Guard Lonzo Ball began training camp on a minutes restriction following offseason knee surgery.

Bradley Beal: Struggling Wiz will not push ‘panic button’ after latest loss

The boos started sometime in the second quarter and got uncomfortably louder, with the Wizards eventually hearing them again as they walked off the floor down 29 at halftime to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

It was part of a 44-20 second quarter that featured embarrassing defense by the Wizards and sloppy turnovers. The Thunder were outrageously hot, just to pile it on. There was a little fight in the third quarter, with the Wizards winning it 35-31, but it was too little, too late as Oklahoma City finished off a 134-111 victory to drop Washington to 1-7.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I’m not hitting the panic button. I’m not hitting it, and I don’t think we are either as a team,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. “We understand it’s still early, it’s not perfect. We understand patience is running low from everybody, from ourselves. Nobody is more disappointed than us. I’m definitely going to say that.”6

The defensive indifference was jarring at times, highlighted in the Thunder’s opening possession of the second half as the Wizards disregarded Terrance Ferguson in the right corner. He splashed from 3 to put Oklahoma City up 32.

“Offense has never been a problem for us,” point guard John Wall said. “We score the ball very well. It’s just what can we do on the defensive end. Until we figure that out, we’re going to have these same problems.”cheap nike nfl jersey

In his Wizards debut, Dwight Howard was a bright spot, scoring 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 23 minutes. Beal finished with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and tried to spark the Wizards in the third quarter, hitting a pull-up 3 and clapping and encouraging his teammates.

It didn’t work. The Thunder re-established their lead, and Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Paul George sat the entire fourth quarter.

“I’ll never give up on this team,” Beal said. “What are we going to do about it? Just fold up early in the year and give up on the year or fight back and try to compete like we know we’re capable of doing? And I refuse to let the ship sink, so as one of the captains on the team, I put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. I’ve got to be better leadership-wise on the floor, giving more, leading by example, and hopefully guys will follow.”

Mahomes, Mayfield, Brees and more: Texas QBs having their moment

“In Texas, football is heavily funded,” said Greg McElroy, a former Texas high school quarterback who had a brief NFL career before moving to ESPN and ABC as a college football analyst. “It’s prioritized. Quarterback is an expensive position to learn. A lot of these guys have private coaches. These guys are trained at a young age to become college players and eventually NFL players. Part of being a great quarterback is loving the game, being obsessed with the game. You can never work too hard at your craft and in Texas, football is king. There’s nothing more important than football. Guys are so well coached in high school in Texas.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Your development is accelerated in the state of Texas. Usually you can play a little earlier in college. If you play earlier and play more in college, you’re going to be ready when it comes time to get to the NFL.”6

Mahomes, from the small Texas town of Whitehouse, and the Kansas City Chiefs finish a three-game stretch against former Texas quarterbacks on Sunday when they face Mayfield, from Austin, and the Browns in Cleveland. Two weeks ago the Chiefs defeated Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton of the Houston suburb of Katy. Last week, the opposing QB was Denver’s Case Keenum, from the West Texas town of Abilene.

The list of NFL quarterbacks from Texas includes former No. 1 overall draft picks in Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (from the Dallas area), Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (Houston) and Mayfield as well as future Hall of Famers such as Drew Brees (Austin). Others, such as Keenum and Chicago’s Chase Daniel, weren’t drafted at all.

Texas QBs have stolen the spotlight in the past year, considering they have the reigning Heisman winner and No. 1 pick in Mayfield, the Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles (Austin) and the newly-minted all-time passing leader in Brees.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

And they are bonded together by some strong, unique Texas roots.

“It’s a way of life [in Texas],” Keenum said. “There are a lot of people who care a lot about it. It’s kind of what you do growing up, especially in my hometown, and I know it’s that way in a lot of hometowns. When you have that many people who care about it that much and have great coaches — I think I’ve heard of other places where it’s similar [and] not to say anything bad about coaches anywhere else, but when you’re in a coach in Texas, you’re a coach. You might teach some in the school, but you don’t go work at Home Depot or at the bank, or [as a] lawyer, doctor, financial guy. You’re a coach.

A Rodgers-Belichick ‘limitless’ combo? Imagining ultimate ‘what if’

Aaron Rodgers was lucky when he fell to the 24th pick in his draft, just not as lucky as Tom Brady was when he fell to the 199th in his. In 2005, Rodgers was picked by an iconic franchise with a history of fielding special players at his position.

Five years earlier, Brady was picked by a coach whose system helped land the quarterback in the Super Bowl in half of his 16 healthy seasons as a starter.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I’m really a product of what I’ve been around, who I was coached by, what I played against, in the era I played in,” Brady told ESPN.com last year. “I really believe if a lot of people were in my shoes, they could accomplish the same kinds of things.”

What if Rodgers had been in those shoes for his entire career, playing for Bill Belichick in a New England Patriots system that rarely produces players who make the mistakes Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery made Sunday, when he cost Rodgers a chance to beat the unbeaten Rams — and ultimately got himself traded to Baltimore — by turning the preferred touchback into a kick return and then fumbling the ball?5

Rodgers, the 34-year-old one-time champ, is more physically gifted than Brady, the 41-year-old five-time champ, and nobody in Tom Terrific’s household would bother debating that. In a conversation with an NFL coach within the past few seasons, Brady said that if Rodgers had the Patriots’ offensive system and exhaustive knowledge of opposing defenses, “He’d throw for 7,000 yards every year. He’s so much more talented than me.”

As such, it’s no surprise that Sunday night’s duel in Foxborough, Massachusetts — hyped in an NBC promo by the GOAT of GOATS, Michael Jordan — has been billed by some as a rare meeting between The Most Talented Quarterback Ever and The Greatest Quarterback Ever. Yes, there is a difference.

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But with Belichick, Brady has enjoyed the benefit of playing for arguably the greatest coach of all time. On the other side, Rodgers has been paired with Mike McCarthy, a good coach and a Super Bowl winner who deserves his fair share of credit for developing Rodgers the way Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren deserved theirs for developing Bart Starr and Brett Favre, respectively. If McCarthy is a widely respected character actor in this drama, a Brian Dennehy or Paul Giamatti, Belichick is a Marlon Brando or Robert De Niro.