NBA superstar re-signs for 3 more seasons

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NBA superstar re-signs for 3 more seasons

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Tim Duncan era isn't over yet. The San Antonio Spurs announced Wednesday that they had re-signed Duncan, bringing back the 36-year-old forward for at least a 16th season. Terms were not disclosed, though Yahoo Sports cited anonymous sources in reporting it was a three-year, 36 million deal. The first overall pick in the 1997 draft, Duncan in 15 seasons has led the Spurs to nine division titles and the playoffs every year, including four NBA championships. The Spurs are 830-352 in the regular season during his tenure, the highest winning percentage over any 15-year span in NBA history, and Duncan has two league MVP awards to go along with three NBA Finals MVP honors. "Tim Duncan has established himself as one of the best players in NBA history," coach Gregg Popovich said. "He is an unselfish superstar who loves to compete and has only one goal when he steps on the court -- to do whatever it takes to help his team win. We are all thrilled that he'll spend his entire career as a San Antonio Spur." Duncan, a 13-time All-Star, has averaged 20.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.22 blocks per game over his career. The Spurs have other questions headed into the offseason. He experienced a bit of a renaissance this season after injuries and age led some observers to speculate his career was nearing an end. Duncan averaged 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in leading the Spurs to the Southwest Division title and a league best 50-16 record. "I think (his health) probably had as much to do with solidifying in his mind how long he wanted to go into the future," general manager R.C. Buford said. "He played well throughout this whole season and he even felt better than he ever had. I think in his mind, that was what was important. We're going to play him as long as he says he can play and then probably a couple of days longer. We're hoping he's going to extend us." The signing was expected, especially after Duncan told Yahoo Sports, "I'm here and I'm a Spur for life," during their Western Conference playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. "You're never confident that is going to happen until it's done," Buford said, "but he made it clear he wanted to be here. We laid out what our realities were and here's how we thought we could accomplish the best team we could put around him and he said, I want to be a part of it.'" To that end, the Spurs also announced restricted free-agent Danny Green had re-signed with the team. Buford said there was nothing to report about whether forward Boris Diaw re-signed or if 2009 second-round pick Nando De Colo would join the Spurs, because there are "logistics involved" with signing international players. De Colo and Diaw are both playing for France's Olympic Team along with Spurs point guard Tony Parker. De Colo played the past three seasons with Valencia of the Spanish League. With the possible exception of De Colo's addition, the Spurs are expected to return virtually their entire roster from this season. "I was going to announce that we traded for Steve Nash, but the Lakers beat us to it," Buford said. "I think we won't go into the season with the exact same team as we had a year ago. (But) we think there is a lot of opportunity for internal growth, especially this summer when we have our gym and our players and the opportunity to get our coaches with them." But the Spurs have other questions headed into the offseason. The Spurs lost in the playoffs to Oklahoma City, blowing a 2-0 lead. They don't have many glaring needs, with the bulk of the roster on track to return. Parker has apparently healed from a bizarre eye injury in time to play for France in the Summer Olympics. He got a shard of glass in his eye, damaging his cornea, during a New York City night club fight involving Chris Brown and members of hip-hop star Drake's entourage. The 30-year-old Parker has two years remaining on a 50 million contract. He is coming off averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 7.7 assists. Manu Ginobili is also in London this summer playing for his native Argentina, a moonlighting stint that always makes the Spurs anxious because of the 34-year-old playmaker's propensity for injury.

Fantasy Football: 2016 wide receiver sleepers and busts

Fantasy Football: 2016 wide receiver sleepers and busts

Throw the names Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. all in a hat and pick one. It doesn't matter which name you pull out. They're all studs.

Anybody who plays fantasy football should know who the top wide receivers in the game are.

Check out that parity. Only one player that we disagree on.

Analyzing the top guys and telling you which one to draft isn't rocket science. That's why we're here to give you advice on who to target, which sleepers to keep an eye on and the busts for the 2016 season.

Top Targets

Eric Decker, NYJ: When will Decker get his due?? Dude's had his own TV show, has a celebrity wife, played with Peyton Manning and now plays in the biggest city in the U.S. and yet he's still an afterthought in fantasy. Decker has proven to be one of the most consistent players in the league over the last few seasons and there's no indication that will change anytime soon. He's had four straight years of at least 74 catches and 962 yards and scored double digit TDs in three of those four seasons. Last year, he scored 12 TDs in 12 different games, earning double digit fantasy points in nine of his final 10 games. For a guy that's going in the fifth round as the No. 24 WR, that's incredible value. — Tony Andracki

A.J Green, CIN: I know it's a little bit of a "Captain Obvious" moment to tell you that you should target Green, but I'm going to explain why anyway. Currently, Green has an ADP of 13, which has him falling out of the first round in many leagues. Outside of the "Big 3" Green is arguably the safest wide receiver to target in your draft and should be snatched up if he's available anywhere close to the end of the first or the start of the second round. Gone from the Bengals are wide receivers Marvin Jones and Muhamed Sanu, meaning the target burden is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Green in 2016. He should easily blow his 2015 targets (132) out of the water with only Brandon LaFell, Tyler Eifert and the Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard tandem as the only trusted targets for quarterback Andy Dalton. As a WR1, Green is an excellent piece to build your team around. — Scott Krinch

Sleepers

Donte Moncrief, IND: Moncrief is a sixth-round pick right now, but count on a higher return on your investment than that. The third-year wideout has a rather high floor considering he's not yet an established name and his ceiling could eclipse that of teammate TY Hilton. Moncrief has a great rapport with Andrew Luck, who should be happy, healthy and back to his dominant self in 2016. Everything here spells breakout this season. — TA

Kevin White, CHI: The wait is over. Bears fans and fantasy players alike are happy to finally see White return to full health. White, the 7th overall selection in 2015 who missed all of his rookie season with a stress fracture in his shin, has been drawing rave reviews throughout the preseason, being compared to Andre Johnson/Reggie Wayne by Bears' wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson. White heads into the 2016 season as the Bears' No. 2 wide receiver opposite Alshon Jeffery. Equipped with off the charts athleticism and speed for his 6-foot-3 frame, White is expected to play a significant role in the Bears offense. His 8th/9th round ADP puts him behind wideouts like DeVante Parker, Jordan Matthews and Torrey Smith, all players that may have a higher floor than White, but don't possess the type of ceiling that he does. If you want a high upside guy in the later rounds, White is your man. — SK

Busts

Allen Hurns, JAX: I hate to label Hurns as a bust heading into the 2016 season because I really like him as a player on the upstart Jaguars offense. However, the problem I have with Hurns is the fact that he's going off the board before the likes of Tyler Lockett, Sterling Shepard and Kevin White. The three aforementioned wide receivers all have massive ceilings next season, while Hurns will undoubtedly see a decline in last season's numbers. I can't see Hurns repeating his 2015 stretch where he went seven straight weeks with a receiving touchdown. Blake Bortles is going to spread the wealth between Allen Robinson, Rashad Greene, Marqise Lee and Hurns, in addition to having a full season of Julius Thomas. If you're expecting another big year from Hurns, temper your enthusiasm. There are too many targets to go around in Jacksonville. — SK

Sammy Watkins, BUF: This isn't about Watkins' talent level. He is one of the most physically gifted receivers in the NFL. But he's being drafted in the third round and I simply don't think he will provide that kind of value. From the No. 12 WR on the board, you'd expect him to be a guy you set and forget in your lineup every week and Watkins is not that. For starters, there is his injury history (he missed three full games last season and was limited for a few others) and he already has a foot issue this season. Then factor in the fact the Bills offense under Tyrod Taylor is not a passing offense and more about ball control and letting Taylor improve or use his legs. Watkins will have some big games, but he won't be consistent enough to warrant such an investment. — TA

Michigan-Michigan State rivalry moves to Twitter with play on Wolverine's slogan

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Michigan-Michigan State rivalry moves to Twitter with play on Wolverine's slogan

"Those who stay will be champions."

That's the familiar motto of Michigan football.

Well, consider that motto co-opted by the Wolverines' in-state rival.

Michigan State's director of college advancement and performance, Curtis Blackwell, tweeted out this image Thursday. Check out the slogan on the right.

Whoa!

Now, this is certainly nothing new, social-media flaps between the two programs. Jim Harbaugh makes a habit of going after people on Twitter, and Mark Dantonio has had his own veiled Twitter shots at Harbaugh & Co. in the past, too.

And, truthfully, Michigan State has reason to boast, as it's the program that's done the most winning in the Great Lakes State in recent seasons. Dantonio has led the Spartans to a trio of conference championships, in 2010, 2013 and 2015. In the past three seasons alone, the Spartans are 36-5 with two conference titles, wins in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Meanwhile, Michigan has won double-digit games in a single season just twice since 2006.

So while riffing on the Wolverines' motto raised a few eyebrows, the Spartans aren't wrong.

Big Ten preview: J.T. Barrett primed for big year as the Buckeyes' only QB

Big Ten preview: J.T. Barrett primed for big year as the Buckeyes' only QB

This time last year, Ohio State’s quarterback battle was the biggest story in college football.

One candidate led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular-season record and a spot in the Big Ten title game, not to mention his fifth-place finish in voting for the Heisman Trophy. The other candidate led the Buckeyes to wins in the conference championship game, the Sugar Bowl and the national championship game, delivering Ohio State its 11th national title in program history.

It was an unenviable decision, and Urban Meyer took forever to actually make it, starting Cardale Jones over the season’s first few games while continuing to play J.T. Barrett. And all the while, the Buckeyes’ offense struggled. Barrett was eventually handed the starting job and put up some big numbers while Ezekiel Elliott carried the offense. But that indecision at the game’s most important position, well it wasn’t what you want on the quest to repeat as national champs.

“I feel like it was a little difficult, but you just try to put yourself in the best position to play. That’s all I tried to do was to focus on what I can control,” Barrett said during Big Ten Media Days. “That was something that coach Meyer tried to do his best as far as me and Cardale and who was going to give Ohio State the best opportunity to win games.”

Even though the Buckeyes only lost one game last season, the quarterback merry-go-round and a comparatively unimpressive offense were the talks of the season — and maybe why it wasn’t back-to-back national titles for Ohio State.

According to Meyer, Barrett had some things working against him that kept him out of the starting role for the season’s first few weeks. This season, there will be no such controversy. Barrett is the guy, without question, and that should be a big help in a year when the Buckeyes are transitioning from an experienced group to a young one.

“He did not have a great training camp last year for whatever reason,” Meyer said. “We had a great conversation, actually drove him to the airport on the way here, talking about that. And there was a lot of distraction with Cardale, with who is going to be playing quarterback. And he was still overcoming a pretty serious injury that took a long time to heal. So he didn't have the spring reps that he needed. He did this year. And I anticipate he'll be as good a quarterback as we've had. It's his show and he knows it and he's prepared.”

Barrett won’t have Elliott to help him out this season — though there are high hopes for Elliott’s successor, Mike Weber — but his numbers from last season and the season before showed he’s more than capable of being one of the best players in the Big Ten. In 2015, Barrett completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 992 yards and 11 touchdowns, rushing 115 times for 682 yards and 11 more touchdowns. Of course Buckeyes fans will be happy to see the same kind of season he had in 2014, when he excelled after being thrust into the starting role after Braxton Miller was injured for the season. That year, Barrett completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns plus 938 rushing yards and 11 additional touchdowns.

Barrett should deliver another sensational season as a redshirt junior, but it’s the offense around him that brings question marks. No one knows what to expect from the youth at almost every other position, be it Weber, inexperienced wideouts or an offensive line that will see a true freshman starter. It makes that comparatively lackluster offensive season a year ago — the Buckeyes still averaged more than 35 points a game and scored at least 28 points all but twice — all the more difficult to correct considering the youth around Barrett.

“As an offense last year, we didn’t function like we knew we could have,” Barrett said. “So seeing that go down last year and knowing the time it’s going to take in order to make sure that we improve and get better and maximize everybody at the wide receiver position and also me as a quarterback. Just having that in the back of our minds, knowing we’ve got to put this work in to make sure that shows on Saturdays.”

But Ohio State remains confident, with those projecting more big things for the Buckeyes doing so mostly because of Barrett. Meyer called this team his most talented group yet in Columbus, an almost shocking statement following the past two seasons, which featured one of the best collections of college talent ever.

Barrett likes the young guys, too, but he echoes the concerns of his coach, too, namely getting this inexperienced group up to snuff before a tough non-conference test at Oklahoma and a rigorous schedule in the Big Ten East Division.

“I feel like the talent’s still there, it’s just more of the experience that’s lacking,” Barrett said. “So with the experience lacking, the confidence might not be there. The talent may be there when we’re out there running drills on a Monday afternoon at 4 o’clock. But being able to get the experience and the confidence for these guys to be able to go out there and know that they’ll be able to make a play on Saturday, I think that’s something that needs to be developed.”