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NBA Draft 2018: Michael Porter Jr. holds top spot on way-too-early Big Board

NBA Draft 2018: Michael Porter Jr. holds top spot on way-too-early Big Board

NBA Draft 2018: Michael Porter Jr. holds top spot on way-too-early Big Board. With the 2017 NBA Draft in the books, it’s time to turn our attention to 2018. A lot of NBA teams were disappointed when Brown pulled his name out of this year’s draft, as he’d have been a great guy for a team to take a shot on in the 20s as a 6-5 elite athlete who also has some point guard skills. He’s also adding to his game quite a bit, and becoming more well-rounded as a shooter and ball-handler. The question is what the skill level is, and if the basketball IQ is high enough for consistent success. But at 6-8 with great ball-handling ability and the talent for creating shots and knocking them down, Musa should be a player at some point. Exactly what the NBA is looking for. Probably not enough ability to get separation to be a full-time point, but he’ll be able to handle a bit in the NBA. He's a good athlete at 6-8 with wing athleticism that needs to continue to round out his overall skill level, particularly as a jump shooter. If he can just finish better around the rim next season, he’s exactly what the NBA is looking for from a wing.
Watch for OKC Thunder to Be Active in NBA’s Trade Deadline Arms Race

Watch for OKC Thunder to Be Active in NBA’s Trade Deadline Arms Race

The Oklahoma City Thunder are 23-16, good for seventh in the West. According to recent reports, a few stars could be available prior to the February 23 trade deadline. The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly been listening to offers for All-Star forward Paul Millsap, and Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported the Chicago Bulls have been shopping star swingman Jimmy Butler. The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski has since reported that Millsap is no longer on the trading block, but that Atlanta could "change course ... and return Millsap to the marketplace" over the next few weeks. But there are two major hurdles: Millsap's age—he turns 32 in February—and a contract he reportedly plans to opt out of this summer, according to ESPN's Chris Haynes. Oklahoma City has never made a habit of pursuing veterans of Millsap’s age for long-term purposes, rather prioritizing young players under contracts that lead to restricted free agency. However, those factors make it unlikely the Bulls ultimately trade Butler. That could shift plans toward acquiring players who can make an immediate impact. As of Sunday night's games, Oklahoma City has played 21 teams that are currently .500 or worse. On the other hand, they are 7-11 versus teams that are better than .500, and OKC is losing by an average of 3.4 points per game.
Chris Paul Rumors: Rockets Trying to Clear Cap Space to Pursue PG in Free Agency

Chris Paul Rumors: Rockets Trying to Clear Cap Space to Pursue PG in Free Agency

Chris Paul Rumors: Rockets Trying to Clear Cap Space to Pursue PG in Free Agency. Chris Paul reportedly informed the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday that he will opt out of his player option and become an unrestricted free agent, according to the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner, and speculation is already swirling about where he could land next. Appearing on a Saturday edition of SportsCenter, ESPN's Chris Haynes (h/t Ben DuBose of the Locked On Rockets podcast) said the Houston Rockets have a "serious chance of luring Chris Paul away" from the Clippers, and noted the Rockets plan to "aggressively" pursue the veteran. In fact, Haynes said the Rockets are so interested in pursuing Paul that they are "trying to clear enough cap space" so he can join James Harden in Houston. That news comes two days after ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the Rockets plan to go "hard" after Paul. But as Haynes noted, the Rockets will need to open up some cash flow in order to afford a player of Paul's caliber. According to Stein, the Rockets have already made Lou Williams (due $7 million for 2017-18 season), Ryan Anderson ($19.6 million) and Patrick Beverley ($5.5 million) available on the trade block. Stein also reported that in addition to Paul, the Rockets have Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry and Blake Griffin "in their summer sights" with the start of free agency fast approaching July 1. Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.com.
Kevin Lee, self-proclaimed UFC champ without ‘hunk of metal’: I’ll fill Conor McGregor’s shoes

Kevin Lee, self-proclaimed UFC champ without ‘hunk of metal’: I’ll fill Conor McGregor’s shoes

Kevin Lee, self-proclaimed UFC champ without 'hunk of metal': I'll fill Conor McGregor's shoes. OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Lee is on a mission to become UFC champion. No, scratch that. Ahead of his UFC Fight Night 112 lightweight showdown with new rival Michael Chiesa, Kevin Lee believes he’s already UFC champion. “I’m a championship level fighter with or without that belt. “To me, I’m a champion with or without it. I’m going to fight like a champion. Speaking of Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), Lee (15-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) sees an opportunity for himself and the UFC. “I don’t think McGregor is going to come back for a minute anyway. And for more on UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
Vargas earns 11th win as Royals top Blue Jays 3-2 (Jun 24, 2017)

Vargas earns 11th win as Royals top Blue Jays 3-2 (Jun 24, 2017)

Vargas earns 11th win as Royals top Blue Jays 3-2 (Jun 24, 2017). (AP) Jason Vargas missed most of last season after having elbow surgery in 2015. ”The pitching has been great, and we’ve got some timely hitting,” said Eric Hosmer, who homered in the fourth. ”We’re definitely in synch as a team right now.” Vargas (11-3) allowed two runs on eight hits, walked none and struck out two. It’s funny because he used to be a power guy, throw real hard. Alcides Escobar had three hits and scored twice, including the go-ahead run in the seventh. He singled with one out and scored on Alex Gordon’s triple down the right-field line off Marco Estrada (4-6). He doesn’t throw too hard.” The Blue Jays challenged the safe call at home, but it was upheld. Estrada gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. Blue Jays: RHP Francisco Liriano, who is 3-3 with a 5.76 ERA, will make his 12th start.
Bibens-Dirkx continues to give teams fits

Bibens-Dirkx continues to give teams fits

Yes, Bibens-Dirkx did spend 12 years pitching in the Minors, independent and winter leagues before being called up to the big leagues. It's all about pitching." He has eight home runs in his last 14 games. 31 with 2,985 hits. ET at Yankee Stadium, following the Yankees' Old Timers' Day ceremony. The ball was flying out of the yard for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, as Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis and Victor Caratini all hit home runs to power the Cubs past Omaha, 6-4. It was the second homer in three games and ninth of the season for Candelario, who's slashed .268/.357/.521 with 33 extra-base hits (21 doubles) and 40 RBIs in 60 games. 6 prospect connected on his team-leading 11th home run, a solo shot in the third inning, before finishing 2-for-4 with one walk out of the leadoff spot. 63 overall prospect Matt Manning (Tigers' No. He hit .309/.411/.403 with 57 runs scored and 13 stolen bases in 62 games for Class A Advanced Modesto during the first half.
First homers for Olson, Brugman, Barreto in A’s win

First homers for Olson, Brugman, Barreto in A’s win

First homers for Olson, Brugman, Barreto in A’s win. CHICAGO - In an extraordinary and historic turn of events, three A’s rookies - Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto - hit their first big-league homers Saturday against White Sox starter James Shields, one in each of the first three innings. The A’s trio pulled off a feat that never had occurred before in an American League or National League game and propelled Oakland to a 10-2 victory at Chicago and the A’s first win in a road series in 10 tries. Not to be outdone by the young hitters, rookie starter Daniel Gossett earned his first big-league victory, working six innings and allowing just two unearned runs. Brugman, called up two weeks ago, homered to right with one out in the second. And in the third, Barreto, promoted to the big leagues for the first time Saturday and in the lineup only because Jed Lowrie was a late scratch, banged a two-run shot to center with one out in the third. Rosales and Healy delivered RBI singles and Matt Joyce a bases-loaded walk, while rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell had a three-hit game. Initially, Melvin planned to hold Barreto out because there was no on-field work before Saturday’s game - the White Sox were using the field for a pregame ceremony honoring former Chicago starter Mark Buehrle. Sometimes when you get here the best thing you can do is get them right in the game, right in the lineup.” Barreto, who came over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson deal, might not be with the A’s for a long stay this time around. “It’s nice to get guys here ahead of when there is a lengthier stay involved,” Melvin said.
NBA Draft Grades 2017: Full List of Scores for All Picks

NBA Draft Grades 2017: Full List of Scores for All Picks

Boston Celtics (B): Jayson Tatum was the right way to go for a team still looking to perhaps make a major splash. Chicago Bulls (D): It's hard to get excited for Chicago's pick after the Jimmy Butler deal. Sacramento Kings (A+): The Kings did everything right Thursday, nailing down a class dripping with upside. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers reeked of a conservative move along the same lines as not making a splash in last year's draft and the safe signing of Al Horford in free agency. 3, an offensive-minded player who will need a few years to become a complete two-way player. It wasn't so much the Bulls traded Butler, a top-15 player. Why is the team skipping on a 22-year-old prospect like Jordan Bell who has experience in the Final Four and is a high-motor player who could have a strong role off the bench as soon as next year? Fast forward a little and the Kings now have incredible upside on the roster thanks to Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox, North Carolina's Justin Jackson and Duke's Harry Giles. Fox is the point guard of the future for the Kings and in most years doesn't fall to the fifth pick. Instead, the front office made a trade to acquire two more first-round picks, securing Jackson and Giles with the selections.

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