Lonzo Ball’s knee injury updates are downright bleak and discouraging

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It doesn’t seem like Lonzo Ball is ready to play basketball anytime soon.

Update: Lonzo Ball finally got an encouraging injury update:

The Chicago Bulls were arguably the NBA’s biggest surprise for the first few months of the 2021-2022 season. That ended when Lonzo Ball went down with a knee injury.

The guard exited a Jan. 14 game against the Golden State Warriors with pain in his left knee. Doctors diagnosed him with a torn meniscus, and gave him a 6-8 week timetable for recovery. Instead, Ball missed the rest of the season, and won’t be ready to go as the 2022-2023 campaign opens. Ball had a second surgery on his injured knee just before the start of training camp, and right now there isn’t any concrete information about when he could be back on the court.

Ball experienced a bone bruise in his left knee in addition to the torn meniscus, which has kept him in pain and limited his ability to recover. As Ball had his second surgery at the end of September, he met the media and described what he’s going through. None of it was promising.

Ball said he still can’t run or jump, and therefore cannot yet play basketball. He’s even still experiencing knee pain when he does everyday tasks like walking up a flight of stars.

Doctors had hoped Ball could recover without another surgery on his knee, but it didn’t happen. Instead, Ball’s left knee is on surgery No. 3 since entering the NBA. This time, Ball had an arthroscopic debridement, where doctors aim to clean up frayed or loose cartilage and remove them from the joint. Everything is fine with Ball’s knee structurally, but clearly something is still hampering his ability to recover.

Ball will be reevaluated in 4-6 weeks after his latest surgery. The hope is that the scope clears up the debris around his knee and allows it recover. If that doesn’t work, the next step for Ball’s potential recovery remains a mystery.

There is a precedent for a knee bone bruise being a year-long injury. Kendrick Nunn hasn’t played since May of 2021 after experiencing a bone bruise in his knee. He missed all of last season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and was finally cleared for training camp this week.

The Bulls are simply not the same team without Ball. He has a case as the NBA’s best role player. The 6’5 guard injected life into Chicago with a number of sharp skills, specifically his volume three-point shooter, versatile defense, and transition passing.

Ball has turned himself into an excellent outside shooter after struggling from three early in his career. Last season, he made 42.3 percent of his threes on a team-high 7.4 attempts per game. The Bulls finished dead-last in three-point rate — the percentage of field goals taken from three anyway, and clearly have a dire need for shooting without him in the lineup. Ball’s defense is probably the most impressive part of his game. He guarded everyone from shifty ball handlers to big, bruising forwards for Chicago last season, using his quick hands and incredible help instincts to power the Bulls’ defense to a top-10 even without a dominant rim protector on the backline. Chicago was at its best when the transition attack was thriving, and that starts with Ball’s outlet passing, as well.

No one knows when Ball will be on the court again. He’s hopeful to play this season. Meanwhile, the Bulls there’s a chance — maybe even a strong one — that Ball misses the entire 2022-2023 campaign.

The next step for Ball is seeing how he feels after recovering from the debridement. As the Eastern Conference continues to get better and better, the Bulls are stagnating because of Ball’s injury. His future this season and beyond remains a mystery.

James Harden and Doc Rivers showed us what it’s like to build NBA chemistry in training camp


Doc Rivers coaching up James Harden is an awesome look behind the NBA training camp curtain.

The Philadelphia 76ers believe they have a championship caliber roster in place entering the 2022-23 season. After swinging a trade deadline deal for James Harden last year, Philadelphia knocked off the Toronto Raptors in the first round, and lost a tough six-game series to the Miami Heat in round two with superstar center Joel Embiid playing through multiple injuries.

The Sixers have now had a full offseason to integrate Harden while spending their summer improving the roster around the margins. This should be one of very best teams in the East, but it’s going to require Harden to reestablish himself as one of the best guards in the league after a down year by his standards last season. We named him one of nine NBA players with the most to prove entering the new year.

The Sixers certainly have a lot of talent, led by Harden and Embiid, but they will need to find cohesion. That process begins in the preseason. As the Sixers opened training camp, there was a viral video of head coach Doc Rivers coaching up Harden that was so cool to watch.

This is a rare peak behind the curtain of what goes on at NBA practices. Fans are smarter because of access like this, and it’s a great way to grow the game.

In the clip, Rivers talks to Harden about the need to establish Embiid this season. He says Harden is a team leader, and needs to show everyone else how to get the big man in the middle going.

“We were a horrible — would you agree? — a horrible post passing team last year,” Rivers tells Harden. “Our objective is getting that first. That’s why you need to have the right spirit about it. Get them to do it right.”

“What I got to get y’all right on is when to roll, when to pop, when you got the ice. You and him, y’all got to get a communication where y’all listen to each other.”

Rivers also pressures Harden to find his own scoring. Harden led the league in scoring for three consecutive seasons by averaging more than 30 points per game when he was in Houston, but his scoring numbers have fallen the last two years. He only put up 21 points per game after being traded to Philly.

“We got to get you what you want,” Rivers says. “You can;t just say you’re a facilitator. You need to be a scorer and facilitator. It’s going to take time to figure it out. We need you to be the aggressive James you were the last five minutes.”

Rivers also tells Harden that the rest of the team must fall in line behind him and Embiid.

“We got to establish Joel and you,” Rivers says. “There’s a pecking order, this ain’t a democracy.”

The Sixers added P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, and Danuel House over the offseason, and still have Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Paul Reed. This team should be excellent if they can find the chemistry Rivers is seeking. It’s so cool to see how that process starts to build.

Tua Tagovailoa injury: Updates on Dolphins QB after head injury vs. Bengals

Miami Dolphins v Cincinnati Bengals
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Dolphins QB suffered the injury during Thursday night’s game.

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was carted off the field during their Thursday night game with the Cincinnati Bengals with what the Dolphins called a head injury.

The injury occurred in the second quarter. Tagovailoa dropped to pass, but was soon sacked by defensive lineman Josh Tupou. In the process of the sack, Tagovailoa was thrown to the ground and looked to initially not be moving. The Dolphins then announced on Twitter that Tagovailoa was taken to a local Cincinnati hospital, and that he is conscious and has movement in all his extremities.

After the game, it was reported that Tua would be discharged from the hospital and travel home with the team:

This comes after Tagovailoa was taken off the field in their victory over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday with what the Dolphins called a back injury. Tagovailoa would come back into the game in the second half, despite what was initially thought of as a head injury. Tagovailoa was listed as questionable throughout the week with back and ankle injuries.

The NFLPA requested an investigation into how Tagovailoa’s concussion protocol was handled last Sunday against the Bills. According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the investigation is not complete:

Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater has entered the game for the Dolphins, and the Amazon Prime broadcast crew said Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel spoke to Tua during halftime.

F1 schedule: How and what to watch at the Singapore Grand Prix

TOPSHOT-AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images

The return of Formula 1 under the lights.

It’s been a while since Formula 1 raced in Singapore. A lot has changed. When the series was last at the Marina Bay Street Circuit Ferrari had a 1-2 with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. Alex Albon, driving for Red Bull, finished 6th. Nico Hülkenberg was the top driver on the day for Renault (now Alpine) ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Antonio Giovinazzi was in the points and we had yet to meet Esteban Ocon, Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunado, Nicholas Latifi, or Zhou Guanyu.

The Singapore Grand Prix is a spectacle. Under the lights, sparks fly as the F1 cars flash over a bumpy circuit, it even features a portion of the circuit that will go under a grandstand. Even if both titles look all but confirmed, the excitement of being back at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and the intrigue throughout the rest of the grid will carry the weight this weekend.

A lot has happened since we left the Italian Grand Prix. F1 announced a 24-race schedule for 2023, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo confirmed that Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu will return next season, and Williams announced the departure of Nicholas Latifi. ESPN continues to break F1 TV rating records and IndyCar’s Colton Herta was denied an exemption on his Super License to drive for AlphaTauri next season. Alex Albon is expected to make his return this weekend (more on that later), but first a look at both Championships heading into the weekend.

Where Things Stand

For the first time this season F1 could leave a Grand Prix weekend with the championship decided. Max Verstappen’s (335) consistency on track and in the most dominant car on the grid have lifted him to a 116-point lead over Charles Leclerc (219). Verstappen would need to win on Sunday to have a chance at securing the title. If he wins and has the fastest lap, he wins the title if Leclerc finishes 8th or lower and Sergio Perez (210) finishes 4th or lower. If Verstappen wins but does not have the fastest lap, he can win the title if Leclerc finishes 9th or lower and Perez finishes 4th or lower. Regardless, Verstappen knows he simply needs to score points over the next two weekends to clinch his second title.

Graphic explaining how Max Verstappen can win the points championship at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The far more interesting battle to watch is from second (Leclerc) back to fifth where Lewis Hamilton is only 51 points behind.

Red Bull (545) enter the Asian double-header with a 139-point advantage. While there are far more points at play when considering both cars, Ferrari (406) would need an incredible end to the season in order to overtake Red Bull. Mercedes (371) is just 35 points behind the Italians.

The Circuit


Formula1.com
F1 – Singapore GP – Marina Bay Street Circuit

The Marina Bay Street Circuit debuted in 2008 as the first Formula 1 night race. While there are three DRS zones, the lack of long straights limits its effectiveness compared to other tracks on the calendar. Instead, the 23 turns, tight corners, close walls, and bright lights will dominate the action and likely claim a few cars in caution before the night ends. Watch for late lunges and drivers attempting to under break as they look for moments to overtake.

How To Watch (all times ET)

  • Practice 1 – Friday 9/30 – 5:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Practice 2 – Friday 9/30 – 9:00 am – ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Singapore GP Preview Show: Friday 9/30 – 10:15 am – ESPN3/WatchESPN
  • Practice 3 – Saturday 10/1 – 5:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Qualifying – Saturday 10/1 – 8:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) – Sunday 10/2 – 6:30 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Race – Sunday 10/2 – 7:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN

DraftKings Sportsbook is offering odds on the race. Max Verstappen (-190) remains the favorite despite having never won in Singapore before. He is followed by Charles Leclerc (+450) and Lewis Hamilton (+850), in what would be Hamilton’s first win of the season. Given the unpredictable nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, there are some great odds for surprise podium finishes including Lando Norris (+850), Fernando Alonso (+2200), and Esteban Ocon (+3500). After finishing in the points (top ten) twice in the last four rounds, both Pierre Gasly (+130) and Sebastian Vettel (+125) have favorable odds to continue that form.

What to Watch For

  • There was a point in the season where, even if for a moment, Sergio Perez appeared to be in the battle for the World Championship. The win in Monaco lifted him into contention and the conversation. Since then he has had three second-place finishes and is over 100 points behind his teammate, Max Verstappen. With Singapore sometimes referred to as ‘two Monacos put together’ or a slightly faster Monaco, can Perez recapture some of that form we saw in the opening half of the season?
  • Despite visiting several circuits deemed ‘Ferrari tracks’, the Italian team has only had a single one-two finish – Bahrain, the opening round. Singapore once again should be a track that favors Ferrari. Even if both titles seem out of reach can they deliver a flawless weekend?
  • Monaco was exactly what Mercedes needed to avoid in the early part of the season and their car struggled to keep pace. Finishing fifth and eighth, Hamilton ended the day behind both an Alpine and a McLaren. Since then the car has shown signs of improvement, even in track specific, and Mercedes claims they’ve learned a lot since Monaco. This weekend will be a good test to evaluate that progress on a circuit that has been to their detriment so far this season.
  • The Driver Market. Three seats remain confirmed (at the time of writing) – Alpine, Haas, and Williams. Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher are the two current drivers still without a seat next season. Add in the debut of Nyck de Vries last time out, rumors of Pierre Gasly exiting AlphaTauri for Alpine, and a handful of talented Formula 2 drivers, and there is plenty of intrigue as the season winds down. Who lands a spot in F1’s version of musical chairs?
  • Before the Italian Grand Prix, Alex Albon was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. Following the procedure, he suffered respiratory failure. Now just two weeks later he has flown to Singapore with the intention of driving. Singapore is notoriously a difficult track on the body, both from the heat and the abuse it takes going over the bumps at high speeds. With Albon’s seat secured for next season, is it worth rushing back? It should be noted that both Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargent are on hand in Singapore.

Aaron Judge ties Roger Maris with his 61st home run

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

New York Yankees slugger ties the American League home run record

Aaron Judge’s incredible 2022 season rolled on Wednesday night, straight into history.

The New York Yankees slugger blasted his 61st home run of the campaign during New York’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, joining Roger Maris atop the American League record books.

The home run came in the top of the seventh inning, a two-run shot to break a game that was tied at three. The shot to left field came off left-handed pitcher Tim Mayza, on a 94-MPH sinker that was left up in the zone.

The blast must have delivered some relief for Judge, who was coming off a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox this past weekend that saw Judge go just 2 for 11 at the plate, with a double in Sunday night’s game. Judge was set to lead off for the Yankees in the bottom of the seventh Sunday night, but the game was eventually called due to weather. In the first two games of the series against the Blue Jays, Judge had been walked six times in his ten plate appearances.

But he broke through on Wednesday, tying Maris atop the AL record books the night after the Yankees clinched the AL East division title.

Judge’s seventh-inning blast also continues what has been a remarkable season for the slugger.

He entered play on Wednesday leading the major leagues in nearly every offensive category. As play began Wednesday, Judge led all of baseball in home runs (60), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.693), on-base plus slugging (1.119), adjusted OPS+ (212) and runs created (166). With 61 home runs on the year, Judge now stands 19 home runs head of Kyle Schwarber, who leads the National League with 42 home runs.

These numbers have Judge on track to win the American League Triple Crown, given to a player who leads the league in batting average, home runs, and RBI. Miguel Cabrera was the last player to win the Triple Crown, back during his Most Valuable Player season of 2012, when he hit 44 home runs, knocked in 139 runs, and posted a batting average of .330. Judge is just ahead of both Luis Arraez and Xander Bogaerts with a batting average of .314.

Speaking of MVP, the blast also likely moves Judge closer to securing those honors. Entering play on Wednesday, Judge’s Wins Above Replacement stood at 10.2, the highest mark since Mookie Betts posted a WAR of 10.0 back during the 2018 season.

Betts won AL MVP that year.

Judge now sets his sights on breaking the American League record. Whoever gets their hands on that baseball when Judge hits his 62nd home run might find it worth the effort. Last week JP Cohen, the President of Memory Lane Auctions, offered $2 million to whoever catches Judge’s 62nd home run:

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Aaron Judge home run watch: Tracking every game for Yankees star as he chases history

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Yankees slugger in his pursuit of history

The MLB regular season is winding down, and while the focus of baseball fans will soon turn to the playoffs, there is another major storyline still unfolding as the schedule enters its final days.

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and his pursuit of history.

Currently, Judge has tied the American League record of 61 home runs, set by former Yankees slugger Roger Maris during the 1961 season. While it is unlikely that Judge will catch the MLB record 73 set by Barry Bonds during the 2001 campaign, the Yankees outfielder is still on track to break Maris’ America League mark, and make some other history as well.

Here is a look at where Judge stands, as well as what he will face down the stretch.

Aaron Judge results game-by-game as star chases home run milestones

Tuesday, September 27 at Toronto Blue Jays

In five plate appearances against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, Judge lined out, and was walked four times. He scored a pair of runs, however, as the Yankees beat Toronto by a final score of 5-2, clinching the AL East.

Wednesday, September 28 at Toronto Blue Jays

Aaron Judge has done it. Here’s home run No. 61, blasted off Blue Jays’ pitcher Tim Mayza:

Home run No. 61 ties the AL record for Judge.

Upcoming schedule and pitching probables

Friday, September 30 vs. Baltimore Orioles (7:05 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

We do not have pitching probables yet for New York’s weekend series with the Orioles, but in 15 games against Baltimore this year, Judge has 9 home runs in 58 at-bats. Those nine home runs are the most from Judge against any team this season.

Saturday, October 1 vs. Baltimore Orioles (1:05 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

Sunday, October 2 vs. Baltimore Orioles (1:35 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

Monday, October 3 at Texas Rangers (7:05 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

We will not have pitching probables on this matchup for a while, but Judge has yet to homer against the Texas Rangers this season. In just three games against the Rangers this year, Judge is 2 for 10 with a pair of singles.

Tuesday, October 4 at Texas Rangers (2:05 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

Tuesday, October 4 at Texas Rangers (8:05 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

Wednesday, October 5 at Texas Rangers (4:05 p.m. ET)

Pitching Probable: TBD

How many home runs has Aaron Judge hit?

61 home runs with seven games left.

What are the MLB home run milestones Aaron Judge is chasing?

After Wednesday, Judge has 61 home runs, which ties Maris’ mark of 61 home runs, which he set back during the 1961 season and still stands as the American League record.

Beyond that, Judge is putting together a magical season across the board. At the moment Judge is leading the major leagues in nearly every offensive category. Currently, Judge leads all of baseball in home runs (61), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.693), on-base plus slugging (1.119), home runs (61), adjusted OPS+ (212) and runs created (166). With his 60 home runs, Judge now stands 18 home runs head of Kyle Schwarber, who leads the National League with 42 home runs.

Judge is also tracking down an American League Triple Crown, given to a player who leads the league in batting average, home runs, and RBI. Miguel Cabrera was the last player to win the Triple Crown, back during his Most Valuable Player season of 2012, when he hit 44 home runs, knocked in 139 runs, and posted a batting average of .330. If the season were to end today, Judge would win the AL Triple Crown, but he has both Luis Arraez and Xander Boegaerts on his heels. Judge currently has a batting average of .314 on the season, while Arraez checks in at .313, and Boegaerts has a batting average of .310 on the year.

How Hurricane Ian will affect sports this weekend

Florida Residents Prepare For Hurricane Ian
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tracking schedule changes across the sports world

With Hurricane Ian bearing down on the Gulf Coast of Florida, leagues and teams are making decisions regarding upcoming practices and games. Hurricane Ian is currently forecast to make landfall on the Gulf Coast late Wednesday or early Thursday, as a major hurricane with wind speeds greater than 110 miles per hour.

The current track of the storm brings it through Florida and into Georgia and then the Carolinas through the weekend, and while the track of the storm could still change, there is potential for major disruptions.

As a result, many teams and leagues have begun making changes to their schedules. Here is a rundown of the changes to date:

NFL

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are slated to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Ahead of the storm, the Buccaneers traveled to Miami to hold practices at the Miami Dolphins’ practice facility.

While a decision regarding the game itself has not been made, there is a chance the game could get moved out of the state. According to a report from Jeff Darlington, the league has contingency plans in place to move games, and teams that travel overseas can make their stadiums available in such a situation. With the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings playing in London this Sunday, both venues could be an option, with U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis a likely choice so resources in New Orleans could be diverted to Florida if necessary:

MLB

Major League Baseball has not announced any changes to the upcoming schedule, but a pivotal series in the NL East could be impacted by Hurricane Ian. The Atlanta Braves, who trail the New York Mets by just a single game in the division, are set to host the Mets for a three-game series starting Friday night.

College Football

A number of college football games have been rescheduled in advance of Hurricane Ian.

The game for East Carolina and South Florida, which was scheduled to kickoff in Tampa, has been moved to Florida Atlantic University, on Florida’s Atlantic coast. That game is now scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The Florida game against Eastern Washington, which was slated to kickoff at noon on Saturday down in The Swamp, has been moved to noon on Sunday.

South Carolina was scheduled to host South Carolina State at noon on Saturday, but that game has been moved to 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday night.

Other games to monitor include Virginia Tech at North Carolina, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, N.C. State at Clemson, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, and Virginia at Duke, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday as well.

NHL

The Tampa Bay Lightning have moved a pair of preseason games that were scheduled for Wednesday (against the Carolina Hurricanes) and Thursday (against the Nashville Predators). The Lightning moved their training camp to Nashville, and will play Carolina on the road on Tuesday before playing the Predators in Nashville on Thursday.

This will be updated as further schedule changes are made.