Capitals

Adams gives back to rough hometown

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Adams gives back to rough hometown

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Mike Adams remembers feeling the pit in his stomach when, instead of going to the supermarket, his mom, his aunt and a few of his six siblings walked around the corner to the church to pick up Thanksgiving dinner.

The volunteers put the cranberry sauce, the turkey, the mashed potatoes and the rest into a shopping cart and little Mike, not even 10 at the time, followed everyone back home to get ready for the holiday.

``I was embarrassed,'' Adams said. ``I think about it now and it was like, damn, we really didn't have much.''

That was life growing up poor in Paterson, N.J. - a life the Broncos safety has left behind but has by no means forgotten.

Yes, there are hundreds of NFL players doing all kinds of charity work this Thanksgiving - and every week. Adams and his charity, the Rising Stars Foundation, have taken on an even more special meaning this year because his community, in addition to having a poverty rate about 11 percent over the national average, has been dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as well.

``It was a tough place to grow up, and a tough place to live,'' Adams said.

This year, instead of giving away food, Rising Stars' main Thanksgiving project is a coat giveaway. Adams wants to find at least 100 kids who don't have coats and make sure they aren't shivering during their trips from home to school. He runs a football camp in the summer, a back-to-school drive in the fall where he gives out book bags and free haircuts for boys and hair-dos for girls. After Sandy hit, he sent a $100,000 check to his foundation to help ease some of the suffering back home.

``It's a whole lot of things I try to do so people there can see a different side of me and see me as much as possible,'' Adams said. ``I want them to know that regardless of the circumstances, the environment, all the things you see, you can still find a way out of that.''

Though his inspiring NFL story - undrafted rookie makes a team, then spends nine years in the league - is not unheard of, it takes on extra weight when he's telling it to the hundreds of kids who make up his audience when he runs the camps, or heads home for other charity events.

``I beat the odds,'' he said. ``When I go back home, kids see that and know I wasn't drafted. They know there's more than one chance, and that's all you need, is an opportunity. It's why I always wanted to give, give, give. Take every paycheck as a blessing. Every down.''

Adams started his career in San Francisco, picked up by the Niners as a college free agent out of Delaware. In 2007, he signed with the Browns, where he played five seasons. Last offseason, the Broncos signed him. He has started all 10 games in Denver, broken up eight passes, recovered two fumbles, made one sack for a safety and has been a steady, veteran presence on a defense ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed.

The real stats, in the safety's book, are the number of kids he can influence back home.

Adams started the foundation in 2006 with another Paterson native, Gerald Hayes, who was playing linebacker with the Arizona Cardinals at the time.

Adams, 31, has a daughter, Maya, and says he can't imagine not being a presence in her life. But he knows it's not something to take for granted.

He was raised by his mother and grandmother in Paterson, about 20 miles from downtown Manhattan, where ``the liquor stores stay open `til 2:30, 3 in the morning, everybody's outside, hustling drugs.

``You see so much and are exposed to so much as a kid that you really shouldn't see,'' he said.

He concedes he got caught up in some bad stuff, as well.

``You kind of don't know any better,'' he said. ``It's hard to find role models around there.''

The first time Adams met his father was five years ago at a funeral. A friend of his pointed across the room to a man Adams had never seen. That man, the friend said, was his dad.

``Weird. Awkward,'' Adams called his first, and only, meeting with his dad.

But also a key moment for him.

``It strengthened me to do more in the community,'' he said. ``My mother and my grandmother raised me. The kids around there, they don't see a lot of positives. My goal, as I see it, is to try to give them something new to see.''

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Online:http://www.rising-starsfoundation.org/index.php

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning Monday afternoon, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities.

So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old.

General manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June.

Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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