Nets set to acquire Joe Johnson from Hawks

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Nets set to acquire Joe Johnson from Hawks

According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are "finalizing a trade to acquire Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson," according to league sources.
The Nets would acquire the six-time All-Star in exchange for guards Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and DeShawn Stevenson and forwards Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, along with a 2013 first-round draft pick.
Johnson has four years and almost 90 million left on his contract, and the Nets are expected to hear soon from point guard Deron Williams on whether he will accept the team's five-year, 100 million contract extension. Williams met with Nets officials today, and the team is confident he will stay instead of choosing the Dallas Mavericks.
But the one player who may be affected most by this move is Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic center, who has requested a trade, is only willing to sign a contract extension with the Nets. But with Johnson's contract, Williams' extension, 40 million invested in Gerald Wallace, and an "eventual 50 million-plus deal for center Brook Lopez," it appears that the Nets would be out of the running for the disgruntled center.
With the move, Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov has introduced his own version of the "Big Three" in Williams, Johnson and Wallace. Alongside Lopez and young role players MarShon Brooks and Danny Green, the Nets could be in good shape for the future.
And while this won't directly affect the Bulls, it does make the Eastern Conference Playoff race a bit more exciting. The Hawks should still contend for a post-season spot with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. And the Nets now find themselves with one of the best starting lineups in the conference.

One year later, White Sox recall baseball's most surreal game

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One year later, White Sox recall baseball's most surreal game

BALTIMORE -- One year ago, three days of civil unrest and confusion resulted in the White Sox playing in one of the more bizarre games in major league history.

After city-wide riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death resulted in a city-wide curfew as well, the calling of the National Guard and two cancelled games, the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles became the first teams in Major League History to play a contest that was closed to the public.

No fans were allowed inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which provided a surreal backdrop that Wednesday afternoon as the Orioles crushed the White Sox 8-2.

Whether it was the lack of background noise, the audible cheers of a group of several dozen fans outside the park or the idea that baseball was played in a city where so much remained uncertain, with armed guardsmen stationed just outside the park, players involved have very distinct memories of what would have normally been a nondescript contest.

“You could hear everything,” said pitcher Carlos Rodon, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in only the second appearance of his big league career. “I remember listening to Adam Jones out in the outfield, just like calling his own game out there like he was the umpire.

“Just real quiet. Almost like backyard baseball.”

White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton remembers he felt conflicted about playing. The White Sox had arrived in town late Sunday night, only a day after unrest outside the ballpark resulted in a smashed window at one of the venue’s restaurants.

While the area around the ballpark and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor had quieted down by Monday morning, events began to reignite that afternoon about 4-5 miles from Camden Yards.

By the time players hit the field for stretch and batting practice, police helicopters could be seen hovering in the background, sirens blared everywhere and Eaton remembers he could smell smoke from some of the fires that had been set. Monday’s game was quickly cancelled and players were ushered back to their hotel by security personnel.

Stuck in their hotel, players remember seeing from their rooms the orange glow of some of the more than 200 fires set to structures and vehicles. They awoke the next morning to the arrival Maryland Army National Guard trucks, whose armed troops lined the Inner Harbor and key points around the city.

By early Tuesday, officials from both teams tried to determine what to do. Whereas most games’ start times are determined by either the home team, umpires or MLB, this time the White Sox were also included in the process. The teams considered several options, including moving the series to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Various start times and scenarios were also also considered for the game’s start to avoid playing after the 10 p.m. EST curfew was put in place.

“We kind of looked if we wanted to play in Chicago, play here and if there was a way to avoid coming back and doing another trip,” White Sox traveling secretary Ed Cassin said. “This was kind of a special case. There was a lot of people involved.”

Manager Robin Ventura was involved in the process so he could give his players an idea of what to expect. What stands out to Ventura is how nobody made their way to the ballpark on Tuesday to check into the clubhouse or workout, etc.

Instead, players stayed in their hotel rooms and watched movies or played video games, just waiting on word of the next step.

“As a major league player or staff, you never go that many days without getting on the field, especially during the season,” Ventura said. “You didn’t do anything. You kind of just watched the news to see what was going on. That part was eerie in a way because nobody goes through that. Last time something like that was 9/11.”

Ultimately, the decision was made to play Wednesday afternoon and make up the other games in a May 29 doubleheader. While pregame activities weren’t out of the ordinary, everything changed once the game began. Players took the field for the national anthem and found the park to be empty aside from several scouts in the stands. Orioles players faked flipping balls to fans in the stands, high fiving fans and signing autographs.

But everything else was dead silent save for the crack of the bat, balls hitting the catcher’s mitt and the sound of Orioles announcer Gary Thorne booming from the announcer’s booth above when Chris Davis blasted a three-run homer in the first off Jeff Samardzija.

“We were here, it got canceled, and the next day we were like, ‘Hey we’re canceled,’” Eaton said. “Are we going to fly back tonight? Are we going to go tomorrow? What do we do? Do we play the third game?

“Not that we didn’t feel right playing, but to be honest, we didn’t feel right playing at the time because there were lives on the line and being were rioting, a lot of chaos going on in the city. But as a professional, you had to sit back and say, my job is to go out and play baseball today, and that’s what I’ve got to do in any circumstance, and that’s what we did.

“It was just super weird.”

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

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ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta vs. Stephen A. Smith: Round II?

Not quite, but the ESPN personality still felt the need to defend himself from the Cubs ace on air Thursday after Arrieta created a stir by Tweeting at Smith Wednesday.

Smith initially took a strong stance against Arrieta and the possibility of the 2015 NL Cy Young winner taking performance-enhancing drugs, but then immediately backed down when confronted on Twitter. 

On Thursday's "First Take," Smith apparently felt like he had to keep the drama going and responded to Arrieta:

"I can appreciate Jake Arrieta defending himself," Smith said. "If it were me, I certainly would. I take no offense whatsoever at anything he said towards me or that he Tweeted at me. 

"But I do think he needs to understand my perspective. Skip Bayless - we didn't walk on this show saying, 'We've been watching Jake Arrieta pitch. Let's talk about it because this seems suspicious.' No, it was an article in USATODAY with fans and contemporaries quietly saying, 'Something doesn't seem right here.' So we pointed out the level of excellence, what he did in the second half of last season."

Smith then delved into how many others in the game of baseball have denied using PEDs - like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun - and how we can't take anybody's word for it nowadays.

Apparently that means that Smith can accuse (without technically accusing) somebody of taking PEDs or claiming they handled the aftermath wrong by laughing it off?

To be fair, that's basically what "First Take" is: discussing hot-button sports issues with vague language - it's basically a bunch of hot takes communicated with lawyerspeak - so the Arrieta comments Wednesday weren't all that newsworthy until the Cubs pitcher decided to respond on Twitter.

"I don't know anything about Jake Arreita," Smith continued. "All I know is this man is nothing short of sensational, deserving of the Cy Young Award because of his performance in the second half of the season and - by the way - happened to lose to the Mets in the postseason. That's all I know about him."

Cheers to the (hopeful) end to this saga.

Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg are wicked awesome Boston and Chicago sports fans

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Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg are wicked awesome Boston and Chicago sports fans

For the second straight year, the NFL Draft is in Chicago.

For Jenny McCarthy, she's obviously rocking Bears attire — being in her hometown. But her husband, well, he's sporting gear from his hometown team: the New England Patriots.

You'd think that McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg would have some conflicts rooting for different teams in two of the biggest sports markets.

Surprisingly, the only tension between the couple came in the Blackhawks-Bruins Stanley Cup Final in 2013, but they were in the early stages of their relationship. Aside from that, they've stayed in their own lanes with their respective teams.

McCarthy said that when Chicago teams aren't facing Boston, she doesn't mind siding with Wahlberg's team. Donnie though has a different opinion.

"I can't really ever root for the Bears, just because of 1985 — the 46-10 (win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX), but I have come to respect that team," Wahlberg said.

"I love Mike Ditka, even Buddy Ryan," he added. "They were great coaches. You can't hate on those guys. That team was incredible. When a team is great, you gotta respect it.

"The Bears in '85 — as much as it killed me as a young kid to see my team get decimated in the Super Bowl — I mean looking back on it, what a team. This is one of the greatest teams — probably maybe the greatest single season team ever."

Donnie's brother, Mark, is a huge fan of Jimmy Butler and has a close friendship with the Bulls guard. But is Donnie a fan, too?

"I'm sorry, does he play for the Celtics?" Wahlberg joked. "He's a great player, he's a great player. If I had to pick someone on the Bulls, I'd pick D-Rose if he can get healthy again. I'm a Celtics guy. It doesn't mean I can't be friends with other players — I know a lot of players too and I'm friends with them. 

"Jimmy Butler is a great guy most importantly. If he comes to the Celtics, I'll be a fan of his."

The Cubs and White Sox are off to hot starts in the 2016 campaign, both leading their divisions. Since McCarthy was born in Chicago, it raises the popular baseball question: Cubs or White Sox?

"I realized this when I moved to Los Angeles for 20 years, I came to appreciate both teams because you just miss Chicago so much," she said. "Now that I've moved back, I have to go back to my south side Chicago girl. I'm White Sox. Even though I love the Cubs, I'm a White Sox south side girl all the way."

Well there ya have it.

Check out McCarthy's Dirty Sexy Funny radio show live on Monday-Friday at 9-11 a.m. CT on SiriusXM channel 109.

See what else McCarthy and Wahlberg had to say at the NFL Draft in the video above.