NBA Rumors: Celtics Pursuing These Two Bigs With Room Exception

It seems all but certain the Boston Celtics will land Kemba Walker in free agency, but that doesn’t solve all their problems.
With the reported loss of Al Horford and the draft-day trade that sent Aron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns, the Celtics desperately need to add to the frontcourt. They reportedly gave a qualifying offer to Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams is about to enter his second pro year, but neither should be counted on to be the starting big man.
And though signing Walker would put the Celtics up against the salary cap, they do have a $4.8 million room exception that all but certainly would be used on a big man.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported two players are on the Celtics’ radar.
Wrote Charania: “The Celtics are pursuing bigs with their $4.8 million room exception, such as Enes Kanter and Kevon Looney, sources said.”
Looney, who has spent his four-year career with the Golden State Warriors, took a big step forward this past season and became an important role player. The 23-year-old did deal with a chest injury in the postseason that limited his availability.
Kanter last played for the Portland Trail Blazers, getting sent there from the New York Knicks during the season. He gives almost nothing on the defensive end, but has proven to be a decent scorer that can rebound and play with quite a bit of passion.

Beware of the “Trap Game” for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts

Many Saskatchewan Roughriders fans are optimistic despite their 0-2 start. After a toe-to-toe battle with the upstart Ottawa Redblacks, the Riders offence was clicking on cylinders, the problem was, they were trailing the entire game. Fajardo gave fans a reason to believe after posting impressive numbers of 27/34 completion, 360 yards, two touchdowns to zero interceptions.

Cody Fajardo connects with Shaq Evans in the end zone to cut into the Redblacks’ lead before halftime! #CFLKickoff
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 21, 2019

It’s the most balanced the Riders offence had looked in years. Marcus Thigpen and William Powell combined for 20 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Fajardo added one of his own as well. Whether it was because the team was trailing at key points during the game or if that was the gameplan going in, it’s the best this Saskatchewan offence has looked in a while. However, as good as Fajardo was, Dominque Davis and the Redblacks offence was even better. Rider fans witnessed one of the more poor performances from this defence in a number of seasons.

Here are some key things to keep an eye on for Canada Day’s tilt between the Argonauts and Roughriders.
Toronto Argonauts Offence
The Argos, on the other hand, is coming off an embarrassing loss in their home opener to their vaunted rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A 64-14 spanking was not how Corey Chamblin and company imagined their season kicking-off. It’s hard to point to one particular section of the team that a fan could pin the loss on, the Argos were severely outmatched in all three phases of the game.

James Franklin was 16/26, 211 yards and an interception. By no means horrible but obviously not enough to keep up with a potent Hamilton offence. On the other hand, the Argonauts failed to get any traction in the run game. James Wilder Jr. had just 12 yards on six carries and Chris Rainey never had a carry or reception. For all the hype surrounding the depth at that position this off-season, there simply weren’t enough looks to those two players last game.

If Franklin is going to get comfortable in this offence, Jacques Chapdelaine will have to lean on playmakers such as Wilder, Rainey, SJ Green, Derel Walker and Armanti Edwards.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Secondary
All eyes will be on Nick Marshall and how he responds after being picked on by Dominique Rhymes in Ottawa a little over a week ago. The Riders have no shortage of big names in their secondary from Ed Gainey to Loucheiz Purifoy and Mike Edem. It’ll take a collective effort to ensure Franklin doesn’t have a bounce-back game. As previously mentioned, the Argos boast their own weapons on the offensive side of the ball, it’s a matter of execution on their end.

Derrick Moncrief and Cameron Judge will also be vital in ensuring the Argos don’t get too creative with their stable of running backs. If the front four can generate a pass rush like last week and produce four sacks again, perhaps this won’t have to be the nailbiter that many fear it may be.
Special Teams
Both the Argos and Riders struggled to contain their opponents return game in Week 2. Brandon Banks made Toronto pay for a missed field goal at the start of the fourth quarter while Ryan Lankford of Ottawa had four punt returns for 100 yards and five kick returns for 95 yards, with 42 and 36-yard returns included in each of those respectively.

Brandon Banks returns one to the house and shows why he’s one of the most electric players in the league 😱 @Ticats#CFLGameDay
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 22, 2019
While Brett Lauther has been nearly automatic for the Saskatchewan Roughriders since taking over, it’ll be key for the Riders to keep contain on kickoffs and punts. The Riders can ill-afford to give a desperate Argos team any momentum in this phase of the game. Field position will play a big factor in how Saskatchewan’s defence responds.
Matchup to Keep an Eye On
Micah Johnson versus first-overall pick Shane Richards
Richards will face one of the most difficult tests of his career, in just his second game. Johnson has yet to hit the stat sheet with sacks but he’s been key in opening up the lanes for Charleston Hughes and A.C. Leonard who had a combined three sacks last week. It remains to be seen if Toronto will keep an extra running back to help protect Franklin however, look for the Riders to generate significant pressure if Richards can’t hold his own against Johnson.
Happy Canada Day Weekend
From everyone here at Last Word on Canadian Football, enjoy your time with friends, family and football! Make sure you’re following us on Twitter and Facebook for all our latest articles, analysis pieces and predictions!

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NHL Rumors: Marcus Johansson Receiving Interest From 10-Plus Teams

With NHL free agency set to open Monday, Boston Bruins winger Marcus Johansson appears to have plenty of suitors.
Johansson reportedly is drawing the interest of more than 10 teams, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Aggressive market interest in Bruins forward Marcus Johansson. 10+ teams have checked in. Has to be looking forward to a raise on the $4.6 million he made this season.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 29, 2019

The 28-year-old increased his worth while battling for the Stanley Cup with Boston during the postseason. Throughout the 2019 playoffs, Johansson tallied 11 points (four goals, seven assists) through 22 games, and played a big role on the wing for the Bruins.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Boston has had conversations with Johansson’s camp, but first has to take care of its restricted free agent situation.

NBA Rumors: Kemba Walker ‘On His Way To Celtics,’ Has Moved On From Hornets

Yes, things can change. But while fully acknowledging that, it seems pretty safe to say Kemba Walker is going to be a Boston Celtics.
After initially emerging as a “stealth suitor” for the star point guard, the Celtics by Thursday were considered the front-runner for Walker. And during an appearance Saturday on “SportsCenter,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said with more conviction than ever that Walker will be joining Boston.
“Boston is prepared, four years, $141 million,” Wojnarowski said. “They can still move some money around to get that max slot for him. He has moved on from Charlotte. (Walker and Boston) will get together on Sunday night as soon as they can at 6 p.m. Kemba Walker is on his way to the Celtics.”

Woj on @SportsCenter: "He has moved on from Charlotte. (Boston and Kemba) will get together on Sunday night. … Kemba Walker is on his way to the Celtics."
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) June 29, 2019

Free agency opens Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, but deals can’t be finalized until July 6. The NBA offseason always is crazy though, so you can never count on anything to be a done deal until pen is put to paper, but this one seems as close to set in stone as can be.

Watch Michael Chavis Cap Off Six-Run Comeback Vs. Yankees With Three-Run Homer

Things were looking pretty grim for the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of the London Series opener.
Starter Rick Porcello got shelled, and after just the top half of the opening frame the Sox were down 6-0.
But they chipped.
And chipped some more.
And more.
Eventually they erased the six-run deficit before the bottom half of the frame ended.
Mookie Betts led the stanza off with a single, then came home the next at-bat on a Rafael Devers double down the right field line. Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez worked walks to load the bases, then Andrew Benintendi popped up for the first out. Christian Vazquez hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Boston’s second run, then Brock Holt singled to right to drive in the third tally.
Finally, Michael Chavis put the exclamation point on things by drilling a three-run homer to draw level.

Michael Chavis ties it up for the @RedSox with a 3R-Dinger
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 29, 2019

The entire first inning took 58 minutes, but it sure was entertaining.

Danny Ainge Candidly Criticizes 2018-19 Celtics After Woeful Season

The 2018-19 Boston Celtics certainly had their issues, and many of the young players were impacted by something they could’ve controlled, according to Danny Ainge.
“I felt like at some point in the year, players will accept a role,” the Celtics president of basketball operations said at Boston’s corporate partner’s summit, via NBC Sports Boston. “We just had too many individual goals, like we didn’t have enough guys that winning was the most important thing,”
Ainge didn’t seem too mad about that little tidbit. In fact, it sounded like he understood what the young players were going through last season.
“When you have 21- and 22-year-old kids, that’s going to happen,” Ainge said. “I like them and I understand where every player is. I was that player. Yes, I wanted to be an All-Star and yes, I wanted more shots. I used to celebrate every time (Larry) Bird didn’t play.”
If the C’s plan on making another title run in the future, they’ll have to give a little more thought into building a winning culture.

NBA Rumors: Klay Thompson, Warriors Plan To Reach Agreement On Max Deal

With NBA free agency set to begin Sunday evening, multiple teams reportedly are set to sign (or re-sign) key players, including the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors and Klay Thompson reportedly are prepared to reach a five-year deal worth $190 million, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Sources: Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors plan to reach agreement on a five-year, $190M maximum contract, with the Warriors sending a front-office contingent to Los Angeles to visit Thompson within the next day.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 29, 2019

Thompson has played for the Warriors since joining the league in 2011, and has played a key role in each of Golden State’s NBA title runs since then. The 29-year-old averaged 21.5 points, 2.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game last season while shooting 46.7 percent from the field.
As for accolades, Thompson has made the Western Conference All-Star team five years in a row (2015-19) and the NBA All-Defensive second team this past season.

Check Out This Awesome Photo Of Mookie Betts Meeting Meghan Markle

The Boston Red Sox were baseball royalty in 2018, and they got to meet some English royalty in 2019.
The opener of the London Series is set to take place Saturday at London Stadium, and before the game, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, paid a visit to the Sox and New York Yankees.
Now, you might remember that Markle and Sox star Mookie Betts actually are distant relatives. And when Markle visited the Sox, she and Betts shared an embrace, which was captured in a pretty great photo.

Baseball royalty. #LondonSeries
— MLB (@MLB) June 29, 2019


Twitter Goes Nuts Over Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant Reportedly Discussing Teaming Up

Things might be getting insane pretty soon in the NBA.
ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that stars Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, currently with the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, respectively, have discussed teaming up. The two locations in mind are the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, but regardless of where they’d end up, them joining forces would shift the balance of power in the NBA in a big way.
So when Wojnarowski tweeted out the news, folks on Twitter went absolutely bananas.

Kyrie gonna be like
— jt (@realitla4) June 29, 2019

KD always joining the people he can't beat.
— LeBron Flames (@LeBronFIames) June 29, 2019
— Sherwob Holmes (@WorldWideWob) June 29, 2019

— Fredo #KnicksTape (@goknickstape) June 29, 2019

— Tony Stark Fan Account (@NelsonSuarez156) June 29, 2019

Lakers fans right now
— Matty Pawsox (@PrimeNerlens) June 29, 2019

We’ll remember this moment fondly when both players return to their current teams.

Could Jack Studnicka Compete For Bruins Winger Role? Don Sweeney Addresses Possibility

For a while now, the Boston Bruins have been searching for a player who can fit in well on David Krejci’s right wing.
It’s possible that Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari, both wingers, will depart this offseason in unrestricted free agency, which could result in some training camp competition for their roles.
Following the completion of Bruins development camp Friday, general manager Don Sweeney was asked if Jack Studnicka and/or Oskar Steen would get a look in training camp to fill potential vacancies on the wing. He didn’t entirely rule it out.
“I would possibly look at that,” Sweeney told the media, via a team-provided transcript. “Again, Jack’s a natural centerman. Oskar’s played both. He did have a really good year and productive year at center, so we want to make sure he’s coming over to a new environment he feels very comfortable at, but I do see the fact that he has a lot of attributes as a winger that would translate.
“Jack, I think we’re going to leave him in the middle of the ice,” Sweeney continued. “We talked to the head coaches. He has a skillset that we would like to see develop offensively. He’s talked about players in Krejci and such that Jack has a lot of similarities, being able to slow the game down or play with pace, protect the puck and gets pucks to people in offensive situations. I would like to see him develop that rather than try to fast track his opportunity. You know, play a game or two or whatever the situation is. If he’s the right guy, then fine, we’ll move forward. He’s perfectly comfortable doing it, and Oskar is as well. Our idea is to leave Jack at a comfortable spot, a natural spot.”
Free agency is set to begin Monday, and at that point the Bruins’ roster for the upcoming season will become a little clearer. Still, it will be interesting to see if Studnicka and Steen are able to compete for an NHL spot this September.