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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Pat Riley defends LeBron James; David Blatt reportedly lost respect of Cavaliers veterans 01.29.16 at 8:00 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Magic at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Rockets at Thunder, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Lakers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: VCU at Davidson, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Manhattan at Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kent State at Ohio, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— LeBron James has been taking heat as a coach-killer since the conference-leading Cavaliers fired David Blatt last week, but his former team’s boss indicated that description is not accurate — at least not as far as he knows. Amid a report that a Heat minority owner said James asked for Miami coach Erik Spoelstra to be fired a few years ago, Heat president Pat Riley said that request was never made.

“Not from him to me, ever,” Riley said Thursday. “So a lot of stuff is following him out the door. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s just the nature of it. But as far as that goes, no, he never, ever walked in and said anything.”

James, who left the Heat two year ago to return to the Cavaliers, has staunchly denied every requesting a coach be removed at any point in his career. However, his actions made it clear he preferred Tyronn Lue, the assistant coach who was promoted to replace David Blatt last week.

Apparently James was not alone in lacking respect for Blatt. ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst said on ESPN’s TrueHoop podcast that all the team’s veterans felt the same way.

“I’ve never seen a coach dynamic with a team like I saw with David Blatt,” Windhorst said (via ProBasketballTalk’s Dan Feldman), adding: “I saw a guy who completely was unable to get even a modicum of respect from a majority of his players.

“And I also saw star players and veteran players — not just LeBron, OK. We know LeBron had issues with him. But basically any player that had any sort of veteran status in the league, more than Joe Harris and Matthew Dellavedova — all the veterans didn’t like him, either. He wasn’t able to win over about anybody.”

Blast, the Framingham native who had a very successful career coaching in Israel and Russia, reportedly wants to continue coaching in the NBA.

— The Cowboys apparently are leaning toward parting ways with defensive end Greg Hardy. As if he wasn’t enough of a handful with his sordid past and his confrontations with teammates and coaches, his focus during the season reportedly was not always on the field.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, Hardy’s condition and attendance were negatively affected by his partying ways.

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Read More: David Blatt, Greg Hardy, LeBron James, Pat Riley
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Panthers’ Cam Newton says he’s ‘an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people’ 01.28.16 at 8:12 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Knicks at Raptors, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Bulls at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Cincinnati at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Iowa at Maryland, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Robert Morris at Mount St. Mary’s, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UAB at Western Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Michigan State at Northwestern, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Oregon at Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Richmond at George Washington, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Southeast Missouri State at SIUE, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Washington at UCLA, 10 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Loyola Marymount at BYU, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Tennis: Australian Open, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— While there’s been a lot of talk about the Super Bowl quarterbacks, in New England the focus has been on Peyton Manning, who helped the Broncos knock off the Patriots in the AFC championship game in what might be his final season. That changed Wednesday, when Panthers star Cam Newton declared, “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”

Newton has been called out for his on-field celebrations during his team’s 17-1 season, but he apparently believes there’s a racial undertone to the criticism.

The likely league MVP, Newton said he has not changed his approach, and the only difference is he’s in the spotlight this season due to his individual and team success, leading some to judge him without knowing him.

“I said that prior to me being in this situation,” Newton said of being misunderstood. “But when I said it then it was like, ‘Oh, he is immature,’ or, ‘Oh, he’s young, and this, that and the third.’ I felt a certain type of way then and I feel a certain type of way now — nothing has pretty much changed. They talk about maturity. They talk about skill set. … The only thing that has changed [about me] is that we’re winning now.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera defended Newton for enjoying himself after touchdowns.

“I think some people believe you should be stoic when you play this game,” Rivera said. “But a lot of people disagree and think you should have fun. This is a kids’ game. I know there is a lot of money involved, but at the end of the day it’s about entertainment. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, don’t play the game — it’s that simple.”

Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman noted that the 6-foot-5, 245-pound QB wins in an “unconventional way,” and that might leave some fans unsettled.

“Some people can’t accept that,” Tillman said. “He is setting a precedent as far as for how quarterbacks are now — and how they may become. He’s in a league of his own. He has created his own category for winning.”

— Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman was contrite after decking an official from behind during Wednesday’s game against the Predators, insisting it was an accident.

Wideman, an 11-year veteran who played for the Bruins from 2007 to 2010, looked to be in pain as he was skating to the bench after taking a hit from Predators forward Miikka Salomaki. Wideman then appeared to be surprised to see linesman Don Henderson in front of him along the boards, and he cross-checked the official from behind, then continued on to the bench.

“I took a pretty hard hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and my neck and I was just trying to get off the ice,” Wideman said. “And I was kind of keeled over and at the last second, I looked up and I saw him and I couldn’t avoid it.”

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Read More: Cam Newton, David Blatt, Dennis Wideman, LeBron James
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James’ marketing company parts ways with Johnny Manziel after latest issues 01.07.16 at 8:13 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Lakers at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Bryant at Wagner, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Michigan at Purdue, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Illinois at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Alabama at Mississippi, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona at UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Old Dominion at Louisiana Tech, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Santa Clara at BYU, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Flyers at Wild, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

— Hours after LeBron James expressed concern for Johnny Manziel, the NBA star on Wednesday ended his company’s marketing agreement with the troubled Browns quarterback.

LRMR, the company run by James and his friends Maverick Carter, Rich Paul and Randy Mims, had been handling Manziel’s endorsement deals since the former Heisman Trophy winner was drafted two years ago. However, Manziel has had frequent off-field issues, including his reported visit to Las Vegas on Saturday and his absence from the team’s facility the following morning when he was supposed to meet with trainers after suffering a concussion the previous weekend.

On Wednesday morning, prior to the Cavaliers‘ game in Washington, James said he was not fully aware of Manziel’s latest issues, but he said the 23-year-old would be better off focusing on his personal issues.

“I’ve heard a little bit of it and it’s just a distraction for not only himself but for everyone that’s around him, including family, people that represent him, the people around him,” James said. “He’ll figure it out at some point — we all hope.”

Manziel spent 10 weeks last offseason in a rehab facility that specializes in alcohol and substance abuse, but his problems continued throughout the season.

“I will continue to support and advise him as a friend,” said Carter, James’ longtime adviser. “However, because Johnny needs to focus on personal growth, the next phase of his career and because LRMR continues to expand beyond marketing, we made the mutual decision that it was best to terminate our business relationship.”

— The Buccaneers surprisingly parted ways with coach Lovie Smith despite his improvement from two wins last season to six this year.

Smith was 8-24 in two years, and the Bucs decided to move on after failing to qualify for the playoffs for the eighth straight time. Working against Smith was the fact that the team lost five of its last six games to finish last in the NFC South for the fifth consecutive year.

“This decision was difficult on a variety of levels,” Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement. “I am disappointed that we were not more successful these past few seasons, but we are committed to doing what is necessary to give our fans the winning team they deserve.”

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Read More: Calvin Johnson, Johnny Manziel, LeBron James, Lovie Smith
Friday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James injures PGA golfer’s wife on fall into courtside seats 12.18.15 at 7:44 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Penguins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Hawks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Clippers at Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Pelicans at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Incarnate Word at St. John’s, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Mississippi at Memphis, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College football: Div. 3 championship, St. Thomas (Minn.) vs. Mount Union, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: FCS semifinal, Richmond at North Dakota State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The wife of PGA Tour golfer Jason Day was taken to a hospital after LeBron James fell into her while chasing a loose ball during Thursday night’s game against the Thunder.

Ellie Day, who gave birth to the couple’s second child last month, was seated courtside next to the visitors bench with her husband when the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James reached for a ball and crashed into her, knocking her seat over backward and landing on her. The game was delayed as Day received medical attention before being taken away on a stretcher. She was treated at a nearby hospital and released early Friday morning.

“It wasn’t anything out of the usual besides the injury,” James said. “But to me, obviously her health is very important, and hopefully she’s doing well. The guys told us she’s doing great now. So, but you know, I was going for a loose ball. Just trying to keep the possession going, and I hate that that was the end result of it.”

Tweeted James later: Ellie Day I hope you’re doing okay! My apologies! Hope u guys come back to another game soon. Love LJ!

Ellie Day is a former Ohio State golfer, and the family has a home near Columbus. Her husband, a native of Australia, has attended a few Cavs games this season. Shortly before the accident, Jason Day took part in a promotion in which he golfed foam basketballs into the crowd.

Despite the scare, James said he has no objection to fans sitting so close.

“I think it’s a great experience for our fans,” James said. “I mean, that doesn’t happen much. It’s unfortunate it happened tonight, but that doesn’t happen much. Our fans are why our game is so great. Sitting courtside, it’s all part of the game. It’s pretty cool. If I was a fan, which I am a fan of the game, but, I would love to sit courtside and watch games.”

— Meanwhile, Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert is sidelined after suffering a groin injury in Tuesday night’s game against the Celtics, but that didn’t stop him from helping his fiancee deliver the couple’s daughter Wednesday.

Teyana Taylor went into labor Wednesday morning, and by the time she realized it she could feel the baby’s head, she explained on her Instagram account. Taylor said Shumpert played the role of doctor, helping with the delivery and then using the cord from a pair of headphones to tie off the umbilical cord while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

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Read More: FIFA, Iman Shumpert, Jason Day, LeBron James
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets stick with injured Ryan Fitzpatrick over Geno Smith at QB 11.05.15 at 8:03 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NFL: Browns at Bengals, 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network; WEEI-FM)
College football: Arkansas State at Appalachian State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Ball State at Western Michigan, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: Baylor at Kansas State, 7:30 p.m. (FS1; WEEI-AM)
College football: Mississippi State at Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Nevada at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Thunder at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Grizzlies at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: Europa, Liverpool at Rubin Kazan, 1 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Europa Anderlecht at Tottenham, 3 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The fading Jets will stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback despite a torn ligament in his left thumb, leaving Geno Smith on the bench.

Both players practiced Wednesday after suffering injuries in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders, and both are available for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.

Coach Todd Bowles said Fitzpatrick is “a tough guy” who “can tolerate some things.”

Joked the QB: “Well, it’s painful enough to get me out of changing diapers. That’s been the one positive.”

Added Fitzpatrick: “It’s more painful to sit on the sideline and not be there for your teammates.”

Smith, who brushed off questions about his decision-making Sunday — “I don’t care about announcers’ criticism,” he said — again will be in a supporting role for Fitzpatrick, and he was careful about his comments on the situation.

“I’m not disappointed that he can’t play, obviously I’m rooting for my teammate, but as a player, you want to play,” said Smith, who left Sunday’s game with a bruised left shoulder. “You want to be out there. You want to have a chance. But I understand what’s going on, so I’m not really that disappointed about that part of it.”

— Heat guard (and former Celtic) Gerald Green was hospitalized Wednesday morning after an incident at his condominium, but the team was offering no details about the situation.

“Right now our concerns are with Gerald and we have no further comment at this time,” the team said in a statement.

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Read More: Geno Smith, Gerald Green, LeBron James, Ryan Fitpatrick
NBA trade roundup: Heat reportedly send Shabazz Napier to Magic; Cavs ship Mike Miller to Blazers 07.27.15 at 11:18 am ET
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Shabazz Napier

Shabazz Napier

After just one season with the Heat, Shabazz Napier has been traded to the Magic for a second-round pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Napier, a Roxbury native who was a first-round selection in 2014 after leading UConn to a national championship, was said to be the preferred choice of LeBron James come draft time in July 2014. However, with James departed for the Cavaliers, the Heat made the trade in order to clear $1.3 million in cap space and to gain roster flexibility.

In Orlando, Napier likely sits as a third option at point guard behind sophomore Elfrid Payton and veteran C.J. Watson. Last year, he averaged 5.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 19.8 minutes per game for the Heat.

The Cavaliers made a crucial move Sunday by sending Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller and two second-round picks to the Trail Blazers for two trade exceptions worth $10.52 million and $2.85 million, according to to Wojnarowski.

Haywood’s contract would have become guaranteed on Aug. 1, so the Cavs needed to make a move with it by then. The trade exception they gained by moving his contract is the largest in the NBA. Last season the Cavs used a trade exception to acquire Timofey Mozgov from the Nuggets.

Though Miller is one of James’ closest friends, the Cavs made the move to trade him in order to save roughly $10 million between salary and luxury tax deductions. James was upset in 2013 when the Heat traded Miller for financial reasons, however a source close to James described trading Miller as “the right thing to do” in order to give him career options as he nears retirement.

The Blazers can take on the contracts of Haywood and Miller because they have $25 million in cap space after the departures of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum and Wesley Matthews. They most definitely will waive Haywood in order to reap the benefits of his $10 million non-guaranteed contract, and it is also presumed they will do the same with Miller. If Miller is released, the Cavaliers will not be able to re-sign him for at least one year.

Read More: Brendan Haywood, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Heading into union meeting, NBA players question Adam Silver’s claim that teams are losing money 07.20.15 at 9:12 am ET
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According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, “a significant number” of teams are losing money. However, players were hard-pressed to agree with Silver at Sunday’s NBA Players Awards show in Las Vegas, citing a need for proof before they believe him.

“I’ve got to see that for myself,” said Chris Paul, president of the players’ union. “This is probably one of the first years I didn’t really pay too much attention. … But we have a number of things we want to talk about, obviously some a little more important than others.”

For Paul and the rest of the union, they have specific issues they want to address during Monday’s meeting. They did not disclose their agenda at the Players Awards, but did voice their suspicion over Silver’s comments on teams’ worth.

“I can’t agree with that,” Nazr Mohammed said about Silver’s claim. “I think the league is as healthy as it’s ever been. Teams are worth more than they’ve ever been. The Clippers just went for $2 billion. I think it’s hard to say that especially when you networks willing to give us the type of money they are to watch our games.”

According to Paul and players’ union executive director Michelle Roberts, LeBron James will be directly involved in discussions with the commissioner, a huge boost for younger players coming up on their first collective bargaining decision.

“Obviously me and ‘Bron talk about it every day,” Paul said. “He’s the face of our league. His opinion matters. Our players listen when he talks. It’ll be great to have him in there. One thing about ‘Bron, too, is when he commits to something he’s always passionate about it, so I know his voice will be heard.”

NBA players and owners will have the chance to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2017, a decision that could result in another lockout like the one seen in 2011. While the players prepare for the discussions Monday, they hope for productive talks that don’t stall the process before more intense negotiations next offseason.

“I’ve been around long enough and I know there’s a lot of posturing that goes on during this process,” Mohammed said. “There’s going to be things said that can be supported by numbers, but sometimes the numbers don’t always give out the real facts. Hopefully they’re going to let us see their books and we’ll see exactly what they mean by that.”

Read More: Adam Silver, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Michelle Roberts
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Bills consider options after arrest of OL coach Aaron Kromer 07.13.15 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: All-Star Home Run Derby, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Gold Cup, Panama vs. United States, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Gold Cup, Haiti vs. Honduras, 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Aaron Kromer

Aaron Kromer

— The Bills are considering how to deal with offense line coach Aaron Kromer, who was arrested early Sunday morning after allegedly punching a boy in the face during an incident in Florida.

“We are aware of the report and in the process of gathering the facts,” the Bills said in a statement.

According to police in Defuniak Springs, Florida, Kromer and his son confronted three boys who were fishing Saturday night, angry about their use of the Kromers’ beach chairs. Kromer, 48, grabbed the boys’ fishing pole and threw it in the water, then shoved one of the boys to the ground and punched him in the face.

The boy said the 6-foot-4 Kromer threatened to kill his family if he told police what happened.

A Fox Sports report quotes a source as saying Kromer was upset about his chairs being stolen and reacted when he was threatened.

“It was dark out. He couldn’t see the people,” a source said. “The kids were belligerent and threatened him. Bottom line, they stole his property and he couldn’t identify them because it was dark out and they threatened him.”

Kromer joined the Bills in January following two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Bears. He previously coached for the Buccaneers and Saints, serving as interim head coach of the Saints for the first six games of the 2012 season.

LeBron James, recently re-signed by the Cavaliers, said Sunday that he’s not yet over the NBA Finals loss to the Warriors.

“I just don’t feel like you ever move on from losing in the Finals, because you feel like you’re right there and feel like you have the opportunity to do something special,” James said in an interview on Sirius XM’s Bleacher Report Radio, adding: “I can never get away from losing in the Finals.”

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Read More: Aaron Kromer, Donovan McNabb, LeBron James,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Kings reportedly show interest in Rajon Rondo 07.01.15 at 7:06 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Angels, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup semifinal, Japan vs. England, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Exhibition, Mexico vs. Honduras, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Free agent point guard Rajon Rondo’s stock dropped precipitously after he was sent packing by the Mavericks during the first round of the playoffs after another behavioral issue like those that have dogged him throughout his college and professional career.

Now the former Celtic is an afterthought among discussions of this free agent class.

On Tuesday night, however, Rondo reportedly found some interest — appropriately enough from the franchise that might be the most dysfunctional in the league.

According to an ESPN report, the Kings “came on strong” Tuesday night and requested a meeting with Rondo after forward Rudy Gay pushed management to pursue him.

Rondo is expected to sign a one-year deal as he tries to build back his reputation and show he can avoid confrontations with his coach. The Kings recently hired George Karl, although there have been reports that they are looking to replace him before he coaches a game.

— Warriors star Steph Curry was named league MVP and beat LeBron JamesCavaliers in the NBA Finals. Now he’s surpassed LeBron in jersey sales for the first time.

Based on rankings of overall sales at NBAStore.com from April through June, Curry ranked No. 1, with James dropping to second. Fellow Warriors Klay Thompson (fifth) and Draymond Green (15th) helped Golden State rank first in team sales during the playoffs.

The Celtics ranked a solid ninth on the team list, although the C’s had no player in the top 15.

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Read More: LeBron James, nike, Phil Knight, rajon rondo
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Cavaliers coach David Blatt plays down report of rift with LeBron James 06.19.15 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Royals, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
Golf: U.S. Open, noon (FS1), 8 p.m. (Fox)

AROUND THE WEB:

David Blatt

David Blatt

Cavaliers coach David Blatt played down an ESPN report that LeBron James is frequently dismissive and rude to him — even while Blatt is instructing the team during games — and said that he “absolutely” plans to return next season.

“People sometimes judge things on a game or on a period of time and they forget that we’re in there working together and striving to make the utmost of our team and of our situation day to day,” Blatt said Thursday, “and a bond develops over time that is a lot more than what meets the eye.”

Blatt acknowledged that he adjusted his coaching style to work with James, who carried the team to the sixth game of the NBA Finals.

“Absolutely, yes,” Blatt said. “He is a galvanizing player. He is our best player. He’s the league’s best player. He’s a winner. He’s a proven champion. I think it’s important that he feels empowered and at the same time that he knows that he’s very much a part of this team. He’s exhibited that, and always put the team’s success beyond his.

“Now if he has felt that he has something to say and wants to impose his will in terms of influencing in a positive way on those around him, that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for all, and I certainly encourage that and certainly respected the fact that LeBron’s heart was in the right place.”

General manager David Griffin supported his coach — and he noted that James did publicly as well, telling the media two weeks ago that Blatt had done “a hell of a job.” Griffin dismissed the constant stream of negative press directed at Blatt.

“It never has to go away because it’s all conjecture,” Griffin said. “So I think one thing David did as well as anybody I’ve ever seen, and I wish I did better, was just ignore the noise from the media perspective. Because frankly, none of that means anything. We know what actually takes place here.”

— The Nationals got a scare Thursday when right fielder Bryce Harper went down while making a throw to home plate in the sixth inning of their game against the Rays.

Harper ran in to pick up single and planted on the damp grass to throw home, but his throw went wild and he fell to the ground in pain. He limped off the field, favoring his left knee. The team later said he had a strained hamstring and would be evaluated Friday.

“I’ve had problems with my left knee before — I’ve had surgery on it,” Harper said. “So you know, it was definitely really scary.”

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Read More: Bryce Harper, David Blatt, Dez Bryant, LeBron James