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Ex-NFL star Frank Gore to fight ex-NBA star Deron Williams in boxing match on Jake Paul-Tommy Fury undercard

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Former NBA point guard Deron Williams will fight ex-NFL running back Frank Gore in a boxing match on the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury undercard on Dec. 18 in Tampa, Florida, it was announced Tuesday.

Williams and Gore will be making their pro boxing debuts. The bout is contracted for 215 pounds and four rounds.

Gore has been training in boxing for years and actually declined advances from NFL teams this season to focus on his first fight. His manager is longtime fight rep Malka Kawa of First Round Management, who also reps NFL players.

Williams is a longtime combat sports enthusiast and has trained for years in mixed martial arts. He’s a part owner in the highly regarded Fortis MMA gym in Dallas, which is where he will be training for this bout under coach Sayif Saud.

Gore, 38, is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and ranks third in NFL history with 16,000 rushing yards. The San Francisco 49ers‘ all-time leading rusher spent 16 seasons in the league, most recently 2020 with the New York Jets.

“I’m excited to be fighting on this card and can’t wait to show the world what I’ve been working on,” Gore said in a statement. “Boxing has me excited, and on Dec. 18 expect fireworks!”

Williams, 37, was a three-time NBA All-Star selection with the Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets. He won gold at the Olympics with the U.S. men’s national team in 2008 and 2012.

“Combat sports have been a part of my life since my youngest days,” Williams said in a statement. “Before I was a basketball player, I was a wrestler. Since 2015, I have had the privilege of owning an MMA gym, and through that I have trained in various martial arts to stay active. Over the last year, I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to translate my training into a professional debut.”

Also on the undercard, Amanda Serrano, who is ESPN’s No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound women’s boxer, will take on Miriam Gutierrez.

Serrano is eyeing a high-profile matchup against Katie Taylor in 2022.

In another fight, Anthony Taylor, who is Paul’s teammate, will fight Chris Avila, a protege of UFC superstar Nate Diaz.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo back in Milwaukee Bucks’ lineup for his 27th birthday after 2-game absence

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MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo is celebrating his 27th birthday by returning to the Milwaukee Bucks‘ lineup after a two-game absence.

The two-time MVP is listed among the Bucks’ five starters for their game Monday night with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Antetokounmpo had been listed as questionable due to a sore right calf that knocked him out for the previous two games.

“We’ll see how he feels when he warms up and determine it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Monday before the lineups were released.

The Bucks split the two games Antetokounmpo missed last week.

In their first game without him, the Bucks lost 97-93 at Toronto on Thursday to snap an eight-game winning streak. They rebounded at home two nights later by rolling to a 124-102 victory over Miami.

Antetokounmpo is scoring 27.6 points per game this season to rank second in the NBA, behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. He’s also averaging 11.8 rebounds and six assists.

Denver’s Nikola Jokić is the only other NBA player averaging at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists this season.

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Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan enters health and safety protocols

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Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets.

DeRozan becomes the third Bulls player currently in the health and safety protocols, joining Coby White and Javonte Green.

DeRozan was recognized earlier in the day as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging 30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and shooting 58.7% from the field while the Bulls went 3-0 last week with wins against the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.

DeRozan is fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.4 points per game in his first season with the Bulls.

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Fantasy basketball waiver wire finds

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Working the waiver wire is pivotal to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we’ll need to source stats from free agency to maximize imaginary rosters.

A willingness to entertain competition for the last few spots on your fantasy hoops roster can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of statistical contributors, it helps to consider your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating in free agency.

The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position available in free agency in at least a third of ESPN leagues. Some nominations are specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ordered players at each position with the priority of acquisition in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.


Point Guard

Alec Burks, New York Knicks (Rostered in 27.4% of ESPN leagues): Earning Tom Thibodeau’s trust can prove quite valuable for fantasy value, as the coach is notorious for riding his core playmakers for big minutes. Burks’ recent shift to the starting lineup has fueled 18.8 PPG with strong shooting and steal rates.

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (44.2%): Due to return to the floor for the Thunder on Monday, Giddey should continue to flirt with triple-double production as one of the lead creators for a young Oklahoma City roster.

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (36.8%): With at least 15 points in 12 of his last 15 games, Brunson has emerged as a steady complementary scorer for Dallas. Jason Kidd trusts Brunson to commandeer the second unit, and this Villanova product becomes a legit fantasy starter whenever Luka Doncic is sidelined.

Shooting Guard

Kevin Porter Jr., Houston Rockets (61.2%): A thigh injury has sidelined Porter for the past handful of Houston’s games, but the third-year combo guard should return to a rewarding role as the team’s primary creator soon. In a league full of heliocentric playmakers, sourcing assists in fantasy free agency has become more difficult, making Porter an undervalued option.

Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies (36.1%): One of just nine players among the top 40 in 3-point attempts this season sinking at least 40% of his attempts from beyond the arc, Bane sports a 42.1% career clip from deep and is currently enjoying a breakout sophomore season thanks to sizable leaps in minutes and touches this season.

Small Forward

Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (66.0%): A 3-and-D wing currently found at fifth in total steals and fourth in swipes per game, this larcenous wing is also one of just 33 players to have lofted at least 150 3-pointers entering Sunday’s schedule.

Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (27.4%): It’s possible Tate could prove more valuable as a fantasy option than even Trent among this week’s waiver wings. After all, Tate has been somewhat prolific lately in slashing for 19.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.5 BPG during his last four games entering Sunday. While his scoring load will dip once Jalen Green and Porter are good to go, Tate’s ability to create for others on offense and create chaos on defense proves reliable.

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (33.8%): You’d think the absence of Ja Morant would inspire a surge in scoring for Brooks, but he’s been somewhat quiet in that department in recent games. A deeper dive reveals Brooks claims a team-high 32.6% usage rate with Morant off the floor this season, evidence Brooks will fill the bucket soon enough.

Power Forward

Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets (47.6%): You’ll need to overlook some quiet scoring outings from Gordon, but increased opportunity rates on a Denver roster in real need should inspire some fun fantasy lines. Such as in Saturday’s win over the Knicks, Gordon wasn’t very effective on offense yet compiled four combined steals and blocks.

Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland Cavaliers (51.4%): Even as the fit is wonky at times in an oversized Cleveland frontcourt, Markkanen enjoys rare shooting freedom as the resident stretch big for the Cavaliers. This role has afforded him at least seven 3-point attempts in six of the last seven outings entering Sunday’s slate.

Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings (37.5%): Will Bagley ever really prove consistently productive with the Kings? That’s unlikely, but a new coaching lens might unlock more minutes and production for Bagley in the coming weeks.

Center

Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (59.3%): The signing of DeMarcus Cousins in response to the loss of Brook Lopez likely speaks to the team’s potential need for size in the playoffs, but also signals a huge role for Portis for the rest of the regular season. Portis is currently one of just nine NBA players averaging at least 15 points, eight rebounds, and at least 0.8 blocks and 0.8 steals per game. Are these somewhat arbitrary endpoints? Of course, but they also speak to how rare it is to find a player so regularly flirting with double-double production along with respectable defensive rates.

P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets (62.8%): If the league is trending to small-ball lineups, why not fantasy rosters, as well? Washington has thrived recently as the team’s primary stretch center, enjoying more rebounding and rim protection opportunities in addition to proving hot from the arc during the past week.

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