and that is unacceptable," Halunen said. NFL

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With the NBA Free Agency period beginning midnight on July 1st, many teams were out pitching their benefits to potential players.
Blake
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. Sean Francois, (@seanfrancois) Halifax-based
writer and co-founder of basketball blog HoopHeadsNorth.com, signs up for the
Three-Man Weave this week with Duane Watson and Will Strickland from TSN 1050s
"1 On 1 With Will & Duane", as we look at where some of the stars may land
and asses the early activity.  How important was the Kyle Lowry signing for
Toronto? Strickland: Rhetorical. It would have been a nuclear winter in the
T-Dot had Raptors President and GM Masai Ujiri not re-signed Lowry.
DeMar DeRozan is the the best player on the team and an All-Star; Kyle Lowry is
the MVP of the Raps. This is not necessarily up for debate.Francois: I believe
that Kyle Lowrys signing is a BIG deal. The fact of the matter is that he
re-signed with a Toronto team that had success this past season and has a bright
future with a young core, so hes envisioning what he can do to help take the
Raptors to the next level as a leader and key contributor. The Raptors franchise
as a whole (players and management) cannot afford to rest on their laurels
though. They must continue to improve individually as players, and management
and coaches need to continually look for ways to improve the team in order to
maintain and exceed this new found level of success on the court. To me, Lowrys
re-signing helps quell the notion/misconception that players dont want to play
in Toronto. Like in the heyday of the Vince Carter-era, if the team is winning,
players will want to stay. Watson: After drafting and developing the likes of
Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, only to head south of the border
once their game blossomed, it was important for the franchise to keep their own
talent. Definitely a statement that Toronto is a destination for free agents, as
Lowry drew interest from Miami, Houston and the Lakers. It was the right deal
and he is the leader of the ball club and Masai Ujiri didnt have to overpay to
keep him here.Will the Heat be able to retain their Big Three and improve their
roster? Strickland: Tough to say at this point. LeBron James has been flying
solo on this mission, rightfully demanding max money as for the first 11 years
of his career, never has he been the highest paid player in the NBA or on his
own team. Bosh opted out, then asked for a five-year, $90 million deal, which
definitely wont happen in Miami. Dwyane Wade opted out and seems to be willing
to do whats necessary to retire on South Beach. All that said, Pat Riley needs
to bring in a Pau Gasol-type big, a solid PG and a competent bench with a
mixture of youth and experience or we may have seen the last of the
Heatles.Francois: I believe that the Miami Heat will be able to retain their Big
Three, but only for another one or two seasons. With the reported contract
demands/expectations from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, I do not
anticipate there being enough money available (under the salary cap) for Pat
Riley to bring in significant pieces to placate James for the long haul.
Therefore, I suspect LeBron will stay in Miami, but on a short term deal so that
he has flexibility to go elsewhere in short order if he sees fit to do so.
Watson: The numbers dont add up, LeBron James maintains he wants a max contract,
deservedly so, but expects Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to take less than their
value AND are expected to find key players to add to the roster? Its not going
to happen and I dont see James staying to play with the same team again, even
with a max deal.Where will LeBron James end up? Strickland: The initial feeling
is that if Riley cant work magic with record cap space available, The King signs
a one-year tender and starts the process again next July. Other options include
Cleveland and Houston having the inside track to sign LeBron. There are long
shots like Chicago and Dallas, an intriguing scenario in the Valley of the Sun
that involves James and Carmelo Anthony in Phoenix and the most explosive of all
- Miami and the Clippers do a straight sign-and-trade with LeBron for
Blake Griffin. Francois:I believe LeBron James will ultimately stay in Miami,
but on a short-term deal so that he has the flexibility to go elsewhere in short
order if he doesnt believe the Miami Heat can continue to build and maintain a
competitive roster. Pat Riley will need to work some magic to be able to attain
players that can truly keep the Heat competitive and at a Championship-calibre
level, considering the high percentage of cap space that the Big Three will
command - even if it is at a "reduced" rate. Watson: LeBron leaves Miami unless
he takes a short-term contract to stay, say, one or two years. When he does, it
only makes sense that he returns to Cleveland. If hes going to leave the comfort
and stability of the Heat, it would only make sense to do so if he returned
home. They have young and dynamic pieces in Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins,
Tristan Thompson, etc, which is already a better Cavaliers team that he took to
the NBA Finals in 2007.Where will Carmelo Anthony end up? Strickland: History
speaks to Melo being about his money and max dollars exist by staying in
Metropolis, learning the Triangle with ghost coach Phil Jackson (Sorry,
Derek Fisher...we know what this is!), then waiting on Kevin Love and/or LeBron
to show up in Gotham for the 2015-2016 season. Chicago seems like a fit for a
better opportunity to win now, even with the unknown of Derrick Rose and his
health. Houston and Dallas feel like gratuity stops on Melos Wine & Dine
Tour 2014. And the writing was on the wall when Kobe couldnt make it back from
his annual blood spinn... ahem, pardon me, "vacation in Europe" to meet with
Anthony. Francois: I would enjoy seeing Carmelo Anthony in a Chicago Bulls
uniform, but I do expect now that hes finished speaking with the Bulls,
Mavericks, Rockets, Lakers and the Knicks that he will ultimately stay where hes
been for the past three-and-a-half seasons. I feel that the maximum money that
the Knicks can offer, which no other team can (and the fifth-year on a
contract), plus his wife and family being settled in New York City and enjoying
everything the city has to offer, will ultimately keep him in the Big Apple.
Watson: The best scenario is for him to wind up in is Chicago, with a
defensive-minded coach and a complement of stars in Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose
and defensive pieces like Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, however it will likely be
the most complicated. Melo can get max money in New York if he stays, but he
wants to win. Can he attract a marquee free agent to come play with him there,
knowing he wont pass the ball? I think he will opt for the long money (five-year
max deal) and stay in New York.Which free agency move thus far, quietly makes
their team better? Strickland: Toronto. Ujiris continues to be solid and
respectful of the cap dynamic, fan dynamic and team growth dynamic by re-upping
Kyle Lowry to a very reasonable deal for a player of his calibre. With a 2017
lockout looming and, as usual, Washington D.C. affecting the current economy by
grossly overpaying Wizards centre Marcin "The Polish Hammer" Gortat, the Raptors
are building in a fiscally responsible fashion that should engender confidence
for Ujiris next moves. Francois: With a lot of free agents still unsigned or
undecided on their team for the upcoming 2014-15 season, the answer to the most
underrated free agent signing is probably still to come. That said, to answer
the specific question of what free agent signing has quietly made their team
better, I believe the Spurs re-signing of Patty Mills is very key.
Unfortunately, he now has to recover from rotator cuff surgery, but a lot of
teams certainly had him on their radar for his shooting prowess and point guard
abilities. This helps keep the San Antonio Spurs core and group of impactful
role players intact, while giving the Spurs a fantastic opportunity to keep the
Larry OBrien Trophy in their possession. Watson: While none of the big names has
signed yet, Lowry is the biggest name to lock up, but that has already been
addressed. Danny Ferrys Atlanta Hawks traded Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira to
the Raptors for John Salmons, who they will likely waive for $1 million
providing cap space. They also acquired Thabo Sefolosha for three years and $12
million, who provides solid perimeter defence to platoon with Kyle Korver, the
leagues best three-point shooter. The cap space may also pave way for Luol Deng
to sign with the Hawks, as well.
Mike
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.Brooks, a three-year veteran, was slow to get up
after suffering the injury during a 5-yard run by Arian Foster.Brooks limped off
the field midway through the quarter and then slowly walked to the locker room a
few minutes later.
Matsuzake
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. The eighth-year point guard played in his 500th
career game on Sunday, a 98-93 win over the Orlando Magic.  Does he feel like
hes played in that many games? "No," he said initially, before reconsidering.
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.Do you have to be that close? Federer snapped at a TV cameraman hovering nearby
as he received medical advice after losing a set on Wednesday.For Nadal and
Sharapova, the nuisance was coming from the lowly-ranked qualifiers across the
net.MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will suspend special teams co-ordinator
Mike Priefer without pay for three games this season and donate $100,000 to
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups, in response to former
punter Chris Kluwes allegations of anti-gay slurs and taunts made by Priefer.
The Vikings announced the punishment Friday as part of a summary of findings by
outside lawyers hired in January to investigate Kluwes accusations, which
included a claim he was released because of his gay-rights advocacy. The Vikings
said Priefers ban could be reduced to two games at their discretion, provided he
attends individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual-orientation
sensitivity training. Such education has been required for all Vikings
employees, coaches and players on an annual basis for the past several years,
the team said, and the improvements for the programs will be considered. Chris
Madel, a former Justice Department attorney, and Eric Magnuson, a former chief
justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, from the Minneapolis-based law firm
Robins, Kaplan, Ciresi and Miller recently presented their report to the Vikings
after interviewing 31 people and examining 121 gigabytes of data. Priefer was
questioned three times. According to a 29-page analysis of the investigation by
employment law consultants Littler Mendelson and Donald Prophete, commissioned
by the Vikings and released Friday, Priefer initially denied making a remark
Kluwe alleged about "putting all the gays on an island and nuking it" but later
acknowledged he might have. Long snapper Cullen Loeffler told the investigators
he heard the same comment Kluwe did, but that he assumed Priefer was joking.
Also in the analysis of the investigation released by Mendelson and Prophete: --
Vikings officials were nearly unanimous in deciding Kluwes 2012 season was
substandard, and the report said Priefer actually gave Kluwe a higher grade than
any of the front-office evaluators. The Vikings have maintained the move to cut
Kluwe was strictly football-based after they drafted Jeff Locke in the fifth
round and Kluwe was due to make $1.45 million in the 2013 season at age 31. --
The investigators asked former Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo and former
NFL punter Craig Hentrich to analyze Kluwes performance as well, and Hentrich
gave Kluwe a "C" grade overall. -- The report also cited anecdotes from several
interviewees about the penchant for off-colourbehaviour by Kluwe, whose Internet
and Twitter criticisms of various institutions and individuals have often
contained obscenee language. NFL
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. According to the report, Kluwe poked fun at Tom Kanavy, the
strength and conditioning coach at the time, in a vulgar manner that made light
of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal at Penn State, where Kanavy attended
and later worked. In a statement from the team, Priefer apologized to owners
Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf, the organization, the fans, his family, the LGBT
community, Kluwe and "anyone else that I offended with my insensitive remark."
Added Priefer, who was hired by the Vikings in 2011: "I regret what has occurred
and what I said. I am extremely sorry, but I will learn from this situation and
will work on educating others to create more tolerance and respect." Kluwe,
however, said Friday he will still sue the team for discrimination, against his
gay-rights activism and agnostic beliefs, as well as defamation and wrongful
interference of his contract. His attorney, Clayton Halunen, said the complaint
will be filed in Hennepin County District Court as early as Monday, seeking $10
million in damages. They announced earlier this week their impending lawsuit and
did not reach a settlement agreement with the team. "Here we have this company,
this Minnesota company whos getting $400 million out of taxpayers funds to build
the stadium, and yet they are violating state law by engaging in discriminatory
conduct, and that is unacceptable," Halunen said. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello
said: "We support our teams enforcing their workplace policies and commend the
Wilfs for doing a thorough investigation and taking appropriate steps in
response to the findings." The Wilf brothers, in a joint statement provided by
the team, said Madel and Magnuson "were in full control of the investigation at
all times." They said theyre pleased Mendelson and Prophete "concluded that
there was no wrongdoing" by the Vikings in releasing Kluwe. "We are very
disappointed with some of the findings contained within the report," the Wilfs
said. "As we have said in the past, we consistently strive to create -- and
believe we have -- a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for our
players, coaches and staff, and we strongly disassociate the club from the
statement that Coach Priefer made. Coach Priefer is a good man, and we know that
he deeply regrets the comment. We do not believe that this error in judgment
should define him." In his scathing article posted Jan. 2 on the website
Deadspin.com that spelled out the allegations, Kluwe said Zygi Wilf expressed
support for his gay-rights advocacy.
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