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Astros' Siri posts, deletes profane tweet after admiring HR

HOUSTON — A day after Houston outfielder José Siri called his bat-flip home run celebration against the New York Mets “an error,” he seemingly backtracked Wednesday with a profane tweet that was later deleted.While not addressing the incident directly, Siri’s tweet said: “(expletive) bad opinions. have fun.” It was quickly deleted before Wednesday’s game. Houston was up 7-2 in the eighth inning against the Mets on Tuesday when Siri snapped an 0-for-10 slump with a solo homer to the train tracks above left field in Minute Maid Park. He flipped his bat and admired the shot for a several seconds before trotting to first base, a sequence manager Dusty Baker was not happy with. “He should have ran,” Baker said after the game. “Back in our day, the next guy would have gotten drilled.” Siri was asked about the incident after the game and seemed contrite. “I know I made an error there,” Siri said Tuesday night through a translator. “I spoke to some of our guys and, yeah, I just made an error.”New York third baseman Eduardo Escobar said something to Siri as he rounded third base after the homer, and catcher Martín Maldonado talked to Escobar for quite a while when Escobar came to bat in the ninth inning. Siri said he didn’t know what Escobar said to him. “I really couldn’t hear anything,” he said. “I was just running.”Mets manager Buck Showalter said some of his players were upset by Siri’s actions, but that many of them were unfazed. “There are certain things that you do talk about — right and wrong — but you don’t want to impose the way you were brought up in the game (on them),” Showalter said. “ (Like) ‘hey, guys, you’re supposed to be mad at that.'”Showalter added that a player’s teammates will often police things like that, but that there’s one sure way to prevent it. “The way you keep it from happening (is) don’t let him hit a ball over the fence, too,” Showalter said. ———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Column: FINA ban casts storm clouds on transgender athletes

Swimming has fired the first major salvo against transgender women athletes, which will surely clear the way for other sports to impose similar bans ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.Hopefully, that won’t bring an end to thoughtful, intelligent debate — backed by science, nuance and empathy — about ways for sports to be open to everyone, especially those who have already faced enormous discrimination, marginalization and political attacks. With a ruling aimed squarely at Lia Thomas, the first transgender woman to win an NCAA national championship, world governing body FINA effectively barred athletes such as Thomas from competing in women’s swimming events.Anyone who has not begun the transition from male to female by the age of 12 or the onset of puberty, whichever comes later, will no longer be allowed to compete against cisgender women during their careers.Which pretty much brings an end to Thomas’ hopes of competing at the Olympics, not to mention transgender women in other sports who will likely face similar restrictions in the not-too-distant future.FINA’s ruling was draconian, though it also made a nod toward inclusion by calling for the establishment of so-called “open” categories for transgender athletes. But the organization gave little indication how those races would work — or if there would even be enough competitors to make them feasible.“The ‘open’ category is incredibly othering and impractical,” said Schuyler Bailar, who became the first openly transgender swimmer in NCAA Division I as a member of the Harvard men’s team. “Consider if Lia were to make the Olympic team — right now, she is the only known trans woman competing in women’s elite swimming. Who would she compete against?”The new guidelines were hailed as a giant step forward by many women’s sports advocates, including 1984 Olympic swimming champion Nancy Hogshead-Makar.“I’m thrilled that the leadership in our sport stood up for fairness for females,” Hogshead-Makar said when reached by phone on Monday. “We’ve tried to protect the category for girls and women to just females, while at the same time looking to restructure sports in all different ways to include transgender people without blowing up the women’s category.”While most swimmers at the world championships in Budapest declined to comment on the issue, Australia’s Moesha Johnson seemed to express support for the ban on transgender women.“If you’re a woman out there and you’re racing someone else, like, how would you feel doing that?” she said. “It’s just about fairness in sport.”Hogshead-Makar is among those who believes that research clearly shows cisgender women are at significant disadvantage when competing against a transgender swimmer who went through puberty as a male — even more so than racing someone who’s using performance-enhancing drugs.“Medically and scientifically, can it be fair? The answer is no,” Hogshead-Makar insisted. “So once you say it’s not fair, it’s sort of game over.”Of course, this game is far from over. If transgender women are going to be barred from female events, it’s imperative that governing bodies come up with ways for them to compete without being viewed as afterthoughts. FINA insists that it’s committed to such a goal, but it’s difficult to envision just how that would work. Would transgender swimmers be restricted to outside lanes that normally aren’t used in major meets? Would they have separate medals and their own record book? And what about transgender men, who have been largely overlooked in this discussion? Would the Olympics jump on board? Hogshead-Makar conceded that any talk of separate divisions for transgender athletes is a work in progress.“This is a two-step process,” she said. “This is just step number one, which is how we lock down the female category. With step two, we’ve got to figure out do we have another podium? Is there anything else we can do to make sure it’s fair?”Hogshead-Makar insisted that her fight is not against transgender athletes. But she pointed out — and it’s hard to disagree — that Thomas seemed to have a big competitive advantage as a woman since she didn’t have nearly as much success swimming on the Penn men’s team for three years.“There is no such thing as a women’s sports advocate who is not also a sports advocate,” Hogshead-Makar said. “We all want more people playing sports, people of all kinds. I think sports is a social good. There’s so much you get out of sporting experiences. So step two is very important to this discussion. But you can’t have that discussion while having the debate about step number one, which is fairness to (cisgender) females.”Fair enough, but it’s hard not to feel a great deal of compassion for Thomas and all transgender athletes, who have come under far more scrutiny than their minuscule numbers should warrant — much of it driven by a political culture war.A 2019 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1.8% of the 15.3 million public high school students in the United States — about 275,000 — are transgender. Of course, the number of athletes within that group is even smaller, with a 2017 survey by Human Rights Campaign suggesting fewer than 15% of all transgender boys and girls play sports.And when you’re talking about transgender athletes reaching world-class status, the number becomes microscopic. In female swimming, it’s one.Lia Thomas.Just three weeks ago, Thomas appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to discuss her future after graduating from Penn. She talked of plans to attend law school, but also expressed a desire to keep competing. Her sights were on the 2024 U.S. Olympic trials, which will determine the team that competes in Paris.“It’s been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time,” Thomas said, “and I would love to see that through.”Now, that’s gone.Bailar, who recently launched a company called LaneChanger that provides training on gender issues, said it was no coincidence that FINA essentially snuffed out Thomas’ hopes at a meeting Sunday in Budapest.“This new policy is undoubtedly, absolutely, inarguably directed at Lia Thomas,” he said in an email. “There is quite exactly no one else it could be directed at. She is the ONLY one to whom it applies.”While this is surely the end of Thomas’ Olympic dreams, let’s hope it’s just the beginning of another journey.One that makes everyone feel included.———AP Sports Ciaran Fahey in Budapest, Hungary contributed to this report.———Paul Newberry is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963———More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Padres manager Bob Melvin cleared from COVID protocols

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin returned Wednesday after being sidelined by COVID-19 protocols for 11 games.“I might be the healthiest guy that you might be around ever during this whole thing right now.,” Melvin said during his media session before the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Melvin said he’s been asymptomatic for the last nine days. He went into the protocols in between games of a doubleheader on June 11. He said he felt a little scratch in his throat and tested positive. “The next day I had no symptoms. I’ve had no symptoms the entire time since.”“It feels great to be back. That was very unsettling to sit around like that and have to watch games for that long and feeling the way I did. It’s a crazy world we live in,” he added.Quality control coach Ryan Flaherty managed 10 games in Melvin’s absence and bench coach Ryan Christenson was cleared from protocols in time to manage Tuesday night. Christenson went into protocols the same time as Melvin.The Padres went 6-5 in Melvin’s absence. They entered Wednesday’s play percentage points behind the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West.Melvin also missed nine games after undergoing prostate surgery on May 11.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

NBA Draft 2022: Will Magic reverse trend, strike gold at No. 1?

By Martin RogersFOX Sports ColumnistGoing into the NBA Draft on Thursday night, the Orlando Magic hold the thing everyone else wishes they had. Orlando, such a tortured franchise and without a playoff series win these past 12 years, possesses the golden ticket. The No. 1 pick.The Magic won the lottery just over a month ago when head coach Jamahl Mosley subbed himself into the room and got fortunate with the virtual ping pong balls, setting his team up to select first.Most assumptions dictate that it will be either Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren or Duke’s Paolo Banchero first off the board, with Smith positioned as a moderately strong betting favorite (-250 per FOX Bet).Bruce Pearl compares Jabari Smith to Kevin Durant
Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl joins Colin Cowherd to discuss the NBA Draft. Pearl begins by doubling down on Jabari Smith being the right choice for the Orlando Magic.
The Magic own some great history in this precise spot, having taken Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, then Chris Webber (promptly trading him for Penny Hardaway and picks) the next year, setting up a run of mid-1990s excitement. The selection of Dwight Howard in 2004 led to Orlando’s most recent burst of competitiveness, though it’s fading ever more into the recesses of our minds.Does a franchise-shifting moment beckon once again on Thursday? Maybe. Smith, Holmgren and Banchero all have huge upside, but recent evidence suggests that the power of the top pick doesn’t quite have the magic effect — pun overwhelmingly intended — that it once did.It is complicated these days. Teams use more advanced strategies in the identification and analysis process than ever before, with a vast treasure trove of ultra-specific stats and metrics to pore through.And yet, somehow, landing on the right guy seems more hit-or-miss than ever. “It all dates back to the rookie salary scale in the mid-1990s,” FOX Sports college basketball expert Mike DeCourcy told me, via telephone. “Previously, the incentive was there to stay in college until you could be great, then get a massive contract when you came out.”Now it’s more about coming out as soon as you are ready, and not risking that guaranteed money.”Should Magic take Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith at No. 1?
Skip Bayless considers whether the Orlando Magic should pick Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren or Auburn’s Jabari Smith at No. 1?
From 1979 to 1997, 19 No. 1s were chosen and 10 of them are now enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The list starts with Magic Johnson and ends with Tim Duncan, which kind of tells you all you need to know about that era’s level of quality.The last decade has been a little different. One of the least-productive No. 1s in history was 2013 Chicago Bulls selection Anthony Bennett, last seen playing for Kaohsiung Steelers in the Taiwanese P. League+.In the last six years, only once has the No. 1 pick been the Rookie of the Year, when Ben Simmons did so in 2018. But Simmons has had highly-documented issues that have caused many to wonder if he has long-term viability as a star.Markelle Fultz (2017) has had injury and shooting woes and now finds himself on the Magic, where he is — at best — little more than a role player. Zion Williamson’s injuries have prevented him from fulfilling his potential. Deandre Ayton has been a good contributor for Phoenix, but the Suns must wonder if their trophy cabinet might look a little different had they selected Luka Dončić instead.Certainly, the days of the top pick making a big early impact have receded. Andrew Wiggins (2014) just won an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors, but it took a good long time for the Canadian to live up to the hype that was there when he stepped out of college.”It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Wiggins said, in 2015. He’s right. Sort of. Given the value of draft picks in the trade market, more is naturally expected of the No. 1s. Patience is thin. If a player chosen toward the end of the first round turns into a solid contributor, it’s seen as a big win. The same does not apply for the No. 1.It comes with pressure for the franchise, too. No general manager wants to be associated with an all-time flop. Pervis Ellison (1989), Joe Smith (1995), Michael Olowokandi (1998), Andrea Bargnani (2006) and Kwame Brown (2001) — the mere mention of their names is enough to generate shivers among the fan bases of Sacramento, Golden State, the Clippers, Toronto and Washington, respectively. Mark Few breaks down Chet Holmgren’s game
Gonzaga coach Mark Few joins Colin Cowherd to discuss Chet Holmgren’s NBA potential and league comparison, including his strengths and what makes him stand out to teams and front offices.
None of the big three coming out this year should suffer a similar fate. Smith has visited only Orlando and Oklahoma City, so certain is he of going in the top two. Holmgren is a basketball unicorn, a 7-footer with sublime skills, while Banchero’s range was on full display during his season under Mike Krzyzewski. The draft might not feel as big as it once did, yet it remains one of the most significant ways in which a franchise can use its own smarts to try to change its destiny. When it comes to the top pick and the open field of talent it presents, that reality is magnified.The moment, for the Magic, is here. Only time will tell if their touch really turns out to be magic, or meh.Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here. Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more. in this topic share story

What's next for Warriors' core, Kyrie Irving, Deandre Ayton and others

By Ric BucherFOX Sports NBA WriterThe NBA Finals do more than crown a champion. They also can transform how a player is perceived. This year no one did that, a sampling of rival scouts and executives revealed, more dramatically than the Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins.”Andrew Wiggins showed me a level of significance in the Finals that I hadn’t seen from him before,” said one Eastern Conference GM. “He was their best defender. He rebounded the ball well. He didn’t disappear the way the old Andrew Wiggins would — and that was in the regular season. I was impressed.”Wiggins entered the league in 2014 with high expectations as a No. 1 pick, dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night in a three-team swap for three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA selection Kevin Love. Yet, after making the All-Rookie first team, Wiggins didn’t garner another token of league recognition his next four-and-a-half seasons in Minnesota. He was only 24 years old when the Warriors acquired him midway through the 2019-20 season, and at the time he was perceived as a massive underachiever whose career had flatlined.”It almost felt like Wiggins had been banished from the league,” said one Eastern Conference scout. “He was such a loser.”Andrew Wiggins vs. the NBA
Colin Cowherd plays “Wiggins or Wigg-out,” in which he decides which players he would take over Andrew Wiggins between Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards, Kyrie Irving, Zion Williamson, Deandre Ayton and more.
Wiggins was selected an All-Star for the first time in his eight-year career this season, but even that could be attributed to a fortuitous set of circumstances rather than pure excellence. The Warriors’ strong start — 42-17, the second-best record in the Western Conference — warranted more than just leading scorer Steph Curry being recognized, and the Warriors’ two other established stars, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, were largely missing due to injury through the first part of the season. It also helped greatly that Western Conference All-Star staples such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis were all injured.Wiggins’ status as a champion, though, was fully earned. He was the Warriors’ leading rebounder against the Boston Celtics, second in scoring and largely responsible for limiting Jayson Tatum to 36% shooting in the series, well below both his 45.3 regular-season percentage and 42.6 overall playoff percentage.Perhaps the greatest testament to how Wiggins is now regarded is reflected by whom the Eastern Conference GM said the Warriors have to prioritize keeping as part of their core between Wiggins, Thompson and Green.”You’ve got to keep Wiggins,” he said.Curry and Celtics big man Al Horford also received plaudits for raising their profiles in the Finals. Curry needs little explanation as a four-time champion winning his first Finals MVP award. Horford, after ending the league’s longest streak of playoff appearances without reaching the Finals — 141 games — stepped forward when the team’s more heralded stars faltered.”He assumed the leadership mantle,” a Western Conference scout said. “He was a vet who showed he still had something left in the tank after being written off.”Thompson, Green and Tatum were at the other end of the spectrum, as players whose performance in the Finals negatively impacted their league-wide reputations. Said the Western Conference scout of Green: “For a recognized team player, he hurt his team too often with his selfish outbursts.”Tom Izzo on Draymond Green’s evolution
Legendary Michigan State coach Tom Izzo joins Colin Cowherd to discuss Draymond Green’s mentality and how he coached him without taking away his passion.
The Eastern Conference GM compared Green to another high basketball IQ, highly volatile defensive specialist: Dennis Rodman. The GM attributed Green’s struggles in these playoffs in part to Thompson’s, suggesting that whereas Rodman proved to be an impactful player for multiple teams — leading the league in rebounding for the Pistons, Spurs and Bulls and winning rings in both Detroit and Chicago — Green’s success may be attributable to his unique compatibility with Curry and Thompson, in both talent and personality.”Rodman could take his show on the road, so to speak,” the GM said. “He was that kind of athlete. Draymond found that perfect fit with Golden State. I don’t see him doing what he’s done with anybody else.”After Thompson missed two and a half seasons with two devastating injuries — a torn ACL and torn Achilles — it’s remarkable that he returned to contribute at a championship level at all. But after the vaunted marksman shot 35% both overall and from three-point range against the Celtics, the Eastern Conference GM questions how much of his previous form Thompson can regain. “At this point, Klay has lost a couple of steps,” he said. “I don’t think he gets back to the old Klay, but maybe there’s something in between that and what we saw in the Finals.”The question raised by the Finals about Tatum isn’t physical, but mental. “Tatum is a finesse player by nature,” the GM said. “Trying to change that is hard. The greatest separator between great players and good ones is that mental part. When you needed him to step up, he was nowhere to be found.”Translation: The Finals gave Tatum a chance to prove he had a champion’s mindset, even if he didn’t come away with the actual prize. He didn’t show that mindset. That’s the double-edged sword the Finals present: By reaching them, a player runs the risk of being exposed as not quite good enough to finish the deal.Kyrie Irving’s ideal landing place?While the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and LA Clippers are reportedly interested in Booklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving if he doesn’t opt into the final year of his current deal and tests free agency, one Eastern Conference executive suggested that the Dallas Mavericks offer the best fit. The reasons were fairly straightforward: their GM, their coach and their star player.One of the issues in Brooklyn is Irving’s apparent lack of respect for Steve Nash as a head coach. While both Nash and Jason Kidd had Hall-of-Fame careers as point guards, Kidd has a championship to his credit — as does Irving — while Nash does not. Mavericks first-year GM Nico Harrison apparently already has a strong relationship with Irving from his previous job as vice president of North America basketball operations for Nike, with whom Irving has had a signature shoe.Where will Kyrie Irving wind up?
Kyrie Irving is reportedly not expected to play for any team on a one-year deal or mid-level exception. That could limit his ultimate landing spot if he chooses to part ways with the Nets. Shannon Sharpe predicts where Irving will play next season.
And then there’s Luka Dončić, the Mavs’ superstar playmaker. “With Luka, Kyrie doesn’t have to be your best player,” the rival GM said. “He doesn’t have to lead. But they do need a second scorer, and he can do that.”A league source with intimate knowledge of the Knicks’ thinking dismissed the possibility of Irving moving across town. They don’t have the necessary salary-cap room to sign Irving as a free agent nor would they be interested in trading for him. It’s hard to imagine owner James Dolan even engaging with a team he considers a bitter rival, one that he believes encroached on the Knicks’ territory by moving from Rutherford, New Jersey, to Brooklyn.”Not happening,” the source said.Potential Draft-night dealsThe intrigue around Thursday’s NBA Draft involves not just where the next wave of talent will land, but how current players on the trading block might be involved as well. The players with the most potential to be involved in a draft-night trade, according to several GMs, include Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton; Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and point guard Malcolm Brogdon; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal; Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson; and, of course, Irving.Ayton, Beal, Brunson and Irving are potential trade material if their current teams question their ability to re-sign them and hope they can facilitate a bigger payday for the player by utilizing their Bird rights in exchange for the right to trade them and receive assets in return.One league source is certain that Ayton will not be returning to Phoenix despite being a restricted free agent. He pointed to the Pistons as the likeliest landing spot, though a deal sending him to the Nets as part of a swap that moved Irving to a third team also was thrown out as a possibility. The Pistons currently have $27.4 million in salary cap space, second only to the Orlando Magic, and could open up as much as $47 million, which means Detroit could potentially make Ayton an offer that the Suns simply refuse to match.Deandre Ayton expected to leave Suns this offseason
Deandre Ayton and the Suns had contract disputes prior to the season, and he reportedly clashed with coach Monty Willams during their playoff exit in the Western Conference semifinals. Colin Cowherd explains why it is time for Phoenix to move on from the former No. 1 pick.
Because in most of these cases the players are pending free agents, restricted or otherwise, sign-and-trade contracts would be involved — meaning the deals wouldn’t be officially consummated until after July 1 and the league’s new calendar year began.League executives are also keeping an eye on whether the Warriors are proactive in setting up sign-and-trade deals if it appears they are on the verge of losing one of their pending free agents, most notably center Kevon Looney. Both the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats covet Looney, a league source said, and they are not alone. “The market for him is robust,” one executive said.The Warriors are also going to face tough decisions in retaining Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr., both of whom played significant contributing roles against the Celtics. Porter started the last two games and Payton’s return from injury marked a noticeable improvement in their defense. Payton, 30, is a fan favorite, but this is probably his best shot at signing a lucrative deal, and the Warriors are already looking at a projected luxury tax bill of nearly $75 million.”It’s going to be really, really hard to keep all of them,” the executive said. “Especially when so many teams think they are close to winning [a title] — or have owners pushing to win one and are looking for that last piece.”Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” the story of NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds,” the story of NBA center Yao Ming. He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher. Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more. in this topic share story

Bucks, Mavs, Clippers highlight our 'way too early' NBA Tiers

The NBA season ended just a week ago, but teams are already gearing up for next season as the draft hurriedly approaches.And with every team on a clean slate heading into 2022-23, Nick Wright has crafted a “way too early” rendition of his classic tiers compilation. The placement of several teams on his list may surprise you.Here’s Wright’s countdown, with each group’s best title odds presented via FOX Bet.Warriors, Bucks, Mavs feature in Nick’s early NBA tiers
It’s way too soon for Nick Wright to be ranking the top NBA teams, and yet here we are! Watch as Nick tells us who will be the teams to beat next season. Also, Chris Broussard explains why the Golden State Warriors, who just won their fourth NBA title in eight years, are ranked too low.
Those that shall not be named: Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston RocketsBest title odds: Trail Blazers +1100Wright’s thoughts: “You have the Oklahoma City Ponzi scheme. There’s [Kevin] Wildes’ frisky Magic, the Pistons I actually think could be fun to watch, I like Cade [Cunningham]. It pains me to put the Blazers and Spurs because of the respect I have for Dame [Lillard] and Gregg Popovich, but both of those teams are play-in at best.”Eh, I guess: Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz, Charlotte HornetsBest title odds: Jazz +4500Wright’s thoughts: “Bulls and Jazz are both going to be worse next year than they were this year, and this year, they weren’t good enough to win a round. Hawks and Hornets will be fine, but none of these teams have any shot at winning a playoff round. Sorry Trae Young’s dad, I know you’re a viewer. It’s not your son’s fault, the team’s not that good.”On the upswing: New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto RaptorsBest title odds: Pelicans +5000Wright’s thoughts: “Great young players on these teams. I love Zion Williamson and really like Brandon Ingram. I love Anthony Edwards, I’m okay with Karl-Anthony Towns. I love Evan Mobley and really like Darius Garland. And Scottie Barnes is awesome. One of these teams is going to be this year’s Grizzlies, the team that got a taste of the playoffs, and has a legitimate chance to win a round.”What do you want?: Los Angeles LakersTitle odds: +2000Wright’s thoughts: “Do you want to be the Lakers and try to win championships? Or do you want to rest on the fact that ‘oh, we’re the Lakers?’ Once upon a time, the Boston Celtics won 16 titles in 50 years. They’ve won one in the last 35. You can go quick. The Celtics have as many championships in my lifetime as the Kansas City Royals. It’s not a birthright to be great in every decade like you have been. You still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Make something happen.”Championship upside: Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ersBest title odds: Nets +600Wright’s thoughts: “Need some tweaks, but if everything falls right, you can get to the Finals. Brooklyn’s got a ton of questions, but the answer to a lot of them is ‘we have Kevin Durant.’ The Suns: What are you going to do with Deandre Ayton, is Chris Paul going to be able to maintain? Sixers, James Harden, eh, I don’t know, but you still have Joel Embiid. The Nuggets, you have to see how healthy their two secondary pieces are, and Pat Riley has something up his sleeve with the Heat.”Title contenders: Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, Golden State WarriorsBest title odds: Warriors +550 (Best in league)Wright’s thoughts: “They all proved this year that they are obvious title contenders as presently constituted. They don’t need to make any changes like the teams beneath them might need to in order to potentially win the title. Boston should be better, the Grizzlies would hope to be healthier, and the Warriors literally just won the title.”Potentially devastating: Dallas Mavericks, LA ClippersBest titles odds: Clippers +700Wright’s thoughts: “To me, these are far and away the two best teams in the Western Conference heading into next year. I already like the minor move the Mavs made, but they also have the best player in the conference, who’s only going to get better. The Clippers trust their coach, I like some of the moves they made depth-wise, and you’ve got to think Kawhi Leonard is going to be the freshest he’s ever been after he’s missed a year and a half with an injury some people come back from in nine months.”Overwhelming favorites: Milwaukee BucksTitle odds: +750Wright’s thoughts: “The team would’ve coasted to a title if not for the Khris Middleton injury. It employs 27-year-old Giannis Antentokounmpo. He’s still 27 and doesn’t turn 28 until late December. He’s only going to get better.” Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more. in this topic share story

Is Dak Prescott preventing Cowboys from winning title?

Dak Prescott ran the Dallas Cowboys out of last season — literally. He took a quarterback draw with 14 seconds on the clock and zero timeouts against the 49ers. The play was puzzling.Coach Mike McCarthy said recently that he limited Prescott on the ground last season because he was coming off an ankle injury that required surgery. This year, things will look different.”I think like anything, this is year three in the offense and the opportunity to move more potentially than he did in the past, as far as what he’s being asked to do,” the coach said. “I think he’s clearly, the thing that jumps out to me, is his movement ability in the scramble drills and scramble situations. The way he activates scramble drills. He’s gotten more reps at it, it’s more natural to him, so he looks really good.”Looking “really good” doesn’t necessarily translate to playing well on the field, and the Cowboys need Prescott to produce a deep playoff run sooner rather than later.On Speak for Yourself on Tuesday, LeSean McCoy explained why he blames Prescott for the Cowboys’ shortcomings.Is Dak Prescott what’s stopping Dallas from winning a SB?
With Dak healthy and Jerry Jones’ confidence in Mike McCarthy, what is stopping the Cowboys from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy? LeSean McCoy explains why he blames Dak for the Cowboys falling short.
“In this game, it’s all about the quarterback,” McCoy said. “This guy, they pay him the big bucks. He’s top five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. They give him a pretty solid team, minus Amari Cooper. They want CeeDee Lamb to be the guy. Zeke is declining and now ask a first-round draft pick that’s been slowly getting there but not there yet to be No. 1 [at receiver], that’s more pressure on Dak.”Regardless of Prescott’s limitations last season, the Cowboys were still expected to perform better in the playoffs, and they failed to do so.”I watched the last playoff game between the Cowboys and San Francisco, I was blown away by how many people knew that the Cowboys would not win and sure enough they lost,” McCoy said. “If you look at Dak, it’s all on his shoulders. It’s either show me now and get that thing done or we got to get rid of him. You can’t pay a guy that type of money, if you look at all the top-five quarterbacks and put them on the Cowboys, you see a difference.”The further away from the injury Prescott gets, the higher the expectations for him. Right now, they are as high as they’ve ever been. Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more. in this topic share story