Lochte, Phelps stunned in freestyle relay

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Lochte, Phelps stunned in freestyle relay

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP) -- The United States broke out the big guns in hopes of taking down the favored Australians in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay Sunday night.

Michael Phelps was swimming for the Americans.

So was Ryan Lochte.

The U.S. coaches decided to send out a completely different lineup in the evening final, going with Nathan Adrian in the leadoff spot, followed by Phelps and Cullen Jones, with Lochte taking the anchor leg.

While that quartet sounds imposing, the Americans remained underdogs against the defending world champions from Down Under. Australia had three of the four members from its 2011 team in Shanghai, leading off with James "The Missile" Magnussen, followed by Matt Targent and Eamon Sullivan. The only newcomer to the squad was no surprise: James "The Rocket" Roberts going against Lochte in the final spot.

Magnussen has the fastest 100 free time ever in a textile suit, posting 47.10 seconds at the Australian trials in March. Roberts has the second-fastest time in the world this year, 47.63.

The Americans hoped to ride Lochte's wave to an upset victory. He was coming off a dominating win in the 400 individual medley on the opening night of the games, beating Phelps by more than 4 seconds. But Lochte could be a bit tired, having to swim both the prelims and semifinals of the 200 free before he competed in the relay.

But there are also questions about Phelps after his disappointing fourth-place finish in the 400 IM. This was the first time since 2000 that he didn't win a medal in an Olympic race, having captured 14 golds and two bronzes in Athens and Beijing.

Phelps had a chance to swim another eight-event program in London, but he dropped the 200 free because he said he wanted to be at his best in the 400 free relay. The Americans were looking to defend their Olympic title after winning in dramatic fashion at Beijing when Jason Lezak pulled off an improbable rally to edge France's Alain Bernard at the end, keeping Phelps on pace to win a record eight gold medals.

"We were open-minded coming in," Gregg Troy, head coach of the U.S. men's team, said after the prelims. "We did talk to eight guys and told them they could be on the relay. Quite frankly, we feel like any of the eight could do a real good job. It's just a matter of which ones. We can only swim four. So we put our heads together and decided which four it was."

Jimmy Feigen, Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens and Lezak competed in the morning, posting the second-fastest time behind an Australian team that included Magnussen and Roberts.

While Grevers posted the fastest split time, he seemed resigned to being left off the evening relay even before he got the news. He had no problem giving up a spot to Lochte, even though he has never swam in the 400 free relay in the Olympics and doesn't have a lot of experience at that distance.

"You've got to play with what's hot, and that's a good hand right now," Grevers said. "Ryan Lochte is a good hand."

Adrian and Jones earned their spots on the relay by going 1-2 in the 100 free at the U.S. trials.

"All four of those guys have proven themselves time and again," Grevers said. "I don't have any doubt Michael will throw out an incredibly fast split. Nathan and Cullen showed themselves at trials. They're always very trustworthy. And Ryan, you saw him blow the 400 IM out of the water. That guy's hot, and you've got to go with what's hot.

"It's a strong group no matter what happens."

Troy insisted it was more than a two-country race. France has another strong team with Amaury Leveaux, Fabien Gilot, Clement Lefert and rising star Yannick Agnel. Russia could also be a contender, the coach added.

"It's a great field," Troy said. "It's probably the best 400 freestyle relay field ever."

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Salary cap outlook: Redskins have cap room for a top free agent safety

Salary cap outlook: Redskins have cap room for a top free agent safety

The Redskins have found their offensive and defensive coordinators and they are ready to get on with the business portion of the offseason. The big question between now and the middle of March is how they will divvy up their $62 million in cap space. Here we’ll take a position-by-position look at the cap situation and explore some of the Redskins’ options. 

Cap info via www.OverTheCap.com

The Redskins currently have these safeties under contract.

—DeAngelo Hall, 2017 cap hit $5.1 million, under contract through 2017
—Will Blackmon, $1.1 million, through 2017
—Su’a Cravens, $1 million, through 2019
—Josh Evans, $775,000, through 2017
—Deshazor Everett, $615,000, through 2019
—Earl Wolff, $615,000, through 2018

Free agents: Donte Whither, Duke Ihenacho

RELATED: Cousins a "mercenary" and he should be

Notes:

—Cravens is on the second year of his four-year rookie contract. He will be eligible for an extension following the 2018 season.

—Evans had two stints on the Redskins roster last year but he played in only two games with no snaps on defense. When they signed him prior to their Week 17 game they tacked on a deal for this year so he will be around to see if he can get some run on defense.

Positional spending (all defensive backs)

2016: $7.7 million, 21st in NFL
2017: $8.1 million, 20th in NFL

Adding and subtracting:

—If Cravens can develop into a solid starter he would be a bargain for a couple of years. His cap number is $1.2 million in 2018 and $1.4 million in 2019. It could go up in 2019 as he will be eligible to have his deal redone. But getting productive seasons at a relative low rate prior to a second contract is one of the keys to success in NFL’s salary cap system.

—Hall has missed 31 games with injuries over the last three years. It is safe to say that he will not play this year for his contracted $4.25 million salary. He will either negotiate down to a lower salary or he will be released, which would save that $4.25 million off the cap. I would be leaning towards a release; even if he is willing to play for less money it would be hard to count on him.

—Assuming the Redskins do something with Hall’s salary they would have some cap room to work with to bolster this perpetually undermanned position. The median safety positional spending last year was around $10.5 million. If Hall is gone or his salary is reduced to $1 million, they would have room for a $7 million cap hit for a safety and still have spending at the position under control.

—That could mean they can afford someone like Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson, who is likely to get a deal somewhere in the $8 to $9 million range. The Redskins easily craft a deal like that with a $6 to $7 million 2017 cap hit.

—Drafting a safety such as Budda Baker in the first round would be a more economical route to take. The No. 17 pick will get a four-year contract worth $7.0 million with cap numbers increasing from $2.1 million in the first year to $3.7 million in 2020.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Kicking around Kirk scenarios

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page  Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Morning tip: How Wizards plan to develop another young player in Chris McCullough

Morning tip: How Wizards plan to develop another young player in Chris McCullough

The phone kept ringing, and even when Chris McCullough's agent told him that he had been traded to the Wizards the 6-10 big man didn't believe it.

"It definitely caught me off-guard. It was unexpected," said McCullough, who arrived after the Wizards practiced Thursday and joined them for their first post-All-Star Game at the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. "I was sleeping when it happened. My phone just started ringing, ringing, ringing. I finally answered it. I got a text saying I was traded to the Wizards. I thought my agent was messing with me."

McCullough, who was acquired in a deal that also sent Brooklyn Nets teammate Bojan Bogdanovic to Washington, has spent most of his second NBA season with the Long Island Nets, playing for the D-League. He had to take a pair of two-hour flights to get to D.C. from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Before he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in a game January 2015, five months before the NBA draft. The Nets still took him 29th overall in the first round. 

"People had projected him as a possible lottery pick," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "He’s still coming back off of that injury. He’s 6-foot-10, runs the floor well, he can shoot the basketball, very athletic and he has some upside. We’re going to try to develop him. We’re going to try to work with him and how much he develops we’ll see. It’s really going to be up to him."

MORE WIZARDS: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CHRIS MCCULLOUGH

McCullough's NBA experience is limited because of the injury. He was able to recover in time during his rookie season to play in 24 games. He averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds when he averaged 15.1 minutes. This season, under a new coach, he only has played in 14 games and averaged just 5.1 minutes in 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds before logging most of his action in the D-League.

"I’m going to try to do the little things, be the guy who hustles the most, diving on the floor for loose balls, anything to (help) my team win," McCullough said. "I like to run the floor, rebound. Hopefully John Wall throws me some (lobs). I’m ready for it."

Just turning 22, McCullough is the type of player the Wizards are willing to invest time in under coach Scott Brooks (see undrafted rookies Danuel House, Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon Mac). They were less likely to do it previously because then-coach Randy Wittman preferred proven veterans. 

Development is a major part of Brooks' lure.

"I did not know much about him. He has good size. Athletic, working on his outside shot," Brooks said. "He's a young, developing player. We don't know what he can be. But I know with myself and our staff, and how we approach all of our players, we're going to push him and demand that he keeps getting better and improving and see how far we can get him. It's not just a throw-in (for the trade). It's somebody we're going to see how good we can get him and we go from there."

McCullough sees himself developing into one of the league's most sought-after assets.

"Be a stretch four," he said. "I think I’m that now. ... I have no idea how good I’m going to be yet."