Having fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and replacing him with Rob Chudzinskiearlier this week, Colts head coach ChuckPagano explained on Wednesday that he felt he had no choice but to make a move to try to shake up a stagnant offense, as Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star writes.
“I think when you keep seeing the same thing over and over again, through the course of time, we needed a change,” Pagano said. “We’ve got the talent, the grit and the character (to win), and this was something I just felt like we needed to do.”
While we look forward to seeing if the move pays dividends in the short term, let’s round up some other items from out of the NFL’s South divisions….
- The Colts are paying linebacker Josh Martin more than $34K weekly, making him the highest-paid practice squad player in the NFL, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. As Yates observes, the salary is the same as Martin would earn if he were on the team’s 53-man roster.
- Mike Triplett of ESPN.com examines four of the Saints‘ most noteworthy trades from 2015, evaluating how acquisitions of Kenny Stills, Max Unger, and others are working out so far for New Orleans. Triplett views two of those deals as wins for the Saints, and says the other two are also looking good so far.
- Weighing in reports of discord between his general manager and head coach when it came to releasing Ryan Mallett, Texans owner Bob McNair denied that Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien disagreed on how to handle the team’s former backup quarterback. “If they disagree on something they come to me,” McNair said, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “They’ve never come to me.”
SOURCE: Pro Football Rumors
But know this for certain in early November, with the still-figuring-it-out Rockets stuck at 1-3 and 78 regular-season games remaining before they can even reach another playoff test: Durant to Houston is already at the top of the dream board. The Rockets want him, but of course they can’t say it. But you know they will do everything they reasonably can to land the six-time All-Star, 2013-14 MVP and former Longhorns great. And as with the shocking Harden trade and the Howard signing, they shouldn’t be counted out until Durant decides whether he’s staying in Oklahoma City or leaving for a bigger, grander stage. Houston Chronicle
The Rockets won’t simply have an open spot. They’ll have cash and flexibility. They’ll have a short-term vision (NBA championship) and long-term sights (more championships). And if it all works and multiple moves click at once – just like they did when Ty Lawson, Harden and Howard suddenly showed up Monday night in downtown Houston – the Rockets could re-sign D12 and ink OKC’s current No. 35 in a single crazy summer. Houston Chronicle
Morey’s endless maneuvering has put the Rockets directly in line for Durant during a period when his contract value will temporarily hit 0 at the same time Howard holds a $23.2 million player option for 2016-17, Lawson’s final year in red is non-guaranteed, and Harden will be one season away from a $17.7 million team option. Houston Chronicle
Add in Bird rights for Howard, the recent decision not to extend fourth-year players Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, and the Rockets’ $21.5 million projected payroll in 2017-18 – when the league cap level could reach $108 million – and landing Durant or anyone else of his caliber becomes more logical the longer the vision is stretched out. Houston Chronicle
ESPN NBA Insider Brian Windhorst joined ESPN Radio’s “Russillo & Kanell” program Wednesday and insinuated that the Chicago Bulls could be growing tired of former MVP Derrick Rose. “Here’s how I feel about Derrick Rose: The breakup with the Bulls has begun,” Windhorst began. “I don’t know how long it’s going to last, I don’t know when it’s going to be complete, but you can sort of see it. The team and the franchise have moved on, to a little bit of a certain extent. “… It’s not Derrick Rose’s fault that his knee got hurt, OK? But his attitude has been not terrific. The comments that he made about his contract in 2017, you want to talk about being tone deaf …” NESN
Last season Spencer Hawes wasn’t upset with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was upset with himself, he said. For the first time in a nine-season NBA career, he truly got to pick where to play via unrestricted free agency. And he picked wrong. For all the attraction of the Clippers – a team with championship talent, with a great coach in Doc Rivers and beautiful Southern California weather – this was the wrong choice for him. Charlotte Observer
An 18-year-old Kobe Bryant scored his first NBA point on Nov. 5, 1996 — exactly 19 years ago — against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It was the first of 32,545 points (and counting) for Bryant, who in his 20th season with the Los Angeles Lakers trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone on the league’s career scoring list. ESPN.com
Garnett and Bryant are the only players still active from that 1996-97 season. Byron Scott was Bryant’s teammate that year and now is his head coach. ESPN.com
The Philadelphia 76ers have signed point guard Phil Pressey after being granted an additional roster spot in accordance with NBA hardship relief. Pressey has appeared in 125 NBA games with the Boston Celtics, averaging three points, three assists and one steal in 14 minutes per game. InsideHoops
According to Croatian newspaper Vecernji list, Dario Saric will be a Sixer next season. “In the summer, I will still go because I have a way out in the contract,” the Croatia native told the newspaper on Saturday. Philadelphia Inquirer
SOURCE: Inside Hoops
Here’s more from the division…
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes that while there’s been speculation that the Red Sox could trade Clay Buchholz now that they’ve exercised his $13MM option, the team might be wise to hold off on that front. Lauber notes that many in the industry believe Dombrowski will make a run at David Price, and while dealing Buchholz would free up some 2016 money for Price or another ace, the uncertainty throughout the rest of the rotation should give Boston pause when listening to offers on Buchholz. While Buchholz can’t be relied upon for 30+ starts and 200+ innings, it’s reasonable enough pencil him in for 100+ innings as a high-quality No. 2 starter based on his 2013 and 2015 performances.
- Brett Gardner‘s woeful second half of the season was caused in part by a wrist injury suffered early in the year, Yankees hitting coach Alan Cockrell believes (via the Journal News’ Chad Jennings). Cockrell said that Gardner was hit on the wrist early in the season, and the pain bothered him on and off throughout the season. While it might seem odd to blame an April HBP for Gardner’s struggles in August and September, Cockrell explained that players are only allowed to receive three cortisone injections over the course of a given season. Gardner received his three cortisone shots, which alleviated the pain considerably, at unspecified intervals prior to Aug. 1. When he could no longer receive that treatment, Jennings notes that his production plummeted to .203/.288/.290 over the season’s final two months.
- The Orioles have scouted Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park and are believed to hold interest in signing him, reports MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Park was posted by Korea’s Nexen Heroes on Monday, and teams have until Friday to submit blind bids on the 29-year-old, who has bashed 105 home runs over the past two seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization. Unlike the posting agreement with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball where multiple teams can negotiate with a player, though (assuming there are multiple winning bids of the maximum $20MM), only the winning team can negotiate with Park. That might make it difficult for Baltimore to bid heavily on Park at this time, as the team may still have hopes of being able to work out a deal with Chris Davis. Of course, Park could still be slotted at DH if the Orioles were to somehow win the bidding and still re-sign Davis, though that level of spending seems highly unlikely. I’d imagine that if the O’s win the bidding on Park, it’s a clear signal that Davis will sign elsewhere (though that’s the wide expectation regardless of the Park outcome).
- Kubatko also reports that there’s been little in the way of traction between theOrioles and Darren O’Day in talks of a new contract. Baltimore has exclusive negotiation rights with O’Day through Friday, after which he, like all other free agents, will be free to sign with any club. Kubatko was told that “all is quiet” right now after talks have failed to progress much, and he speculates that O’Day could possibly receive four-year offers in free agency.
SOURCE: MLB Trade Rumors