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Sports Morning Headlines-Monday, 7/4/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Monday, July 4, 2011.

Battier asks for Hunter to accept $1 salary during lockout - Memphis forward Shane Battier must have noticed what NFL players’ union representative DeMaurice Smith’s paycheck is during their lockout.  According to Yahoo, Battier has asked if NBA Players Association president Billy Hunter will also accept a $1 salary to show solidarity with the rank and file members of his union during the lockout.   Yahoo reported that the thought of such an offer appeared to offend Hunter, who makes about $2 million per season.  Yahoo also reported that members of the union’s executive board came to Hunter’s defense, considering his past  work in taking them to a place where the average players’ salary is more than $8 million per year.  The Washington Post reported that several players also supported continuing to pay Hunter.  Hunter apparently never answered Battier’s question, either.   READ MORE

Unlocking reasons behind lockout - Players fight NBA's push for revamped system.  Unable to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement and seeking enormous changes to its system, the NBA locked out its players Thursday night. The owners have sought a system with a set salary cap and tighter limits on contract length and guarantees. The players prefer to keep the basics of the current system, offering tweaks to the percentage of revenue to be devoted to player salaries.  A look at the issues and circumstances that shut down the NBA:  Follow the money.  The NBA claims it was $300 million in the red last season with 22 teams losing money. No matter the accounting that led to those numbers, the owners have negotiated based on those figures and the goal of turning them around, with NBA commissioner David Stern arguing the investment it takes an owner to get into the league should be expected to be profitable.  Players have proposed a reduction in the percentage of basketball-related income they would receive, from 57 percent to 54.3 percent, but argue they should not be responsible for preventing ownership mistakes. Owners seek a more even split.  The owners contend their proposal would guarantee $2 billion annually in player salaries. Players contend that would assure only about 45 percent of basketball-related income.   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  Bertans Inconsistent at FIBA U-19 Tournament - Whoever came up with the phrase shooters shoot definitely told it to San Antonio Spurs' Davis Bertans.  Through three games at the FIBA U-19 Championships taking place in Latvia, the Spurs draftee is averaging 13.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. He also has helped lead his team advance to the second round of the tournament, which wasn't expected for the host country. But he's also shooting 29 percent from the field and 23 percent from 3 point range. In Game one, Bertans was limited by foul trouble but still managed to score 13 points in 23 minutes on 4/6 shooting from the field and 5/6 shooting from the free throw line. However, he did miss all six of his three point attempts. Playing out of position at the center spot, Bertans also pulled down seven rebounds in Latvia's 85-67 win over Chinese Taipei.   READ MORE

Spurs well positioned to endure the lockout - San Antonio’s unique position as the strongest NBA market in terms of fan interest should make the Spurs less susceptible to fallout from the lockout than other league franchises.  Bill Nielsen, vice president of sales for the Scarborough Sports Marketing Group, said the Spurs have traditionally dominated his company’s measurements of fan awareness and support in the NBA.  And because of that support, Nielsen doesn’t believe that a lengthy lockout will erode local support and interest for the team.  Scarborough’s most recent list indicates that 61 percent of thousands of fans interviewed in the San Antonio area have either watched a Spurs game at the AT&T Center, listened to a Spurs game on radio or watched a Spurs game on television in the last year.  That figure is the best of the 29 NBA American markets the company surveys. Toronto isn’t included in the Scarborough list.  “That’s a very healthy number when three out of five persons in San Antonio have that kind of contact with the team,” Nielsen said. “In layman’s terms, it indicates that if you live in San Antonio, you are going to be a Spurs fan.”   READ MORE

Mavericks guard Fernandez offered deal from Real Madrid, report says -  Rudy Fernandez, who joined the Dallas Mavericks in a draft-night trade less than two weeks ago, has been offered a six-year contract from Real Madrid, reported via Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo.  The deal reportedly is worth $4.35 million per year and would make the 6-foot-6 Spanish shooting guard the highest-paid player in the history of the Spanish basketball league.  Fernandez, who averaged 8.6 points on 37 percent shooting last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, was due to make $2.2 next season with Dallas under the collective bargaining agreement that expired late Thursday as the NBA lockout began.  He could become a restricted free agent after next season with a qualifying offer of $3.2 million.  If Fernandez accepts the Real Madrid deal, he would return to the Mavericks whenever the 2011-12 season begins but go back to Spain after the season and cut ties with Dallas, Mundo Deportivo reported.   READ MORE

Jason Kidd: Is It Time To Retire? - Okay. This post is coming from a die-hard Dallas fan. Also, I am a huge Jason Kidd fan. So I'm saying this out of love.  I think Jason should retire. Sorry Lisa.  The fact of the matter is that his career will never get better. He is an aging point guard. As the years progress, he will get slower, and people will beat him more easily. Is he still a premiere NBA PG? HELL YES. He just led us to a title. I am not questioning his productivity.  We need more minutes to be able to fully develop our younger players. Corey, Roddy, and Rudy can all use some of the minutes left over to try to develop as players. Let's face it guys. Let's be honest with ourselves. The chances Dallas repeats are scarce. They're not nonexistent, just scarce. We can still win, but it is a longshot. I think Jason should retire while on top. This year is perfect. He shot the ball well. He came through in the clutch. He won a championship. This is it. This is the pinnacle of his career.   READ MORE

Houston Rockets: Give Terrence Williams and Hasheem Thabeet a Chance - Terrence Williams was acquired from the New Jersey Nets for a first-round draft pick. He played in 11 games for Houston and averaged 3.6 points, less than an assist and 1.5 rebounds in seven minutes.  Hasheem Thabeet was acquired in a deal with Memphis: Houston got Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll (who was later released) and a 2013 first-round pick for Shane Battier and Ishamel Smith. Thabeet played in two games and didn't score a point and blocked one shot.  First, we'll get into Terrence Williams.  Terrence is by far the most athletic player on the Houston Rockets roster. He can defend, pass, score. He's basically a clone of Iguodala physically and style of play wise. But he can be a headcase, which is probably why Rick Adelman was reluctant to play him.  After the team traded Battier, Adelman had to play him because of nobody to besides Williams to back up Chase Budinger. Williams had some flashes of brilliance, making quite a few impressive passes, including a full-court touchdown pass to Courtney Lee.   READ MORE

Rockets fan out for lockout - Players get just 1 week of practice with new coach.  For one busy week after the NBA draft, the Rockets filled Toyota Center with offseason workouts, putting players through individual drills and three-on-three games as new coach Kevin McHale got a good look at the hand he's been dealt.  Then the lockout hit like a boot stomping in a puddle, scattering players in all directions.  Barred from the practice court, the Rockets headed into their offseason, with no sense of when they reconvene or how great the cost will be of having not put in the time with a new coaching staff.  As sudden and startling as the change had been from a week with as many as 11 players practicing to the lockout in which even their pictures were removed from the Toyota Center concourses and league websites, the reality of having been locked out with no end in sight hit home hard.  "It's frustrating, it's disappointing, it's depressing for us," center Hasheem Thabeet said. "This is part of our job. I guess we have to go through it."   READ MORE







Wilson pitches like All-Star despite Rangers loss - C.J. Wilson validated his manager's decision to pick him for the AL All-Star team. The left-hander's performance still wasn't enough to get the Texas Rangers a victory against Florida.  Wilson struck out nine and allowed two runs, including an unearned run in the eighth after he threw his last pitch, in a 6-4 loss to the last-place Marlins.  "Got really good news this morning about making the team. I was super, super happy about that," Wilson said. "Oh yeah, right before the first inning, my zipper broke in my pants. That was kind of odd, foreshadowing as well."   READ MORE

Report: Rangers to give Mazara, 16, $5 million - The Texas Rangers have agreed to give more than $8 million to a pair of 16-year-old power-hitting outfielders from the Dominican Republic according to multiple reports.  Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman are the two left-handed hitting players from the Dominican Republic that have agreed to terms with the club, according to, which cited major League sources.  Mazara's signing bonus is believed to be over $5 million while Guzman's is closer to the $3.5 million range, according to the report, which added that the deals are pending physicals.  The Rangers would not confirm any transactions.   READ MORE

Bullpen again can't hold a late lead - For the fifth time in the 2011 season, the Rangers lost when leading after seven innings. And they have now lost 18 games when leading at some point, nearly half of the team's 41 defeats.  It was another bullpen breakdown Sunday. Hours after being named to the All-Star team, C.J. Wilson looked like an All-Star, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) with one walk and nine strikeouts. And he got a no-decision.  Such is how things go when the bullpen falters in a close game. Mark Lowe came in with a runner at third and one out in the eighth and appeared poised to pitch out of a big jam. He got Omar Infante to ground out to third with the infield in and then walked Gaby Sanchez. On a pickoff move out of Little League -- the fake throw to third and look to first -- Lowe caught Sanchez too far off the bag. But he wasn't able to make the throw in time to get him. His hesitation gave Sanchez time to recover and slide in safely ahead of the tag.   READ MORE

Washington, Pettis ejected in seventh - When Nelson Cruz was caught stealing in the seventh inning, first base coach Gary Pettis immediately began chirping with first base umpire Angel Hernandez. Pettis believed that pitcher Michael Dunn had balked and was stating his case.  It didn't take long for Hernandez to eject Pettis. That only made Pettis argue more and forced manager Ron Washington out of the dugout himself.  "I must have said something I shouldn’t have and I guess Gary did too," Washington said. "I was out there to see what went on with Gary and he said something to me and I said something to him and next thing I know I was gone too."   READ MORE

Some teams are just better than others - Every game the Astros play, I get emails and Tweets from fans often complaining of something Brad Mills has done in using his pitching staff or his batting order or why didn't he do this or that.  Sometimes to my thinking, the fans thoughts have merit but only IF we knew all the reasons behind every move. Only the manager, his coaches, trainers and players know the full story.  For example, because the baseball season is 162 games long, it is not possible to always play the players considered the "best" in every single instance. This shows the most when pitching change decisions have to be made. Only those on the "inside"—and I do not include announcers, writers, or even the team's own public relations people as true "insiders." That group may know more than the average fan, but are not likely to know the full health of all the players. Who is banged up to reduce efficiency or who has not been feeling well. Or maybe just which pitcher's arms are a little tired and need a couple days from throwing.   READ MORE

Astros bullpen continues to struggle - By paying homage to the power arms of the Red Sox relief corps, Astros manager Brad Mills indirectly said all that needed to be said of the seven pitchers stationed in the right-center field bullpen at Minute Maid Park.  Of the myriad ways in which the Red Sox proved vastly superior while sweeping this interleague weekend series, nowhere was the disparity more apparent than with the battling bullpens. If things got tense and tight, Red Sox manager Terry Francona knew precisely whose number he could call or, as Mills put it, "it's tough to get to their bullpen late."  As for Mills, he exhausted every bullet in his revolver only to watch as his bullpen succumbed again in the series finale, this time with closer Mark Melancon walking in the winning run in a 2-1 loss on Sunday. When a sound strategic decision – Mills had Melancon intentionally walk Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases and set up a righty-righty matchup with veteran Kevin Youkilis – comes back to bite you in the rear, options are few other than to accentuate the positive.   READ MORE

Young Bucs return home to face veteran Myers, Astros -  The Pirates find themselves over .500 this late in the season for the first time in more than a decade, but it hasn't come easily.  As the Astros head to Pittsburgh to open a three-game series on Monday, the Bucs lose another player to the disabled list, bringing the total to 12 players. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno was the latest Pirate to head to sick bay when he was placed on the seven-day DL on Sunday with a concussion.  Pirates manager Clint Hurdle -- ever the optimist -- talked Sunday about looking at the glass as half full, instead of half empty. The advantage of the injuries? Seeing what younger players can do. The young Pirates will face a stern test on Monday in grizzled Astros right-hander Brett Myers, but the Bucs will counter with an old standard of their own, Paul Maholm.   READ MORE

Free passes come back to haunt Astros - Melancon allows winning run to score on walk with bases loaded.  The Astros walked nine batters through 8 2/3 innings on Sunday while holding Boston to just one run. The 10th and final walk eventually did them in.  Mark Melancon intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases with two outs in a tie game in the ninth inning before walking Kevin Youkilis to bring home the winning run, as the Red Sox completed the sweep with a 2-1 victory.  "I just missed," Melancon said of his final pitch to Youkilis. "I got down in the count, and he kept taking until I threw a strike, until I threw two strikes, and that just didn't happen."  Manager Brad Mills said it was a difficult decision to intentionally walk Gonzalez and pitch to Youkilis, who had already singled and scored earlier in the game, but Mills didn't want to face the All-Star first baseman.  "Look at the season Gonzalez is having," Mills said. "If we're going to get beat, I don't want to get beat with him in that situation."   READ MORE






Another Glance at the 2011 Texans Schedule - The Texans will be playing at home yet again against their rival Indianapolis Colts in Week One of the regular season.  Of course, the Texans will face their division rivals twice in the regular season. The Texans will tout against the NFC South (Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints) for the first time in a long time during the regular season.  On the other hand, the Texans will familiarly meet the Miami Dolphins, yet again.  The Texans will also have another shot at the four AFC South teams: the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns.   READ MORE

Houston Texans Ryans & Sharpton To Be Eased Into Training Camp - The Texans’ defense was one of the worst units in the league last season, though its four best defenders — Demeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, Connor Barwin and OLB Mario Williams — appeared in less than two games together because of injuries.  Arthur Arkush of recently elaborated a bit on key Texans recovering well from injuries sustained last years.   READ MORE

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson Is Seventh In NFL Top 100 List - Tonight, the NFL Network announced the top-10 in the Top 100 Players for 2011 list. Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson was number seven and the league's top wide receiver (the only one in the top-10).  Johnson, who was presented by Miami Dolphins LB Channing Crowder, Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, was praised for his tendency to make the big play without running his mouth like other receivers. For those rare few wondering why Johnson made it so high, hit the jump with me.   READ MORE

Cowboys set tentative dates for training camp at Alamodome -  The Dallas Cowboys have tentatively set plans to begin training camp July 29 at the Alamodome, the San Antonio Express-News reported.  Mike Sawaya, who heads the city of San Antonio's convention, sports and entertainment facilities, told the Express-News that the Cowboys plan to start moving equipment into the building July 25. The annual kickoff pep rally is scheduled for July 28, Sawaya said.   READ MORE

Lockout analysis: Quarterbacks - Position: Quarterback  Depth chart: Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee, Chris Greisen.  Not under contract: Greisen.  Player hurt most by lockout: McGee.  Player with most to gain: Romo.  Analysis: McGee closed the season at Philadelphia as the Cowboys’ starter and led the team to a victory. While it wasn’t pretty, it gave McGee and the Cowboys confidence that he could one day move up to No. 2 behind Romo.   READ MORE

Cowboys Lineman Thought Rookies Would Learn More at Symposium - Dallas Cowboys fourth round pick David Arkin was one of the many rookies who attended last week’s “Business of Football: Rookie Edition” workshops that were hosted by the NFLPA in Bradenton, Florida.  Arkin was excited when he learned that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith would be speaking and was hoping they would shine light on the situation to the young players, but that was not the case. In fact, Goodell and Smith remained tight-lipped.  “I thought we would learn more about what’s going on behind the scenes, but really didn’t,” Arkin said.   READ MORE


Catch Jean-Jacques Taylor on the radio this week - The Soul Patch will be filling in for Norm Hitzges all this week from 10 a.m. to noon on KTCK-AM 1310. columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor is a co-host on the weekly show, which normally airs Sundays from 8-11 a.m. Taylor also appears Thursdays at 10:50 a.m. with Hitzges.   READ MORE

Dallas Stars Free Agency So Far: Most Important Addition - After a very quiet follow up to perhaps the busiest four hours of free agency I've ever seen from the Dallas Stars, we can all sit back and start to contemplate just what all this means for the short and long-term future of the team. I'm still trying to find a way to accurate analyze and write just how cunning Joe Nieuwendyk was on Friday with the contracts he awarded; nearly every player -- with the exception of Fiddler -- has something to prove and isn't being overpaid to prove it.  Adam Pardy was a head scratcher for some, especially with his contract, but apparently he's a player that the Stars have had an eye on for a while now. This is becoming a running theme with Nieuwendyk and the Stars; they don't just jump at anyone and they have shown that they'll find a player they like, who they think has potential, and go after them. Alex Goligoski. Matt Fraser. Brenden Dillon.   READ MORE

Depth should no longer be issue for Stars - Before the start of free agency, Stars General Manager and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Joe Nieuwendyk was asked about the direction the club would take once free agency commenced on July 1.  Nieuwendyk replied that while it was important to pursue top of the roster talent, an equally pressing need for the Stars was to find solid third and fourth-line guys that could provide the team with something it so sorely missed last season, depth.  That lack of depth was never more apparent for the 2010-11 club than down the stretch when key injuries to All-Star center Brad Richards, All-Star winger Loui Eriksson and defenseman Nicklas Grossman put then head coach Marc Crawford in somewhat of a bind when it came to putting quality personnel on the ice.   READ MORE

Brad Richards heads to NY Rangers - Unrestricted free agent Brad Richards made his decision Saturday, choosing to join the New York Rangers. It's a nine-year, $60 million deal for the ex-Dallas Stars. Los Angeles, Toronto and Calgary were the other contenders. READ MORE



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