Royals sign Willy Taveras to minor league deal

Royals sign Willy Taveras to minor league deal

Willy Taveras, who hasn’t played in the majors since 2010 and was out of baseball this year, has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that Taveras will likely get an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for a bench job. Taveras’ value was always totally…

A call, an embrace, and tears: Terps' Davis is a Steeler


A call, an embrace, and tears: Terps' Davis is a Steeler

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends and family of Sean Davis gathered, packed in some places nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, in a Northeast D.C. restaurant on Friday night. Televisions were tuned to the NFL Draft. There was music. There was food, conversation and laughter.

But Davis was in a separate room, much quieter, with his agent and his high school coach. He had retreated there to cool off and calm his emotions after putting forth a sense of composure while greeting as many possible family members as possible earlier in the night -- though inside, his nerves were taking hold.

Of course, there were the questions from those friends and family. Where was he going? Where did he think he was going? How was he feeling?

In this room, there was none of that. He just sat and watched.

The Washington Redskins, the team Davis has loved since his childhood, took hybrid linebacker Su’a Cravens out of USC with the No. 53 overall pick.

Then, as he held his cell phone in his hand in that room, it happened.

“I felt it vibrate and I looked down and see the 412 number and know that’s Pittsburgh and I was like, ‘Is this like a telemarketer or something? It’s the wrong time to be calling,” Davis recalled to CSN on Friday night with a radiant smile. “I answered and it was Coach [Mike] Tomlin.”

Tomlin told Davis that the Steelers intended to select him with the No. 58 overall pick. He welcomed the former Terrapin to the team. As Davis recalls, there was probably very little he said in the way of a coherent sentence – overcome by the moment and grasping for words that felt like they came out peppered with stutters and stammers.

This from a guy who speaks three languages.

Word of the Steelers selecting Davis had been announced to the crowd in the restaurant, but the pick had yet to air on television and Davis had not yet emerged from the room in which he had been sitting.

Anticipation built until Davis walked through the door leading into the restaurant. The crowd erupted and he was met by his brother Isaiah, a linebacker on Maryland’s football team, with a powerful hug. The two embraced and the newest Steeler buried his head into his brother’s shoulder as tears began to stream down his face.

His father and mother joined in before Isaiah yelled out to the crowd.

“We made it, baby!”

And now, a chance to contribute to a team that is routinely a playoff contender.

“When I took my visit out there, I could just tell everyone was about their business and everyone’s goal was getting that Lombardi Trophy again,” the former Terrapin Davis said.

“I’m very happy to wear that black and yellow now.”

Redskins draft Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller in the third round


Redskins draft Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller in the third round

Scot McCloughan continued to bolster the Redskins' secondary late Friday, selecting cornerback Kendall Fuller out of Virginia Tech in the third round.

Fuller, who is listed at 5 foot 11, 187-pounds, recorded eight interceptions for the Hokies during his first two seasons in Blacksburg, Va. A knee injury, however, cut short his 2015 season, limiting him to three games as junior. 

He'll become the fourth Fuller brother to play in the NFL, joining Corey, Kyle and Vincent. He's also joins fellow Hokies DeAngelo Hall and Kyshoen Jarrett in Washington's secondary.

More important, though, Fuller becomes the second significant addition to the Redskins' remodeled defensive backfield, joining All-Pro corner Josh Norman, who was signed to a five-year, $75 million contract a week ago today. 

Before attending Virginia Tech, Fuller also played at Good Counsel High in Olney, Md.


Lakers hire prized assistant Luke Walton from Warriors


Lakers hire prized assistant Luke Walton from Warriors

Although Luke Walton still has a job to do as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors as they strive to repeat as NBA champions, a new role awaits him as the next coach of the L.A. Lakers.

The Lakers announced late Friday that Walton, who has never been an NBA head coach, as the 26th to hold that position in franchise history. Walton led Golden State to a 39-4 start while Steve Kerr recovered from back sugery, making him an instant hot commodity. Their 24-0 start is the best in NBA history.

Walton's path to a lead role was lightning fast. He's in just his second season as an assistant with the Warriors. He played 10 years in the league with the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Walton retired in 2013 and became a player development coach for the L.A. Defenders D-League franchise in 2013-14.

The Lakers are loaded with young players, Jordan Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, and are reshaping their identity after the retirement of Kobe Byrant. They're also coming off a 17-win season, a franchise-worst mark, and haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2013.

The hiring is in stark contrast to the Wizards, for instance, who wanted a proven head coach with a track record for developing young players in Scott Brooks.

Which method of hiring a coach is better? Neither. Both philosphies make sense because it depends on the makeup of a team and the short-term vs. long-term expectations.

The Wizards have a proven All-Star entering his seventh season in John Wall and Bradley Beal entering his fifth and twice having been to the second round of the playoffs. They have proven players in Makieff Morris and Marcin Gortat and to a lesser extent Otto Porter. They couldn't afford to take a risk on an unknown quantity such as Walton or, for instance, Charlotte Hornets assistants Patrick Ewing or Stephen Silas. There is more urgency to win and compete for a spot in the conference finals now to take advantage of Wall's prime years.

The Lakers are in a much different place where players have to learn how to be pros, and some probably won't work out in the long run. Unlike Brooks, Walton has to learn how to lead with his best players fresh faces out of college. And Walton also is the polar opposite of Byron Scott, an old-school former Laker who appeared to shun development on a team that was headed nowhere. 

Being a prized assistant, which is what Brooks was before he took over the Oklahoma City Thunder when P.J. Carleismo following a 1-12 start, is one thing. Assistants don't make the final call on roster, in-game adjustments or rotations. Brooks' team won just 22 games after he took over. 

Having to face the music when answering for those decisions is no different than a player who may look good behind the scenes but not necessarily when the lights are brightest. Walton should have time to learn on the job and wiggle room to get it right.

But it's important to remember that for every Kerr, who led Golden State to the title in his first year on the job, there are first-time coach examples such as Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw. The latter two ended up fired quickly. For every hot-shot college coach who makes the jump such as Billy Donovan (Thunder), there's Fred Hoiberg (Bulls).

Mike Budenholzer (Hawks) had never been a head coach but look at his success in Atlanta. The caveat there, of course, is he spent 17 years as an assistant coach with the last six as the top assistant to Gregg Popovich (Spurs). So while he was a first-time head coach, he had far more seasoning than Walton and was tasked with higher expectations on a team with much more talent than the Lakers.

There's no such thing as a can't-miss formula when hiring coaches. It's more about job fit, where a franchise is in it's development and it's goals. For what L.A. has and needs, Walton seems to fit or at least worth the risk. If he doesn't work out, the Lakers can't be much worse than they were under Scott (38-126).