Posts Tagged ‘Bring Your “A” Game Sports Talk’

Although Dwyane Wade was not part of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ run of three straight NBA Finals appearances, he’s here for the run at a fourth. And he’s observed some familiar struggles.
Wade referenced the 2013-14 Miami Heat team — the last of the Big Three coalitions — when discussing the current Cavs’ plight. Where that might scare some northeast Ohioans given that team’s fate, he provided some contrast as well.

“That last year in Miami when we went to the Finals, I don’t know how we made it,” Wade said Thursday, via ESPN. “As a team, we were kind of like this. It was worse, because it wasn’t new guys; it was guys who had been around each other four years in a row. Your jokes weren’t funny anymore to other guys, when you walked in it wasn’t a big smile any more. Guys were just over you. It’s like being in a bad marriage.”
LeBron James and Wade led the Heat to their fourth straight Finals appearance, but the San Antonio Spurs dominated the top-heavy team on what turned out to be its last legs. James left for Cleveland a month later, taking his unprecedented finals-qualifying talents (excepting the 1960s Boston Celtics in an eight-team NBA for much of that span) to his hometown and using a collection of new teammates as sidekicks.
Several sidekicks remain from all three finals teams — like Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert — but the Cavs are breaking in plenty of new players this season. And they’ve lost four in a row to plummet to 3-5. Only two East teams are worse.


The Cavs are not averse to drama during the James-2.0 stretch, but they are entering some oddly key regular-season games in November. James’ final Heat team started 4-3 before reeling off 10 straight wins. Wade didn’t guarantee that, but the 35-year-old guard believes the Cavs are better than what they’ve shown.
“With the new guys here, you’ve got guys that have never been [to the Finals], guys who are hungry,” Wade said. “Obviously, Isaiah (Thomas) is one of them, who’s out. [And there’s] Derrick (Rose) and guys who have never been. Hopefully we can eventually pull from that and everybody wants to see the other guys succeed and get to that pinnacle they got to.
“… We have to continue to understand that we’re going to get out of this together and this is going to be a distant memory at one point, but right now we’re in it. We have to figure it out, and I think we will.”

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While offseason trade chatter and hot-stove talk has dissipated at the start of spring training, don’t count out the idea of the Yankees making a move for an impact arm at some point this year.


In fact, according to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, the Yankees, along with the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals are “deep into” the Quintana sweepstakes.
The Astros, Cardinals, Pirates and Yankees are teams believed to be dug into the sweepstakes for the 28-year-old Quintana, who’s on the trade block as the White Sox have embarked on a rebuild. The White Sox’s focus in a potential Quintana trade is the quality of prospects they get in return, not the quantity, sources said.
If the needed return for one of baseball’s best–and most underrated–pitchers is quality prospects, it’s easy to see why the White Sox would want the Yankees as part of the bidding war.
Quintana, 28, has been a top starter over the past for seasons. Since the start of 2013, Quintana is one of only seven pitchers in baseball to make 120 starts, toss 800 innings and post an ERA+ of 115 or better. The other six: Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Jon Lester, Madison Bumgarner, David Price and Cole Hamels.
Plus, thanks to one of the most team-friendly deals in the sport, Quintana is a bargain. The lefty is guaranteed a grand total of $17.85M on his current deal. If option years in 2019 and 2020 are picked up, Quintana will make a grand total of $37.85M over the next four seasons.

The Chicago Bears won’t play tag with Alshon Jeffery this year.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday morning the Bears aren’t expected to franchise tag the wide receiver, per sources.


Jeffery played under the tag in 2016, earning $14.599 million. If the Bears utilized the tag on Jeffrey again it would cost them $17.5 million, a price too rich for a receiver that missed 11 games the past two seasons. Teams have until March 1 to apply franchise tags.
Jeffery earned 821 yards and two touchdowns on 52 receptions in 2016, as he dealt with a four-game suspension and instability at the quarterback position. If Jeffrey walks in free agency, Chicago will be left with a mostly young, unproven receiver corps led by Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.
Heading to the open market, Jeffery’s size and skill will make him one of the top receiver targets in free agency, if the Bears can’t get a long-term deal done before the new league year opens on March 9.
Chicago has balked at paying Jeffery A.J. Green/Dez Bryant money in the past. But with several teams, including the Eagles, Rams, 49ers, Titans, etc., in need of receiver help, Jeffery should cash in when the bidding begins.