See which team is going hard after Pau Gasol

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See which team is going hard after Pau Gasol

From Comcast SportsNet
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are pulling out all the stops in an effort to land Pau Gasol. If they have to part with the highest draft choice in franchise history after just one season, the Wolves appear ready to do it. That much became clear leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday, when Minnesota offered Derrick Williams to the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 2 pick as a vehicle to help them land Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers, two people with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. The deal never came together before the draft began, and the Bobcats stayed at No. 2 and took Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The people requested anonymity because the talks were meant to remain private. The Timberwolves were expected to continue their pursuit of Gasol in hopes of putting him with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on a revamped roster aimed at getting the team back to the playoffs, and beyond, for the first time since 2004. The Wolves' interest in Gasol has long been rumored, with the highly skilled big man considered an ideal fit for coach Rick Adelman's corner offense, and the kind of playoff-tested veteran needed on one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. He is also close friends with Rubio, the Wolves' superb young point guard who is recovering from a torn ACL and hopes to be ready early next season. Gasol has teamed with Kobe Bryant to win three titles in Los Angeles, but has always seemed to catch the brunt of the criticism when things went wrong. That was the case again this year when he averaged just 12.5 points along with 9.5 rebounds in the playoffs, and the Lakers were abruptly eliminated in the second round by the younger, quicker Oklahoma City Thunder. He often appeared to get lost in the shuffle while Bryant and Andrew Bynum got most of the touches on offense. He was the subject of trade rumors all season, starting before it began when Commissioner David Stern, operating as owner of the New Orleans Hornets, nixed a deal that would have sent Gasol to Houston as part of a package that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. "It has been a crazy year and a lot to deal with. ... Unfortunately, we had tough losses and things didn't really go our way for the most part," the four-time All-Star said at the end of the season. "You just have to regroup and digest this loss and this season, and learn from it and move on." Gasol is due to make more than 38 million over the next two seasons, an enormous sum that the salary cap-strapped Lakers might have difficulty footing under the harsher luxury tax penalties that are scheduled to kick in in 2013. Love's max contract extension kicks in next season, making him the only Timberwolves player who is expected to be on the roster next season making more than 4.6 million. If the Wolves buy out Martell Webster and decline to tender qualifying offers to Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, as expected, they should have plenty of cap room for Gasol. But if they want to bring him in to play alongside Love in the frontcourt, it likely will come at a hefty price. Offering Williams, the second overall pick last season who showed promise and inconsistency in his rookie year, means the Wolves would be giving up on him after just one season. And at just 21 years old, Williams has plenty of potential to grow into the star that many projected him to be when he entered the draft after his sophomore season at Arizona. Gasol will turn 32 next week and has played nearly 39,000 minutes in his career, raising the question if he has enough gas left in the tank to help turn the Timberwolves from an up-and-coming team into a legitimate contender. Williams is aware that the Wolves are trying to deal him, but it's unclear how he will respond if he is still on the team when training camp begins. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and was the only Timberwolves player to play in all 66 games last season. Williams had several big games during an up-and-down year in addition to participating in the slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend. He scored 27 points in 27 minutes in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Feb. 28 and had 27 points and eight boards in a loss at Denver on April 11. But the 66-year-old Adelman has been pushing for the franchise to add more veterans, and he grew impatient at times with Williams last season. Williams did most of his damage while playing power forward, which is the same position played by Love, who blossomed last year into a surprising MVP contender. With Love playing so many minutes at power forward, the Timberwolves were hoping Williams could drop some weight this summer to help him become quick enough to play small forward for the majority of the time. Earlier this week, Kahn said that Williams was already down to 233 pounds, with a personal goal of 225. "I think the most important fact about Derrick to me is that he turned 21 last month. He's still very, very young," Kahn said on Wednesday. "This is a very important summer for him to demonstrate if he's serious about his craft, his occupation, that he's serious about himself. This is the offseason. I challenged him in his exit interview, and I'm eager to see the results of this summer." But Kahn also declined to list Williams with Rubio and Love as "untouchable" players when the team considers trades this summer. "We have two untouchables," Kahn said. "That doesn't mean everyone else will be traded this summer. We just don't know."

Mark Dantonio takes to Twitter to criticize stories on ex-Spartans QB Connor Cook

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Mark Dantonio takes to Twitter to criticize stories on ex-Spartans QB Connor Cook

Mark Dantonio surely wasn't happy about Connor Cook's unexpected fall in the NFL Draft. But the Michigan State head coach appears to be even less happy over explanations of why Cook's fall happened.

Dantonio took to Twitter in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to express his displeasure over a story in the Detroit News explaining why Cook plummeted down the draft boards of many teams. Though no specific title or writer was named, a story published Saturday titled "Personality issues caused Connor Cook's fall in draft" seems like the target of Dantonio's tweet.

Dantonio followed up with another Tuesday-morning tweet aimed at the Detroit Free Press. Again, no specific story or writer was mentioned by the coach, but one can assume that a Sunday story titled "Connor Cook could not satisfy NFL teams' questions about leadership" might be the one. It in itself was a follow up to an earlier story by the same writer titled "Connor Cook leaves some teams uneasy in NFL draft."

After a head-scratching fall, Cook was eventually selected in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders, who used the No. 100 pick on a quarterback who at one point looked like one of this draft's top prospects at the position. While Cook's 2015 season with the Spartans wasn't statistically sensational, he still established himself as perhaps the Big Ten's best quarterback and still led his team to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Cook finished his career at Michigan State, during which he was a three-year starter, with a 35-5 record, something Dantonio pointed out in those tweets.

So what was the big deal? Well, according to that Detroit News story, Cook earned the skepticism of NFL teams with his personality.

The fact that Cook was not elected a team captain back in the fall has been talked to death and probably way overblown considering the Spartans were a senior-laden group with a lot of high-caliber choices for that honor. Center Jack Allen was elected the offensive captain, and in another draft stunner, he wasn't selected at all last weekend.

But the Detroit News story went further, attributing NFL personnel who described Cook as "arrogant" with "an overall attitude issue."

That first Detroit Free Press story quoted one NFL coach saying, "There’s something about him that you just don’t trust him," and another saying, "There’s just something put-offish about him."

You can see why Dantonio would be upset.

But it seems the writers shouldn't be the one drawing Dantonio's ire. While everyone always gets upset when quotes are attributed to anonymous people, that seems to be a more common thing in stories about the NFL Draft than in stories about government corruption. NFL personnel obviously had issues with Cook, whether those were justified or not. If they didn't, Cook would've been selected much earlier. The reporters are reporting on those issues.

So maybe instead of attacking the stories, Dantonio should be going after the NFL front offices that deemed his 35-5 quarterback undraftable.

Northwestern to pay $1.2 million for 2017 non-conference game vs. Nevada

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Northwestern to pay $1.2 million for 2017 non-conference game vs. Nevada

Usually, people spend a lot of money to travel to Nevada and partake in its various entertainment options.

Northwestern is spending a lot of money to bring Nevada to Evanston.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday that Northwestern will pay Nevada a whopping $1.2 million to travel to play a non-conference football game in Evanston in 2017.

Big-conference schools paying out large sums of money to play host to small-conference schools is nothing new and downright commonplace. The school from the larger conference, the Big Ten in this case, gets a relatively easier opponent in hopes of securing a non-conference win. The school from the smaller conference, in this case the Mountain West, gets a big payday that is vital to keeping its program competitive and funding things throughout the athletics department.

It's generally a win-win, though this kind of situation also sets up the big-conference school for potential embarrassment. Should the small-conference school score an upset, well then the loss comes with a million-dollar price tag. Big Ten fans will surely remember Michigan's folly with Appalachian State, and that's not the only time such a thing has occurred.

So now it's Northwestern's turn to shell out the cash for a date with Nevada. The Wolf Pack have posted a 7-6 record in four of the last five seasons, with a 4-8 finish thrown in there, too. The two schools met twice previously in 2006 and 2007, splitting that home-and-home series.

Northwestern's non-conference schedule for the 2017 season is now complete, with this Nevada game accompanying a road game against Duke and a home game against Western Illinois.

Big Ten vs. Big East: Matchups announced for Gavitt Tipoff Games

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Big Ten vs. Big East: Matchups announced for Gavitt Tipoff Games

Last season saw the inaugural edition of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a non-conference event pitting Big Ten teams against Big East teams.

Well, Year 2 of the event is coming up this fall, and the matchups were announced Tuesday, featuring a total of eight teams from last season's NCAA tournament field.

The highlight is without a doubt Purdue clashing with Villanova, the reigning national champion following its unforgettable win in last month's national title game.

But there are plenty of other noteworthy games, including a rematch of last season's tremendous Maryland-Georgetown bout, Wisconsin visiting Creighton, Iowa playing host to Seton Hall and Ohio State welcoming Providence to Columbus.

Here's the full schedule.

— Villanova at Purdue (Monday, Nov. 14)
— Maryland at Georgetown (Tuesday, Nov. 15)
— Wisconsin at Creighton (Tuesday Nov. 15)
— Northwestern at Butler (Wednesday, Nov. 16)
— Seton Hall at Iowa (Thursday, Nov. 17)
— Providence at Ohio State (Thursday, Nov. 17)
— Rutgers at DePaul (Thursday, Nov. 17)
— St. John's at Minnesota (Friday, Nov. 18)