Monthly Archives: January 2017

Russell Westbrook on starting snub: ‘I don’t play for All-Star bids’

Russell Westbrook downplayed his omission from the All-Star Game starting lineup Friday, saying that his primary focus is becoming a better player and winning NBA championships.

Westbrook was not among the Western Conference’s starters, which were announced Thursday, after losing a tiebreaker with Stephen Curry and James Harden. The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar was left out in the loaded West in the NBA’s new voting system, which included players and media for the first time this season.

“It is what it is,” Westbrook said Friday. “That’s the nature of the business, the game. I just play. I don’t play for All-Star bids. I play to win championships, and every night I compete at a high level, and it’ll work out.

“I just continue doing what I’m doing and play the game the right way, and everything else will work out.”

Westbrook was actually tied with Curry and Harden in the points tally after finishing first in the media vote and player vote and third in the fan vote, but Curry and Harden beat him out because the fan vote was the tiebreaker.

“[Winning the players' vote] doesn’t change anything for me,” Westbrook said. “It’s a great honor … and being an All-Star is something you don’t take for granted.

“But like I said, I don’t play to play in the All-Star [Game]. … I play to become a better player and to win championships.”

Westbrook leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 30.6 points per game, and also has a league-high 21 triple-doubles this season. Westbrook is also averaging 10.4 assists and 10.6 rebounds per game, making him the first player to be averaging a triple-double at this point in a season since 1963-64.

“I don’t want to take away anything from anybody, because I’m obviously not with all those players on a regular basis,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “But in my opinion, there’s no way he should not be starting in an All-Star Game.

“That’s it. Someone can say, ‘Well, who then?’ I’m not getting into that. I’m saying what he’s done this year. Here’s a guy, in my opinion, clearly is right in the thick of the MVP race for the entire league. So there in itself, I think everybody would admit that.”

Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters. Current players and the media accounted for 25 percent each. Ballots consisted of two guards and three frontcourt players per conference.

Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis will join Curry and Harden in the West starting lineup. The East and West All-Star reserves will be announced next Thursday. They are chosen by NBA head coaches.

This year’s All-Star Game will take place at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Feb. 19.

49ers plan to offer Kyle Shanahan head-coaching job

The San Francisco 49ers plan to offer their head-coaching job to Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan once Atlanta’s season ends, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Shanahan is interested in the job but is currently focused on Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. The Falcons will host the Green Bay Packers.

The 49ers plan to request a second interview with Shanahan next week after the championship game, a source said. NFL rules allow a second interview following the conference championship.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took himself out of the running on Monday, saying it wasn’t the right time and he was going to concentrate on New England’s Super Bowl run.

Seattle Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable was also among the candidates considered by the 49ers, but his agent, Doug Hendrickson, tweeted Tuesday that Cable is “re-affirming” his commitment to the Seahawks and thanked the 49ers for their interest.

Shanahan, 37, is in his second season as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. The Falcons, led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan, boasted the league’s top scoring offense this season, averaging 33.8 points per game.

Besides interviewing with the 49ers, he also talked to the Broncos and Jaguars about their head-coaching vacancies before Denver hired Vance Joseph and Jacksonville promoted Doug Marrone to fill their jobs.

Before joining the Falcons, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2014), Washington Redskins (2010-13) and Houston Texans (2008-09). He began his NFL coaching career in 2004 as an offensive quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the Texans in 2006 as a wide receivers coach. He was the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2007 before being promoted to offensive coordinator the next season.

Shanahan is the son of longtime NFL coach Mike Shanahan, who hired his son as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator when he was the team’s head coach.

The 49ers are seeking to replace Chip Kelly, who was fired as coach after just one season. San Francisco, which finished 2-14 last season, holds the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft.

The 49ers are also in need of a new general manager after firing Trent Baalke after the season.

Jordy Nelson out Sunday vs. Cowboys

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson will not play in Sunday’s divisional-round matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, coach Mike McCarthy said.

McCarthy said Friday that team doctors would not clear Nelson to practice.

Nelson spent one night in a Green Bay hospital for observation after he took a hard shot to the ribs from New York Giants safety Leon Hall in the second quarter of the Packers’ 38-13 wild-card victory. Nelson was immediately doubled over in pain after the hit and had to be taken to the locker room on a cart.

The NFL said Friday that Hall was not fined for the hit.

McCarthy had hoped that Nelson would be able to practice Saturday, but after further evaluation, team physicians Dr. Pat McKenzie and Dr. John Gray would not let Nelson back on the field this week.

Even though he won’t play Sunday, Nelson will travel with the team to Dallas, McCarthy said.

Asked if Nelson could play in the NFC Championship Game if the Packers move on, McCarthy said: “We’ll re-evaluate Monday. He’s actually in the training room now, going through a workout.”

A source told ESPN that Nelson avoided a major internal injury, which is why he is being allowed to travel this week and has a chance to play next week if the Packers advance.

Earlier this week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he felt better about the Packers’ offense without Nelson than he did last year, when his No. 1 receiver missed the entire season because of a torn ACL and the offense struggled.

“Obviously we feel better with 87 in the lineup,” Rodgers said. “He’s a classy guy and a great teammate. I was with him [Monday and Tuesday] night. He’s staying positive, and he’s hopeful. We’re going to try to get this one and hopefully get him back if he can’t play this week.”

Geronimo Allison likely will move into the Packers’ three-receiver set along with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb just like Allison did for the final two regular-season games when Cobb was sidelined with an ankle injury. In those two games, Allison caught eight passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.

“You just tilt opportunities the other way,” McCarthy said Friday. “That’s the way you always have to approach these types of situations, any time you have a player of his magnitude that’s not available. That’s all part of developing a game plan. You have to do that in the early stages of the week. We anticipated potentially not having him this week. So we’ll be prepared for that.”

Nelson was the Packers’ leader in receptions (97), receiving yards (1,257) and touchdowns (14) this season.

Packers WR Jordy Nelson spent night in hospital; status iffy

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson spent Sunday night in the hospital with what a source characterized to ESPN’s Adam Schefter as a significant rib injury suffered in Green Bay’s wild-card win over the New York Giants.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Nelson was back at the team’s facility Monday, but won’t try to practice until Saturday.

“If he doesn’t practice Saturday, then he won’t play in the game,” McCarthy said of Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff matchup with the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys.

Nelson was at Lambeau Field on Monday for medical treatment, but McCarthy would not say whether his No. 1 receiver sustained any internal injuries.

“Jordy Nelson has a rib injury,” McCarthy said. “Talking with the medical staff, he’s going to be in the rehab group through Friday. And then Saturday, if he can practice, then he may have a chance. But we’re not going to do anything until Saturday. I’ll probably know more about where Jordy stands come Friday.”

The Packers will follow their normal practice schedule of on-field work Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday before departing for Dallas. They treat Friday as a rest and treatment day.

Nelson took a shot to his side from Giants safety Leon Hall after dropping a pass along the sideline. Nelson was doubled over in front of the Packers’ bench before he was finally helped up and took a seat. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the locker room for further examination.

His return was initially listed as questionable, but the Packers ruled him out shortly after halftime. Nelson had one catch for 13 yards before he departed.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Sunday that “it would be a huge loss for us” if Nelson were unable to play against the Cowboys.

“But Geronimo [Allison] has been playing a lot for us and he’s been playing effectively,” Rodgers said. “Randall [Cobb] being back healthy — you know I said this week in my press conference we’re better with 18 [Cobb's jersey number] on the field. And he showed it tonight, made a ton of plays for us. He was excellent. And having him out there is going to help. But you know Geronimo is going to have to step up and play extended time if Jordy is going to be out.”

Nelson caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season after missing all of 2015 because of a torn ACL in his right knee.

McCarthy said the team received good news on running back Ty Montgomery and linebacker Blake Martinez. Montgomery sustained a lower leg injury in the second half against the Giants but returned to the game and is expected to practice Wednesday. Martinez couldn’t finish Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, but McCarthy said “we got good news on Blake, so I’m hopeful that he may practice this week.”

Chris Bosh pondering NBA future, searching ‘for what I’m looking for’

Chris Bosh still is unclear about what his future holds, and while mentioning how he’s getting a “taste of retirement” stopped short of saying he will no longer pursue an NBA career.

Bosh has been sidelined since February because of complications related to blood clots. He’s still technically a member of the Miami Heat, though has not been around the team in any official capacity since he failed a physical in September and was not permitted to resume on-court activities.

Bosh, speaking at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, was asked how he’s spent time away from the court.

“For me, I kind of just follow my passions and follow what I love to do and use my free time to kind of answer those questions and go through my bad moods and maybe a little light case of depression,” Bosh said. “Really, to search for what I’m looking for. And I’ve come to some interesting conclusions. It’s all about following my heart and what made me happy.”

Bosh did not specifically mention whether he will or will not try to play again, nor did he mention his health status. It’s expected that the Heat will waive him sometime after February, after the one-year anniversary of his last game appearance passes. The $76 million that Bosh is owed for this and the next two seasons remains guaranteed, but he would no longer be taking up a massive amount of Miami’s salary-cap space.

Bosh spoke on a panel alongside St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler and Golden State Warriors guard Draymond Green. The panel, titled “Life Off The Court,” was moderated by Maverick Carter, the CEO of SpringHill Entertainment and the business partner of Bosh’s former Miami teammate LeBron James.

Bosh said he went to the CES event to meet with people and leverage some business relationships.

“I don’t know what’s going to come out of it,” Bosh said. “But we’re here.”

Bosh had his 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons cut short at the All-Star break after the discovery of blood clots. He missed the last 30 games of the 2014-15 season because of the first known occurrence of the clot issue, and the last 43 games — including playoffs — last season after a second separate situation.

Bosh said “there’s still a lot of things” that he has to figure out.

“I’m still learning more about myself and my situation, and really off the court how to function there because I’m kind of getting the taste of retirement now,” Bosh said. “Just trying to navigate those waters because it gets a little complicated sometimes. … Hoping one day that the stars align and I figure some things out and things kind of just go my way and I’ll be able to do what I want to do. I don’t know what that is yet.”

Bills owner Terry Pegula fired Rex Ryan when asked about future

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula decided to fire Rex Ryan when the coach asked about his future beyond this season after a weekly conference call last Tuesday.

“I was asked a point-blank question, and based on the discussions we’ve been having all year, I felt it was better to tell Rex we were going in a different direction,” Pegula told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

In his season-ending news conference Monday, Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied having any involvement in Ryan’s firing last week, insisting he was not aware of why Ryan was fired.

“We just finished our weekly phone conversation with Terry, myself and Rex,” Whaley said of Ryan’s firing last Tuesday. “Rex asked to speak to [Pegula] privately. After that, I was informed that Rex would no longer be our coach. I wasn’t privy to the conversation so I cannot get into those details.

“I look at it this way: I’m the GM of the football operation. I was told by my boss that I would no longer be working with a certain person. My role is not to figure out why. My role is to take that information and go forward and put this organization in the best possible way to win football games. So for me, I did not ask.”

Pegula told the AP that Whaley had input throughout the season on the Bills’ problems but never had a conversation with ownership about whether Ryan would be fired.

The Bills’ owner also disputed any idea of dysfunction within the organization, saying everybody was “on the same page. We’re busy busting our asses.”

Pegula has not answered questions from local reporters since Ryan’s introductory news conference in January 2015. He issued a five-sentence statement when Ryan was fired, wishing Ryan well and expressing disappointment in a season that ended Sunday with a 7-9 record.

Whaley, however, said Monday he “speak[s] for the ownership and the team president” in holding his NFL-mandated season-ending news conference.

Asked how he can speak for ownership about Ryan’s firing if he did not know why Ryan was fired by ownership, Whaley said, “I can’t give you the particulars of what happened in that conversation; I can just tell you that I was informed that he was not going to be our coach going forward.”

Both Ryan and Whaley reported directly to Pegula under the Bills’ organizational structure last season. Whaley said he does not know if that structure will remain in place when the Bills hire their next coach.

The Bills announced last week that Whaley, who will enter his fifth season as Bills general manager in 2017, will lead the team’s coaching search. Whaley was assistant general manager in 2013 when the Bills hired Doug Marrone, and Whaley said Monday he was part of a “committee approach” when Ryan was hired in 2015.

“This one will fall squarely on my shoulders, with the help of [player personnel director] Jim Monos,” he said. “So we’re going to approach it that way and I have full confidence in myself and the plan that we have in place that we’re going to go out and get the best guy for the Buffalo Bills.”

Despite leading the search, Whaley said the Pegulas will have final say over who becomes the Bills’ next coach. Team president Russ Brandon will not be involved, a decision Whaley attributed to Brandon’s “expanding role” with the Pegulas’ other businesses.

Whaley disagreed with speculation that he did not cooperate well with Ryan or Marrone during their tenures as Bills coaches. He also brushed off the idea that him remaining as general manager will deter candidates who would want final say over the Bills’ roster.

“I have full confidence in my reputation in the league circles,” Whaley said. “Not, obviously, in media circles, but in league circles, that would not be prohibitive.”

The Bills have requested permission to interview Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, sources told ESPN.

Interim coach Anthony Lynn will interview with the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, sources said, and is expected to keep his options open outside of Buffalo.