Paul Switching Places With Westbrook, Rangers Defeat Astros, NFL Ditches Full Tim Refs

In the latest of what has been a long series of huge NBA offseason moves, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have shaken up the Western Conference. A trade, according to sources, was agreed on Thursday by the two parties and will see point guards Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook switch places. OKC will take Paul and two first round picks (in 2024 and 2026) while the Rockets will bring in Westbrook. The two teams will also be swapping their picks in the 2021 and 2025 drafts. The move is one that smacks of a bit of desperation for Houston, who had already seemed to have been out of options. This is the last one they had, and it’s a desperate one simply due to the fact that Westbrook and James Harden didn’t exactly have the best relationship in their Thunder days. However, they have gotten younger, gotten a player out in Paul that didn’t want to be there, and still have two stone cold killers that can put points. Paul, meanwhile, shows that OKC aren’t throwing in the towel just yet, though it’s hard to see how they plan to remain competitive.

12up

The first game of the second ‘half’ of the MLB season took place on Thursday night, and it was the only action for the night, taking full spotlight. It pitted interstate rivals Houston and Texas against each, and it was the Rangers that came out victors to begin the post All-Star Game portion of the season in fine shape, defeating the Astros 5-0 in Arlington. The Rangers got off to a quick start, roughing up Houston starter Framber Valdez and chasing him in less than an inning having plated four runs. Roughned Odor doubled in two of those four and then scored later in the third to push their advantage to five. Lance Lynn was more than solid on the mound, recording 11 strikeouts and allowing no runs in seven innings. From there, the bullpen did their work and closed out the job. Even with the win, however, the Rangers are still nine games adrift of the Astros in the AL West race. The big worry for the Astros will be that Alex Bregman had to exit the game early due to getting hit with a grounder in the chin. They’ll hope for a quick bounce back for one of their star players, that’s for sure.

USA Today

The NFL has decided to forgo its full time referee staff in lieu of labor bargaining negotiations, according to sources, and the move is sure to infuriate a few coaches. Now, it looks like referees will once again be placed on ‘part-time’ status, though they are basically considered a full time worker once preseason games begin. This isn’t likely to have an effect on the season coming up, but if the practice remains in place it could end up being detrimental to the league. The coaches won’t like it if their level of accuracy isn’t as high as possible, so that is one such reason they don’t like the program being altered.

Sports Illustrated

Leonard On Three-Year Clips Deal, Cardinals Take Thompson In Supplemental, Big 3 To Wimbledon Semis

News of Kawhi Leonard’s deal to join the Los Angeles Clippers last week set off ripples inside the whole league. Not only was Leonard going back, but fellow California native Paul George would be joining him. More details of the deal came out on Wednesday, and according to sources, Leonard will be signed on for three years. The deal is worth $103.1 million in that stretch, a far cry from what he could have made guaranteed. However, it’s thought that the move is being made so that he and George can be free agents again come 2021, thus allowing the pair to make their next decision together. Both of them will undoubtedly, barring injuries, make a lot of money come that time and will have a great shot at landing titles in the mean time.

Sports Illustrated

The Arizona Cardinals took the lone pick of the 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft on Wednesday, and with it they selected Jalen Thompson, a safety out of Washington State. The selection means that the Cardinals will forgo their fifth round pick in next year’s draft, a consequence of making the decision to bring in the junior. The reason for the Supplemental Draft to take place is to give players who had been ruled ineligible to return to the field in college by the NCAA a chance to go somewhere and play professionally. The NCAA had just ruled he would not be able to play in his senior season, meaning he was given the opportunity to move up immediately. In the last two seasons, he made 140 tackles and had six interceptions total.

Riggo’s Rag

It’s a very familiar looking group of semi-finalist that will be partaking at Wimbledon in the Men’s Tournament this year, with Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic all confirming their place in the last four. In one of the two semis, it will be Nadal vs Federer, with the two set to meet for the first time at the All England Club in over a decade. However, it will be their 40th meeting all-time, so there’s nothing really novel about it. Djokovic will be a massive favorite to make the Finals as he will take on #23 ranked Roberto Bautista Agut.

Cracked Racquets

American League Holds On To Win All-Star Game, NBA Allowing Coaches To Challenge

The Midsummer Classic has come and gone, and once again it was the American League that ended up winning out over the National League. The 4-3 victory marks the 19th time in 22 years the AL has taken home in the win, underlining the dominance that they have reached. They got things started fairly early in the game on Tuesday, with Michael Brantley doubling home Houston Astros teammate Alex Bregman for in the second. Minnesota shortstop Jorge Polanco then hit an infield single to drive in Gary Sanchez, making it 2-0 and putting real pressure upon the NL on a night where pitching was having its way, for a change. Justin Verlander had been brilliant for the AL in the first, but it was Cleveland’s own Shane Bieber, a late addition to the team, that would impress even more on the mound in the fifth inning. The Indians hurler would throw a 1-2-3 inning, striking out the side in the process, which earned him the MVP as a result. Charlie Blackmon homered in the next inning to make it 2-1, but a pair of runs driven in by the AL in the seventh meant the lead increased to 4-1. Pete Alonso, winner of the Home Run Derby the night before, would drive in a pair of runs in the eighth to make it interesting, but the final score would read 4-3 after Aroldis Chapman shut the door on them.

The Morning Journal

For the first time in the history of the NBA, coaches will be allowed to make challenges, beginning in the 2019-20 season. The rule, which has been tested in the developmental G League for the past two years, will give coaches the chance to challenge one call over the course of a game and will be on trial for this coming season. This is only allowed once, even if you are successful with the challenge, and coaches are required to have and take a timeout in order to make the attempt. It can be used to try to overturn a number of calls, but it will not be able to be sued in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter because all potential out-of-bounds calls, goaltending, or interference calls will be automatically reviewed. This is progress for sure, though it is tough to see how it’s going to go right out of the gates.

Inquirer Sports

Alonso Wins Home Run Derby, Verlander Claims Balls Are Juiced, Westbrook Eyeing Exit, Gauff Ousted

One of the most entertaining parts of the MLB season took place on Monday with the Home Run Derby, and it didn’t disappoint with Vlad Guerrero, Jr. putting on one heck of a show. In the first round, he hit 29 home runs, a record. He would tie it in the semis, but so, too, would Joc Pederson, forcing a couple of tiebreakers that finally saw Guerrero move onto the finals. He would then face off with Pete Alonso in an all-rookie battle in that, representing a clash of styles between the loose and the very serious. It was the ultra serious Alonso that ended up winning out, capitalizing on Guerrero finally getting tired to hoist the trophy, by a score of 23-22 in the finals. With the victory, Alonso won $1 million- nearly double his annual rookie salary. He became the first New York Mets player since Darryl Strawberry in 1986 to take home at least a piece of the title.

Yardbarker

Justin Verlander made some big headlines of his own in baseball circles on Monday when he stated that he believed MLB had intentionally altered the ball in order to increase offense. The 36 year-old Houston Astros pitcher, who has given up more home runs than any other pitcher this season with 26 served up, stated that the league’s acquisition of Rawlings came with the surge of home runs. He said that Commissioner Rob Manfred’s desired first objective was to find a way to increase scoring, and that it was too much to be a consequence that those factors have gone together. Manfred admits that homers are up and that the ball is different, but he refused to confess that the balls have indeed been changed.

The Dickinson Press

After seeing Paul George leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for Los Angeles, it looks like Russell Westbrook is none too keen on staying put. The point guard, a former MVP, is said to be seeking an opportunity elsewhere, and apparently Miami is appealing to him. The Heat have recently brought in Jimmy Butler as a part of a four-team trade, so they don’t have a completely empty cupboard at the moment. Unfortunately, they don’t have a ton to bargain with, so it will be far from easy for them to pull off a deal. The New York Knicks are another team rumored to have interest, but we will have to wait and see if either or neither are actually trying to make a trade for the controversial superstar.

New York Daily News

Coco Gauff, the 15 year old star that has risen at Wimbledon in the past week finally fell on Monday at the hands of Simona Halep, a former #1 player at the All England Club, in the fourth round of the tournament. She went down in straight sets, losing 6-3, 6-3, yet she hasn’t really lost all that much. She defeated three professional opponents, a remarkable achievement that shows just how much promise she brings to the table. In other tennis news, Serena Williams was fined by the club for taking it too rough in practice and damaging one of the courts. Over in the men’s side of the bracket, the big three of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic rolled on, advancing to the quarterfinals. Federer only took an hour and 14 minutes to sweep aside his opponent.

ABC News

USA Wins Second Straight World Cup, Yelich Pulls Out Of Derby, 20 Year Old Eagles For First PGA Tour Win

For the second edition in a row and the fourth time, the United States Women’s team are FIFA World Cup champions. The Final saw them face the Netherlands, the defending European champs who were deeper in the tournament than they had ever come close to being, and it certainly showed. The Americans bossed the game, playing much stronger than they did in the last three rounds, going on to win 2-0 in the end. It could have been more, such was their dominance, but it was plenty for them. Megan Rapinoe grabbed the first goal, scoring for the third in the tournament from a penalty kick in the 61st minute. They did have to wait, yes, but it was more than worth it when their second went in from Rose Lavalle, one of their standout players, just eight minutes later. Those two goals sealed it up, and it gave them four titles, two more than the next closest in Germany. Rapinoe would ended up being named as the winner of the Golden Ball for best player in the tournament. She, Alex Morgan, and English star Ellen White tied for the Golden Boot, but Rapinoe won the tiebreaker to technically take that individual honor home, too.

Houston Chronicle

There is a bit of bad news for baseball fans as it was announced on Sunday that Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich will be missing the Home Run Derby on Monday night after it was revealed that he has a back problem currently. Yelich did not play in their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, showing the severity and need for rest that it requires. Oakland A’s third baseman Matt Chapman will replace him against Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It’s not everyday that you see a golfer making an eagle on their final hole. It’s not everyday that you see them go on to win the tournament, either. But that’s exactly what 20-year old Matthew Wolff did on Sunday at the 3M Open, one of the wildest weekends the PGA Tour has seen in a long time. With a seemingly endless list of potential contenders for the win, it was Wolff, in this third tournament since turning pro, that held his nerve and knocked down a 26-footer on the 18th hole to get to -21. That proved to be enough to win by one over Bryson DeChambeau and Colin Morikawa. His win at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota, gave him a check for over a million dollars and a two-year tour exemption. Not bad for someone playing on a sponsor’s exemption!

Golf.com

Lakers Rebound From Disappointment, Zion Done With Summer League, Nationals Stay Hot, Messi Claims Corruption After Red Card

After the Clippers, reportedly, made the moves they did to shore up their team and keep the Los Angeles Lakers from building what they thought, apparently, would be a dynasty, the Lakers rebounded in a big way by signing DeMarcus Cousins on a one year $3.5 million contract. ‘Boogie’ played for the Golden State Warriors this past season, but his time in Oakland was marred by injuries. It’s a gamble, to say the least, but if it pays off, the Lakers will have the best, most potentially dominant front court in the league. They also have taken a slight gamble in bringing back point guard Rajon Rondo to the team. The temperamental former Celtic is said to be on a similarly low deal, worth around a million dollars less, than that of Cousins. If either man is able to regain his foothold, then they will surely open themselves up for a bigger contract down the line either in L.A. or elsewhere. While these seem like desperate moves, this is the way the Lakers had to go after missing out Kawhi Leonard to their crosstown rivals.

YouTube

Well, if you blinked you missed it. Zion Williamson, the first pick of the NBA Draft last month, has seen his time called on his summer league season already after it was announced that he had bruised his left knee in his debut game against former Duke teammate RJ Barrett and the Knicks. The knock- it’s hard to call it an injury- is not thought to be major at all, but this move is definitely a precaution to keep him from any more possible harm.

The Ringer

While seemingly everyone is treading water in the entire National League at the moment, barely hovering above or below .500, the Washington Nationals remain making up ground. They won again on Saturday afternoon thanks to a typically dominant Max Scherzer performance. Their star pitcher improved to 9-5 on the season by pitching seven innings with 11 K’s and allowing no runs as his side strolled to a 6-0 win over the Kansas City Royals. Kurt Suzuki contributed with a two-run blast in the second inning, part of them pushing the lead to 4-0 and essentially all but killing it off right then and there. They are now six games back of the Braves in the NL East and have won eight of their last ten to easily be the momentum team in the NL.

Washington Post

It’s not often that we wade into political waters here, but Lionel Messi’s red card on Saturday in Argentina’s Copa America third place match with Chile is very notable largely because it was his second red card ever. On top of that, his team actually played well, for the first time in a long while, to record a 2-1 win and take down the ‘bronze.’ However, it was his words post-game after the scuffle with Gary Medel that had seen him ejected from the game in Brazil that will leave people talking. The Barcelona man has accused referees of corruption, which is sure to leave many wondering if he is indeed right or just merely using a diversionary tactic.

Goal.com

Clippers To Land To MVP Candidates, Shaky Brewers Beat Pirates In 10, Gauff Survives To Advance

One year ago, Paul George appeared to have been heading to Los Angeles, only he was going to be suiting up for the Lakers… well at least we thought. And a couple of weeks ago, we learned they were, apparently, trying to make a play for Kawhi Leonard, too. But, according to sources, the Lakers haven’t landed the duo. Instead, it is the other team in L.A. who was in the form of the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard, a free agent that has just led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title nearly single-handedly, has decided to come back home and will join the Clippers, instantly making them a title contender. But he won’t be coming alone by the looks of it. Rather, George is coming in tow, with the Clippers pulling out all the stops to land one of the regular season MVP candidates in a stunning double move. The Oklahoma City Thunder will receive two players and an array of draft picks, some of which are protected and some that are unprotected, in exchange for George. What a way to respond to the potential of the Finals MVP’s rumored team-up with LeBron and Anthony Davis, huh?

USA Today

The Milwaukee Brewers find themselves top of the pile in the NL Central after Friday night, but it remains a very tight divisional race after a narrow 7-6 win in extra innings over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Central contains a race that sees all five of its teams within four games of one another at the moment, meaning every win is massive at this stage. And the Brew Crew had nearly thrown one away the day after Independence Day. Going into the bottom of the ninth, they had a five run lead to hang on to, but it all came apart, with the Bucs pushing a run across with a sac fly and hitting two home runs to send it to the tenth. But from there, the clutch Brewers showed up as Lorenzo Cain singled to drive in an RBI that ultimately, finally, sent them to a win. They now lead the Central by 0.5 game of the Chicago Cubs, yet they still have a tenuous four game haul over the plucky Pirates.

ABC News

Coco Gauff is becoming the talk of the tennis world, but it looked like her time in the sun, at least for now, was going to come to an end at Wimbledon on Friday. Having lost the first set and well on the way to losing the second, she looked like she was going to be eliminated at the hands of Polona Hercog. But the 15 year-old showed poise well beyond her years and earned a chance to force a third set. She did just that, winning a point that took 32 strokes combined, and then went on to take the third and final set to send her into the round of 16. No matter the opponent, this was a very, very impressive win for such a young player.

Sport News

Yankees Down Rays In 10, Braves Infield Bashes Phillies, Duke Gets Another Big Recruit

Bonus baseball is never a bad thing, many say, and that’s exactly what took place on July 4th as the New York Yankees took the Rays in Tampa on Thursday. Despite all of their huffing and puffing, the Rays, six and a half games back of their visitors in the AL East ahead of the game, would ultimately fall short, losing in ten innings by a score of 8-4. They were unable to cope with the powerful and clutch hitting of the Bronx Bombers, which continues to drive them forward. Their record against teams with a plus .500 record has been startling, with them leading the majors at 23-11 so far. It was once again DJ Lemahieu that got the act going in extras, singling to drive in two runs. Gary Sanchez then, of course, hit a home run to to plate three more to extend the lead to 8-3. The Rays tried to battle back, but just one run in the bottom of the tenth meant they fell to a loss which now leaves them even further back in the division race.

Tampa Bay Times

For not the first time this season, and especially not for the first time of late, the Atlanta Braves pounded the Philadelphia Phillies, defeating their NL East foes on Thursday night to pull even further clear of them in the division. The 12-6 win for the Braves marks the third in four games they have plated nine or more runs against their opponents and it was the fifth time in nine games total in which they have racked up at least five runs. The Braves got help from all four of their infielders, with Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson (two total), and Josh Donaldson all hitting home runs within the first four innings. Even though the Phillies had roughed up their visitors hosts in the early going, it just wasn’t enough to hold back surging, powerful, and young Braves.

USA Today

After losing stars Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish to the NBA Draft, all of which were taken in the first round, you wouldn’t blame the Duke Blue Devils for having an off year in 2019-20. But that’s not their style, and Coach K isn’t going to allow that be considered ‘OK.’ Instead, they are making moves to make sure there is no swoon in form, doing so by landing the number four recruit in the nation Thursday in the form of Jalen Johnson. At 6-8, he’s thought to be the best small forward in his class, and will enter having averaged 17.0 points and just over nine rebounds in select ball this past season. Duke just never stops moving forward, do they?

Bleacher Report

Nats Stay Hot Thanks To Strasburg, Gauff Advances Again, Korver Available For Lakers, Pulisic Leads USA To Final

The Washington Nationals continued what has been an ultra impressive upturn in play in the middle part of the MLB season on Wednesday afternoon, dispatching the Miami Marlins 3-1 in large part due to the pitching of Stephen Strasburg. The long-time ace conjured up seven innings plus while giving up no runs and striking out 14. In the fourth inning, he accomplished a very rare feat in throwing an immaculate inning, a rarity that few have ever achieved. Home runs from Ryan Dozier and Matt Adams gave them the firepower they needed, and they improved to 44-41 on the year as a result. They are now a game back of the Phillies for second in the NL East, and their recent play has seen them given a chance to make the playoffs after a horrendous start. The Nats have now won seven of their last eight and have won 25 of their last 35 in total.

The Comeback

The story and legend of Coco Gauff has only just begun, but it’s already making a telling impact on the world of tennis. After downing Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon, the 15 year-old defeated Magdalena Rybarikova, a player that once made a semi-final at the All England Club, 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday to move into the third round. The youngest ever qualifier for the tournament never even had to face a break point and continues to defy expectations for a lady of her very young age.

Kyle Korver is once again on the move, with the Phoenix Suns now set to place the shooter on waivers. The former, well veteran of a multitude of teams, will now be able to pick who he would like to play with as a free agent. It’s been thought for some time that he will be linking up with former teammate LeBron James, so the Los Angeles Lakers are certainly a player. It’s thought that the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are also contenders to sign him.

Silver Screen and Roll

The United States Women’s Soccer team will be taking on the Netherlands, 1-0 winners over Sweden in extra time on Wednesday, on Sunday in the Final of the World Cup, but they aren’t the only ones making waves right now. The men’s team is also making some, and they got themselves into a Final of their own on Wednesday night after overcoming Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semis. A ninth minute goal from Weston McKennie came after sustained pressure, and the Reggae Boyz got a break a few minutes later when played was stopped due to weather. It wouldn’t prove to matter much, though, as the USA ended up winning 3-1 after two second-half goals from Christian Pulisic sent them through to face Mexico on Sunday in Chicago.

Sports Illustrated

USA Beats England Again Ahead Of July 4th, Sixers Set To Extend Simmons, Yankees Sign ‘Martian’

Some Americans will be starting their July 4th celebrations a little bit earlier than normal after a 2-1 win over England on Tuesday propelled the US Women’s team to the World Cup Final on Sunday. It wasn’t done with ease, however, with goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher producing two huge saves to preserve the lead. The first of those saves came shortly after they had just retaken their lead. Leaping to her left, she pushed the ball away from goal to ensure they stayed in front. But it was the second big save that will be remembered more, with the ‘keeper making a save from Stephanie Hougton with less than ten minutes of regulation to go. That penalty came after a VAR decision helped the referee overturn the call on the field. Earlier, England had a goal chalked off due to offside and would go on to have a player sent off late in the going. The Americans took little time getting going in the game, putting the Three Lionesses under pressure. It told as Christine Press, in for the thought-to-be injured Megan Rapinoe, scored to make it 1-0. England answered back with Ellen White’s finish nine minutes later in the 19th, but Alex Morgan’s 31st minute goal proved to be telling, along with the heroics of the USA ‘keeper. Not the first time you’ve ever heard that!

WBNS-10 TV

The Philadelphia 76ers’ off season just keeps on keeping on. After trading Jimmy Butler in what four-team trade, signing Al Horford, and also managing to hold onto Tobias Harris, it looks like they are set to extend the stay of Ben Simmons for a while longer, too. The 6-10 playmaker, an Australian international star, was the 2018 Rookie of the Year, and is seen as a player that could be unstoppable if he can develop his jump shot. As things stand, he’s still quite difficult to hold down, as he averaged nearly 17 points, almost nine rebounds, and nearly eight assists last season. The rumored deal is said to be worth $170 million over five years. Quite the paycheck indeed.

Philadelphia Inquirer

You’ve got to think that you have to be pretty good to get the nickname “The Martian.” That’s exactly the name that has been attached to Jasson Dominguez, and luckily, at least for the New York Yankees and their fans, they will be calling him their own for some time now. The 16 year-old, according to sources, has signed on the dotted line for the Bronx Bombers in a deal said to pay him a $5.1 million bonus, the biggest of which ever to be paid by them for an international free agent. The Dominican Republic ‘kid’ is a five-tool player and a switch hitter and will command 90% of the bonus pool money the Yankees have on offer, showing just how much they value the young player and just how good he could be down the road wearing Pinstripes.

New York Post