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Lonzo Ball focused on health, improving game rather than possibility of being traded

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Los Angeles Lakers sophomore Lonzo Ball has had quite the whirlind start to his career. The off-court distractions involving his controversial father, the pressure of living up to being the second overall pick and the constant injuries have plagued his career up to this point. But the confident 21-year old isn’t going to let the distractions get the best of him. His main focus is getting healthy and getting himself ready to compete for 2019/20.

“I’m very, very motivated,” said Ball about his desire to improve his skills.

“I want to be the best I can be. I’m looking forward to this summer. I don’t look at it as added pressure, because I haven’t had a full summer yet to dedicate to myself. I have to keep working on my craft. I’m just happy that I’m going to be healthy.

Ball hasn’t played since spraining his ankle during the team’s loss to the Houston Rockets on January 19th. It was announced late last week that he will be shut down for the remainder of the season due to the lack of progress in his recovery and also for precautionary reasons.

The other major off-court issue attached to him is his name being attached in various trade rumours throughout the season. He was rumoured as one of the pieces that would head to New Orleans if the Lakers were able to finalize a deal with the Pelicans prior to the trade deadline. He remains on the team, for now, but his future with his hometown team is still in question as the Lakers will most definitely pursue the trade again in the offseason.

Obviously Ball doesn’t want to be traded, but he realizes the NBA is a business, and he would welcome the challenge of playing for any team.

“At the end of the day, you can only control the things that you can control,” said Ball.

“If I get traded, then I get traded. But I’m going to be ready to go. The goal is to be the best player I can for whichever team.”

He has averaged 10.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 99 career games.

Hockey

Oilers interested in signing German forward Frederik Tiffels

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The Edmonton Oilers are looking overseas in their pursuit to add some much-needed forward depth.

According to reports, New GM Ken Holland and the Oilers’ brass are interested in the services of German forward Frederik Tiffels after his impressive performance at the 2019 world hockey championship in Slovakia this month.

The 24-year old, who was initially selected 167th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2015 NHL Draft, posted two goals and two assists in eight games at this year’s Worlds. It also marks the third straight year he participated in the tournament.

He played for Kölner Haie of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in 2018/19, posting six goals and 16 assists in 27 games, and nine points in 11 postseason games.

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Hockey

Senators hire Leafs assistant D.J. Smith as their new head coach

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Welcome to the nation’s capital, D.J. Smith!

The Ottawa Senators officially announced the hiring of Smith as their new head coach on Thursday.

“D.J. Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators,” said general manager Pierre Dorion.

“D.J. is a great communicator and an exceptional strategist. His passionate approach, coupled with his ability to teach the game, is exactly what we were looking for throughout the process. We’re thrilled to welcome D.J. and his family to Ottawa.”

Smith had spent the past four seasons as Mike Babcock’s assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. With him on the bench, the team has qualified for the playoffs the past three seasons, and have had their most success as a franchise since the early 2000′s.

Prior to his stint with the Leafs, he was a head coach with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. During that span, he led them to a combined 135-53-3-13 record, and a Memorial Cup title in 2015. He also earned OHL’s Coach of the Year award after an incredible season with the franchise in 2013/14.

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Pujols passes Ichiro on MLB all-time hits list

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After singling to right field in the third inning of the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, Albert Pujols passed legendary Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to move into 22nd all-time on the MLB hits list.

“That’s impressive,” said teammate Mike Trout about Pujols’ latest accomplishment.

“Obviously, Ichiro had an unbelievable amount of hits. It seems like every day Albert is passing somebody. I was joking with Noé [Ramirez after he caught Pujols’ homer in his hat Saturday]: ‘Why did you give that ball to a fan? He just passed Babe Ruth or something.’ It seems like every day he passes a Hall of Famer.”

The 39-year old Pujols, who is currently playing in his nineteenth MLB season, has accumulated 3090 hits, 634 homers, and 1984 RBI in 2702 combined games with the St. Louis Cardinals and Angels.

He is also a two-time World Series champion, three-time NL MVP, two-time NL home run champion and has been selected to ten MLB All-Star games throughout his career.

He needs 272 hits to surpass the great Dave Winfield for 21st overall.

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