Orioles

Saints, coach Sean Payton agree to terms on deal

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Saints, coach Sean Payton agree to terms on deal

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Saints and suspended coach Sean Payton will indeed be together again next season as the bounty scandal fades into history and the bid to win a second Super Bowl resumes.

Payton has agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension, the team said.

``Very happy it is official,'' quarterback Drew Brees said in an email to the AP. ``Never had any doubts.''

Payton was due to begin his seventh season as the Saints' head coach in 2012 before being suspended for the whole season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.

``I am pleased that Sean Payton will be our head coach for a long time,'' owner Tom Benson said in a statement. ``Now we can focus our attention on building on the winning tradition with the Saints that Sean has played such a large role in.''

Payton signed an extension in 2011 worth more than $6 million a year that would have kept him in New Orleans through 2015, but Goodell objected to certain language in that deal, leaving Payton's future uncertain until the deal was reached Friday. The language in question in the previous extension gave Payton the right to opt out early if general manager Mickey Loomis left the club for any reason.

The new agreement also must be approved by the NFL. The team did not disclose the length of the extension or financial terms.

Payton is the only coach in Saints history to win a Super Bowl, a title earned at the end of the 2009 season. But his legacy was tarnished by the NFL's bounty probe, as Goodell ruled that Payton failed to exert proper institutional control over a cash-for-hits bounty program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011.

Although the Saints objected to the characterization of what coaches and players have said was nothing more than a performance pool for big plays, Goodell suspended Payton for the entire season. The commissioner also suspended Loomis for half of the season and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games.

Payton is 62-34 in regular-season games as Saints coach and 5-3 in the postseason. During the three seasons before his suspension, the Saints won 41 regular-season and playoff games combined, more than any other team in the NFL.

Payton has primarily handled the offense in New Orleans, teaming up with Brees to break numerous NFL and club records. The single-season NFL records set by the Saints in 2011 included yards passing by a team (5,505) and a quarterback (5,476). The Saints also set a record for total offensive yards with 7,474.

Although speculation ran rampant that Payton could essentially become a free agent after this season and end up elsewhere, Brees repeatedly said he would be ``shocked'' if Payton ended up anywhere but New Orleans next season. Brees is under contract with the Saints through the 2016 season, and Payton was the driving force in the Saints' effort to acquire Brees as a free agent in 2006.

Without Payton on the sideline this season, the Saints missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Brees remained prolific, but his 18 interceptions also tied for a league high heading into the final weekend of the season.

The Saints headed into Sunday's season finale against Carolina at 7-8, hoping to avoid their first losing season since they went 7-9 in 2007.

Payton is expected to return to the Saints immediately after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, unless Goodell allows him to return earlier.

When Payton reports back to work, it will officially close the book on the bounty saga that has overshadowed the Saints' organization since the NFL first announced on March 2 that it found the Saints ran a program that paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents.

In addition to the suspensions of Payton, Loomis and Vitt, the Saints also were docked second-round draft choices in 2012 and 2013, though Goodell has said he could potentially restores the Saints' 2013 second-round choice and dock the team a later-round pick.

Meanwhile, four current or former Saints were initially given suspensions of varying lengths. Two current Saints defensive captains, linebacker Jon Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, were among those suspended. Vilma was banned for the whole season and Smith for four games, but the players successfully challenged their punishment with the help of the NFL Players Association and never served a game.

Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed by Goodell to oversee the players' appeals, ruled that the NFL probe was accurate in its findings that the Saints ran an improper program and attempted to cover it up, but that the evidence was not strong enough to warrant unprecedented suspensions for players who had been only fined for similar behavior in the past.

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Orioles' Chris Davis on the future of MLB 2020 season

Orioles' Chris Davis on the future of MLB 2020 season

Chris Davis has played a game without fans before. He doesn’t want to go back to that again unless he has to.

Davis, who played in the 2015 fan-less game between the Orioles and White Sox at Camden Yards in the aftermath of the Baltimore Riots, is aware of the unique circumstances those games can present.

“I think it’s something that I’ve prepared myself for, hoping that we wouldn’t necessarily have to do that,” Davis said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “I think at this point, there are a lot of possibilities, a lot of different scenarios that are on the table, just as far as a logistics standpoint is concerned. Obviously I would love to play as many games as possible, but I also want people to be safe.”

Major League Baseball has yet to set a return date for the 2020 regular season, and there doesn’t appear to be a concrete timeline either for baseball to be played. 

One possibility is to begin the season without fans at the ballparks to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus. A big part of that, admittedly, is gaining confidence from both players and fans.

“I want people to feel comfortable being around other people, being around other fans at the ballpark and I want the guys to feel safe on the field,” Davis said. “I don’t look forward to doing that, but I feel like we’re going to have to do some things that are a little unfamiliar, at least for the foreseeable future. We’ve talked about it, it’s definitely a possibility.”

Davis, who said he’s confident he can pick up where he left off in spring training after a hot start to the season, is now just waiting for baseball games to be played, just like everyone else. 

The best-case scenario though, for him and everyone else, is to have the ballparks filled when baseball returns.

“It’s been extremely uplifting to hear the amount of people that are just in love with the game of baseball, they’re infatuated with it,” Davis said. “They’re ready to see guys out on the field again. I just know that once we get everything squared away and we get kind of a handle on everything, there are going to be a bunch of smiling faces in the ballpark. And I look forward to that day.”

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Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

After back-to-back stellar seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas, Mac McClung has stated his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft process. 

A general consensus from draft evaluators and fans is that McClung will eventually withdraw his name from the process after the NBA Combine and come back. Declaring can be used to gain feedback from scouts and agents alike on where he is at in his playing career.

If he came back to Georgetown he could use that criticism to develop and prepare for the draft next season. It makes sense and is a system that has worked countless times to create solid NBA players.

But what if McClung doesn't withdraw his name and fully commits to the draft? It can't be ruled out given that is why he is declaring. 

That could put Georgetown in a precarious situation next season. Not only would it hurt losing such a dynamic scorer and playmaker in McClung, but once again they would be thrust into another season with potential roster concerns. 

With McClung, there are seven returning players on scholarship for next year. It is assumed Omer Yurtseven will not be returning either for a graduate season after his post on Instagram "closed a chapter" and seemed like a goodbye message to the Hoyas. That would leave six scholarship players returning. 

Not an ideal situation for Patrick Ewing as he is still looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time. But, that situation is manageable with two starters returning and two others that saw significant playing time. 

If McClung leaves, that means five returning players will be on next year's roster. Only three having played regular minutes. There would also be only one guard.

Relief is coming, three of the four commitments for next year are guards, all of them being three-star recruits. In this situation, at least one, potentially two of them, would have to start immediately for Georgetown. Now, freshmen start all the time in college hoops but that's a tall task for three-stars. There's also the transfer market, but no big transfer has been publically linked to the Hoyas as of this writing.

Why is this an issue? The consensus is that McClung will return next season. He's slightly undersized for either the point or shooting guard positions in the NBA. He is a 3-point shooter, but at 32% last season he isn't consistent enough to make it on his shooting alone. The best, and most enticing part, of his game is his athleticism and dunking ability.

But at the combine, things can change quickly. Jordan Bone of Tennessee (2019) and Kevin Huerter from Maryland (2018) proved that.

Both are examples of prospects that can shine in the combine and then make a sudden decision to forgo their eligibility and get drafted. McClung already has a leg up on other prospects by being well known in the scouting community from the hype surrounding him in high school. He's already had valuable conversations and connections with those involved in the evaluation. 

A good combine can make McClung an attractive prospect and if a team is telling him the right things, it may be enough to get him to leave college. That is not a reality that Georgetown could afford to face next year. 

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