Louis Tomlinson reacts to that explicit, gay One Direction sex scene

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TV viewers were in for a surprise during the recent third episode of HBO’s Euphoria which focused on a girl named Kat. Kat likes to write explicit fan fiction about One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles, and as we previously mentioned, the episode features an animated sequence in which the two former boy banders have sex.

So… Did either performer know this scene was coming?

“I can categorically say that I was not contacted nor did I approve it,” Tomlinson responded via tweet to a fan’s question.

Related: Louis Tomlinson finally comes clean about those Harry Styles gay rumors

Barbie Ferreira, who plays Kat, told The Hollywood Reporter that she related to her character’s obsession with celebrities:

“You completely give yourself to this persona of a person you don’t even know, or five guys, and imaging the way they interact the escaping from your own reality. It’s really interesting to me because I was definitely a part of that, where I wanted to escape my own life and focus on others because it was easier and felt more meaningful.”

In real life, Tomlinson and Styles often shot down gay rumors. We’re sure they weren’t thrilled to see this new scene.

Watch the scene below:


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The 13 best players left in NBA free agency, ranked

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Most of the big names were off the board early, but there’s quality depth left to be signed.

The opening eight hours of free agency answered most of the questions we had about the future of the NBA. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant became Nets, Jimmy Butler was traded to the Heat, Tobias Harris stayed with the Sixers, Al Horford joined him there, and D’Angelo Russell was moved to the Warriors. Still, there’s talent left to grab.

Kawhi Leonard is the biggest name left on the board, and DeMarcus Cousins is the lone other all-star, bur rotation players are still looking for homes.

Here are the best free agents left.

Last update: July 2, 6:17 p.m. ET

1. Kawhi Leonard

Leonard’s the big one, with the Raptors, Lakers and Clippers vying for his talents. His decision is likely to change the landscape of the league. Will LA have a true superteam, or will every contender is as talented at the top as the next.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

With the Russell trade, the routes for Cousins to return to the Warriors are slim. But what’s the market for a center who has torn his Achilles and quad in consecutive years? With money running slim for most teams who had cap space, Cousins might have to sign for a discount again.

3. Danny Green

Green started for the champion Raptors because he does two things: shoot threes and defend. He should command a similar role no matter where he goes, though he’ll reportedly hold out on his decision until Leonard makes one.

4. Kevon Looney

Returns to Warriors for 3 years, $15 million

Looney came on strong for a Warriors team that lacked depth last season. A versatile defender, Looney plays a role sought by every team looking to make the playoffs. He doesn’t do much on offense, but he’s a star in his one role.

5. Marcus Morris

Morris is coming off one of his best seasons on a clunky Celtics team. He scored 14 points with six rebounds on 37 percent three-point shooting. He’s one of the best bench scorers available at the very least, and contenders should seek him out.

6. JaMychal Green

A 6’9 big man who can shoot, Green is a very good role player for a team looking to compete. He shot 41 percent from three on three tries per night last year in LA and has shot 37 percent for his career.

7. Delon Wright (restricted)

Wright showed he can be productive in a bigger role with the Grizzlies in 26 games last season. The 27-year-old guard scored 14 points per game with six assists — albeit on just 43 percent shooting. But the 6’5 PG with a 6’6 reach is a solid defender, too. The Grizzlies can match any deal he signs.

8. Kelly Oubre (restricted)

The 23-year-old forward is still a work in progress, but he could become an excellent role player or even lower-level starter. He scored 17 points per game on 45 percent shooting in 40 games with Phoenix last year. The Suns can match any offer Oubre signs.

9. Willie Cauley-Stein

Signs with Warriors for 1 year, just above minimum

Cauley-Stein averaged 12 points and eight rebounds for a productive Kings team last year. He defends the paint well too, and should make for a quality backup big.

10. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Hollis-Jefferson’s place in the league will remain unclear until he figures out how to shoot the ball better, but he’s a great defender, and that should be enough for spot minutes. With Brooklyn signing DeAndre Jordan, Durant, and Irving, it’s unlikely they retain RHJ.

11. Jabari Parker

The former No. 2 pick has had two ACL injuries and continues to struggle on defense, but can play a scorer’s role somewhere. He averaged 15 points on 49 percent shooting last year with the Bulls and Wizards.

12. Avery Bradley

Bradley hit a wall after the 2018 season, only scoring 10 points per game last season on 35 percent three-point shooting and worsening on the defensive end. He’s only 28, though. Could a change of scenery help?

13. Emmanuel Mudiay

Mudiay hasn’t been great in his first four seasons in the league, but he’s also just 23 years old. He scored 15 points on 45 percent shooting last year.

14. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

He shot 35 percent from three last year, which is fine. He has also played 74 games or more in all six seasons. He’s a fine bench player.

15. Rajon Rondo

He isn’t what he once was, but someone will take a veteran with championship experience — maybe even the Lakers!. He averaged nine points, eight assists and five rebounds last year.

Everyone else

In no particular order (signed players are at the bottom):


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How Chiney Ogwumike played a WNBA game and analyzed NBA free agency for ESPN in 4 hours

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The L.A. Sparks star and ESPN analyst detailed her wild Sunday in an exclusive interview.

Within an hour of finishing up a 25-point blowout win for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center, Chiney Ogwumike was on her way to her second job across the street as an NBA analyst for ESPN on one of the biggest days of the year. NBA free agency has become a bigger frenzy than some of the league’s actual games, and Ogwumike was invited to be a panelist on The Jump — the biggest live show of the day, on the most popular sports network in the country.

For the sleepy, the NBA’s choice to move the official start of free agency up six hours to 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) was a godsend. But for Ogwumike, it meant performing at the top of her game for both of her careers on live TV in a span of four hours, with limited means to prepare to go on-air. On a day as hectic as free agency, that meant catching up on Earth-shattering breaking news the rest of the world already heard about while she was hitting baby hooks in the lane.

In a phone interview a day later, Ogwumike agreed to share her Sunday schedule with SB Nation.

(All times are pacific.)

Morning: Wake up, collect pregame meal

Chiney woke up to consume as much NBA free agency news as she could before the start of her 2 p.m. WNBA game. She stopped at Starbucks on her way to to the arena, picked up the usual Acai refresher and Acai bowl, and headed into her pregame routine in front of 11,000 diehard Sparks fans.

“It was a pretty standard morning,” she said.

11:30 a.m.: Arrive at Staples Center for pregame shootaround

A preseason trade for Chiney made the L.A. Sparks a title favorite with five All-Stars. But injuries to Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard and former MVP Candace Parker had the team off to a 5-6 start.

Ogwumike’s been a key piece in holding them together though, and on Sunday, with those two back in the lineup, it was her job to keep 6’5 center Stefanie Dolson and 6’4 low-post machines Jantel Lavender and Cheyenne Parker out of the paint.

2:06 p.m.: The game begins

Ogwumike scored two points and had one monstrous swat of a Cheyenne Parker layup to help her team to a 12-point lead at the half.


3:03 p.m.: A halftime peek

Ogwumike’s two jobs overlapping like they did on Sunday could cause problems in the locker room, and she knew it. “I’m committed to basketball,” Ogwumike tells SB Nation. “But I didn’t want to be a distraction and I didn’t want to be distracted.” But she says her sister Nneka, captain of the Sparks, pushed her to make the appearance on ESPN.

With the absolute max salary of a WNBA player at just $117,500, most players in the WNBA go overseas in their “offseason” to play a grueling 11-month schedule between two teams to earn a fairer wage. Ogwumike hosts shows on ESPN instead, a passion which also takes the strain off her body to play year-round.

So she had to take a quick peek at her phone during halftime before coach Derek Fisher walked in to see that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were both headed to the Nets. She kept the news to herself, minus a brief whisper over to teammate Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who occupies the neighboring locker. For a brief time at least, Ogwumike was caught up with the outside world of sports news.

“He didn’t know, but now he knows. Sorry, Coach,” she said on air.

4:04 p.m.: The game ends. Sparks 94, Sky 69

Ogwumike finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, but her day is just beginning.

4:15: Postgame interviews, autograph session and shower

In the locker room postgame, Chiney could only laugh as her teammates were just learning about KD’s decision. “Hey guys, KD is in Brooklyn!” she recalls Candace Parker yelling out. That was old news to her.

After meeting briefly with the media for postgame interviews, Chiney had another team event to attend. Every Sparks player has their day to sign autographs after the game, and of course Ogwumike was chosen randomly on the first day of NBA free agency to meet fans with her sister.

While she mingled with L.A. basketball diehards, she was reading Slack notifications from her agent summarizing all of the biggest deals that she’d need to analyze on TV 90 minutes later.

She stayed for 30 minutes, then showered.

5:00 p.m.: A brief walk to the ESPN HQ

With 45 minutes until she was set to join The Jump, Ogwumike rushed to her car in the Staples Center parking lot, popped the trunk and fetched her “go-bag” with the bright red dress and shoes she’d flaunt to millions on camera. She took a five-minute stroll down L.A. Live from the arena to the ESPN HQ, stopping for pictures with two fans who called her name out along the way.

5:05 p.m.: Arrive at ESPN studios, change into outfit, hair and makeup done

Upon her arrival to the ESPN HQ, Ogwumike was greeted with the report that the Knicks didn’t offer Durant a max contract due to concerns about his Achilles injury. “How dumb are they?” she said, go-bag in hand.

From then, she changed out of her postgame outfit, into her red dress, and proceeded onwards to hair and makeup ahead of her 5:45 p.m. scheduled start time on set. With one stylist brushing her hair and another applying eye shadow, Ogwumike was unfazed scrolling through her Twitter timeline.

5:45 p.m.: Go on air

Finally, Ogwumike was ready to analyze the NBA day’s chaos alongside media elites Rachel Nichols, Ramona Shelburne, NBA champion Matt Barnes, and, later, former Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger. As promised, she only showed because the Sparks picked up the win.

On TV for 35 minutes, Ogwumike commended Jimmy Butler for making his own decision to play in Miami, and took the Bucks as her team to win the East next year. She was then replaced by Brian Windhorst.

Without Nichols announcing the hectic day Ogwumike had before joining the set, nobody would’ve been able to tell.

8 p.m.: Dinner

Finally, after a long day, Ogwumike ate, but there was no relaxing to be done. In the day’s final moments, D’Angelo Russell was traded to the Golden Warriors, and signings continued throughout the night.

“I think it works because they’re Splash Bros,” Ogwumike said. “They always operate well with two talented perimeter scorers. Without KD, it’s going to be Steph and D’Lo. They’re most comfortable with two perimeter players, Draymond Green and a serviceable big. KD was the icing on the cake. If they’re losing KD, and they’re not gonna have Klay, their identity was going to completely shift if they only had Steph.

“So they had to make a move.”


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Provincetown, Miley Cyrus, Anderson Cooper, Kamala Harris, Arctic Fox, Baz Luhrmann, Mark Ronson: HOT LINKS

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WHAT’S UP DOC. Documentary filmmakers trailing Pete Buttigieg: “Story Syndicate, a new production company founded by veteran filmmakers Liz Garbus and Dan Cogan, is creating a documentary on Mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to sources with knowledge of the film.”

PROVINCETOWN TRAVELERS. You can download our annual 2019 Ptown Hacks gay guide to Provincetown right HERE and find out everything that is new and different in town this summer!

IN THE FAMILY. Anderson Cooper inherited a large part of his mother Gloria Vanderbilt’s estate.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY. Miley Cyrus “Mother’s Daughter”.

FUNDRAISING. Bernie Sanders raises $18 million in second quarter, trailing Buttigieg by nearly $7 million.

POLLS. Kamala Harris surges to #2 in Iowa: “Harris’ performance has vaulted her into the number two spot in Iowa. When voters were asked their first choice for the Democratic nomination, Biden (24 percent) led Harris (16 percent), followed by Elizabeth Warren (13 percent), Bernie Sanders (9 percent), and Pete Buttigieg (6 percent). The remaining 20 candidates made up 11 percent of first choices, and 21 percent were undecided.”

JUDD DEERE. Trump Deputy Press Secretary is gay, unrepentant. “If he asked me, sure, I’d have the conversation with him,” he said. “It’s not something I hide.” Still, “I don’t walk into the White House every day and say, ‘I’m Judd Deere; I’m gay.’”

LONDON. Body of landing gear stowaway on flight from Kenya lands next to man sunbathing in London backyard. ‘A neighbour told the Press Association news agency that he heard a “whomp” when the body hit the ground on Sunday afternoon, and went upstairs to look out of a window.’

ELVIS. Baz Luhrmann has four frontrunners to play Elvis in a new film.

ANAL OPENING. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has his own nickname for Robert Mueller. “He’s done some irreparable damage to some things and he’s got to answer for them. … [The report] reinforced the anal opening that I believe Mueller to be.”

SENILE AF. Donald Trump thinks homelessness is a phenomenon that began two years ago.

LONDON. Gay nightclub XXL is closing.

BIG JOURNEY. Arctic fox makes epic journey from Norway to Canada over 2,176 miles in 76 days. “We couldn’t believe our eyes at first. We thought perhaps it was dead, or had been carried there on a boat, but there were no boats in the area. We were quite thunderstruck.”

DOUG QUINT. How the face of Big Gay Ice Cream spends his Sundays.

PLANNED ABORTED LAUNCH OF THE DAY. A fully functional Launch Abort System (LAS) with a test version of the Orion spacecraft attached, launches on NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) atop a Northrop Grumman provided booster on July 2, 2019, at 7 a.m. EDT, from Launch Pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

REAL ESTATE OF THE DAY. Mark Ronson’s LA home.

2 HOT FOR TUESDAY. Dion Nucifora.

The post Provincetown, Miley Cyrus, Anderson Cooper, Kamala Harris, Arctic Fox, Baz Luhrmann, Mark Ronson: HOT LINKS appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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What to expect from Williams, Murray mixed doubles

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It seems the fans and media have willed it into existence — Williams and Murray will play mixed doubles at Wimbledon 2019.

Well, it’s true! Two of the highest-profile tennis players in the world will team up for mixed doubles action at Wimbledon: Serena Williams and Andy Murray. Murray confirmed the news to the media on Tuesday. An already crazy Wimbledon just got a little crazier, which is always a good thing, with the pair teaming up with very little notice out of, simply put, a desire to get more court time in.

Murray, a two-time singles champion at Wimbledon, will compete in two doubles events less than a month after returning from hip surgery, as he is already partnered with Pierre Hugues-Herbert in men’s doubles. He originally had told the media that he hoped to play in mixed doubles but that he had been rejected by multiple partners.

That’s when Williams stated that she would be happy to play with him. It was read as a bit of a joke at first, but apparently, the two got to talking and the collective tennis fandom willed the pairing into existence.

Mixed doubles is an often-overlooked bracket, but is often some of the most fun because it can create such pairings. It’s not an area where Murray has tried to excel much in his career. Murray has only ever made it to the second round of Wimbledon mixed doubles, and has a 7-4 record for his career.

Williams, though, has had a bit more experience. She has a career record of 27-4 and has played in the mixed doubles finals at each Grand Slam once, making it to three of the four all the way back in 1998, where she also happened to pick up titles at the US Open and, where else, Wimbledon.

Williams bested Giulia Gatto-Monticone in the singles bracket and made it clear that she is in “singles mode,” but wanted more time on the court. She is still going for her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which is her absolute top priority. But she’s feeling well enough to mix it up with Murray.

“I don’t know. If you guys (the media) really want it, then maybe I’ll do it,” Williams said. “All right. Done. Just for you guys, don’t forget.”

She was also complimentary of Murray’s play, noting that the two have a similar style to their approach to the game.

“We’re a lot alike on the court,” Williams said. “I’ve always liked that about him. His work ethic is just honestly off the charts.”

Finally, she noted Murray’s propensity to speak up about women’s rights and inequality in sports, something she obviously has had to deal with and fight for her entire life.

“There’s so many things to be admired,” she said. “Above all, he really stands out. He really speaks up about women’s issues no matter what. You can tell he has a really strong woman in his life. I think above all that is just fantastic.”

Jamie Murray was paired with Martina Hingis to win the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 2017, while Nicole Melichar and Alexander Peya took the title a year ago.

It will be interesting to see how they pair up. It’s tough to predict the outcome of mixed doubles, and with two aging players having suffered significant injuries in recent years, it’s possible both are hurting their chances in the singles bracket. But for the time being, this is fun and everyone should be psyched to see what it looks like.

The full mixed doubles bracket isn’t available yet, but one of the things to keep in mind will be the fact that mixed doubles are generally played on the outer courts, which see more best-of-five doubles tennis than the other courts, which lowers its overall quality and could be tough for Murray and Williams to play on consistently.

The full mixed doubles draw will be announced on Wednesday. Williams and Murray will likely be in action together for their first mixed doubles matchup on Thursday.


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Gays kick off “LGBTQ Wrath Month” by boycotting Nivea amid allegations of homophobia

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Pride is followed by Wrath. And since June was Pride month that means July is Wrath month. At least, according to Washington Post columnist Anthony Oliveira.

This “LGBTQ Wrath Month,” the gays seem to have set their sights on global skincare company Nivea after news broke that the company had been dropped by its ad agency amid allegations of homophobia.

Just to recap: According to Ad Ageit all started when the brand rejected an image the agency pitched depicting two men’s hands touching.

In a call with agency creatives, a rep from Nivea allegedly said, “We don’t do gay at Nivea,” unaware that one of the people on the call was gay.

In response, the agency announced it was terminating its account with the skincare company at the end of 2019, when its contract expires.

And then came the wrath.

Shortly after the story broke, #boycottnivea began trending as the gays and their allies took to Twitter to voice their outrage…

In a statement issued last week, Beiersdorf, the Hamburg, Germany-based parent company that owns Nivea, said it does not tolerate discrimination of any kind:

We are an international company with more than 20,000 employees with very different genders, ethnicities, orientations, backgrounds and personalities worldwide. Through our products, we touch millions of consumers around the globe every day. We know and cherish that individuality and diversity in all regards brings inspiration and creativity to our society and to us as a company. No form of discrimination, direct and indirect, is tolerated.

Hmmm. Somehow we’re not sure that statement’s gonna cut it.

Related: Nivea skincare dropped by ad agency after allegedly saying “we don’t do gay”


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Gay White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere Has a Lot to Say in Defense of His Boss Donald Trump

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Judd Deere / Twitter

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere is gay, and has a lot to say in defense of his boss Donald J. Trump in a new Buzzfeed profile.

Said Deere: “The left really wants to continue to push what I consider to be a disgusting message that LGBT Americans are threatened under this administration. It’s just a smear campaign. They’re going to say that I’m helping the enemy. That’s because I don’t agree with them 100% on all issues — they think that I’m in the wrong because I’m a Republican who also happens to be gay. They can get mad at me. I don’t go into a dark depression because somebody hates the person I work for, or wants to get upset at me because they think I’m crazy for working here, because it just doesn’t matter to me.”

The post Gay White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere Has a Lot to Say in Defense of His Boss Donald Trump appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Man feels triggered by rainbow garden gnomes, flies into “violent rage,” police called

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Police in the UK were forced to remove a man for flying into a “violent rage” after he spotted a set of garden gnome statues painted with the Pride flag.

A local shop in Estover called Asda began selling Pride-themed garden gnomes in a few years ago as a show of support to the LGBTQ community.

On June 29, a man entered the store and saw the statues on display. That’s when things turned ugly.

According to witnesses, he flew into a violent rage, shouting about how the gnomes offended him.

“The guy started saying random things like ‘it’s a gnome!’” said one witness. “It offended him as they don’t have a sexuality.”

“I’m assuming the guy was offended as they look like they have a gender, that’s the bit I caught of the situation.”

Store employees called police who asked the man to leave the scene. Owners of the store say they have zero tolerance policy for violent or threatening behavior toward customers or employees.

Funny how the guy seemed more offended at the notion of queers gnomes rather than  how tacky they look on a lawn.

Related: Kelly Asbury on ‘Ugly Dolls’ stars Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson and staring down bullies


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Milan Christopher: Lil Nas X Coming Out Will Save Lives — WATCH

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Out Love and Hip Hop star Milan Christopher praised “Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X for coming out as gay, telling TMZ that his action will save lives.

Said Christopher: “I think that it was dope. Some people you feel like when their career is falling off they make this announcement then they get a re-kick to their career. He’s at the height of his career and he did it. He’s fearless. He’s dope. I’m here for it.”

“LGBT teens across the country have the highest rate of suicide. …. Lil Nas saved lives,” Christopher added.

The post Milan Christopher: Lil Nas X Coming Out Will Save Lives — WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Police raid drag show during Montgomery Pride in eerie echo of Stonewall

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A group of drag queens were all set to perform at a Montgomery, Alabama restaurant in honor of Pride last weekend when police raided the eatery just minutes before the big show.

The Touch of Soul Café had planned to host the event the night of June 29. The restaurant kicked off the Pride party at 11 pm, with plans to continue until 2 am.

Owner Geri Moss believed she had the right to keep the restaurant open until that hour in accordance with the law.

Local statues specify that a business must serve food from open to close in order to qualify as a restaurant. Those that do not, or that serve only alcohol after a certain hour, are deemed bars or clubs, and are subject to different permits.

According to police reports, cops raided Touch of Soul around 10:45 pm, just before customers were due to enter the premises. Moss opted to shut down the restaurant, effectively canceling the drag show and Pride celebration.

Police inspections happen on a regular basis in Montgomery, though Moss notes that this one had slightly different circumstances. In the run-up to Pride, Touch of Soul received a number of calls from “Christian customers” expressing their disapproval of the event.

Police told Moss that they opted to raid the restaurant after seeing an employee outside and customers entering the building. That explanation conflicts with accounts of the Touch of Soul staff, which say no customers had entered the building. That also contradicts reports by the local fire marshall, who says that he received plans to raid the business ahead of time.

In other words, police had planned to raid Touch of Soul in advance.

Moss, as well as the local LGBTQ community, have compared the raid to that of Stonewall.

“People are suffering from a lack of respect and places to go,” Moss says. “So, when people can come together and enjoy the same things, without all the looks and remarks, it’s just nice. ‘But then there are people who want tear that down.”

The Montgomery Police department has yet to comment on the circumstances of the raid.

Related: Alabama Boss Asks Trans Employee Two Worst Questions, Fires Her, And Now Has To Pay Big Time


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3 quick ways the NFL can make its free agency as exciting as the NBA’s

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Retired lineman Geoff Schwartz says the NFL isn’t that far away from having a frenzied free agent period like the NBA — it just needs to make a few changes.

The wildest spending spree in sports history is here. NBA free agency opened up June 30 at 6 p.m. ET and, since that time, over $3.5 billion of contracts have been handed out, with Kawhi Leonard still undecided at the time of this writing. While the NBA doesn’t have specific language for guaranteed deals in its contracts, this is money that every player will see, as teams always pay out their players.

Needless to say, NBA free agency dominates NFL free agency in almost every aspect.

There’s more money — more guaranteed money for sure — more player movement, super teams being created, players signing huge deals while being injured, and the poor Knicks. (Sorry, Knicks fans. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a free agent soon. LOL.)

Even though the gap is wide now, the NFL isn’t far away from having NBA-type free agency periods. With a few tweaks, it can happen quickly.

1. Dump the franchise tag

The first change the NFL needs to make is eliminating the franchise tag. The franchise tag limits player movement. It’s a weapon ownership can use to keep players on a team for longer than their contracts, and it can force players into deals with their current team to avoid the one-year tag.

On a side note, players need to fight to get rid of the tag for the new collective bargaining agreement in 2021. I have no clue why we agreed to it in the last CBA. There’s almost no example I can think of where playing under a tag is better than hitting free agency. It’s not.

So dumping the tag would immediately open up player movement. You’d have young players in their prime heading to the open market — and at the top position in the sport, quarterback, that almost never happens.

2. Make one big change to the salary cap

Secondly, an adjustment to the salary cap structure is needed. The NFL has a hard salary cap. You’re not permitted to go above that number and that limits how much a player can make. The NBA has a soft cap with a luxury tax penalty if you’re over the cap. There’s even a repeater luxury tax for those teams who continue to go above that threshold.

But the NBA isn’t a free-for-all with a soft cap. It has max contract values set in advance, and even supermax contracts. These contracts give the home team an advantage, with more money being available by staying with the team that drafted you. This hasn’t seemed to stop players from moving teams, though.

So how do you fix the NFL salary cap to allow for more movement? The answer isn’t a soft cap. There are too many players and too many cheap owners, and there’d be even less parity. The answer is allowing one team to designate a single player’s salary to NOT count against the salary cap.

Most often, this player would be the quarterback and it would allow for an open market on that player. Let’s say Patrick Mahomes continues his tear until his five-year rookie contract with the Chiefs is finished. Without a franchise tag, Mahomes could land anywhere (even back with the Chiefs) but his number doesn’t count against the cap. How much does he make a season? $60 million? $70?

It would be out of control — and awesome for the NFL!

3. More guaranteed money, somehow

Third, the NFL guarantees in the contract would have to become more uniform. Players off their rookie contracts who are about to sign that monster second contract are going where the most money is. And by most money, it’s the most guaranteed money.

Fully guaranteeing contracts across the NFL isn’t practical due to the number of players, but making a more uniform policy toward guaranteed money would allow more teams to be in the bidding for an athlete.

And, quite frankly, I don’t even have a solution to this proposal. Because again, you’d have guys just sign with whichever team can offer the most guaranteed money. So you’d either have to cap the guarantees or only allow a certain percent. But the first step to making guaranteed money more uniform starts with players and their agents negotiating those deals, like Kirk Cousins did last offseason.


While the NFL owns the news cycle most of the year, the NBA controls this part of the calendar.

NBA free agency period is wild and all-consuming, and we love it! If the NFL wants to make its free agency more exciting, it can start with my suggestions above.


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mikenov on Twitter: RT @KremlinTrolls: BREAKING: House Democrats file lawsuit to obtain Trump tax returns cnn.com/2019/07/02/pol…

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BREAKING: House Democrats file lawsuit to obtain Trump tax returns cnn.com/2019/07/02/pol…


Posted by

KremlinTrolls
on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 5:20pm
Retweeted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 5:27pm

57 likes, 14 retweets

mikenov on Twitter


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10 potential NFL player holdouts, ranked from most to least likely to happen

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Bobby Wagner, Julio Jones, and Yannick Ngakoue probably won’t be at training camp until they get contract extensions.

When NFL training camps opened in July 2018, many of the league’s biggest names steered clear. Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Earl Thomas all refused to show up due to qualms with their contracts.

Bell never reported, opting instead to sit out an entire season after the Steelers franchised him in back-to-back years.

Donald’s holdout ended with a record-breaking contract from the Rams. And Mack’s ended when he was traded from the Raiders to the Bears and subsequently given the blockbuster deal he wanted too.

Thomas reluctantly showed up without a new contract from the Seahawks and wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure — most notably when he suffered a broken leg early in the 2018 season that ended his time in Seattle.

There probably won’t be the same level of star power on the list of holdouts this summer. But skipping training camp is a common, and usually effective, tactic. At least a few will give it a try.

Here are 10 NFL players who may be training camp absentees in 2019, ranked from likeliest to least likely to hold out:

4 players with a holdout on the way

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Texans

The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft may not be the unstoppable sack machine that many expected him to be, but Clowney has emerged as a perennial Pro Bowler. He’s valuable enough that the Texans gave him a franchise tag that guarantees him $15.967 million in 2019.

That’s a good pay day for Clowney. The problem is that it lacks long-term security and is below market value for the position.

Clowney got things started by sitting out offseason workouts, but the only date that matters is July 15. That’s the deadline for franchised players to sign an extension.

If no deal gets done by mid-July, a training camp holdout would be a bit of an exercise in futility for Clowney. It’d be a (perfectly justifiable) protest of the tag, but — barring a trade — wouldn’t yield a new contract.

Although there haven’t been many updates on the progress of negotiations, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle said in April that there was “no deal in sight.” It doesn’t help either that the Texans fired general manager Brian Gaine in June and bungled their attempts to replace him. That left interim general manager Chris Olsen and coach Bill O’Brien about a month to work on a deal with Clowney.

Until Clowney signs his franchise tender, the Texans won’t be able to fine him for missing training camp practices. If no deal gets done in July, it’d be logical to assume Clowney takes a while to show up in August.

Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jaguars

Jacksonville appears to have prioritized an extension for Ngakoue ahead of a deal for cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

That makes sense, considering both were drafted in 2016 but Ramsey was the first-round pick. That means he had a fifth-year option on his contract that keeps him locked up through the 2020 season. Ngakoue is entering the last year of his rookie deal, so his contract situation is a more immediate hurdle for the Jaguars to clear.

Ngakoue sat out offseason workouts earlier this year for that reason.

In three seasons with the Jaguars, Ngakoue has 29.5 sacks and one trip to the Pro Bowl. That kind of production should put him in the same tier as Demarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, Trey Flowers, and Dee Ford — each of whom got a pricy five-year deal in 2019 that averaged between $17.1 and $21 million.

So far, it doesn’t look like there’s been much progress made between the Jaguars and Ngakoue.

A training camp holdout looks like it’s on the way, and he may be the player on this list who’s likeliest to drag his contract dispute into September.

Bobby Wagner, LB, Seahawks

As far as holdouts go, Wagner’s hunt for a new contract has been as amicable as possible. The linebacker chose against practicing in OTAs, but still showed up at the facility and participated without going on the field.

“He handled it beautifully,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters, via 247Sports. “Bobby’s an incredible player in this program. Everything that he does, his presence is obvious. He’s been around for everything. He’s been involved with everything and he’s handled it exactly the way he should under these circumstances.”

Things may get a little more contentious when it gets closer to the season, though. Wagner is arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, but now he has serious leverage for a pay raise thanks to C.J. Mosley. The Jets gave Mosley a five-year contract that averages $17 million per year — waaaaay more than Luke Kuechly’s $12.36 million average that previously reigned as the top salary for an inside linebacker.

Wagner is entering the final year of his contract and remains an integral part of the Seahawks. The defense has undergone a transformation in the wake of the Legion of Boom’s demise, and Wagner’s been the player who has held the unit together through the transition.

But it’s going to be a tough negotiation, thanks in no small part to Mosley’s outlier of a contract. Wagner probably won’t show up until the deal is done.

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

The Falcons placated Jones last year when he opted to skip out on the beginning of training camp. While the star receiver didn’t get the huge contract he was aiming for, the Falcons shifted money around on the deal to give him more money in 2018.

“We have come to an agreement with Julio, and we will re-address everything in 2019,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement at the time.

Well now it’s well into 2019 and the contract still hasn’t been re-addressed. There was a report in April that a deal was close to finished, but nothing came of that. Jones then sat out OTAs, setting the table for a training camp holdout.

After five straight Pro Bowl seasons with at least 1,400 receiving yards each, Jones isn’t going to come cheap. He’ll probably want a contract that eclipses the $18 million per year that was awarded to Odell Beckham Jr. last year.

There’s not much reason to believe the Falcons won’t pay up. Jones won’t be at camp until they do.

3 players more likely than not to holdout

Chris Jones, DT, Chiefs

Kansas City did some high-stakes tinkering with its pass rush during the offseason, shipping Dee Ford to the 49ers and filling his role by trading for Frank Clark. But the real centerpiece of the Chiefs’ defense is Jones, who had 15.5 sacks in 2018.

With his contract expiring after the 2019 season, Jones skipped offseason practices this spring. The Chiefs responded to the absence by playing hardball.

The good news for the Chiefs is that Jones has a reason to show up shortly after training camp opens. If he’s not in camp by Aug. 6, he’d be set to reach restricted free agency next year rather than unrestricted free agency.

Camp opens for the Chiefs on July 24, so Jones will be rolling the dice if he isn’t there within the first couple weeks. That makes a holdout much less likely to happen, but not impossible. Aaron Donald faced the same situation in 2018 and blew through the deadline in pursuit of a new contract.

He still didn’t show up until the Rams gave him a record-breaking deal on the last day of August. It wouldn’t be that surprising if Jones followed in Donald’s footsteps.

Darius Slay, CB, Lions

On the list of underpaid players coming up on the end of their contracts, Slay is in a different situation. He signed an extension in 2016 and still has two years left with base salaries of $12.55 million and $10 million on the way.

Since signing that deal, Slay has been to the Pro Bowl two times while several other cornerbacks got more lucrative contracts. He’s also gone through the guaranteed portions of the deal.

Now Slay’s angling for another contract that pays him like the elite cornerback that he is and gives him some security. And that could mean missing some of training camp.

“Will I be there?” Slay said of training camp on a podcast in June, via the Detroit Free Press. “We’ll see. Time will tell.”

With two years left on his deal, Detroit doesn’t need to do Slay any favors and restructure it. But the Lions are also sitting pretty with over $23 million in cap space and can afford to kick one of their best players a little more. Slay can edge them toward the latter with a holdout.

Robbie Gould, K, 49ers

There aren’t many examples of kickers holding out, but Gould has made it clear that San Francisco isn’t a place he wants to be. He requested a trade in April and told the 49ers that he won’t negotiate a long-term deal ahead of the July 15 deadline for an extension.

The 49ers didn’t take long to deny the trade request:

That curt response shut down rumors, but it didn’t quell Gould’s discontent. He’d still prefer to play close to home in Chicago, where he was for the first 11 seasons of his NFL career. (The Bears could certainly use the help after a brutal year of kicking.)

Kickers are often cogs that are easy to replace, but Gould has some leverage after leading the NFL in field goal percentage in 2019 by nailing 33 of his 34 tries. It’s why the 49ers don’t want to part with Gould and gave him the franchise tag in the first place. The team will probably keep him around even if he holds out.

The question is how long Gould is willing to stay away from San Francisco while he hunts for a trade.

3 players who may hold out, but will probably be in camp

Duke Johnson, RB, Browns

Like Gould, Johnson is on the hunt for a new uniform more than a new contract. The Browns running back says his goal is “to be somewhere [where he’s] wanted.”

The Browns — like the 49ers — also haven’t been very receptive of the request:

Johnson is currently set to be Nick Chubb’s backup in Cleveland, and his touches will likely decline when an eight-game suspension for Kareem Hunt is up. Johnson finished the 2018 season with just 40 rushing attempts, despite averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He contributed a little more in the pass game with 47 receptions, but that was down from 74 receptions in 2017.

While he showed up for minicamp, Johnson could opt to sit out in August in his attempt to find a bigger role elsewhere.

Trent Williams, OT, Washington

Williams is the same boat as Slay.

He signed a huge extension in 2015, the guaranteed money has been paid, and his contract is down to its final two years. Now Williams wants more.

He’s not in a bad spot with $11 million and $12.5 million in base salary for the next two years. But many offensive tackles have shifted the market in the last few years and Williams — who turns 31 in July — is running out of time to get another blockbuster deal.

Williams explained his absence from offseason practices in a meeting with team president Bruce Allen.

“I’ve talked to Trent a few times,” Allen told NBC Sports. ”He’s explained some things to me and I’ll leave it at that.”

Part of Williams’ complaint is reportedly due to frustration with the Washington medical staff. Williams had a growth on his head surgically removed, and coach Jay Gruden told reporters that the offensive tackle “wished the diagnosis had come a little sooner” from team doctors.

While Williams has been to seven consecutive Pro Bowls, he hasn’t completed a 16-game season since 2013. Most recently, he missed three games in 2018 due to thumb and rib injuries, and six games in 2017 due to a knee injury. Washington struggled to deal with the absence, and now has rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins to protect.

Still, the team probably won’t be keen to giving Williams another extension when he has two years left on the last one.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

Not many people are expecting Thomas to hold out. Mostly because he’s been adamant all offseason that it’s not his style.

“I’m a football player first — I like being at work.” Thomas told ESPN in May. “I feel pretty certain that everything will get taken care of and handled professionally. This is how I approach the game and how I show up to work the same way, and everything else will take care of itself.”

So don’t expect a standoff anything close to Le’Veon Bell’s with the Steelers.

But Thomas is due to make a laughably low $1.148 million for the 2019 season. He’s emerged as one of the NFL’s most elite receivers, and is headed into the last year of his rookie contract.

No player has more receptions than Thomas in the last three seasons and he wants a mega deal that reflects that level of production. He, too, will want to eclipse Beckham’s $18 million per year. Thomas might also be interested in waiting to see how the contract situation of Jones is resolved in Atlanta.

For now, there’s still plenty of negotiating to do:

In the time since Thomas spoke to reporters in May, his teammate Cameron Jordan got a three-year, $52.5 million extension. Thomas is likely to get his deal relatively soon, and he probably won’t sit out of training camp practices to force the issue. But it’d certainly make sense if he wanted to establish a sense of urgency before the 2019 regular season begins.


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The Mystics are head, shoulders, knees, and toes above the rest of the WNBA

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Led by superstar Elena Delle Donne, the Mystics are so, so, so far ahead of the pack this season.

Welcome to The W Is It, a weekly column about all the stuff that freakin’ rules in the WNBA. Have any tips of topics to cover? Find me @mellentuck on Twitter.

The first hint that the Washington Mystics might be by far the best team in the league came on Sunday. The Mystics ravaged the then-best team by record, Connecticut Sun, by FORTY-FREAKING-THREE points on national TV. Again, that’s a 43-point differential in 40 minutes of playing time, against a team that already had beaten them twice this season.

Six Mystics players finished in double figures, and the team shot 53 percent from the field, 43 percent from range on 30 tries, and 100 percent from the free throw line on 21 tries. This was a total and utter rout against a team with a 9-4 record and an MVP-favorite in Jonquel Jones. It was so bad, Sun head coach Curt Miller hardly stood up from the bench as his team’s pockets were picked 12 times.

A little more than one-third of the way into the season, they’re the league’s most obvious choice to hoist the championship trophy in October, and it isn’t even close. The Mystics boast the WNBA’s best record, best offense, and best player. Per the WNBA, Washington is outscoring opponents by 17.1 points per 100 possessions, which is nearly four times better than the second-place Las Vegas Aces at 4.8 per 100 possessions. At this point, this is their title to lose.

Of course, 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne is leading the charge. She finally looks as good as before she badly hyperextended her knee in last year’s semifinals, and then kept playing despite it. After the 43-point win, I attempted to ask teammate Natasha Cloud about Delle Donne’s breakout stretch, but was cut off by a loud goat noise that sounded like “BAHHH.” Then, an echo chamber of six subsequent “bahhh’s” flooded the locker room, forcing every reporter inside to succumb to laughter.

The point was made. Delle Donne, who’s not even 100 percent due to last year’s knee injury, is a GOAT.

The Mystics’ MVP is putting together her the best stretch since the injury last October, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor while averaging 19 or more points in her last four games. That includes 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a road victory over the Aces on June 19.

As good as she’s looked, she still isn’t at 100 percent health-wise, even if she insists the sleek brace on her knee is working well. Coach Mike Thibault said there are days Delle Donne comes to practice “stiff and sore,” though Cloud said she fights through it.

“She holds us down even though her knee might not always feeling great and she’s fatigued,” Cloud said.

Even when Delle Donne isn’t entirely on her game, the Mystics are deep enough to hang with the best. Second-year player Ariel Atkins should be an All-Star, and Cloud merits consideration as well. LaToya Sanders is Delle Donne’s perfect low-post compliment, and veteran three-point extraordinaire Kristi Toliver rounds out the starting five.

The most terrifying part of it all for the rest of the league is that D.C. doesn’t even have all of its All-Stars in America. Emma Meesseman, the team’s best player before Delle Donne arrived, is weeks from returning from the EuroBasket.

Good luck, rest of the league.

It looks like NBA 2K is going to include the WNBA

The first NBA 2K trailer dropped on Monday, and we got a brief look at A’ja Wilson in an Aces uniform! There are no details yet, but it looks like 2K, the basketball video game, will introduce the W a year after NBA Live.

A’ja Wilson went for 39 points in OT

Speaking of Wilson, in an overtime win over the Fever, she dropped a career-high 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting with 11 rebounds and five assists.

SHEESH!

Liz Cambage vs. Kalani Brown beef

Move over Lisa Leslie and Lauren Jackson, we have new hair-pulling beef. In the Aces’ game against the Sparks, rookie Kalani Brown’s hair got wrapped up in the clutch of Liz Cambage’s arm, and they’re both blaming each other.

Here’s the play:

After the game, Brown sounded off.

“She told me she was gonna pull my hair out,” Brown said. “I just didn’t think she would really do it.”

And then Cambage responded, tweeting that Brown was lying. “I get y’all tryna be cute with some inches, but tye [sic] that cheap shit up.”

Incredible.

Kara Lawson is now a Celtics assistant coach

That’s eight women on NBA coaching staffs.

Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe are sports’ greatest couple.

Facts. Big facts.


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