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Exclusive: NBA: Zion Williamson makes it clear he wants to play for Pelicans

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Zion Williamson New Orleans Pelicans NBA

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns at Smoothie King Center on April 28, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

Zion Williamson is putting last season behind him and focusing on remaining with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Williamson missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a broken right foot, and speculation persisted that he might prefer to play elsewhere.

But while speaking to reporters at a local YMCA basketball camp he was holding, Williamson was all-in on playing for the Pelicans.

“I do want to be here. That’s no secret. I feel like I’ve stood on that when I spoke,” Williamson said Saturday. “Currently, this does not really have anything to do with that. This is just me wanting to be a pillar in my community.”

Williamson, who turns 22 in July, was fully cleared physically by the team on May 26 and has been working out in New Orleans with some of his teammates.

“It was a long year for me on rehab and mental battles,” Williamson said. “I’m fine now. I’m ready to get to work.”

Since being the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson has played just 85 games (all starts) for the Pelicans. He missed the first three months of the 2019-20 season due to a knee injury.

Williamson was an All-Star in the 2020-21 season, when he averaged 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 61 contests. He has career averages of 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

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Williamson could be in line for a five-year, $186 million extension from the Pelicans. Speculation has New Orleans seeking protections in the deal due to Williamson’s injury history.

As for getting an extension, Williamson smiled and said, “You have to ask the Pels, baby.”

Williamson is slated to make $13.5 million in base salary next season.

Even with Williamson sidelined, New Orleans advanced through the play-in format to make the playoffs this season and lost in six games against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

An in-season trade for CJ McCollum bolstered the club while star Brandon Ingram had another big season. In addition, some of the team’s emerging role players excited Williamson as he ticked off the names of Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III, Herbert Jones and Jaxson Hayes.

“That’s all I needed to see to really be excited to get back out there,” Williamson said.

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Exclusive: QLD champion's ominous call as decider looms – TalkOfNews.com

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As New South Wales prepares to cop the full force of a chaotic and parochial Suncorp Stadium crowd, Darren Lockyer has declared the home fans give Queensland “a 12-point advantage”.

It’s an ominous statement for the Blues to mull over as they plot to become just the third NSW team in history to win a State of Origin decider at the Brisbane venue.

The Blues will be out to replicate the feats of the 1994 team, coached by Phil Gould, and the 2005 side mentored by Ricky Stuart, when they do battle with the Maroons next Wednesday night.

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“They definitely give you energy, but you’ve got to get them excited, and that means you’ve got to play well and you’ve got to come out there with intensity, be physical and get the crowd into it,” Lockyer said on Wide World of Sports’ QLDER.

“I’ve seen over the years where if you can get one try and the crowd gets really pumped you might get a couple straight after.

“While it has that really good effect on the Queenslanders, it can become intimidating for the Blues, too.

“It’s the best experience we’ve got in this country, I reckon, to have a decider at Suncorp.

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QLD greats describe the Suncorp Stadium effect: QLDER – Round 16

“I always remembered pre-game the thing about my job in my five minutes, but then I couldn’t wait to get that roar when you run out. It just puts goosebumps on the back of your neck. Then singing the national anthem with them. It’s a good five minutes of your career when you run out and then sing the anthem.”

Watch State of Origin exclusive, live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.

Wally Lewis said charging up the race to the cheers of a Lang Park crowd made him feel “10 feet tall and bullet-proof”.

Felise Kaufusi won’t be wearing a Queensland jumper as the Maroons aim to steal back the Origin shield, after the Melbourne back-rower made a dash to the US to be with his ill father.

Queensland selector Lockyer said Kaufusi’s omission was “huge” but the Maroons had faith in his replacement — boom Cowboys youngster Jeremiah Nanai.

The 19-year-old, who’s stamped himself as a try-scoring freak with North Queensland this season, was catapulted off the bench in games one and two.

Slater highlights Nanai’s injection of ‘difference’

“I think the four-men (players who defend four players wide of the ruck), which is where Kaufusi plays, are probably the most important players in the defensive line, because they communicate to the middle guys who have got a big job to do and they have to work under a lot of fatigue at times,” Lockyer said.

“Then they have to work with their edges and talk to their halves and their centres a lot. So, it’s a big loss.

“But we’ve got to have some belief in Nanai because I think he’s a talent. The positive thing is he’s coming out of a club where the Cowboys have a really good defensive system, they have really good habits. It’s now to step it up to another level for Jeremiah. I’m confident he can do the job.”

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Exclusive: Racing Tips: Andrew Mount’s Wednesday Picks – July 6th – TalkOfNews.com

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Leading horse racing advisor Andrew Mount’s is a contributor to the Racing Post, Racing Post Weekender, Racing & Football Outlook, the GG.co.uk website and a regular pundit on William Hill radio. Andrew uses stats and systems to find value bets and shares his latest thoughts below…

Andrew found Brighton winner IDEAL GUEST on Tuesday and has four selections at Lingfield, Catterick and Kempton on Wednesday, July 6th. Follow his tips this week and all year round on horse racing betting sites with the lowdown on his latest picks below:

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LINGFIELD 2.30

ROYAL MARINER (system – James Tate, nurseries, recent run)

James Tate has a 31 from 118 record (26.3% strike-rate) with his nursery runners who had the benefit of a recent outing (1-28 days ago) and backing them all would have returned a profit of £28.79 to a £1 level stake at SP. ROYAL MARINER looks a likely improver now fitted with a first-time visor for his all-weather/handicap debut.

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CATTERICK 3.50

MOONLIT WARRIOR (system – Michael Bell, Catterick)

Newmarket-based Michael Bell has a solid record with his runners at Catterick, scoring with 18 of the 55 qualifiers since 2013 (32.7% strike-rate) for a profit of £26.68. MOONLIT WARRIOR, well drawn in stall 3, has form figures in handicaps of 1122 (2-4) and looks set to encounter the required strong pace. The step up to 2m for the first time will also suit.

 

KEMPTON 5.45

DEBATER (system – No Nay Never, Kempton)

Progeny of the sire No Nay Never have a good record at Kempton, landing 15 of their 97 starts for a profit of £17.75 to the usual £1 stake. The juveniles and three-year-olds have a combined record of 13 from 75 (+£29.75), with those drawn in stall 6 or lower winning 11 from 47 for a profit of £46.25. Hugo Palmer’s two-year-old DEBATER, handily drawn in stall 4, was sent off as the 5-2 favourite when only fourth at Nottingham on last month’s debut but could benefit from the switch to Polytrack. WINNARETTA also qualifies on the young progeny of No Nay Never/draw angle in this race, as does LADY VALENTINE in the 7.20.

 

KEMPTON 7.50

FLINTSTONE (system – Richard Hannon, second run since gelded)

FLINTSTONE could only finish a modest third at Leicester on his reappearance last month but that was also his first start since gelded and the run was probably needed. Since the beginning of 2018, Richard Hannon has a 22 from 87 record with horses having their second run after gelding for a profit of £62.20. Only two of those wore first-time blinkers, as Flintstone does today, with one winning at 16-1 and the other finishing fourth at 9-1.

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Other Horse Racing Tips
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Frankie Dettori To Ride Emily Upjohn In 2022 Irish Oaks

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Exclusive: Wallaby learns fate for headbutt brain explosion – TalkOfNews.com

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Wallabies lock Darcy Swain has copped a two game ban for his headbutt of England rival Jonny Hill in the opening Test in Perth on Saturday.

Swain, who was sent off in Australia’s 30-28 win, will therefore miss the rest of the three Test series as the Wallabies look to claim the inaugural Ella-Mobbs Trophy.

Swain admitted that he committed an act of foul play but did not accept that it warranted a red card.

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Wallabies lock sent off for headbutt

World Rugby disagreed but acknowledged a range of mitigating factors, including provocation from Hill, who had pulled Swain’s hair and pushed him forcefully in the face.

That meant a starting point of a six week suspension was significantly reduced and Swain will be available for the entire Rugby Championship.

Matt Philip is Swain’s likely replacement for the second Test in Brisbane on Saturday.

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Sean Maloney and Andrew Mehrtens are back for a special episode from The Steyne in Manly. The duo review all the northern versus southern hemisphere clashes in the July series, as well as keeping an eye on the exciting Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji

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