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Cavs sign Wiggins, who can't be traded for 30 days
CLEVELAND (AP) Andrew Wiggins has an NBA home. Maybe a temporary one. The Cavaliers signed the No. 1 overall draft pick Thursday, a deal that prevents Wiggins from being traded for 30 days. Wiggins has been linked to a possible blockbuster trade with Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love. But any deal now involving Wiggins can't be finalized for at least 30 days. The Cavs and Timberwolves have had talks about a trade involving Love for months, long before Cleveland selected Wiggins, the former Kansas standout, with the first pick in May's draft. Those discussions have intensified lately, and the sides can still reach an agreement on a trade but nothing can be finalized until late August. Now that Wiggins is under contract, the league's seldom-used 30-day rule is in effect. It was designed to prevent teams from circumventing salary cap rules. There have been restrictions placed on trading newly signed rookies dating back at least to the 1998-99 collective bargaining agreement. At that time, rookies were lumped in with all free agents into a rule that prevents any newly signed player from being traded for three months or before Dec. 15 of the next season - whichever is longer. The rule was modified in the 2005 CBA, separating rookie contracts into a different category with the shorter, 30-day timeline between signing date and trade eligibility. The spirit behind the rule is that if a rookie is traded immediately after he signs, it gives the appearance that the acquiring team is the one that is in fact signing him. Cleveland's decision to sign Wiggins actually makes it easier to trade him. Before his deal, he had zero value on the salary cap but his contract - worth $5.5 million - could allow the Cavs to clear enough room to take on a player like Love, who is sent to earn $15.7 million next season. Minnesota has received offers from other teams, including the Chicago Bulls, who reached out to the Timberwolves this week, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who requested anonymity because the teams were not publicly commenting on the process. With Wiggins unable to be moved by Cleveland for a month, it's possible other teams may approach the Timberwolves to make a run at Love, a double-double machine and arguably the league's top power forward. Love is entering his final year under contract in Minnesota and has said he does not intend to sign a long-term deal with the Timberwolves. Golden State has also shown interest in the 25-year-old Love. But the Warriors have refused to include guard Klay Thompson in any offer, which has been a deal-breaker for the Timberwolves. Cleveland had been reluctant to include Wiggins in a package for Love, but the team has softened its stance and may be willing to part with the 6-foot-8 forward with the 44-inch vertical leap. The Cavs are interested in bringing in Love to form a "Big 3" with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. That trio would make the Cavs an overwhelming favorite in the Eastern Conference, and potentially put them in position to win the city's first major sports championship since 1964. Cleveland also signed rookie Joe Harris, taken with the first pick (No. 33 overall) of the second round. Harris, who played at West Virginia, averaged 7.8 points in four summer league games in Las Vegas. As the Wiggins-Love situation drags on, the Cavs continue to re-shape their roster. The team is interested in signing free agent Ray Allen, who has spent the past two seasons in Miami with James. On Thursday, the agency representing Allen knocked down a report that the NBA's career 3-pointer leader was leaning toward joining the Cavaliers. Allen's agent, Jim Tanner, wrote on his Tandem Sports & Entertainment twitter account that reports Allen "intends to play for the Cavs are unfounded. He has not yet decided if he will play next season or for which team." Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:02:00 +0000
Blake Griffin withdraws from US national team
LOS ANGELES (AP) Blake Griffin has withdrawn from playing for the U.S. national basketball team this summer. The Los Angeles Clippers star was one of 19 players selected to the roster from which the World Cup team will be chosen. Griffin said Thursday that he wants to dedicate all his energy on improving and preparing for the upcoming NBA season. Griffin joins Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook in not participating. Westbrook dropped out to rest previous knee injuries. The Americans begin training camp Monday in Las Vegas, a month before the World Cup of Basketball opens in Spain. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:07:00 +0000
AP source: Gordon to meet with league Aug. 1
CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns may soon learn whether they'll have Josh Gordon this season. The Pro Bowl wide receiver will have an appeal hearing with NFL officials in New York on Aug. 1, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions. The game-breaking playmaker is facing a possible one-year ban for violating the league's substance abuse policy for at least the third time. Gordon, who had a history of marijuana abuse in college, was suspended for the first two games last season. He still led the NFL with 1,646 yards receiving. The 23-year-old player is expected to report to training camp Friday and he'll be on the field Saturday as the Browns have their first practice under new coach Mike Pettine. According to reports, Gordon recently checked himself into rehab following an arrest in North Carolina. ESPN's Adam Shefter said Gordon spent two weeks at a facility in California. The Browns have been patiently waiting for a resolution on Gordon's playing status, and his uncertain future has left a cloud over the team. The Browns first learned of a potential extended suspension on the second day of the NFL draft in May. The ESPN report doused the optimism created after the Browns, who have had only two winning seasons since 1999, drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel. On Wednesday, Pettine told the AP he's not consumed with worry about whether he'll have Gordon. "The frustration has really faded," Pettine said. "It's just something that's there. It's equivalent of having that file folder with all the answers in it and it's sitting there ready to go. It's just got a lot of dust. We're just waiting to hear from the league and we'll act accordingly." If Gordon loses his appeal, he could be banned by Commissioner Roger Goodell for a minimum of one year. He would then have to apply for re-instatement. Gordon has complicated his case with two recent legal infractions. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after speeding down a street in Raleigh, North Carolina, last month. In May, he was ticketed for speeding in Ohio, and a passenger in his car was cited for marijuana possession. Pettine said the Browns have no plans to release Gordon. The team intends to support him and give him any help he may need. "Josh is a Cleveland Brown and we want what's best for him and we want what's best for us," Pettine said. "He's smart. He's bright. He's creative. He's a guy that in a lot of ways that you root for." --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:50:00 +0000
Punished Priefer: 'I went way below the bar'
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings could hardly hold training camp without some kind of controversy or sideshow. This version came with quite the twist: special teams coordinator Mike Priefer in the spotlight. As players unpacked their vehicles carrying necessities and diversions for the three-week stay at Minnesota State University, signing autographs for clamoring purple-clad fans in this annual rite of reporting day, the usual prominent figures stepped to a makeshift podium for questions from the media outside the team's temporary residence. This time, Priefer and long snapper Cullen Loeffler were among the interview subjects. Strange, yes, but part of the process following former punter Chris Kluwe's complaint that Priefer taunted him two years ago with homophobic language. The Vikings commissioned an outside investigation that lasted six months and last week announced a three-game suspension for Priefer. An unsatisfied Kluwe vowed a lawsuit, but his attorney has held off on filing it while continuing to talk with the team's lawyer about a settlement. "In this situation, with my comment, I've failed. I didn't just go below the bar. I went way below the bar. I made a mistake. I was wrong. I brought a lot of undue attention to the Minnesota Vikings organization and brought an unwanted distraction, and I apologize," Priefer said. According to a summary of the report released by the Vikings, Loeffler corroborated to the investigators Kluwe's claim that Priefer made a vicious anti-gay remark in their presence. Priefer was trying to agitate Kluwe, who became a supporter for same-sex marriage rights as Minnesota considered in 2012 a constitutional amendment to ban it. The amendment was voted down. Loeffler said he never believed Priefer was being serious that day at practice. "I always thought it was a joke. They both laughed about it," Loeffler said. Kluwe and Loeffler were friends during their eight years together on the team, but Loeffler said Thursday he has not spoken with Kluwe since the outspoken ex-punter revealed in January his allegations of a bigoted atmosphere around the team and claimed he was cut prior to last season for his views and advocacy. As for having to testify to the investigators against his position coach, Loeffler denied any hesitancy or awkwardness. "I just told the truth, as the Vikings wanted me to tell the truth. They've been supportive throughout the process and it wasn't hard for me at all," he said. General manager Rick Spielman clarified that Priefer's suspension will take effect with the start of the regular season, and he won't be allowed at team headquarters during that time. Priefer will take sensitivity training classes through an outside firm during the first week of his ban, and the team will decide whether or not to reduce his punishment to two games. Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer have been considering options for fulfilling Priefer's responsibilities while he's away, but they weren't ready to reveal the plan. Spielman said the suspension came directly from owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf. "I can't tell you how much I respect him, not only as a family man and as a person but also as a football coach. He's made a mistake and he owned up to that mistake and he's going to serve his suspension, and then we're going to move on," Spielman said. Neither Spielman nor Zimmer answered directly whether they considered firing Priefer, before or after the investigation was complete. Priefer initially denied making the remark, but he relented in a subsequent interview with the investigators. Neither Spielman nor Zimmer expressed any concern about Priefer's dishonesty. "I've had a chance to visit with Mike Priefer on numerous occasions, almost every single day, to find out what kind of person he is. I knew his father. I know what kind of family guy is. He made a mistake. So I just go by what I see. I don't go by what I hear," Zimmer said. Priefer's voice seemed to crack at one point during his session with reporters: "I feel like I let my family down," he said. The coach declined to speak about other issues pertaining to the investigation, including Kluwe's claim that he made multiple homophobic remarks. Priefer said he hoped his news conference was the beginning of a rebuilding of his credibility. He also said he wasn't worried about losing his job. "I learned a hard lesson. I've got to be sensitive to other people in what I say, and that's not going to happen again," Priefer said. Football was still at least part of the theme Thursday, with players required to pass a conditioning test in order to be cleared for the first practice Friday. "It's a distraction today, but tomorrow, I'll be focused on football," Zimmer said. Star running back Adrian Peterson was eager for Zimmer's first camp. "I expect it to be tough. He's a hard-headed guy, and he expects the best from us," Peterson said. --- AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:06:00 +0000
Twins trade 1B Kendrys Morales to Mariners
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kendrys Morales is on his way back to Seattle to try and give the Mariners' struggling offense a boost as they chase a playoff spot. The Minnesota Twins traded Morales to the Mariners on Thursday for minor-league pitcher Stephen Pryor. Morales hit 23 home runs and drove in 80 runs for the Mariners last season, but turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from Seattle to become a free agent. "He's a professional hitter," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He gives us the opportunity to stretch out our lineup, so to speak. He's a nice fit, switch-hitter, hitting behind Robbie (Cano). "He gives us options, what we want to do with (Kyle) Seager, where we want to hit him," McClendon said. "I like it." Morales sat out the first two months of the season while searching for a new deal, signing a pro-rated $12 million contract with the Twins on June 8. But he hit .234 with 11 doubles, one homer and 18 RBIs in 39 games with the Twins, who have faded from contention in the AL Central. The Mariners, who started the day with a half-game lead for the second wild-card spot in the AL, are hoping a return to Safeco Field could help Morales rediscover his swing. Seattle has the best ERA in the majors, but the Mariners offense is 14th in the American League in runs scored. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said missing spring training and the first two months of the season has had an impact on Morales' slow start. He believes he's close to his hitting stride. "I don't think there is any question about that," Zduriencik said. "I thought it was interesting that he went right to the big leagues but that plays a part in the negotiations. "Nevertheless, when you look at where he's at right now, we know what Kendrys is, we know his career as a hitter, we know what he did here and now that he's in a pennant race and technically has spring training under his belt - he did it at the major league level - I think we all feel that Kendrys is going to hit his stride and be the Kendrys Morales we all know," he added. Morales was signed by the Twins to be the everyday designated hitter, but he played a lot of first base while filling in for the injured Joe Mauer. "I think he was a good teammate. I think he was a good influence on some of the players in this clubhouse. He got off to a surprisingly quick start and then cooled off, of course," Twins GM Terry Ryan said. "We gave it a shot. Obviously, our club hasn't responded." In the first sign that the Twins are starting to look at selling some of their veteran pieces to retool for next season, they acquired the 25-year-old Pryor in the exchange. Pryor has appeared in 34 games for the Mariners since 2012, posting a 2.81 ERA. He will report to Triple-A Rochester. Pryor, who once regularly had his pitches clocked at 100 mph, started this season on the disabled list after having surgery to repair a torn right latissimus dorsi muscle. He made one appearance for the Mariners this season. He was 2-2 record with a 5.71 ERA in 34 2-3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma this season. The Twins also recalled infielder Jorge Polanco from Class A Fort Myers. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 23:20:00 +0000