NBA free agency 2018: Jeanie Buss has ‘complete faith’ in Lakers front office

George has sounded willing to return to OKC in recent days, which would make the Lakers a less attractive destination for James if he decides to opt out of his deal with the Cavaliers.

Lakers president Magic Johnson said Monday he would step down if the team fails to land big-name free agents over the next two offseasons. If he’s serious about his employment with the team, swinging a deal for Leonard would make him a man of his word. However, he needs the Spurs, who reportedly don’t want to trade Leonard within the Western Conference, to play ball.

The longer Kawhi Leonard goes without being traded out of San Antonio the more it looks like the Spurs are holding their star player hostage.

Leonard reportedly is still insisting the team trade him, while the Spurs are equally headstrong about keeping him in uniform at least until the 2019 trade deadline, ESPN reported Tuesday, citing unidentified league sources.

According to a separate ESPN report, the Lakers are feeling increased pressure to make a deal for Leonard happen as Paul George and LeBron James have progressively murky futures ahead of free agency, which begins Sunday.

The Rockets guard landed the prestigious award Monday after averaging 30.4 points, 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 2017-18, playing an integral role in his side being the number one seed in the Western Conference.

Russell Westbrook was named MVP ahead of the Houston star last year and Harden, 28, was taking nothing for granted despite being expected to land the award for the first time.

The last four years have been like knocking on the door, knocking on the door. Now the moment is finally here. said Harden.

Just every single year you try to come back and be better than you were the year before, and just to be holding that trophy finally, it means a lot. But it doesn’t stop here. We’ve got a long way to go. But it feels good to have it though.

Harden said he did not write an acceptance speech in case it would not be needed.

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NBA Draft 2018: See what the league’s newest rookies are wearing

NBA Draft fashion has become its own topic over the years. Fans still know what LeBron James, Joakim Noah, Jalen Rose and countless other players have worn the night their name was called.

What are this year’s draftees wearing on their special day? SN has put together its collection of the most memorable looks.

If they don’t want to be so transparent, they could go with Robert Williams now that Dwight Howard has been exorcised.

There’s been speculation among league honchos that the hush-hush nature of Gilgeous-Alexander’s workouts were designed to get him to the Clippers. A few teams ahead of No. 12 could scotch that plan, but we’ve got the Clippers getting their man.

The Clippers are going to lose DeAndre Jordan one way or another, either in free agency or in a trade. So they’ll replace him with another big Aggie.

The Nuggets could move this pick, and even if they don’t, they’ll be active on the trade front in the coming weeks. Bridges is an outstanding athlete going to a team that needs wing help.

The bat has to be (in the lineup), Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told reporters over the weekend. You’ve got a guy who’s been as consistent as anybody we’ve had all season. So you’ve got to find a place for him.

We’ve never ruled out the outfield. None of that is out of the question. We haven’t featured that yet but it’s something that has been in the conversation. He’s been doing work out there, too. But, right now, it’s how do we improve at first base?

Carlos Martinez has had good success against Arizona, with a 2.88 ERA in eight appearances. That ERA ranks 20th among active major leaguers with at least 30 innings against the Diamondbacks. Martinez has been even more successful at Chase Field, with a 2.11 ERA, fifth among those with at least 20 innings.

Martinez has given up one homer against the Diamondbacks, that coming to Gerardo Parra in their first meeting. Since then, he has gone 33 1/3 innings without giving up a homer to them.

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Trea Turner sends a souvenir into the stands with a 1st-inning 2-run homer against the Phillies.

The Nationals broke out of their offensive funk in a big way.

Juan Soto hit two of Washington’s seven home runs, finishing with four hits and five RBI, and the Nationals routed the Philadelphia Phillies 17-7 on Friday night.

Erick Fedde (1-3) earned his first major league win in his eighth career start, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings with three strikeouts and three walks.

Nick Pivetta (4-7) continued to struggle against the organization that drafted him. The right-hander was shelled for seven runs on seven hits, including three homers, in 1 2/3 innings to fall to 0-3 with an 11.94 ERA in five career starts against Washington. Pivetta, a fourth-round pick in 2013, finished June 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in six starts.

I feel better than I have in a long time. I feel healthier than I have in a long time. There’s no end in sight, he said. I know I’m older. I try never to think age but to think of how you feel and how passionate you are … those are at a high level for me.

That’s great news for Duke fans and terrifying for the rest of the ACC and college basketball. Duke hasn’t missed the NCAA Tournament since 1995 (when Krzyzewski missed most of the season with back problems), and in recent years, has become the marquee landing spot for five-star recruits.

Entering 2018, Duke has three of the top five recruits (according to 247Sports) with R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Zion Williamson all slated to play for the Blue Devils.

It’s going to be fun trying to put together and offensive and defensive system that will be personalized for these kids, Krzyzewski said.

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The Rockies blew leads of 5-2 and 7-5 and were down 8-7 before scoring twice off closer Sam Dyson (2-2) to avoid a series sweep.

Chris Iannetta hit a leadoff single in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Pat Valaika. After pinch-hitter Tom Murphy popped out, LeMahieu sent a full-count pitch from Dyson into the left-field stands.

Two nights earlier, Dyson got LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the tying run on base.

The jump shot needs work, though. His ball pickup on his pull-up jumper is funky, and the lack of consistency could ultimately make him easier to defend without improvement.

Norvell’s breakout performance came against Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament. He finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while shooting 6-of-11 from 3-point range.

As a freshman, the 20-year-old knocked down 37.0 percent of his triples, taking over eight per 40 minutes. He projects best as a two guard who can space the floor and attack closeouts off the bounce.

If this one does not happen, then every Mock Draft on the entire internet is in trouble.

The Kings’ relative lack of interest in Luka Doncic could be a smokescreen, but to what end? Just to mess with the rest of the league? Doncic’s camp believes the Kings are going to pass, so I’ll go with that.

We’ve been telling you since the Combine that the Grizzlies would consider trading this pick. They could get something done Thursday. If not, Carter is among the few who came to work out for the team.

The Mavs will have options here. Bamba is probably the favorite, but it would be a surprise to have Jaren Jackson Jr. available. There’s still an inkling that they like Michael Porter Jr. as well.

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Their Super Bowl odds fall even more dramatically.

The Packers had a 9.6 percent shot of claiming another Lombardi trophy with Rodgers around, but just a 1 percent opportunity with Hundley taking his place for the remainder of the campaign. FPI projects that the difference between Rodgers and Hundley over the rest of the season is worth about 1.4 wins, while the Packers would only flip sides from favorite to underdog once — Week 17 against the Lions.

Rodgers’ injury opens up the NFC and leaves a huge opening for the Eagles, who are prohibitive favorites with an 44.5 percent chance of finishing with the top seed. There are then somehow eight teams with two losses, while the Cowboys, Lions and Bucs are all competitive with three losses. It would be guesswork to even pick favorites out of this huge morass of teams in the middle of the pack, a group to which these Packers now likely belong.

Or, in more serious cases, a player gets wheeled off, strapped to a gurney, to polite applause. Usually, the player raises a hand, maybe gives a thumbs-up, and the cheers rise with a mixture of happiness and relief. He can move, the applause says, therefore our guilt is assuaged. We understand the bargain, but we’d feel really bad if someone died for our amusement.

Injury reports are transmitted to fans at U.S. Bank Stadium through two huge video screens that hover above each end zone. A generic model of the human anatomy appears below a player’s name and number. The body rotates to create the illusion of three-dimensionality while a target circle wanders the body to create suspense — where will it land? — until it rests on the spot of the injury. The injured player is off somewhere, safely out of sight. Words appear:

Sunday’s Lions-Panthers showdown was a preview of what the NFC side of the playoffs could look like in 2017; MVP-candidate quarterbacks dueling against gassed defenses as running games take a backseat.

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More interesting than that is whether current Vikings coach Mike Zimmer ever saw the play.

One final note (at least for now) this play shows just how connected life is in the NFL and football at large. As I wrote, Loggains attended the University of Arkansas. You know who coached there? Jack Mitchell, his final stop before going to Kansas.

When the Buccaneers ran it in 2000, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. Five years later, in 2005, Zimmer was still the DC in Dallas, when head coach Bill Parcells hired a 25-year-old scouting assistant named you guessed it Dowell Loggains.

Is it possible that Loggains ever shared with Zimmer, (or anyone on the coaching staff), his fascination with this five-year-old two-point conversion? If he did, I wonder if Zimmer remembered it Monday night…

Kimes: Redskins and Saints. I think the Panthers and Seahawks win their respective divisions, and the Rams will suffer from a difficult schedule down the stretch. I think Washington is a talented, balanced team, and I think the Saints will see continued improvement in their defense as the season goes on.

Sando: Redskins and Panthers. But the Rams and Saints are also intriguing. The NFC is basically a crapshoot at the moment.

Yates: Packers and Falcons. I still believe the Falcons will find a rhythm offensively and settle back in after a slow start, while the Packers need to take advantage of playing three of their first four games without Rodgers at home. I believe Green Bay finds a way.

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We start in Houston with the Titans offensive line.

The players also have some familiarity with one another. How do I guard this guy? I have to make sure my leverage is right when I tackle this player? In press coverage, this release worked; this one wasn’t as effective. So there is definitely familiarity. We definitely looked back at that game, but also the games from this year too. That’s pretty normal operating procedure when we’re playing a team. We may even go back a year or even two years if the coaching staff is the same to see if there will be some philosophical scheme and plays that they’re really comfortable with.

The Falcons have new faces who didn’t play in the Super Bowl with two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe now a part of the defensive line along with rookies Takkarist McKinley, Duke Riley, and Damontae Kazee. Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant didn’t play in the Super Bowl after undergoing season-ending pectoral surgery, but he is back and eager to face Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Offensively, the Falcons have a new starting right guard in Wes Schweitzer, who was inactive for every game last season as a rookie. The Falcons also have a new fullback in Derrick Coleman, plus a new primary return man in Andre Roberts.

We start in Houston with the Titans offensive line. This was an ugly contest for the Titans, but not on this play. Starting with the center, Ben Jones, and working to the left guard, Quinton Spain, and the left tackle, Taylor Lewan, this is beautiful. Jones starts the party, knocking J.J. Watt off balance, then Spain cleans up for Lewan and ends up knocking down both Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

Moving along to Kansas City and the Washington offensive line. It’s been featured a bunch in the first three weeks and it continues here. First, right guard Brandon Scherff gives Justin Houston some chin music on a slide protection. This is O-line porn.

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