Brand on Simmons: ‘He is one of the NBA’s most dynamic and talented young players’

The Philadelphia 76ers officially announced the extension for Ben Simmons on Tuesday, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a five-year, $170M contract with no option in final year and a 15 percent trade kicker. Simmons’ contract extends through the 2024-25 campaign.

With the move, the 76ers have the following core players under contract until at least 2023:

Joel Embiid: 2023
Tobias Harris: 2024
Al Horford: 2023

This is the core that GM Elton Brand and the 76ers’ organization will go with in their quest for an NBA title, which will be led by Embiid and Simmons.

“Ben Simmons is an important piece of our core, and he is one of the NBA’s most dynamic and talented young players,” 76ers GM Elton Brand said. “It was a priority for our organization that we finalize a contract extension with Ben this summer. He was Rookie of the Year in his first season, an All-Star in his second and we expect him to continue to grow and succeed for seasons to come. Ben positively impacts the game in so many ways, and we look forward to continuing our championship pursuits with him as one of our leaders.”

Last season, Simmons averaged career highs in points (16.9) and rebounds (8.8) to go along with 7.7 (sixth in the NBA) assists and 1.4 steals per game en route to his first career All-Star Game selection. But he had his struggles in the playoffs, especially against the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals, which Simmons averaged 11.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, and 4.9 apg in that series. Those struggles are because Simmons does not have a consistent jump shot.

If the 76ers want to take that next step, Simmons has to grow his game, which according to Tobias Harris, Simmons is working on this offseason.

“He’s made big improvements on his game; his jump shot is looking really good,” Harris said last week about Simmons. “He has the confidence to shoot it, and I just kept telling him there, ‘like, even in this workout when you are playing, have the confidence to shoot them and don’t get discouraged if you miss. This is where you build that type of confidence.’ So, it was a good sight to see how hard he has been working. He looks really good for a great year.”

If Simmons never develops a consistent jump shot, he will still have a lot of success in the NBA as evidenced by what we have seen thus far in his career.

However, if he grows his game, and develops a reliable perimeter game, he will be tough to guard, and Philadelphia should be able to take that next step as a team, which could be an NBA title.

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Golden Boy Promotions: Canelo will not fight in September

Unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez will not fight in September, Golden Boy Promotions announced today.

There were talks he could go up to 175 to fight Sergey Kovalev or possibly a third fight with Gennady Golovkin, but in the end, Alvarez and his team have decided that fighting in September, during Mexican Independence Day weekend, is not best for Alvarez.

Here is a statement from Golden Boy Promotions:

“Golden Boy and Canelo Alvarez have made the strategic decision to postpone their typical September fight. The decision was made in an effort to secure the right opponent and to do justice to the level of promotion required for a boxing star of his magnitude.  Though Canelo typically fights in May and September, it is not without precedent to fight later in the year as Canelo did fight in December of 2018 in Madison Square Garden. Canelo’s next fight will now take place later in 2019.

“As a Mexican, it’s a responsibility and an honor to represent my country in both May and September,” said Canelo Alvarez. “Those are my dates. However, as a world champion in multiple weight classes, I also have the responsibility of delivering the most exciting and competitive fights possible. That’s why Golden Boy and my team have decided to postpone the date in order to do right by my fans by promoting the best fight possible and with the best opponent possible.”

Photo: Golden Boy Promotions

Pacquiao: ‘My opponent is very good at talking, but we’ll see what happens in the ring’

Two of boxing biggest stars kicked off fight week in style on Tuesday as eight-division world champion Senator Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao and unbeaten WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman made their grand arrivals at MGM Grand before their highly-anticipated Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View showdown this Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. 

Also making their grand arrivals Tuesday were undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant and undefeated contender Mike Lee, who battle in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event Saturday night preceding the pay-per-view.

Tuesday event also featured fighters competing on the PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View undercard that begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Unbeaten former champion Omar “El Panterita” Figueroa Jr will face top contender Yordenis Ugas in WBC Welterweight Title Eliminator, hard-hitting former champion Sergey Lipinets clashes against John “The Gladiator” Molina Jr. in a welterweight duel and former bantamweight championLuis Nery, who takes on former champion Juan Carlos Payano.

 Plus, rising heavyweight sensation Efe Ajagba and unbeaten Ali Eren Demirezen made their arrivals ahead of their FOX PBC Fight Night co-main event that kicks off the broadcast on FOX and FOX Deportes at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

 Here’s what Thurman and Pacquiao, Plant had to say on Tuesday to the fans that greeted them at MGM Grand:

 MANNY PACQUIAO

 “I consider this fight one of the most important of my career because I am 40 I want to prove something. My opponent is very good at talking, but we’ll see what happens in the ring.

 “Boxing is a science. You have to study. Not only when you have a scheduled fight, but you have to always be studying boxing. That’s allowed me to have the career that I have.

 “It would mean a lot to be 40-years-old and beat someone undefeated. It shows that I can still fight against the best.”

 KEITH THURMAN

 “This does feel like making all my dreams come true. Whether it’s an Olympian striving for that gold medal, or if it’s a kid just trying to get an A on their report card, as human beings we challenge ourselves and we set goals. This goal has been in motion for 23 years.

 “I’ve always wanted to be remembered in the sport of boxing. I want people to understand that when Keith Thurman is in the ring, he’s bringing some of the most exciting fights that can be made in the welterweight division.

 “When it’s all over, I just want people to say, ‘you know what, I really did enjoy watching Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman.'”

Marcus Browne talk prep for Jean Pascal

Unbeaten Interim WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Marcus Browne shared his thoughts on training camp, his title-winning performance in his last fight and his upcoming showdown against former world champion Jean Pascal taking place Saturday, August 3 in FOX PBC Fight Night Action and on FOX Deportes from Barclays Center.

The Staten Island native Browne is holding this camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the second time he’s done so as a pro, and has sparred with the likes of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Eric Moon and Kemahl Russell as he prepares for August 3.

“This is my second time going out to Colorado for a portion of my training camp,” said Browne. “My performance on August 3 will show why I do this, but it’s basically just because I’m able to lock in on myself and focus on the most important thing that’s in front of me, and that’s Pascal.”

Browne’s last fight saw him defeat two-division world champion Badou Jack in a rough and bloody fight that earned Browne the interim 175-pound title. Browne showed off new dimensions to his game in a career-best win.

 “In my fight against Badou Jack, I Just wanted to prove that I have real skills, that I’m not just a knockout puncher and that I can take things away from top guys,” said Browne. “I’m a better fighter overall now. I’m constantly growing as a fighter and come August 3, I’ll display that on an even higher level.” 

The 28-year-old Browne has another tough test in front of him on August 3, as he faces the former light heavyweight champion Pascal. Pascal has faced a slew of top fighters throughout his career including current 175-pound champions Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol, plus past champions Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and Eleider Alvarez, giving Browne a chance to earn a measuring stick win. 

“It’s very important to do well and further stamp my status in this division against Pascal,” said Browne. “He feels like he hasn’t lost to any lefties, so I’ll be his first. He keeps saying he has a lot of gas left in his tank, so I’m going to have to show him who I am, and send him packing.”

August 3 will be Browne’s record 13th fight at Barclays Center, where he so far is 13-0 and with eight knockouts. Browne will continue to relish these opportunities given to him, while also making sure he doesn’t fall into any of the distractions that plague a fighter competing in his hometown.

“I’m very appreciative of all the people that have given me the opportunity to fight at Barclays Center and continue to push me forward in the boxing world,” said Browne. “I’m thrilled to be back defending my WBA belt in front of my hometown people.

“I leave New York during camp to help me get focused, but by the time I get back to home for fight week, I’m totally locked in on what’s important.”

Kyle Brady named No. 17 on Jaguars All-25

Former TE Kyle Brady has been named No. 17 on the Jaguars All-25, the club announced today. Jaguars All-25 presented by Sharpie is a collection of the top 25 non-active players in franchise history, as voted on by members of the local media. The Jaguars’ silver celebration kicked off in mid-March with the start of the new league year and the unveiling of the team’s 25th season commemorative logo designed to embody the spirit of DUUUVAL.

Brady was originally drafted by the New York Jets in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft before signing with Jacksonville as a free agent prior to the 1999 season. The New Cumberland, Penn. native played in all 16 games in six of his eight seasons in Jacksonville. Overall, he played in 197 games with 175 starts during his 12-year professional career, including his four years in New York, eight in Jacksonville and one in New England. His career totals include 343 receptions for 3,519 receiving yards and 25 TDs, 13 of which he tallied during his tenure with the Jaguars. From 1999-2002, he, along with WRs Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, led the team in receiving, and remained one of QB Mark Brunell’s favorite targets as the Jaguars’ explosive offense led them to an AFC Championship game berth in 1999.

Brady attended Penn State, where he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1993 and 1994 and helped the Nittany Lions lead the nation in total offense and scoring offense during both seasons.

“He was probably the best blocking tight end to ever play the game,” said Brian Sexton, Jaguars senior correspondent and All-25 voter. “Whether it was pass blocking or run blocking, Kyle Brady played tight end like an All-Pro offensive tackle.”

                                                              JAGUARS ALL-25:

17. TE Kyle Brady (1999-2006)

18. G Vince Manuwai (2003-10)

19. LB Mike Peterson (2003-08)

20. CB Aaron Beasley (1996-2001)

21. K Josh Scobee (2004-14)

22. DT Gary Walker (1999-2001)

23. QB David Garrard (2002-10)

24. DE Joel Smeenge (1995-2000)

25. G Chris Naeole (2002-07)

Spence on Pac-Thurman: ‘I think Keith will edge it out’

On Saturday, one of the biggest fights in the welterweight division will happen when Manny Pacquiao battles Keith Thurman at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

This is a fight that could go either way, and one guy who is waiting in the wings is IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. Spence is expected to battle Shawn Porter in a unification fight sometime in the fall.

Recently, Spence gave his thoughts on Pacquiao-Thurman, and according to Spence, Thurman is the guy that will get the nod on July 20.

“It just depends on which Pacquiao shows up and which Keith shows up,” Spence said. “I think Keith will be a lot sharper than he was in his last fight. You know he had a long layoff and is just coming back. Keith is a lot tougher than people think he is. He took a lot of punches in that last fight. He took a lot of punches in the Shawn Porter fight, too.

“He might be a boxer, but he’s tough, and he’s gritty, so I think he’s going to win a split-decision or he’s going to blow him out. It just depends on which Pacquiao comes out. If he can turn the tables a little bit and become the Pacquiao of back then, I think he can win. But if it’s the Pacquiao that fought Broner, then I think Keith will edge him out and outpoint him. Keith can get on his bicycle and move around and just pot shot him. I think Keith will edge it out.”

 

Vince Manuwai named No. 18 on Jaguars All-25

The late Vince Manuwai, who played on Jacksonville’s offensive line from 2003-10, has been named No. 18 on the Jaguars All-25, the club announced today. Jaguars All-25 presented by Sharpie is a collection of the top 25 non-active players in franchise history, as voted on by members of the jacksonville media. The Jaguars’ silver celebration kicked off in mid-March with the start of the new league year and the unveiling of the team’s 25th season commemorative logo designed to embody the spirit of DUUUVAL.

“One of my favorite teammates I’ve ever had the pleasure of going to battle with,” said former Jaguars RB Fred Taylor. “Big Vince never complained. He’d always say, ‘Whatever you wanna do, Bruddah, I got you,’ and he always rushed to snatch guys off the pile and pick me up.”

Manuwai, a 6-2, 333-pound offensive guard, was originally selected by Jacksonville in the third round (72nd overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. He was a key player in the team’s run-game, and during his first five seasons Manuwai missed only one game and helped the Jaguars rush for 2,541 yards in 2006 and 2,391 in 2007. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Manuwai was a 1999 graduate of Farrington High School, earning letters in football, track and field and basketball. He played collegiately at the University of Hawaii and was a three-year starter, regarded as one of the best pass-protectors in school history after not allowing a sack in his 35 career starts.

“A scout once told me about getting guys from Hawaii, that you’re either going to get clowns or quiet guys who will just maul you, and Vinny Manuwai was a quiet guy who just mauled defensive players,” said Cole Pepper, a sports reporter with WJXT and a member of the All-25 voting panel.

JAGUARS ALL-25:

18. G Vince Manuwai (2003-10)

19. Mike Peterson (2003-08)

20. CB Aaron Beasley (1996-2001)

21. K Josh Scobee (2004-14)

22. DT Gary Walker (1999-2001)

23. QB David Garrard (2002-10)

24. DE Joel Smeenge (1995-2000)

25. G Chris Naeole (2002-07)

Pels’ GM: Redick is among the very best shooters in league history

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has signed free agent guard JJ Redick. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a two-year, $26.5 million deal.

“JJ Redick is among the very best shooters and professionals in league history,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin. “Coming off perhaps the best season of his remarkable career, his on-the-court resumé speaks for itself. However, it was his desire to dive into the role of mentor and veteran leader that spoke most directly to us and has us most excited about our future together. We are thrilled to be able to welcome JJ and his family to New Orleans and our community.”

Redick, 6-4, 200, comes off a 2018-19 campaign where the 13-year veteran averaged a career-best 18.1 points per game for the Philadelphia 76ers while shooting .440 from the field, including .397 from three-point range, to go with 2.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Selected 11th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2006 NBA Draft out of Duke University, Redick has appeared in 836 career regular season games with Orlando, Milwaukee, the L.A. Clippers and Philadelphia, posting averages on 12.9 points on .448 shooting, including .413 from three-point range, as well as 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest. Additionally, Redick has appeared in 110 career postseason games, averaging 10.9 points while shooting .371 from three-point range with Orlando, Milwaukee, the Clippers and Philadelphia.

In conjunction with the move, the Pelicans announced that the team has waived forward/center Christian Wood. Originally claimed off waivers by New Orleans on March 20, 2019, Wood appeared in eight games for the Pelicans last season, averaging 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds.

Benavidez-Collazo, Navarrete-De Vaca set for August 17

The soccer field will become a fistic battleground Saturday, August 17, as Jose Benavidez Jr. will battle former world champion Luis Collazo in a 10-round welterweight co-feature at Banc of California Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC.

In the other co-feature, WBO junior featherweight champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will make the second defense of his title against the undefeated Francisco “Panchito” De Vaca.

Benavidez-Collazo and Navarrete-De Vaca will headline the inaugural fight card at the year-old stadium and will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The undercard, including the returns of unbeaten super lightweight contender Arnold Barboza Jr., welterweight contender Chris van Heerden, undefeated middleweight sensation Janibek Alimkhanuly and featherweight Adam Lopez, will stream live on ESPN+ — the leading multi-sport streaming service — starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

“I am very focused, and I see this as a must-win fight,” Benavidez said. “Collazo has been in the game for a long time and is still a top fighter, but I am going to push him towards retirement. He looks good for his age, but trust me, youth will prevail when we fight.”

“I’m coming for everything they said I couldn’t have,” Collazo said. “Talk is cheap. I’m here to show that I’m still one of the top welterweights in the world.”

Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs) is coming off his most notable performance to date, a spirited effort in a 12th-round TKO loss versus pound-for-pound great Terence Crawford in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford-Benavidez was ESPN’s most-watched boxing event of 2018, and now, the Phoenix native has a chance to return to title contention with a victory over Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs). A native of Brooklyn, New York, Collazo held a piece of the welterweight title from 2005-2006 and has remained a top contender in the 13 years since he lost his belt via controversial decision to Ricky Hatton. Collazo has won three in a row since falling short in a title challenge to Keith Thurman, most recently edging Samuel Vargas by split decision on St. Patrick’s Day at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Navarrete (27-1, 23 KOs) has won 22 consecutive bouts dating back to 2012, but his breakthrough came last December when he upset Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe via unanimous decision to win the WBO junior featherweight title. Five months later, in Tucson, Arizona, he repeated the deed, this time knocking out Dogboe in the 12th round. A native of San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, Navarrete had a reported 108-7 record in the amateur ranks and comes from a family of fighters. His uncle, Pedro Navarrete Sr., and two of his cousins, Pedro Navarrete Jr. and Johnny Navarrete, fought as professionals.

De Vaca (20-0, 6 KOs) was born in Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, as a small child. All but one of De Vaca’s pro fights have taken place in the Phoenix area, where he has developed into one of the region’s most popular attractions. The 24-year-old boxer-puncher made his Top Rank debut last August in Glendale, Arizona, outlasting Jesus Serrano by unanimous decision in a crowd-pleasing brawl. He last fought in February at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, where he shut out Ernesto Guerrero over eight rounds.

“This is a great opportunity to defend my title against an exciting fighter like De Vaca,” Navarrete said. “I’ve worked hard to prove myself as a true champion, and I won’t let anyone take that away from me. It’s going to be a great night outside in Los Angeles, and whenever you have two Mexicans in the ring, you can expect a battle.”

“This is the fight of my life,” De Vaca said. “I am going to show my Mexican heart and prove to the world that I belong on the world stage. I’m not going to talk any trash. I have a lot of respect for Emanuel Navarrete, but his reign will end on August 17.”

Ex-Cowboy Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones believes Dak Prescott should get paid(VIDEO)

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has led the Cowboys to two division titles in his first three years in the league, and while the Cowboys have had a lot of success with Prescott as their quarterback, some question whether he can be the guy to take them to the next level, which is a legitimate question. But at this point, it’s safe to say he has done enough to get paid.

Many like to compare Prescott to Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who recently inked a four-year, $128 million contract extension this offseason. Prescott was selected in the fourth-round while Wentz was selected number two overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. In 2017, Wentz showed the ability to be an elite quarterback as he was having an MVP caliber season before tearing his ACL, but Prescott has accomplished more. Prescott has won in the playoffs, and due to injury, Wentz has not played a down in the playoffs.

So, if Wentz can make $32 million a year, the 25-year-old Prescott should get somewhere close, if not higher. Prescott is scheduled to make just over $2 million next season, and he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Recently, Prescott told the USA Today the following:

“For somebody to say you can only take so much because of the salary cap or you can only do this or that, I don’t know how fair that is to say,” Prescott said. “Because with gambling, with everything going into this league, everything is going to continue to keep going up.”

With those comments, it appears Prescott wants to get what he believes he deserves, and if it were up to former Cowboys star Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Prescott would be the guy for the team moving forward.

“He’s a natural-born leader,” Jones recently told Paul Gant at Larry Holmes’ 5th annual Heart of a Legend Celebrity Golf Weekend. “That’s something you can’t teach; that’s something you’re born with. That’s something that he has. You put the right people around him, he produces. I’m so thankful that Dallas has him.”

Jones also believes that Prescott deserves the extension he desires.

“He should because he’s already earned it,” Jones said. “When you look at what quarterbacks have achieved early in their careers, he’s earned it.”

According to Jones, if Dallas can stay healthy in 2019, they have a chance to win a title.

“They can beat anybody if they stay healthy. The key is staying healthy.”

You could do a lot worse than Prescott, and you could do a little better. Dallas can take the chance and not pay Prescott, but that would be a huge gamble if Prescott continues to have success. Therefore, it’s either pay now or possibly pay a lot more later.

Listen below as Jones talks Larry Holmes, his boxing career, Prescott, and the Cowboys: